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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
The eggplant, also known as the aubergine is a delicate fleshy fruit that is commonly used as a vegetable is cooking. Cultivated on a bush, the eggplant characteristically has smooth, glossy, deep purple skin and is shaped like a tear drop. Inside, the flesh is spongy white with many small edible seeds. Eggplants are a wonderful source of folic acid and potassium.
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
A mushroom is a fleshy, spore bearing type of fungus typically produced above ground on soil or on its food source. Mushrooms are known as the meat of the vegetable world and are used extensively in many different cuisines. Mushrooms are a low-calorie food and a good source of B Vitamins, riboflavin, copper and potassium. Choose mushrooms that are dry, firm and clean. Shape and colour should be characteristic of variety. Avoid any that are slimy, withered or damaged.
Varieties: Buttons, Cups, Flats, Oyster, Shiitake, Enoki, Shimeji, Swiss Browns
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
Parsnips are related to carrots, and resemble them slightly in shape. They have creamy-yellow skin and flesh, with a nutty, sweet flavour. Parsnips are most commonly used in winter dishes. Look for firm parsnips, with evenly-coloured skin. They should be free of any soft or discoloured patches. Store parsnips in a plastic bag in the crisper section of your fridge for up to 1 week.
Potatoes are the most popular vegetable in use in Australia, and here we have a huge choice of variety. As a close relative of tomatoes, capsicums and eggplant - potatoes are varied in size and shape, some round, some oblong covered in a thin skin which encloses a soft, moist, flesh. The colours of potatoes can range from creamy white, yellow, red and even purple. The starchy carbohydrates found in potatoes give you lots of energy for activities and a quick acting source of glucose.
Varieties: Sebago, Pontiac, Desiree, Kipfler, Pink Eye, Spunta, Nicola
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.
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.
Swedes have a strong, slightly earthy flavour that’s great for winter meals. They are usually round in shape, about the size of an orange. They have yellow-brown skin with a purple flush. Their flesh is yellow and quite dense in texture. The swede is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip.
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 turnip is a is a root vegetable commonly characterised by a white, bulbous taproot. The most common type of turnip is mostly white-skinned with upper protrusions that are purple, red or green (depending on wherever the sunlight has fallen. The turnip's root is high only in Vitamin C, however the turnip top (leaves) are a great source of Vitamin A, folate and calcium.