Autumn: in-season fruit and vegies
As summer draws to a close and autumn draws in, food-loving Australians can look forward to a whole range of tasty and nutritious produce coming into season. Eating seasonally offers so many benefits. Health-wise, locally produced in-season fruits and vegies are at their peak of freshness, which means they’re at their most nutritious. As an added bonus, this also means they’re at their most flavourful. Eating with the seasons can also benefit your hip pocket. In-season produce is at peak supply, which means you’ll be more likely to find a good bargain at the supermarket, greengrocer or farmers’ market.
Choosing to eat what’s in season supports our local growers and regional communities. It’s also kinder on the planet. Locally grown seasonal produce has typically had to travel less distance to reach you, and so requires fewer resources to transport and store.
So what’s in season during autumn in Australia? We take a look at just some of the many fruits and vegetables that are now coming into their own as the cooler months kick in.
While once we only had Granny Smith and Red Delicious to choose from, autumn now brings with it more than a dozen apple varieties. The tangy Kanzi is being harvested right now. Kanzi also naturally stays white for longer after slicing, so is ideal to use for a snack plate or on a cheeseboard. Jazz apples are also about to reach harvest. You’ll find sweet and zesty in-season Jazz in store from April. Royal Gala and Golden Delicious are now in store, as is the early season Smitten. This crunchy delight has firm flesh that’s more resistant to bruising, making it the perfect snack on the go. In April, picking begins for the burgundy Bravo and the toothsome Pink Lady. These varieties were developed in Western Australia and have been found to have the highest polyphenol content of all apples.
Autumn is also prime pear season, and like apples, there are now many varieties to enjoy. In-season William Bartlett, Beurré Bosc, Red Sensation and Rico pears are all now in store. Packham’s Triumph, Corella, Joséphine de Malines, Red Anjou, Winter Nelis and Pica Boo are now being picked, and should hit stores from April. When choosing pears, keep in mind that the fruit ripens from the inside out. And while some varieties change colour when they’re ripe, others show little or no change in colour. So, to check if a pear is ripe, press the flesh gently near the stem. If the flesh gives a little, the pear is ripe and ready to eat.
Kicking off the citrus season, mandarins also begin to appear in autumn. This lunchbox staple is available from April. The most popular variety is the sweet and juicy Imperial mandarin. It’s not only easy to peel; it also has fewer seeds than other varieties, making it ideal for fussy kids. From May, you’ll find the Afourer mandarin. This variety has a darker, richer orange colour than other varieties, so is easy to spot. May also brings with it the Amorette mandarin. This is a truly seedless variety, is also easy to peel, and offers a nice blend of sweetness and tang. Lemons and limes are also at their best right now. And from May, early-season navel oranges make their debut.
Also in the fruit bowl
Apples, pears and citrus are just the tip of the fruit-berg. Autumn also brings with it figs, kiwifruit, grapes, persimmons, quinces, custard apples, guavas and grapes.
Autumn means the start of potato season. But they’re not the only root veg that you can enjoy in the coming months. You’ll also find parsnips, turnips, carrots and sweet potatoes. Despite their name, sweet potatoes don’t belong to the potato family. They also contain more fibre than regular potatoes. Plus they contain vitamin A, vitamin C and niacin, or vitamin B3. While most are familiar with the orange sweet potato, you can also find white, red and purple varieties. All root vegies are fantastic to bake, or to use in soups or stews.
Where to begin? Green beans are now in season, as are zucchini, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and spinach. Asian greens are also in season in autumn, and vegies like bok choy are ideal for stir-frying, or braised and served as a side dish. Cabbage is in season now, too, and this leafy green can do so much more than make sauerkraut. You can serve it raw in a classic coleslaw, sauté it as a side dish or use it in soups, cabbage rolls or stews.
Also in the vegie patch
Pumpkin is now in season, although this is technically a fruit, not a vegetable. This orange gourd is absolute perfection when it’s roasted. Try it in this warm salad recipe. Also not a vegetable, but now in season are mushrooms. But if you want to go foraging for wild mushies, make sure you’re with an expert. You don’t want to accidentally serve up death cap mushrooms at the dinner table. Fennel is another autumn star. If you don’t like the liquorice taste, try roasting it. It will become sweet and caramelised. Tomatoes are also in their prime right now, as are spring onions, cucumbers and sweetcorn. Enjoy!