In season: Autumn

BROCCOLI

One of the best things about eating seasonally is the anticipation. Your favourite fruit or vegetable may not be available for a few months, but when it comes back in season, you can’t wait to start eating it again. In summer, it’s fruits like mangos, watermelon and dragonfruit, while in the cooler months it’s things like avocados, spinach and brassicas like cabbage and broccoli. Right now, it’s time to get excited about winter produce, which is just starting to make an appearance, including delicious and nutritious broccoli, fresh from the  Everest Farm at Eungella near Murwillumbah. Look for it at Will Everest’s stall.

 

AVOCADOS

The Jumping Red Ant farm at Duranbah is harvesting the first of the new season local avocados. The coastal location of the farm means that John and the team always have an early pick, but other local growers should soon catch up and increase the supply. Look out for new season Fuertes, a buttery avocado that’s great in guacamole. These will be followed by the Sharwils and Hass.

PUMPKIN

Autumn is traditionally harvest time for pumpkin and there is plenty about at the farmers markets now. Great in soups, roasted in salads, curries or vegie lasagne. Don’t throw away the seeds either  – they’re highly nutritious and a great snack. To prepare, give them a quick rinse, and rub off as much stringy pumpkin bits as possible.  Dry on a tea towel, then toss in a little olive oil and salt and roast  at 150 for about 20 minutes. Eat them as a snack, sprinkle on salad or on your pumpkin soup.

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 and Picone Exotics.

 

JACKFRUIT

This huge spiky tropical fruit common in South East Asia is becoming increasingly popular in Australia. It’s a versatile fruit that can be used ripe or green, with very different results. Ripe, it’s very sweet and has a flavour that’s something like pineapple, banana and mango. When green, it’s neutral flavour and meaty texture make it perfect for savoury vegan dishes, the most popular of which is vegan pulled pork. Cooked with barbecue spices and sauce and then served on a burger or in tacos, the flavour and texture is so like pulled pork it’s been known to fool even dedicated carnivores. Look for jackfruit at the Picone Exotics stall  and Will Everest’s stall.

KALE

This highly-nutritious leafy green is at its best during the cooler months and there should be a good supply from now on. There are three main varieties to look out for – each with a slightly different taste and texture, so it’s worth trying them all to find out what you prefer. Cavolo Nero is the dark green type with slender rumpled leaves and is good in soups and stews, Curly Kale is the one with frilly edges that’s best for kale chips or in salad and Red Russian is a sweeter, more tender variety, good in salads or pasta. Find kale at Summit Organics, The Salad Hut and Everest Farm.

 

 

 

LIMES

The first of the citrus is arriving, with plenty of local limes being picked for the markets. Their fresh zing can make all the difference  to a meal and they’re great with seafood, desserts and drinks. Fresh limes now available from Rancho Limes, Jumping Red Ant  and The Salad Hut, where you’ll also find kaffir limes and kaffir lime leaves.

 

APPLES

The apple season has begun, with a great pick of new season Royal Galas and Fujis (grown at Stanthorpe – the closest place to the Northern Rivers with a climate suited to apple growing), now available at the markets. Find them at McMahons Organic Apple stall, now back at the market, and the Costanzo Apples stall.

ROSELLA

These pretty little ‘fruits’ are actually a type of hibiscus. The part that is used for eating is called a calyx, which is the outside petal like part of the fruit. They’re commonly used to make cordials, jams, syrups or sauces , and a have a lovely plum/raspberry like flavour that goes well with sweet desserts or savoury dishes like roast lamb or pork.  For Rosella tea, use 3-4 calyx per cup and pour over boiling water. Available at Glenyce Creighton’s organic produce 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.

 

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 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

 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.

EGGPLANT

If you haven’t discovered eggplant, now’s the season. This super versatile vegetable is at its best in late Summer/Autumn 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.

OYSTERS

Brunswick River oyster farmer Noel Baggaley, of Brunswick Seed Oysters, says it’s a great season for his sweet tasting Sydney Rock Oysters.

SALAD 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. Slice thinly into salads, cut into sticks and serve with dip, create home made pickles or add a few strips to your gin and tonic. Find fresh local cucumbers at  Jumping Red Ant, Summit Organics and Everest Farm.

 SWEET CORN

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.

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.

 

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.

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