In season: Autumn

 

JACKFRUIT

This huge spiky tropical fruit common in South East Asia is becoming increasingly popular in Australia. It’s a versatile fruit that can be used ripe or green, with very different results. Ripe, it’s very sweet and has a flavour that’s something like pineapple, banana and mango. When green, it’s neutral flavour and meaty texture make it perfect for savoury vegan dishes, the most popular of which is vegan pulled pork. Cooked with barbecue spices and sauce and then served on a burger or in tacos, the flavour and texture is so like pulled pork it’s been known to fool even dedicated carnivores. Look for jackfruit at the Picone Exotics stall or Jungle Juice.

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, Organic Forrest , The Salad Hut  and Everest Farms .

LIMES

The first of the citrus is arriving, with plenty of local limes being picked for the markets. Their fresh zing can make all the difference  to a meal and they’re great with seafood, desserts and drinks. Fresh limes now available from Jumping Red Ant and The Salad Hut, where you’ll also find kaffir limes and kaffir lime leaves. 

ROYAL GALA APPLES

The apple season has begun, with a great pick of new season Royal Galas (grown at Stanthorpe – the closest place to the Northern Rivers with a climate suited to apple growing), now available at the markets. Find them at McMahons Organic Apple stall, now back at the market, and the Costanzo Apples stall.

ROSELLA

These pretty little ‘fruits’ are actually a type of hibiscus. The part that is used for eating is called a calyx, which is the outside petal like part of the fruit. They’re commonly used to make cordials, jams, syrups or sauces , and a have a lovely plum/raspberry like flavour that goes well with sweet desserts or savoury dishes like roast lamb or pork.  For Rosella tea, use 3-4 calyx per cup and pour over boiling water. Look for them at Glenyce Creighton’s organic produce stall  or the Playing With Fire native food stall.

 

KANGKONG

It’s virtually impossible to grow spinach locally at this time of year because it can’t stand the heat. There are however, lots of other leafy greens that can be used in place of spinach, which are just as tasty and nutritious. One of the best examples is Kangkong, a hardy leafy green that thrives in our humid summers. Tyalgum organic farmer Tania Bruin, of Summit Organics, says is a perfect substitute for baby spinach and can be used in the same way, in quiches, omelettes, soups, salads or stir fries. 

KIWANO

Also known as the horned melon, these funky fruit look like little spiky cucumbers. You can eat them green, as you would a cucumber, or wait until they turn yellow, when they sweeten up and tastes more like a  kiwi fruit. Just cut in half and scoop out the edible seeds and flesh. Available from Glenyce Creighton’s organic produce stall.

BANANAS

The North Coast produces some of the country’s sweetest and best tasting bananas but it’s unlikely you’ll find one in the big supermarkets as they favour the bigger, ‘better looking’ fruit from North Queensland. Your best bet for a local banana is the farmers markets – Neville Singh is one of the region’s best-known growers, and always has a great selection of Cavendish and Lady Fingers at his stall at Mullumbimby Farmers Markets. He also grows more unusual varieties, like the creamy Blue Java, aka the Ice Cream banana, the red skinned Dacca banana and the Plantain. Other local banana growers include Lance and Georgia Powell of Mt Chowan Organics who sell at Mullumbimby Farmers Market.

DRAGONFRUIT

Likened by some to a magical dragon egg because of its unusual shape and colour, the dragonfruit is actually the fruit of a cactus plant.  It comes in several varieties – the most common is the red skin, red flesh, but they also come with red skin/white flesh, pink skin and white flesh or even yellow skin and white flesh. They have a mild taste and are best eaten chilled with a squeeze of lime. They’re also good in fruit salads or smoothies. Find them now at Rainbow Fruit Flats, Picone Exotics and Glenyce Creighton’s stall.

SPROUTS

Sprouts and microgreens are full of nutrition and can add extra crunch and flavour to almost any meal.  The Energetic Greens stall at Mullumbimby Farmers market has a big range, including broccoli, buckwheat, radish, sunflower sprouts. Wheatgrass and barley grass are also available in shots or in take home trays for those who like to juice at home. For legume-based sprouts,  Sproutlovers  has lentil, chickpea and blue pea sprouts.

 

FINGER LIMES

One of our best known native fruits, zingy finger limes are in season and available now from local farmers.  Often called citrus caviar, they’re filled with tiny beads that pop in your mouth, releasing their fresh citrus flavour. They’re fantastic squeezed onto seafood, chicken, melons, dragonfruit, avocado, or added to your cocktails. Find them at Mullumbimby Farmers Market’s native food stall, Playing with Fire. If you fancy growing your own finger lime tree (as a native they’re very hardy and well suited to our local conditions), you’ll also find grafted finger lime trees for sale at the stall.  

 

MELONS

Melon season is in full swing, with watermelon and rockmelon picked fresh from the Everest Farm at Eungella, near Murwillumbah and the Morrow Farm at Alstonville now available. Melons are ideal as a light breakfast or refreshing summer treat for the kids, and fantastic in summer salads. Combine chilled rockmelon with salad greens, red onion, pepitas and a vinaigrette or try a classic watermelon salad with feta and mint.

ZUCCHINI

One of the most versatile summer vegies, zucchini is good in almost anything  – from Thai curries to zucchini slice. Turn them into zoodles – a gluten free alternative to pasta noodles, or try zucchini lasagna using slices of zucchini instead of pasta sheets. Available from Jumping Red Ant and Everest Farm. 

CHILLIES

 There are plenty of fresh local chillies around to help you get a sweat up at your next meal. They’re available in varying degrees of heat, from milder long chillies to fiery habaneros. Chilli fans will also enjoy The Spice Palace’s harissa pastes, made with home grown chillies from Rob Cullinan and Duska Jefed’s farm at The Pocket. The milder green harissa, flavoured with coriander and preserved lemon, is great as a marinade for fish or chicken or as a simple green curry base, while the slightly spicier red harissa is delicious as a rub on any meat, or cooked with the onions in a curry.

EGGPLANT

If you haven’t discovered eggplant, now’s the season. This super versatile vegetable is at its best in late summer and is a great foundation for a vegetarian or vegan meal. Combine with zucchini, capsicum, tomatoes, onion and garlic for a healthy pasta sauce or use slices as an alternative to pasta sheets in lasagne. Roast and use as a pizza topping, add to curries or stir fries, or grill with a miso glaze for a tasty Japanese-style side dish. You’ll find a few different varieties at the farmers market, including the common deep purple variety, as well as white and purple striped, and the long eggplant –  also known as Japanese eggplant – which is available from Jumping Red Ant  And if you need an example of just how good eggplant can be, try the marinated and fermented eggplant from fermented food stall Suria Foods at New Brighton and Mullum Farmers Market. Yum.

GARLIC

Garlic is one of those staples you should always try and buy locally – imported garlic is cheap, but often bleached and sprayed with chemicals and will not have the same flavour. For some excellent locally grown garlic, try Organic Forrest and Summit Organics. Also look out for Picone Exotics’ exquisite fermented black garlic..

OYSTERS

Brunswick River oyster farmer Noel Baggaley, of Brunswick Seed Oysters, says it’s a great season for his sweet tasting Sydney Rock Oysters. Also try his oyster shots. His legendary seafood chowder will be back soon (when the weather cools down).

 

SALAD GREENS

Summer a.d Autumn means salads brimming with lots of fresh leafy greens. The Gourmet Salad Hut have a huge range of greens available from their Burringbar farm,  including cos, oak and mignonette lettuce, rocket, Pak choy, and watercress, as well as fresh leafy herbs like basil. Teven grower Denise Latham  also has an excellent variety of lettuce and salad mixes available. To keep your leafy greens fresher longer, chop off any roots and store in an airtight bag or container in the fridge.

CUCUMBER

Crisp, cool and refreshing,  slice cucumber  thinly into salads, cut into sticks and serve with dip, make a summer cucumber soup, create home made pickles or add a few strips to your gin and tonic. Find fresh local cucumbers at Coopers Shoot Tomatoes  Morrow Farm, Jumping Red Ant,  Everest Farm and Summit Organics.

CORN

 As soon as its picked, the sugars in sweet corn begin to convert to starch, so for maximum sweetness, eat on the day you buy. Find sweet corn at Everest Farm.

FERMENTED FOODS

Mullumbimby Farmers Market now has a new stall dedicated to gut-healthy fermented foods. Suria Foods owner, Katerina, grows all of her raw ingredients, and creates her ferments depending on what’s in season locally. Alongside traditional ferments like sauerkraut and kim-chi, you will find creations like fermented mushrooms, marinated eggplant and fermented Tokyo turnips with golden beet. Katerina also has a range of gut-healing juices (the juice left from the fermenting process) which is especially rich in beneficial bacteria.

 

BASIL

One of the best summer herbs and beautiful with fresh Coopers Shoot Tomatoes, farmhouse mozzarella from Burringbar cheesemaker Deb Allard of Cheeses Loves You and a splash of Grumpy Grandma’s olive oil on a slice of local sourdough.

PAWPAW

. Mt Chowan Organics and Everest Farm have been picking yellow and red paw paw that are sweet and ripe. Best cut in half and eaten with a squeeze of lemon or lime, or try a  pawpaw breakfast bowl. Chill a pawpaw, cut in half, scoop out the seeds and fill with yoghurt muesli, and fresh fruit like blueberries, bananas and strawberries.

MUSHROOMS

The newest farmers to join the Mullumbimby Farmers Market are local mushroom growers, Shroom Brothers. Based at Eviron, in the Tweed Shire, Shroom Brothers produce a range of gourmet pesticide free mushrooms.  Unlike many commercially available gourmet mushrooms, which start their life far away in other countries on mushroom ‘logs’ and are then imported and harvested in Australia, Shroom Brothers make their own spawn from Australian wheat and inoculate their ‘logs’ on a mixture of Australian hardwood and chaff.  Mushroom varieties available at the market now include the rich, buttery meaty Shiitake, and the more delicately flavoured Oyster and King Oyster. Shroom Brothers also sell pickled oysters and DIY growing kits.

 

 
 
NATIVE BEE BOXES
Native bees are a great addition to any backyard garden. They are extremely effective plant pollinators, and although they only produce small quantities of honey, it’s utterly delicious. Mullumbimby Farmers Market native produce stall Playing with Fire is now stocking locally made native bee boxes, which include instructions on caring for your bees and splitting the hive.

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