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.
CHOCOLATE PUDDING FRUIT
Also known as black sapote, this fantastic fruit really does have a look, taste and texture a lot like chocolate pudding. Related to the persimmon, black sapotes are best eaten when fully ripe, so if you have bought one that is still quite firm, set is aside and wait until it’s very soft and squishy and darkens in colour. A good way to check is to poke with your finger – if it dents it is ready. Mix with a scoop of ice cream for a yummy chocolate mousse-like desert, add to smoothies or chill and enjoy as is. Black sapote are in season now, look for them at Picone Exotics and Jungle Juice.
This root vegetable isn’t pretty, but it’s versatile and delicious, with a beautiful celery/parsley/potato-like flavour. Like other root vegies, it’s great in soups and stews, but can be used raw in salad. It makes a beautifully silky puree and can also be roasted whole. Find it at the Jumping Red Ant stall.
PEACHES AND NECTARINES
The warmer weather has seen the first of the stone fruit arrive at the farmers markets. Garry Rodgers, of the Honey Wagon has a pick of yellow and white flesh nectarines and yellow flesh peaches, which he will have at the market over the next few weeks. Also check Neville Singh’s banana stall.
Juicy, messy, sweet and delicious, mulberries will only be available for a short period, so enjoy them while you can. Find them at Glenyce Creighton Organics and at Picone Exotics, who have just returned to the market for the summer season.
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.
Not many farmers attempt to grow onions in our subtropical climate as they can be tricky, but Rod and Tania Bruin of Tyalgum farm Summit Organics were successful this year, growing a small crop that is quickly being snapped up.
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.)
Alstonville growers Rick and Stan Morrow have had loads of these sweet fruit in recent weeks. You’ll also find beautiful berries at our new stall, Monty’s. Blueberries are also still available at Blueberry Fields.
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.
Avocados are still in season – but not for much longer! Try the Organic Avocado stall, Mt Chowan Organics, Jumping Red Ant and Morrow Farm.
Also in season: Apples, bananas, beetroot, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, carrots, celery, eggplant, fennel, garlic, ginger, green beans, kale, leeks, lettuce, macadamia, mushroom, papaya, pecan, pumpkin, peas, potato, silverbeet, snow peas, strawberries, sweet potato, tomato, turmeric, zucchini