In season: Summer

DRAGONFRUIT

Likened by some to a magical dragon egg because of its unusual shape and colour, the dragonfruit is actually the fruit of a cactus plant.  It comes in several varieties – the most common is the red skin, red flesh, but they also come with red skin/white flesh, pink skin and white flesh or even yellow skin and white flesh. They have a mild taste and are best eaten chilled with a squeeze of lime. They’re also good in fruit salads or smoothies. Find them now at Rainbow Fruit Flats,  Picone Exotics and Glenyce Creighton’s stall.

BANANAS

The North Coast produces some of the country’s sweetest and best tasting bananas but it’s unlikely you’ll find one in the big supermarkets as they favour the bigger, ‘better looking’ fruit from North Queensland. Your best bet for a local banana is the farmers markets – Neville Singh is one of the region’s best-known growers, and always has a great selection of Cavendish and Lady Fingers at his stall at New Brighton Farmers Markets. He also grows more unusual varieties, like the creamy Blue Java, aka the Ice Cream banana, the red skinned Dacca banana and the Plantain. Will Everest also has a great selection of local bananas.

SPROUTS

Sprouts and microgreens are full of nutrition and can add extra crunch and flavour to almost any meal.  The Summit Organics stall has a good range, including sunflower and radish. For legume-based sprouts,  Sproutlovers (available from Denise Latham’s lettuce stall) have lentil, chickpea and blue pea sprouts.

MELONS

Melon season has begun, with watermelon and rockmelon picked fresh from the Everest Farm at Eungella, near Murwillumbah now available. Melons are ideal as a light breakfast or refreshing summer treat for the kids, and fantastic in summer salads. Combine chilled rockmelon with salad greens, red onion, pepitas and a vinaigrette or try a classic watermelon salad with feta and mint.

KANGKONG

It’s virtually impossible to grow spinach locally at this time of year because it can’t stand the heat. There are however, lots of other leafy greens that can be used in place of spinach, which are just as tasty and nutritious. One of the best examples is Kangkong, a hardy leafy green that thrives in our humid summers. Tyalgum organic farmer Tania Bruin, of Summit Organics, says is a perfect substitute for baby spinach and can be used in the same way, in quiches, omelettes, soups, salads or stir fries.

KIWANO

Also known as the horned melon, these funky fruit look like little spiky cucumbers. You can eat them green, as you would a cucumber, or wait until they turn yellow, when they sweeten up and tastes more like a  kiwi fruit. Just cut in half and scoop out the edible seeds and flesh. Available from Glenyce Creighton’s organic produce stall.

ZUCCHINI

One of the most versatile summer vegies, zucchini is good in almost anything  – from Thai curries to zucchini slice. Turn them into zoodles – a gluten free alternative to pasta noodles, or try zucchini lasagna using slices of zucchini instead of pasta sheets. Available from Jumping Red Ant and Everest Farm.

CHILLIES

If the weather isn’t hot enough for you, there’s plenty of fresh local chillies around to help you get a sweat up at your next meal. They’re available in varying degrees of heat, from milder long chillies to fiery habaneros. Chilli fans will also enjoy The Spice Palace’s harissa pastes, made with home grown chillies from Rob Cullinan and Duska Jefed’s farm at The Pocket. The milder green harissa, flavoured with coriander and preserved lemon, is great as a marinade for fish or chicken or as a simple green curry base, while the slightly spicier red harissa is delicious as a rub on any meat, or cooked with the onions in a curry.

LYCHEES

Lychees are one of the great pleasures of summer. Their refreshing flavour and silky grape-like texture is just perfect on a hot day. Lychees are also delicious in desserts – try them fresh with ice cream or coconut ice cream, or in summer cocktails. Buy them while their skin is bright red and store in the fridge. Lychees are currently available at Picone Exotics, including the huge Emperor lychee and a special seedless variety.

EGGPLANT

If you haven’t discovered eggplant, now’s the season. This super versatile vegetable is at its best in summer and is a great foundation for a vegetarian or vegan meal. Combine with zucchini, capsicum, tomatoes, onion and garlic for a healthy pasta sauce or use slices as an alternative to pasta sheets in lasagne. Roast and use as a pizza topping, add to curries or stir fries, or grill with a miso glaze for a tast

y Japanese-style side dish. You’ll find a few different varieties at the farmers market, including the common deep purple variety, as well as white and purple striped, and the long eggplant –  also known as Japanese eggplant – which is available from Jumping Red Ant  And if you need an example of just how good eggplant can be, try the marinated and fermented eggplant from our fermented food stall Suria Foods.

GARLIC

Garlic is one of those staples you should always try and buy locally – imported garlic is cheap, but often bleached and sprayed with chemicals and will not have the same flavour. For some excellent locally grown garlic, try  Summit Organics. Also look out for Picone Exotics’ exquisite fermented black garlic.

PASSIONFRUIT

. Local growers are picking lots of these sweet fruits now. Find passionfruit at Jumping Red Ant and Everest Farm.

OYSTERS

Oyster fans are in luck this summer. Brunswick River oyster farmer Noel Baggaley, of Brunswick Seed Oysters, says it’s a great season for his sweet tasting Sydney Rock Oysters and he will have plenty of them all the way through summer.

SALAD GREENS

Sumer time means salads brimming with lots of fresh leafy greens. The Gourmet Salad Hut at New  have a huge range of greens available from their Burringbar farm,  including cos, oak and mignonette lettuce, rocket, Pak choy, and watercress, as well as fresh leafy herbs like basil. Teven grower Denise Latham  also has an excellent variety of lettuce and salad mixes available. To keep your leafy greens fresher longer, chop off any roots and store in an airtight bag or container in the fridge.

 CUCUMBER

Crisp, cool and refreshing, cucumbers are a summer essential. Slice thinly into salads, cut into sticks and serve with dip, make a summer cucumber soup, create home made pickles or add a few strips to your gin and tonic. Find fresh local cucumbers at Coopers Shoot Tomatoes, Jumping Red Ant, Summit Organics and Everest Farm.

 SWEET CORN

Summer sweet corn has arrived at the markets. As soon as its picked, the sugars in sweet corn begin to convert to starch, so for maximum sweetness, eat on the day you buy. Find sweet corn at Everest Farm.

 

 FRUIT SHRUB SYRUPS

You’ve heard of kombucha and kefir – what about fruit shrubs?  Also known as drinking vinegars, fruit shrubs are becoming the next big thing for cocktail mixers, and blended with soda water, they make one of the most refreshing summer drinks around. Numulgi citrus grower Jane Boniface, of Rancho Limes ) has just launched a range of home made shrub syrups using produce from her farm and locally sourced fruit, including a Blueberry with Ginger and Blood Orange shrub, Strawberry and Rosemary, and Mandarin and Cardamom. She’s also developing a Custard Apple shrub.

TOMATOES

The warmer weather has brought on a glut of tomatoes at Coopers Shoot Tomatoes, so it’s a great time to pick up a bargain on bulk lots and make into sauces. Cherries, Roma, gourmet truss and a variety of heirlooms available. Coopers Shoot is also harvesting cucumbers and eggplants.

CARROTS

The flavour and sweetness of a carrot from the farmers market is just so much better than anything you’ll find on a supermarket shelf. They’re fresher, and local farmers will often grow more unusual varieties that have been developed for flavour rather than transportability and shelf life. Summit Organics t) is currently harvesting some beautiful big, brightly coloured organic carrot bunches, grown in the rich soil on their Tyalgum Farm. Fresh carrots are also available from Everest Farm and Kennedy Lane Farm.

BLUEBERRIES

 It’s prime blueberry time and the berries are tasting great. Punnets and buckets of seconds available now from Blueberry Fields.

HEMP HUMMUS

Middle Eastern food stall Baraka recently introduced a new line to its hummus range, blending hemp with its traditional hummus recipe to create Hemp Hummus. Rich in Omega 3 and 6, and in proteins, hemp is highly nutritious. Baraka owner Alan Schwarz says he uses a certified organic source of hemp blended with Baraka’s traditional hummus to create the earthy flavoured dip.

MUSHROOMS

The newest farmer to join the New Brighton Farmers Market is Gary, from Wollumbin Gourmet Mushrooms. Gary grows a variety of seasonal and micro seasonal gourmet mushrooms like Shimeji, Shiitake, King Oyster, Blue Oyster, White Oyster, and Pink Oyster. All of Gary’s mushrooms are grown as naturally as possible, outside in their natural environment. “We believe in minimal impact on the environment and even place our logs and growing areas around and between the trees within the forest,”says Gary. Also look out for his grow at home mushroom logs.

BASIL

Everyone’s favourite summer herb is now back. Beautiful with fresh Coopers Shoot Tomatoes, fresh cheese from Nimbin Valley Dairy and a splash of Grumpy Grandma’s olive oil on a slice of Heart Breads sourdough.

Also in season: apples, beans, banana, lettuce, celery, capsicum, eggplant, papaya, , broccoli, carrots, papaya, potato, sweet potato,spinach, lettuce, radish,  shallots, turnips

Recent news

  • Picone Exotics

    John Picone has a special relationship with his fruit trees. “There have been a couple of occasions where I’ve walked into the orchard and I’ve …
  • Suria Foods

    Three generations back, Katerina’s ancestors were exiled from Russia to a labour camp in Kazakhstan. “They were forced to live in a very harsh environment …
  • Keep cool with Jane’s thirst-quenching creations

    There’s nothing as refreshing as a cool drink on a hot summer day, and the local farmers markets are the ideal place to find some …

Where are we?

Sign up for our mailing list.