In season: Winter

WINTER can be a lean time for fresh produce in some parts, but in our sub-tropical climate it’s considered one of the best growing seasons, and there’s always an abundance of quality produce at the market. Here’s a guide to what’s fresh, new and tasting great now:


Sure, frozen peas are convenient, but nothing compares to the flavour and sweetness of a fresh pea straight from the pod. Eat them raw, lightly steam as a side dish or use in pasta and rice dishes or soups. Find fresh peas at the Everest Farm and Jumping Red Ant stalls.

The perfect winter comfort food, rhubarb brings back childhood memories of Grandma’s rhubarb crumble. To stew, cut into chunks, sprinkle with sugar to taste and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes until it’s soft. Make a big batch and you can store in the fridge to use on your morning porridge or muesli, to eat with ice cream or custard or yoghurt for dessert or make a rhubarb and apple crumble. Find fresh rhubarb at Summit Organics.


Juicy local oranges are rolling in to the markets now. Available from Rancho Limes and Neville Singh’s banana stall. Also Look out for Rancho’s delicious Blood Oranges, which make a lovely juice and are fantastic in salads.


Heart shaped and lumpy green on the outside, and white and creamy on the inside, custard apples are a deliciously sweet and versatile fruit. The flesh is delicious eaten as is – add it to your morning muesli with a sprinkle of nuts and coconut, or you can remove the seeds, whiz in a food processor with a little coconut milk and freeze for a yummy dessert. Blended custard apple flesh is also delicious in a cheesecake. Custard apples are in season now and available from the Organic Avocado and Rancho Limes.


Award winning honey producer Garry Rodgers has a huge range of honeys to swirl over your morning porridge, stir into winter drinks, or in the case of his Jellybush honey, to add to your daily health routine. Jellybush, the equivalent to New Zealand’s Manuka honey, has very high antimicrobial levels, which means it’s considered medicinal. Garry says you can use it orally – a teaspoon a day for gut health, digestion, sore throat or keeping colds away, or topically it can help to heal wounds, cuts and burns.

Blueberry Fields are back at the market with fresh and frozen local blueberries and raspberries

BERRIES: As if it’s not exciting enough to have Brooklet blueberry farm, Blueberry Fields, back at the farmers markets with their new season blueberries (after a few months away for the off season), they’ve returned with a completely new and delicious berry crop –  raspberries. Grown spray free, they’re available fresh or frozen in bulk one kilo buckets. Blueberries are also available fresh in punnets or as seconds in bulk buckets.

LEEKS: Just in time for all those warming winter dishes,  leeks are now in season locally. Their mild sweet flavour is perfect in soups, casseroles, pies, pasta and risottos, or just saute with some butter and/or olive oil and salt and pepper for a delicious side dish. Leeks available from the Everest Farm stall.

PECANS: Northern NSW may be famous for macadamias, but it’s also one of the country’s biggest pecan-producing regions. The local pecan harvest usually starts around now, and new season nuts are starting to appear at the markets. Like macadamias, pecans are  full of healthy fats and a good source of fibre. They’re delicious in cakes and desserts, sprinkled in salads for some extra crunch and nutrition, or on your morning porridge. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer to keep them at their best and their nutrients intact. Available from The Spice Palace.

Beetroot – a winter vegie staple

BEETROOT: Antioxidant-rich fresh beetroot is a winter veggie staples. Eat it raw, grated onto sandwiches or thinly sliced into a salad, roast it in cubes and toss in a vegie salad, slice thinly and roast with olive oil and salt for beetroot chips or make your own fresh beetroot dip.  If you’re buying from the farmers market, your beetroot will most likely come with tops attached – don’t throw them away! Beetroot greens are especially nutritious – packed with calcium iron and vitamins A and C. Use them in the same way you would spinach, steamed, sautéed, in soups or stir-fires or in a green smoothie.

CORIANDER: This fragrant herb thrives in our cooler months, and its fresh flavour will take your curries and soups to the next level. The leaves are also delicious sprinkled on Mexican foods like tortillas or nachos or steamed or baked fish. Use the roots and stems for making Thai curry pastes. Look for fresh coriander at the Gourmet Salad Hut, Summit Organics and Glenyce Creighton Organics at New Brighton.

Oranges, lemons and mandarins are all in season locally

CITRUS: Citrus season is underway – the limes arrived first and now the lemons, mandarins and oranges are in season too. Use lemon juice in dressings, squeezed on fish or avocado, or make a lemon ginger tea. And don’t waste the zest – if you’re juicing a lemon, always zest it first – you can store the zest in the freezer and use it later for making gremolata, adding to deserts, or mixing into your breadcrumbs.

FENNEL: Fennel’s mild liquorice-like flavour complements and enhances so many foods. Use slivers of fennel raw and crunchy in coleslaw, with orange segments and salad leaves for a beautiful winter salad or cut bulbs in half and roast with some olive oil until sweet and tender to serve as a side dish with chicken or fish. Look for fresh fennel at Summit Organics and the Everest Farm stall.

AVOCADOS: The popular Organic Avocado stall is back with new season avocados. Avocados also available at Jumping Red Ant.

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

Curly kale, Cavalo Nero and Red Russsian kale

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 .

Coopers Shoot Tomatoes are back

TOMATOES: After a short break, Coopers Shoot Tomatoes are back with their famous tomatoes, including cherries, romas and gourmet truss

Also in season: Apples, avocado, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, citrus, coriander, fennel, ginger, kale, leeks, mushroom, pecan, pumpkin, radish, raspberries, rosella, silverbeet, spinach, sweet potato, turmeric


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