Apricots are just like peaches, nectarines and cherries - they belong to the stone fruit family and are characterised by the large round inedible seeds. They have a soft skin that ranges from pale yellow to orange with a distinct groove running from the top to the bottom. Select apricots, which are plump, pale and have a strong sweet aroma.
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
The blackberry is an edible fruit, but funnily enough, it is not an actual berry. It is termed as an aggregate fruit composed of lots of small fleshy clusters containing an mini seed. The blackberry is popularly used in desserts, jams and wines. The blackberry shrub is also a good nectar producer and yields a dark fruity honey. Select firm, plump and fully blackberries for the best tasting fruit.
Blueberries are small round blue-purple berries that are rich in antioxidants. Blueberries are very low in calories and contain health benefiting minerals and vitamins that contribute to health and wellness. Sweet and juicy, blueberries are best eaten fresh - look for fresh berries that are plump, firm, smooth skinned and have a silvery grey bloom.
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
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,
Currants are small, rounded fruits with smooth skin. They can be red, yellow, green or black in colour. Usually growing in clusters, currants can be found on low-growing bushes and are often dried and used like raisins. Currants are most appropriately used in jams and desserts due to the nature of their sweet, juicy flavour.
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
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.
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
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
Nectarines are a hybrid fruit, a cross between a plum and a peach and are very similar to a peach without the fuzz on their skin. Nectarines are characterised by a smooth skin with a red to pale yellow colour and come from the same family as the roses and are also related to almonds. Choose fruit which is fragrant, firm, plump and richly coloured smooth, glossy skin
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
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
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.
Raspberries are a deep red berry with a sweet flavour. Suprisingly, raspberries consist of a collection of tiny fruits, each with its own seed covered in red skin and flesh, which form a helmet-shaped cluster around a small stem. When harvested the cluster comes away from the stem leaving a hollow in the centre. Select raspberries that are plump and brightly coloured.
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.
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
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.