Available year round but best during the cooler months from April to October. Flesh can range from green, to creamy-white or red and different varieties have different flavours depending on how much sugar is contained in the fruit. Apples have lots of antioxidants which help protect our bodies from disease. Look for firm fruit with a smooth glossy skin with a bright colour.
Avocados have a thin, glossy, green and textured skin that encloses a soft, dense green flesh. Shaped like a pear, avocadoes contain vital nutritents for a healthy body, they are rich in fibre and healthy fats while naturally low in sugar and sodium. When picking an avocado check the colour of the skin - the change from green to rich purple, to a black shade means it is ready to eat.
Varieties: Hass, Wurtz, Sharwill, Shepard, Reed
Bananas are available from Spring through to Autumn. This fruit is a great way to get carbohydrates into the body and have twice as much Vitamin C as apples, grapes and pears. Look for firm fruit with unblemished skin.
Varieties: Lady Finger, Gold Finger and Cavendish
Chillis are the fruit of plants from the Capsicum plant. They are a diverse fruit used in many different ways. Chillis contain a compound called capsaicin, which causes a burning sensation in mammals, the sensation does not have a lasting effect. For this reason chillis are popular in cooking as they add depth of flavour and spiciness.
Varieties: Birdseye, Jalapenos, Thai, Tabasco, Habaneo,
The cumquat closely resembles an orange native to south asia and the asia pacfic area. The cumquat produces quite a sweet edible rind – unlike other citrus fruits, however the flesh is very acidic and sour similar to a lemon-like flavour.
Varieties: Round Cumquat, Oval Cumquat
Custard apples have pale green skin with large bumps. They are heart-shaped fruit, with soft white flesh and large, shiny black seeds. Their skin and seeds are inedible, but their custard-like flesh is sweet and creamy. Custard apples are delicious fresh on their own, or used to make pancakes, drinks, ice-creams. Look for plump fruit with no splits or skin discolouration. Pale green custard apples are ready to eat straight away, whilst dark green fruit will need a few days to ripen.
Figs are small, pear-shaped fruit, with thin edible skin and sweet pulpy flesh. Their skin colour can be purple, white, black or red, although the ones we most often see are pale green, ripening to a deep purple. Their flesh is a deep crimson in colour, with tiny edible seeds giving it a slightly granular texture. Look for plump, richly coloured figs. They should be soft, but without any splits in their skin.
Grapes grow in bunches, which can be like a pyramid, round or long and thin. Each grape is attached to the main stem of the bunch by our own short stem. The thin skin encloses a sweet, juicy flesh. Shaped like a round ball, graped can be about 1-2cm long and either seeded or seedless. Colour varies from green to dark purple, and some varieties have a whitish coating or bloom.
Varieties: Thompson, Menindee, Muscat, Ribiers, Purple Cornichon, Flame, Red Globe.
Honeydew is a great source of Vitamin C and has smooth, white or yellow skin with pale green to green flesh that stands at around 15-20cm in diameter. The flesh is contained by the thin, firm skin or rind, is moist, sweet and succulent with seeds in the centre. Choose fruit that's heavy for its size with a sweet aroma.
Varieties: White or Yellow Honeydew
Lemons are a member of the citrus family and are related to oranges, mandarins and grapefruit. A fruit which is extremely versatile in flavour is used to perk up many dishes including fish, desserts and drinks and used in almost every cuisine. Lemons are very rich in pectin which is a soluble fibre used for setting jams. Look for bright yellow fruit that is heavy and full of juice and always store at room temperature.
Varieties: Meyer, Eureka, Lisbon
Mandarins are small orange-like fruits that are flattened at the top and the bottom. Their skin is a deep orange colour that peels away easily from the flesh and inside the flesh is divided into distinct, crescent shaped segments which break away from each other. Look for fruit that's heavy for its size, with a glossy skin free of cuts, blemishes, soft spots or mould.
Varieties: Imperial, Ellendale, Clementine, Tangerine
Mangoes are known as the 'king of fruit' and are an excellent source of Vitamins A and C. Containing up to 40% of your daily fibre requirements, Mangos are a fabulous edition to all meal types. When choosing a mango gently squeeze the nose of the fruit – when the fruit is slightly soft to touch it is considered ripe.
Varieties: Kensington Pride, Bowen Special
Oranges are one of the best known citrus fruits and are related to lemons, grapefruits and limes. Around the size and shape of a tennis ball with a glossy orange rind, the moist juicy flesh is divided into segments by thin white membranes. With very high levels of Vitamin C, oranges grow best in warm temperates. Select oranges that have firm and well coloured flesh and feel heavy for their size.
Papaya have brilliant orange-red flesh that’s delicious in tropical salads and desserts. They are oblong-shaped fruit, with a slight curve in their length. Their skin is very thin and smooth, varying in colour from green to yellow. Inside, they contain many hard black seeds. Look for smooth-skinned papaya, with no blemishes or splits in the skin. They should feel relatively heavy for their size, and have a pleasant, tropical aroma.
Passionfruits originated from South America and are an excellent source of beta-carotene which converts to Vitamin A. Usually around the size of an egg, passionfruits have a thick purple skin which becomes dull as it ripens. Inside the pulp is yellowish orange, sweet and jelly-like with many edible, black seeds. Choose fruit which is heavy in weight with smooth or slightly wrinkled skin.
Varieties: Purple, Yellow, Panama, Banana
Persimmons are round to heart-shaped fruit with thin, bright orange skin. Their skin is edible, and the flesh inside is pale orange in colour, with a sweet taste. When just ripe, the persimmon has a similar texture to an apple - crisp and juicy .When ripened further, the texture becomes more like that of a plum, and can be pureed to make ice-creams, puddings and smoothies. Look for firm, shiny fruit, with evenly-coloured orange skin.
Plums are a stone fruit which are often soft and juicy in texture, a slightly acidic skin and sweet in flavour. Plums are great for cooking or eating. Try them in fruit salads, pies, cakes, muffins and crumbles. Look for plump, firm plums, with no signs of wrinkled or split skin. Fruit with a dull skin will be ripest.
Varieties: Blood, Amber Jewel, Black Diamond
Pomegranates are round fruit, about the size of a large apple. They have hard, thick reddish skin enclosing hundreds of edible seeds. The seeds are the only edible part of the pomegranate. They have a distinctive tangy-sweet flavour. The juice from the seeds is also sometimes extracted for recipes.
Quinces are a relative of the apple family, and look something like a large, yellow apple. They are usually coated in thin, greyish fur. They are very hard, with firm, dryish flesh. Quinces are hardly ever eaten raw, and are usually baked, stewed or poached. All these processes make the fruit soft, enhance its delicate sweet-tart flavour, and change its colour from white to rose-pink.
Rockmelons are also known as 'cantaloupes' or ' musk melons' and are a relative to watermelons, honeydews and even cucumbers, pumpkins and squashes. Usually round in shape with firm, netted rind, rockmelons grow on vines in hot dry climates. Select those with a sweet smelling aroma and a pronounced netting on the skin.
Varieties: Not sold by variety in Australia.
Tamarillos are also known as tree tomatoes, and resemble elongated tomatoes. They have smooth and glossy inedible golden or dark red skin. Their flesh is tart and tangy, and resembles a tomato with small black seeds. Available between March and December, tamarillos can be poached for desserts, added fresh to fruit salads, baked with meat or made into jam.
Asparagus is a delicate vegetable, with crisp stems and fragile tips. It’s available in 3 different colours – green, white and purple. Asparagus are available all year round and are great steamed, boiled or barbequed. Add them to salads and risottos or serve on their own. Look for fresh-looking asparagus, with smooth, firm stems. Their heads should be full and tightly formed, and all asparagus should be brightly coloured.
Beetroot have a juicy and slightly sweet flavour that complements many savoury dishes. Beetroot are available all year round and are very versatile in cooking – they can be grated fresh, baked, boiled, pureed or used to make soup. Look for smooth-skinned beetroot, with no splits or blemishes. Their leaves and stems should be intact.
Bok choy is a member of the cabbage family. It has white to pale green coloured stems, with rounded, dark-green leaves. The stems have a texture similar to celery, while the leaves are similar to spinach. Both the leaves and the stems are eaten, usually in Asian vegetable dishes or stir fries. Bok choy is available all year round, and has a slightly mustard flavour. Look for brightly-coloured bok choy, with firm stems and fresh-looking leaves
Broccoli has a slightly sweet, crisp and fresh flavour, related to the cauliflower and the cabbage, its deep-green heads and pale green stems can both be used in all kinds of vegetable dishes. Look for brightly-coloured broccoli, with tightly packed heads. The heads should be free of any yellow tinges.
Crunchy-sweet carrots add flavour, texture, moisture and colour to dishes. Dutch carrots are also known as baby carrots, and are usually a little sweeter than regular carrots, as well as being smaller. Carrots are available all year round and are equally good in salads, pasta sauces, stews, casseroles, fritters, cakes and juices, or simply served on their own.
Celery is composed of long, pale green and crisp stems, topped with feathery green leaves. It’s most often eaten raw, on its own and in salads, but is also good for making stock. Look for crisp celery bunches, with firm stems and fresh-looking leaves. The stems should be free of any splits or discoloured patches.
Cucumbers are a refreshing vegetable, with a crisp texture, cool taste and available in a number of different varieties. Characteristically cucumbers have dark green, tender skin with juicy flesh and small seeds. Inside the cucumber, white edible pulp containing small sweet seeds in a gelatinous jelly.
Varieities: Lebanese, Continental, Green
Garlic is a universally loved flavour, important in many cuisines across the world. Sold in heads, its strong, distinctive flavour becomes milder after cooking. Garlic has many uses – it can be used raw in dips, salad dressings, flavoured butters and oils. Look for firm heads of garlic, with no soft or discoloured patches.
Ginger adds extra zing and flavour to all kinds of dishes, both sweet and savoury. Its thin brown skin encases pale yellow flesh that can be grated, sliced, chopped or juiced. Available all year round, ginger is delicious raw in dressings, juices and marinades, stir fried in Asian dishes or cooked in soups, cakes, biscuits and many more dishes.
Leeks have long, thick white stalks, with fan-shaped green leaves. The edible part is the white stem and pale green part of the stem – the upper dark green stem and leaves need to be trimmed away before cooking. Leeks have a slightly sweet, mild onion-like flavour. They should always be cooked before eating. Look for crisp-looking leeks, with pure white stems.
Lettuce is a versatile vegetable that comes in so many diffierent varieties. Typically lettuces are made up of densely packed leaves with a crisp and crunchy texture. Leaves can range from green through to the red spectrum in a wide range of shapes including scalloped, frilly, ruffley or leafy.
Varieities: Cos, Butter, Iceberg, Coral, Oakleaf, Radicchio
Brown onions are the most widely used and readily available variety of onion. They add flavour and depth to all kinds of dishes, and can be roasted, sautéed, stir fried, boiled, barbequed or grilled. Look for firm, dry onions, with no signs of sprouting or damp patches. They should smell faintly sweet.
Varieties: Brown, Red
Pumpkins are one of those special vegetables that are available all year round! As one of the most versatile vegetables around, pumpkins can be used in savoury and sweet dishes. Coming in many different shapes and sizes, pumpkins often have smooth, glossy skin with rounded and ribbed segments. The flesh within is usually quite firm with with a mass of flat seeds in the centre. When selecting a pumpkin, look for a thick hard skin that feels heavy for its size. Flesh should be bright yellow-orange with a sweet nutty armona.
Varieties: Butternut, Queensland Blue, Jap
Rhubarbs have large thick leaves that are somewhat triangular shaped with long fleshy stalks. Rhubarb is usually considered a vegetable however for culinary purposes it is often used as a fruit in sweet dishes. Naturally the flavour of a rhubarb is quite sour, so adding sugar and other sweeteners improves the flavour.
Shallots are a variety of onions, and have a very similar, yet more mild flavour to the common onion. Characteristically shallots have a small immature bulb which protrudes long, white to green, slender tube-like leaves. The entire vegetable can be used for culinary purposes. The green stems of a shallot are a great source of Vitamin C and beta-carotene. Select shallots that have medium-sized fresh looking green leaves that aren't drooping.
Sweetcorn is a sweet and juicy delight, able to be used in many ways - corn on the cob is an old favourite! Typically, sweet corn has yellow kernels and a sweet delicious flavour. It’s most commonly used in Asian stir fries and curries. Look for sweetcorn with pale to bright-green husks, with no signs of yellowing.
Varieities: Snow White, White Polka Dot, Baby
Tomatoes are a delicious bright coloured fruit originating from South America. Even though many assume the tomato is a vegetable due to its culinary purpose, botanically tomatoes are fruit. Tomatoes have a thin, glossy skin with a juicy flesh containing numerous, soft edible seeds. Colour and shapes differs between varieties, the most common tomato is large, red and plump. Colours range from red, green to yellow-skinned.
Varieties: Common, Roma, Egg, Cherry, Heirloom, Teardrop
The Zucchini is also known as a courgette, and is actually a summer squash that grows on a compact bush. Characterised by a thin, soft skin and shaped like a sausage with round end, zucchini's range in colour from almost black, geren, grey and yellow. With deliciously soft flesh, and succulent immature seeds, zucchini's usually grow to be around 10-15cm long. Choose zucchini's that are firm, glossing and tender.