Winter what’s in season?
Published : June 04, 2018
Buy and cook with the freshest produce in season.
Delight in the tastiest fruit and vegetables that are at their best during the winter season.
A daily dose of these crunchy little beauties will not only keep the doctor away, it will have you glowing from the inside out. Apples are packed with antioxidants that not only help protect you from disease but also promote strong bones, shiny hair and clear skin. They are also very versatile and can be enjoyed raw or cooked any number of ways, try them stewed for breakfast, in a salad with toasted walnuts and blue cheese, made into chutneys or sauces and served with pork dishes, or baked on their own or in pies and crumbles (Australia’s very own variety, the Granny Smith, is especially good for this).
Packed full of Vitamins C and E, antioxidants and essential fatty acids, avocadoes are one of the world’s healthiest foods. Whip one up with some Greek yoghurt, lemon juice, and a little sweet chilli or Tabasco sauce, and dip your way to health and happiness.
Available all year but at their best between April and June, and August and October, Australian bananas are chock-full of dietary fibre, Vitamins C and B6 and potassium. For a fast burst of natural energy, just grab one, peel and go and go and go.
High in magnesium and folate, and a good source of potassium, Vitamins A, B6 and C, antioxidants and soluble fibre, beetroot has a sweet, earthy taste that makes it a very versatile veggie. They can be made into cakes, vitamin-packed juices, soups (such as that Polish and Russian favourite,borscht), or grated raw into salads, it wouldn’t be an Aussie hamburger or salad sandwich without a thick, juicy layer of beetroot!
Much loved by the Italians, who first brought it to Australia, broccoli is rich in minerals, fibre and various vitamins, but scientists believe it contains natural chemicals that stimulate the immune system and can prevent cancer cells from growing. Steam broccoli for five minutes (when overcooked it loses nutrients and flavour) then drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper for a delicious side dish.
Anyone who has ever had these lovely little vegetables done right would never say a bad word about them. With similar health benefits to broccoli, Brussels sprouts have a delicate, almost nutty taste and a wonderful texture, but suffer dreadfully from overcooking, which renders them grey and pongy and spoils their flavour. Try them thinly sliced and sautéed with butter, or sliced in half, rubbed lightly with olive oil and roasted with garlic and bacon, you’ll never look back.
Like Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower, cabbage is another member of the super-good-for-you brassica family. Enjoy red, white, green or savoy cabbages boiled, baked, steamed, sautéed, stuffed or raw, but remember that when cooking any variety of cabbage it is best to do so briefly, as overcooking will cause it to smell and lose its delicious flavour. Savoy cabbage is a treat in Asian cuisine, try it in stir-fries with ginger and garlic.
Cheap, versatile and high in beta-carotene, carrots have a lovely natural sweetness that makes them at home in any number of sweet or savoury dishes, from carrot cake and juice, to coleslaw and salads, soups, stews, curries and stir-fries. They can be used raw, boiled, steamed, sautéed and baked, will caramelise beautifully when roasted, and make a heavenly combination with butter, honey and thyme.
Although cauliflowers are available all year, they are at their best in winter, which is why cauliflower cheese is especially delicious in the colder months. Like the other members of the brassica family (broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage) overcooking cauliflower will do it no favours, steaming florets for 5-10 minutes is best.
This versatile root vegetable started appearing on Australian shelves in the 1960s, in answer to the demand from northern European immigrants. It tastes like nutty celery and looks a bit like the love child of a turnip and a parsnip, and can be mashed, roasted, slow-cooked or baked, you can also combine finely shaved raw celeriac with mayonnaise and mustard to make the French classic, remoulade.
Raw celery has a delightfully juicy crunch that makes it great for salads and snacking, try dipping the stalks in avocado dip and salsa as a healthy alternative to chips. But there is more to celery than just its stalk, the leafy tops can be used in salads and soups, and the base of the celery becomes deliciously creamy and sweet when braised.
Custard apples are a uniquely indulgent tropical fruit that seem naughty but are in fact very nice, just 100 grams will provide you with 110 per cent of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, and they are also rich in fibre, Vitamin B6, magnesium and potassium. Simply slice one in half and scoop out the creamy white flesh with a spoon.
Fennel is a particular favourite of Italian, French and Greek families, but it its distinctive aniseed flavour can divide opinion. When raw, it is crisp with a strong taste, but when cooked its flavour mellows and it becomes softer and sweet, try grating it raw in salads, slicing it and serving with lemon juice, salt and pepper, or baking it in a creamy gratin.
Grapefruits are available all year, but you’ll get the most bang for your buck from April to November. The largest member of the citrus family is a good source of fibre, Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, which help fight infections, and comes in three varieties: yellow, ruby red and pink marsh. Grapefruit has a tart but pleasant taste (the pink and red varieties are generally sweeter than the yellow) that makes it suitable for sweet or savoury dishes, it goes particularly well with salmon, prawns and avocado. Note that grapefruits contain a substance that can interfere with certain medicines; consult your doctor if you have any concerns.
Although it shares a name with the globe artichoke, Jerusalem artichokes aren’t actually a member of the artichoke family at all. These nutty, earthy root vegetables, which look similar to ginger, develop a silky texture much like potatoes when cooked, they make lovely creamy mash and soups, and are delicious baked.
The kiwifruit, which is originally from China, used to be known as the Chinese gooseberry before the New Zealand growers renamed it, but whatever you call it, this is one nutritious and delicious fruit. Kiwifruit is rich in Vitamins C and E and both its black seeds and skin are extremely high in dietary fibre, if you want to try eating them skin and all but aren’t too keen on the fuzz, a good rub with paper towel should get rid of it. Kiwifruit also contains an enzyme that can be used to tenderise meat, but they can become bitter when cooked so are best eaten raw, their lovely emerald green colour is great for decorating pavolvas, while their slight tartness partners beautifully with the rich cream and sugar.
Rich in Vitamins C, A and E, as well as Omega 3 and 6, kumquats provide a range of health benefits including a boost in immunity and cardiovascular health, and protection against cancer, diabetes and inflammation. Kumquats, which originated in Asia, have a rather dry, sharp flesh and sweet skin, making them equally delicious in sweet or savoury dishes, slice them, skin and all, and add to salads for a tangy twist, make into a relish to serve with cheese, or simmer in sugar syrup and serve with ice cream.
Leeks were enjoyed in Egypt as far back as 3000BC and were especially popular with the Romans, who are thought to have introduced them to Europe. Leeks have similar immune-boosting properties to onions, but their milder flavour means they are never overpowering. Fry sliced leek and use as a garnish for Asian dishes, try them in delicious creamy bakes or pastas, or whip up a classic potato and leek soup.
Lemons originated in the Punjab region of Pakistan and India, and have worked their way up through the ranks to become a kitchen essential all over the world. Although very tart, this citrus fruit combines beautifully with all manner of ingredients and their zest or juice can be used to add a delicious tang to everything from juices and dips to desserts and savoury dishes, such as Morrocan-style chicken or couscous and anything involving seafood. Lemons are also high in Vitamin C, which can help ward off disease, and when mixed with honey in warm water make a soothing natural remedy for sore throats.
Mandarins are highly a nutritious treat that is chock-a-block with vitamins, antioxidants, folate, minerals and fibre. They also make a delicious and juicy snack and come in their own handy, easy-to-peel packaging, which makes them perfect for lunchboxes!
Mushrooms are magnificent, they are one of the few natural sources of Vitamin D and the only fresh non-animal food source of Vitamin B12. They also contain cancer-fighting antioxidants, folate and a range of B-Vitamins that may help to relieve stress, depression and fatigue. The many varieties of mushrooms lend themselves to any number of different dishes, woodears give a wonderful chewy texture to soups and stir-fries, portabellas are delicious stuffed and roasted, and button mushrooms are heavenly when sautéed with garlic, butter and thyme. Ask a friendly Trader for tips on the best way to prepare a certain variety.
It is no coincidence that the nashi gets its name from the Japanese word for pear, in fact the two are distant relatives, but the nashi’s long isolation in the East caused it to evolve differently, developing its uniquely flavour and crisp, juicy texture. Nashi are high in fibre and a good source of antioxidants, folate and Vitamin C, and can be enjoyed in a number of sweet and savoury dishes, try them as a substitute for apple or pear in salads or as part of a cheese plate, with roast pork or in chicken stir-fry, as part of a fruit crumble or simply fresh as a healthy snack.
Okra originated from Africa and is very popular in Indian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Southern American cuisine, where it is a traditional ingredient in gumbo. Given its widespread appeal, it’s no surprise that okra lends itself to a wide variety of dishes, including curries, stir-fries, soups and stews, try sautéing it in oil with garlic, onion cumin and turmeric.
Olives are a big hit in the Mediterranean, where they are gobbled up daily on pizzas and antipasto plates and in relishes, salads and sauces. Curing olives at home takes a little patience, but is very simple to do and the best part is you get to choose the marinading ingredients yourself, oil, chilli, garlic and thyme is a good combination, but don’t be afraid to experiment. Olive oil also has many health benefits and you can find all sorts of gourmet varieties at the Market, including virgin, extra virgin and all kinds of infusions, so do your heart (and your taste buds) a favour and make the switch!
Native to Asia, onions are a vital ingredient in recipes all over the world. Regularly eating onions lowers the risk of heart disease and may protect against certain types of cancer, and it’s easy to do because there is almost no end to the savoury dishes that can be improved by adding onion, from soups, stews, casseroles, stir-fries and curries to tarts, omelettes, pasta sauces and pizza toppings. White and red onions generally have the mildest flavour, and brown onions the strongest.
Oranges (Navel, Blood)
Like many other citrus fruits, oranges originated in Asia, between south-west China and north-west India, before being brought to Europe by the Portuguese. On the way to Australia, the First Fleet stopped in at Brazil to stock up on oranges and planted orange trees within days of settling on our shores. Navel and blood oranges are the best for eating and give a wonderful zing to desserts, in particular, blood oranges, which make for truly stunning presentation thanks to their beautiful deep red colour.
A good source of folate and potassium, parsnips have a sweet, earthy flavour that makes them perfect for comforting winter soup and stews. Parsnips caramelise beautifully when roasted and are delicious when mashed with garlic and olive oil.
January to July is the best time to buy passionfruit, which are rich in beta-carotene and Vitamin C, and have the highest source of dietary fibre, riboflavin, niacin and iron of any fruit. Passionfruit can be added to juices or smoothies, is a delicious and healthy way to start the day with Greek yoghurt on cereals or porridge, is an essential ingredient in every truly sensational fruit salad, and its slightly tart seeds make it the perfect foil for the sweetness of pavlova.
Pears (Packham, Beurre Bosc, Winter Nelis, Corella/Forelle. Josephine, Red Anjou)
High in fibre with a low glycemic index (GI), pears deliver a powerful punch of long-lasting energy and are delicious served in both sweet and savoury dishes. Try them poached with ice cream or on porridge, serve them with cheese or in a salad, or just take a bite for a healthy snack on the go.
Potatoes contain antioxidants, fibre, more potassium than bananas and almost half of the recommended daily intake for Vitamin C, however, these and other wonderful nutritional benefits are lost or negated when they are deep-fried or hidden under mounds of cheese, butter and sour cream. Keep spuds healthy by roasting them in garlic, herbs and a little olive oil, adding boiled potatoes to a fresh light salad and tossing with vinaigrette, or including them in stews, curries and soups.
A sweet floral-like perfume is a sure sign there are quinces in the market. Although it can’t be eaten raw, the tart, dry white flesh of this bulbous yellow fruit completely transforms when cooked, becoming juicy and tender and developing a beautiful rosy colour. Available from March until July, quinces are low in calories, rich in antioxidants and a good source of Vitamin C, and can be used in sweet or savoury dishes, try them with lamb tagine, or stew them for an hour or so over low heat with a vanilla bean, a little water and a touch of sugar, and serve with ice cream.
Rhubarb is rich in iron, folate and Vitamins A, B6 and C, but is too tart to be eaten raw. However, rhubarb’s juicy stalks can be made into gorgeous jams and sauces, and is a match made in heaven with apples in pies, muffins and crumbles. Before cooking, make sure you cut off and discard the leaves as they are poisonous and should not be eaten.
Although it can be used in exactly the same way as spinach, silverbeet (or Swiss chard) is in fact a member of the beetroot family. This leafy green is packed full of folate, vitamins and fibre, and its leaves and juicy stalks are a popular ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine, try it in quiches, soups and pasta dishes, as a baked dish with fetta and chopped tomatoes, or simply steamed and lightly dressed with olive oil, garlic and a touch of salt.
Spinach packs a powerful punch of fibre, folate and beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect against sun damage, heart disease and cancer. Among the many virtues of this green are its soft, juicy leaves and strong flavour that goes beautifully with dairy and eggs, try a yummy ricotta and spinach pie or add it to your scrambled eggs.
Spring onions are in fact very young onions harvested before the bulb has swollen. The green shoots have a mild and delicate flavour, which intensifies as you reach the white bulbs, and both can be enjoyed either raw or cooked, try combining uncooked spring onion with chicken, mayonnaise and celery in sandwiches, using it as a garnish for soup, or adding it to stir-fries.
Swedes and turnips are often mistaken for each other, but it’s easy to tell them apart. Both are round with a purple upper half, but the swede has a creamy yellow bottom, where the turnip is white. The swede is a traditional accompaniment to haggis in Scotland and is popular throughout northern and eastern Europe. It can be used as a lighter alternative to potatoes, add it to soups and stews, try it mashed with butter or cut them into wedges, season and make yummy oven-roasted chips.
Turnips are high in Vitamin C and were a daily staple for English peasants before the potato came along, but that doesn’t mean you should turn your nose up, sautéed, roasted, mashed or added to stews and soups, these little beauties will deliver a hit of lovely peppery flavour that will transform any dish into a meal fit for a king. Try mashing turnips with garlic and parmesan, or roasting baby turnips with garlic and rosemary.