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
Capsicum - also known as the Bell Pepper, come in a range of colours including: red, green, yellow, black, brown and purple. The capsicum has a range of uses including spices, vegetables and medicinal. Red capsicums have very high levels of Vitamin C and yellow and green have nearly as much. The reason why the red capsicum is the most popular variety is because it contains about 2 teaspoons of natural sugar making them much more pleasing to the taste buds.
Cherries belong to the stone fruits family along with apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums. Usually round to heart-shaped with smooth glossy skin which is a deep red to black colour, cherries are a valueable source of antioxidants that help keep the body healthy and the darker our flesh, the more of these we supply. Select fruits that have their stem intact with plump and shiny skin.
Varieties: Supreme, Rons, Van, Stella, Rainier
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.
The grapefruit is a delicious and juicy fruit from the citrus family. It’s thought that the name came about because grapefruits grow in clusters, looking like a big bunch of yellow grapes. Rich in vitamin C and compounds called bioflavonoid that protect our bodies from infection. Buy fruit that is heavy for its size with thick and glossy skin.
Varieties: Marsh Seedless, Ruby Red, Thompson or Pink Marsh
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
Despite many thinking Kiwifruit comes from New Zealand, they are actually a native of China and are also known as Chinese Gooseberry. Kiwifruits are cyclindrical and egg shaped with a reddish brown skin covered with thousands or tiny short hairs. Inside, the flesh is a deep emerald green colour with fine black seeds which form a circle in the centre.
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
Lychees are a subtropical fruit native to southern China from the Litchi family. Usually round or slightly egg shaped and pink to reddish-brown in colour, the skin is brittle but when peeled reveals a glistening, moist, translucent ball or jelly like flesh that has a sweet delicate taste. When selecting lychees at the markets look for fresh looking firm skin with part of the stalk still attached.
Varieties: Kwai Mai, Tai So, Bengal
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.
Pineapples originated from Brazil, and can weigh up to 10kgs. In Australia, we grow rich tasting sweet pineapples that grow well in warm areas such as Queensland. With a spikey exterior, the inside flesh is a swett, juicy yellow delight which double as an excellent source of manganese.
Varieties: Rough leaf and smooth leaf
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.
Strawberries are the only fruit which has its seeds on its outer skin and there are an average of 200 seeds on each fruit. Soft, red, plump and heart shaped - strawberries are a great source of Vitamin C and folate. Strawberry plants produce small white flowers which much be fertilised by bees to produce fruit. Look for plump, bright red fruit, free from bruises.
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.
Watermelons are synonmous with long hot summer days and are a member of the melon family. They can be round or elongated oval shaped fruits with smooth, hard, thick skin. The sweetness in a watermelon is comes from a collection of the natural sugars sucrose, fructose and glucose. Choose melons that sound hollow when tapped.
Varieties: Red Tiger, Viking, All Sweet
The edible part of an artichoke is the unopened flower bud, which has a unique, slightly sweet taste. Each artichoke is composed of fleshly gold-green to purple coloured leaves, surrounding a hairy, inedible ‘choke’, on top of an edible, tender heart. Look for plump artichokes, with tightly closed leaves. They should have firm heads and stems, and feel relatively heavy for their size.
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.
Brussels sprouts have an undeservedly bad reputation but, when cooked until just tender and bright green, they have a delicate, slightly nutty flavour that’s a delicious accompaniment to all kinds of dishes. Brussels sprouts are related to both the cabbage and broccoli. Available between March and December they can be served on their own or combined with other vegetables and meats in cooking.
Cabbages are round in shape, with tightly packed layers of leaves making them feel quite heavy. There are many different varieties available, but chief among them are the green cabbage and the red cabbage. Green cabbage has a refreshing flavour and crunchy texture, while red cabbage has thicker leaves and a slightly sweeter taste. Look for crisp, brightly coloured cabbages with a subtle sweet smell.
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.
Cauliflower belongs to the cabbage family, and their tightly formed white flowers and white stems can both be eaten. Cauliflower have a mild, slightly nutty flavour. Look for cauliflower with pure white heads, with no brown tinges. The flowers should be tightly packed, and the leaves should look fresh and green.
Celeriac is roughly round in shape, and resembles a gnarled brown root with long green leaves. Only the root is eaten. Underneath the roots brown skin lies crisp white flesh that tastes a little like strong celery mixed with parsley. Celeriac is eaten both raw, in a similar manner to celery, and cooked.
Both the bulbous base and the lovely leaves of fennel are edible. Fennel bulbs have a slightly sweet, anise flavour while the leaves have a much stronger taste. Fennel is a good source of dietary fibre and vitamin C and the leaves are rich in vitamin A. Look for fennel with fresh-looking, bright green leaves. The bulb should be white and quite shiny, with a fresh smell.
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
Garden peas are the most common variety of pea and come in small pods. Other types of peas include snow peas which look like flattened peas and are are crisp in texture, with a slightly sweet flavour. Finally, we also have sugar snap peas, which resemble snow peas, except that their pods are more rounded in shape, and contain slightly more mature peas. Peas can be used raw in salads, or cooked whole in stir fries and vegetable dishes.
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.
Silverbeet has deliciously crisp and juicy stems, which can be used in all kinds of dishes. Its leaves have a fairly strong, earthy flavour which pairs well with richly-flavoured ingredients. Silverbeet is available all year round and can be used in soups, frittatas, pies and vegetable dishes. Look for quite small silverbeet, with fresh-looking leaves and crisp stems.
Spinach is one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat. This vegetable consists of oval or triangular shaped leaves of variable size. Known for its high nutritional value, spinach is extremely rich in antioxidants and a rich source of vitamin A, C, E and K, iron magnesium and zinc. To maintain as much of the nutritional value as possible, spinach is best eaten fresh, steamed or boiled. Select spinach which is fresh looking, bright green, tender leaves. Avoid wilted, yellow or damaged leaves.
Varieties: Savoy, Flat, Baby, Silverbeet, English.
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.