You know summer has well and truly arrived when the mangos start appearing at the market. Bowen and Kensington Prides are the first to come into season and they will be followed by other varieties like the R2E2 and Nam Doc Mai. When choosing a mango, skin colour is not always the best indicator of ripeness. The best way to test if the fruit is ripe is by smell and/or giving it a gentle squeeze. If it gives a little, it’s ready. You can buy green mangos, just leave them in the fruit bowl at room temperature for several days and they will gradually ripen. Once ripe store in the fridge. Find mangos at the Everest Farm stall, Rainbow Fruit Flats, Picone Exotics Mt Chowan Organics and Jungle Juice.
The popular pink -skinned dragonfruit variety is now in season locally and will be appearing in flushes over the next few months, according to Mooball grower Nora Brils, of the market’s Jungle Juice stall. The pink-skinned variety comes with two flesh colours – white flesh with black seeds or the striking magenta coloured flesh with black seeds. Local grower John Picone, of Picone Exotics, has also developed his own variety – the Pink Ice – which has a gorgeous pink flesh. Both have a mild, delicate and refreshing taste that’s a little like a blend of kiwi, pear and watermelon. Dragonfruit look fantastic diced in a fruit salad, or simply chill, cut in half, add a squeeze of lime, scoop out the flesh and enjoy. John Picone also recommends cutting red dragonfruit into 1cm rounds and charring both sides on the barbecue. Add a squeeze of lime and serve.Find dragonfruit at Jungle Juice, Picone Exotics and Rainbow Fruit Flats.
Native to the local rainforest, finger limes are filled with tiny beads that create a citrus explosion when they pop in your mouth. Use them anywhere you would normally use lime or lemon – in drinks, on seafood, guacamole, or desserts.
Smaller than more commonly available figs, these dark red native figs are super sweet, caramel-y and delicious. As the name suggests, they come form the sandpaper fig tree, which is native to the east coast of Australia. Grower John Picone says the rough leaves mean picking the fruit can be quite difficult (and sometimes painful) but the flavour of fruit makes it worthwhile. Like other figs, sandpaper figs are delicious eaten fresh as they are, or with a soft cheese like brie. You can also use them in a salad – rocket, walnuts, goats’ cheese and figs is a classic combination. John’s other figs are also in season now, including the honey flavoured Napolitana.
The Mullumbimby Farmers Market has recently welcomed Damien Curtis and his stall, The Bay Smokehouse, to its line–up of stalls. Damien sells local, wild caught fish, which are smoked in his home-made smokehouse near Mullumbimby. Damien uses species high in Omega 3s, like tailor and mackerel, and the fish can be used in the same way as you would smoked salmon or trout. Damien also produces a deliciously addictive smoked fish rillettes (fish dip/spread) with organic raw cashew cream and smoked fish.
Bright yellow and shaped like a UFO, button squash are one of the most eye-catching summer vegetables. The classic way to cook them is to steam whole, then cut up and add seasonings, but there are lots of other ways of preparing them. The big ones are good sliced into a stir-fry, or you can stuff with onion, breadcrumbs or rice, cheese and bacon and bake. The little ones are especially good barbecued on skewers with other veggies. Available from Everest Farm and Morrow Farm.
The first pick of the season’s watermelon has arrived at the markets. Chill and cut into slices for the kids, blend into a smoothie, or whiz it into some healthy home made ice blocks. For something a little more sophisticated, try watermelon in a salad – chop up into cubes and add cucumber, goats cheese or feta and mint and a vinegary dressing for the perfect accompaniment to seafood. Find new season watermelon at Everest Farm, and arriving soon at Morrow Farm.
Jumping Red Ant has new season lychees. These tropical fruit look a bit like a raspberry on the outside, but peel off the rough skin and they look like a large white grape. Best eaten chilled, they’re lovely and refreshing as is, or you can add them to cocktails or desserts.
Costanzo Apples will have fresh plums from Stanthorpe at the markets for the next couple of weeks.
Because it’s locally grown, the corn at the markets is super fresh, and full of the sugars that make it so sweet. Eat it the day you buy it for maximum sweetness. Find sweet corn at the Everest Farm stall and at the Bangalow Farm stall.
Fragrant summer basil is perfect in pesto, sprinkled fresh on pizza, or in salads. Look for fresh basil at The Gourmet Salad Hut.
If the New Year has got you feeling like a detox and craving all things fresh, clean, and green, try adding some sprouts to your diet. Sprinkle on salads, sandwiches, stir fries or soups for extra flavour texture and nutrition, add them to green juices, or enjoy them on their own dressed with some olive oil and salt and pepper. You’ll find big range of sprouts at the Sproutlovers stall including mung bean, lentil and chickpea sprouts, while the Energetic Greens stall has soil grown sprouts such including broccoli, radish, wheat grass and barley grass.
Tomatoes are super sweet at the moment. Available from Coopers Shoot Tomatoes or Jumping Red Ant.
Organic Forrest has new season garlic available now, including Elephant or Russian Garlic and Italian Purple. Also check Picone Exotics and Summit Organics for locally grown garlic.
Delicious eaten fresh or stuffed and roasted. Capsicums available from Coopers Shoot Tomatoes, Jumping Red Ant and Everest Farm.
Jumping Red Ant and Everest Farm have sweet new season passionfruit.