The local mango season has begun. First fruit now available from Everest Farm.
Find lychees at the Jumping Red Ant stall
Mt Chowan Organics have the tasty red dragonfruit now. Also look out for dragonfruit on the Jungle Juice stall and at Picone Exotics.
Refreshing new season watermelon is now at the market. The perfect summer fruit, enjoy it chilled, whiz it in the blender with some lime juice for a refreshing drink, combine with feta for a classic salad (or toss it in any salad really). Our other favourite melon, rockmelon, is also in season now. Try it diced and combined with some local leafy greens, watermelon and crispy prosciutto (or just wrap it up in the prosciutto). Local watermelon and rockmelon are available from the Everest Farm stall.
Morrow Farm at the Mullumbimby Farmers Market have some small but good tasting plums available now, picked from their trees near Alstonville. Costanzo’s (Mullum and New Brighton) have also had a small amount of plums available in recent weeks.
Get your gut bacteria back in order after the excesses of the festive season with locally made probiotic-rich foods like Suria Foods’ sauerkraut and other vegetable ferments, goat milk kefir and yoghurt from Nimbin Valley Dairy , cow milk kefir and yoghurt from Cheeses Loves You , and tempeh and miso from the Byron Bay Tempeh stall.
Farmers markets regulars have been enjoying some delicious new produce from the Blueberry Fields stall over the past 12 months. Growers Lynette and Otto Saeck have added raspberries (which fruited a few months ago) and blackberries to their Brooklet orchard and the latter are in season now. Find them alongside the blueberries at their stall.
Perfect on a pizza, in pasta, or a roast veggie salad, eggplant can be tricky to cook, but when done right its silky texture and creamy flavour is unbeatable. For the best results, cut into slices and salt. Wait at least half an hour then drain off liquid, rinse and pat dry. You can then either pan fry with olive oil, oven bake or grill. Find eggplant at the Everest Farm stall Jumping Red Ant – who also have the slimmer Lebanese eggplant variety – and at Coopers Shoot Tomatoes.
Fresh fragrant basil is back in season, with some beautiful big bunches available at the Gourmet Salad Hut in recent weeks. Great for pesto (try it made with local macadamias – it’s delicious), sprinkled in salads, on pasta or pizza or bruschetta. It’s best to use basil quickly, but you can store well for a few days – just make sure its dry, cut off the roots, and keep in an airtight container in the fridge.
PEACHES AND NECTARINES
See Stan and Rick at Morrow Farm stall for fresh peaches and nectarines.
Coopers Shoot Tomatoes have had some beautiful heirloom tomatoes available lately. They come in some wonderful shapes and sizes and are full of old-fashioned tomato flavour. Grower Heather Armstrong is always happy to recommend varieties and will often have tasting plates available at the market so you can try before you buy.
With the weather warming up, it’s time to start enjoying lighter eating and adding some extra fresh and crisp salad greens to your meals. The Salad Hut is a one-stop shop for everything salad, and always has a huge array of healthy locally grown greens to choose from including fancy lettuce, baby spinach, tatsoi, rocket, herbs, and watercress (a peppery green that’s highly nutritious and excellent on sandwiches). Also look out for The Salad Hut’s mixed salad bunches – a generous bunch of rocket, coriander, tatsoi, and red beet leaf or red mizuna which creates a fantastic mix of texture, flavours and colour.
TAKE HOME LASAGNE
A lot of love, time and effort goes into Byron Gourmet Pasta’s new take-home lasagne. First, local Coopers Shoot tomatoes are cooked for at least 24 hours for a rich tomato sauce, then the meat sauce, using local Hayters Hill beef is also slow cooked for 24 hours. A creamy bechamel is made, then it’s all constructed using Byron Gourmet Pasta’s hand made pasta sheets. Available frozen from the Byron Gourmet Pasta stall at Mullumbimby Farmers Market, it’s a delicious and easy take home meal. (It also works as an ice brick to keep your produce cold while you’re out shopping and will be defrosted and ready to cook by the time you’re ready for dinner.)
Macadamia nuts make one of the best nut butters because they are so creamy and high in the good fats similar to those you find in avocados and olive oil. Macadamia is a delicious, smooth, dairy free alternative to traditional butter – spread it on toast or even add to baking in place of butter. Local macadamia growers Rainforest Foods, based at Tuckombil, create a range of macadamia butters available as well as their delicious Mac-Cao – macadamia butter blended with cacao (a bit like Nutella but a whole lot better in so many ways). Organic Forrest also make a lovely macadamia butter made using organically grown nuts from their farm at Federal, or try the maca butter by Nudgel Nuts.
The Northern Rivers is a great place to grow coffee. The climate is well-suited and there are none of the pests or diseases that can affect coffee in other parts of the world. Known for its sweet chocolatey taste, local coffee is also naturally low in caffeine (which means you can have that second cup without getting the jitters). There are several local growers at the farmers markets – for bagged beans, try Organic Forrest and for coffee by the cup and take home bags of beans visit Myocum Coffee.
MACADAMIA ICE CREAM
Rainforest Foods’ popular macadamia nut milk ice cream is back! Vegan, dairy free, refined sugar free and gluten free, it’s available in small and large take home containers.
PECANS: Northern NSW may be famous for macadamias, but it’s also one of the country’s biggest pecan-producing regions. Like macadamias, pecans are full of healthy fats and a good source of fibre. They’re delicious in cakes and desserts, sprinkled in salads for some extra crunch and nutrition, or on your morning porridge. They’re available shelled or unshelled at the markets. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer to keep them at their best and their nutrients intact. Look for them at Morrow Farm, Nimbin Valley Pecans, and The Spice Palace.
Also in season: Apples, bananas, beetroot, blueberries, cabbage, capsicum, carrots, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, garlic, ginger, green beans, lettuce, macadamia, mushroom, papaya, pecan, pumpkin, peas, potato, silverbeet, snow peas, strawberries, sweet potato, tomato, turmeric, zucchini