I hope you’re enjoying the sunshine with this beautiful autumn weather we are being very spoilt with.
Let’s dive into your box and see what the farms have brought us this week.
As we head towards winter, production shifts from the southern states and Queensland’s fresh produce comes to the forefront.
You may remember me mentioning recently, there are shortages of pickers and we are now starting to see the ramifications. North Queensland at this time of year is normally backpackers central and farmers rely on the backpackers to supplement their harvest workforce so labour shortages are now impacting the region. Produce coming from this region; mandarins, zucchini, tomato, capsicums are staying high.
Apples -Pink Lady season looks to be the best we’ve had for the last few years and a huge improvement over last year when the bushfires damaged so much fruit.
Bananas – Soon I will be going bananas about the price of our aPEELing friend. The colder weather, the cyclonic winds in March and the struggle to get pickers has the prices rising week on week. Still great quality, but supply is at an all-time low.
Pears – This week I have gone back to my favourite pear variety the Josephine. The Josephine’s are definitely the better eating pear but don’t quite have the shelf life like Packham’s do which is why you don’t see them on supermarket shelves.
Mandarins – We have hit the abundant stage and prices are excellent and the flavour is in full flight. I’ve been eating them daily and can’t get enough of the delicious citrus taste. Such a great snack for everyone and the lunch boxes of course. Coming straight from the self-proclaimed citrus capital of QLD – Gayndah.
Kiwi Gold – May is the month when gold kiwis are in their prime at their very best for eating. Kiwis are great to fill the gap when stonefruit season comes to a total halt during the colder months. They don’t keep as well as green counterparts.
Grapes – Melody grapes are in your box again this week. The grapes are grown on the bank of the Murray River on the Vic/NSW border. The farm grows 8 different varieties of grapes so they start harvesting in Jan and keep going until June.
Tomato – you have grape tomatoes again as truss tomatoes are expensive and in demand as Roma and field tomatoes are still in short supply after the March floods. This will change when the Bowen tomato season starts shortly.
Good to Know
My go-to-grower for grape toms had pulled his stock from the Sydney markets this week. He is so steadfast on quality that he didn’t feel his grape tomatoes were up to his standard. He farms in Bowen and is another grower short on pickers, so had to hire school students to fill the picking gap. Unfortunately, they added a few withered grape tomatoes to a couple of punnets and so and he wouldn’t let them be sold. New stock arrived in time for the Thursday boxes.
Capsicum Red – Bundaberg + Bowen are now producing capsicums in place of the southern states, with Bowen region being the largest winter vegetable growing area in Australia. The mild Bowen winters means it is perfect place to grow capsicums and tomatoes.
Cucumber – You have local glasshouse cucumbers.
Do you know why cucumbers from backyard veggie gardens taste better? It’s all do with shelf life. A cucumber consists of 97% water and as soon as you harvest the cucumber, it starts to dry out. So it stands to reason that it’s best to consume that cucumber as soon as possible. When you pluck a cucumber from your veggie garden it is generally eaten fairly quickly.
Whilst I can’t get the cucumbers to you straight from harvest, I do cut out one part of the supply chain and they’re not sitting around on supermarket shelves. Here’s hoping that my cucumbers taste second best to harvesting from your veggie garden.
Broccoli – At this time of the year Victoria and Tasmania start to drop off in supply and majority comes out of Queensland. Queensland hasn’t quite kicked into full gear yet so broccoli is on the expensive side.
Beans – More handpicked green beans this week with snow peas and sugars snaps skyrocketing in price. The QLD bean season has started and you have handpicked from Gympie. The QLD snow pea season should start picking this week or next.
Len Carlson has been farming beans for 67 years just outside Gympie, QLD. He plants around 130 acres of beans each year and when he is not growing beans, he plants sorghum which is then ploughed into the earth to get the soil ready for the next crop.
He uses his farm’s bunya pines as a good guide to predict the season’s rainfall. The wisdom of the bunya pines was relayed to him in his youth by the indigenous settlers. They told him if there were no bunya nuts, there would be no big wet season. He has followed this principle over the years and found it works most of the time.
Potato – Desiree’s from the rich soils of Virginia in South Australia are in your box this week. Desiree potatoes are firm and hold their shape and useful for a variety of methods of cooking, from roasting to mashing and salads. I brought mediums rather than smalls so it was easier to peel if you were making mash.
Dinner idea: Temperatures are dropping over the weekend so time to bring out this favourite; Potato Gratin
Baby Spinach – Supply is picking up from the hail damage a few weeks ago and back in your box. Want to learn how to stop your Baby Spinach from going slimy and spoiling quickly? Head to my Instagram or Facebook page to learn how to store your baby spinach for a better shelf life.
Dinner idea: Warm, hearty salads at this time of year are prefect and Sweet Potato, Lentil + Baby Spinach Salad fits the bill. Serve with sausages.
Wombok – Supply is abundant and a great price, making Wombok the best seasonal buy this week. Wombok is also known as Chinese cabbage and is the sweet cousin in the cabbage family with its sweet, mild flavour and crunchy texture. There are many ways to us wombok. Some great ideas are to use the leaves instead of lettuce for san choy bau, finely shred and use in coleslaw or as an alternative to lettuce in salads or do as the Koreans do and make kim chi.
Dinner idea: Beef Stir-Fry w Quick Kimchi. This is a quick and simple way to make kimchi and you can control how much chilli you use. The recipe calls for 2 long red chillis but I like a little more heat and use 3. The recipe calls for carrots sliced lengthways so the easiest way to do this is to peel the carrot in long strips. Remember to rinse off the pickling water. I forgot the other night and we all drank a lot of water. 😉
Celery – As we move into the last month of autumn, it’s time to bring out soups, sauces, stews and casseroles that we all crave at this time of the year. The starting point for many of these is sautéing onion, celery and carrot – the holy trinity of vegetables known as a mirepoix in French and soffrito in Italian. This trio adds a depth of flavour to any dish it touches. This week’s celery is grown in Victoria.
Dinner idea: A classic Italian casserole Chicken Cacciatore is easy to make and won’t have you in the kitchen for hours
Mushrooms – There’s not MUSHROOM for mushys in the boxes during summer due to the variety of veggies around. But in autumn and winter I adore them as they are PEARfect for adding to stews and casseroles and you can’t beat mushies on toast for a weekend brekky. This week’s shrooms are locally grown in Sydney basin area.
Dinner idea: Snapper w Sautéed Mushrooms + Chickpeas. Fish always makes an quick dinner. To make this even quicker, use tinned chick peas,
Pumpkin – Butternut pumpkin this week. These are sweeter and nuttier than other pumpkin varieties. Most of the time I give you Jap pumpkins as these are easily brought individually at the markets, whereas finding Butternut individually is much harder. Luck was on my side this week and the advantage of butternut is that it’s whole so you don’t have to cook immediately and it will store well. Your Butternut came from a farm in Forbes.
Dinner idea: Butternut tends to be the go-to pumpkin for pumpkin soup. This recipe is brilliant and needs no further explanation; No-Peel Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Zucchini – Your zucchini’s this week are from a lovely mum and dad farm in Bundaberg who also grow tomatoes. Zucchini’s were on the more expensive side this week, like many of our produce coming from the Queensland farms due to lack of pickers.
Dinner idea: Baked Zucchini Rings w Parmesan + Herbs. Slice the zucchini into rings, then lightly toss with olive oil, fresh or dried herbs and grated Parmesan to your liking. Place on a tray and bake in the oven at 180ºC for 25-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
For more inspiration, look up my Pinterest account for more recipes.
I try to give you easy, everyday recipes as I know there is often not a lot of time to cook dinner.
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THIS WEEK’S FOOD PUN