I hope your Market Box comes in handy for your Easter spread this long weekend.
Whilst we have been enjoying the sun over the last few days, Hawkesbury River residents were only given the all clear to return home on Wednesday with the outer areas only yesterday afternoon. Clean-up can now begin which will be the hardest part for many farmers
At the markets this week veg continues to rise in price. This is due to NSW floods but also it’s Easter and there is more demand for produce. Produce was sourced from Victoria to substitute for what we can’t get here from our local NSW growers, so of course the journey up makes the price of most items that bit more expensive.
Before we jump into your Fruit and Veg box, are you following The Market Box on social media?
I’ve started to post several times a week with tips on storing your produce and what’s happening on Aussie farms that I know you will love.
Now let’s talk all fruit and Veg in your box.
Gala’s continued to be the pick of the crop and are in your box this week. I recently read a fun article that listed the top 12 apples in Australia, Royal Gala came in first for best apple with the blurb: A “round sweet apple… with a dense, sweet, aromatic and juicy with a white flesh”.
Good news for the Pink Lady fans; picking has started and depending on price will be in your next box.
Bananas continue to rise in price, because of the same reason as the last few weeks. If you missed our social media post that delved right into the devastation of the Banana crops in Queensland, click to have a look here: Facebook or Instagram
This week you have new season Packham pears If you like a crunchy pear with subtle sweetness, it can be eaten straight away. But if you like a sweeter, softer pear, then leave it for another day or two. This is a really cute video from Australian Pears showing when you know your pear is ripe.
Dinner idea: Pears are great for adding to a salad and it’s hard to go past Baby Spinach, Pear + Parmesan Salad. When this salad first became popular, rocket was the base but baby spinach works just as well. Add walnuts or roasted pine nuts for extra goodness. If not serving immediately, drizzle the pear with lemon juice to stop browning. To dress the salad, add 2 tbs balsamic vinegar, 1 tbs whole-grain mustard½ cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper into a glass jar and shake well. Drizzle on salad and pass remaining. Leftover dressing can be refrigerated for next time around.
Welcoming Kiwi fruit to your box, it is the start of the season and I don’t usually think Kiwi’s are great first off, but this week I tried and tested and I was impressed, they are yum! No tartness like I thought they might have, so I added them in.
I really hope you are enjoying the grapes at the moment. Normally I try to change it up between the varieties but these new trial grapes are really too good to go past. Actually it has made me go to my fridge to grab a small bunch to snack on whilst I continue to write this market update.
Dinner idea: If you are finding too many grapes in your box, use them in this Candied Walnut, Avocado, Apple + Grape Salad. This salad uses Gala apples so another way to use them up if you are not a huge fan. Substitute rocket for baby spinach
This week in your box is my absolute favourite plum variety the OCTOBER SUNS. They are very sweet, the skin is yellow with a touch of red. We only see them for a couple of weeks each plum season, so I hope you like them as much as I do. (I grabbed a plum as well, to eat after the grapes!)
With cooler weather, more of the easter bunny’s favourite food is in your box. Please check out my post on Instagram and Facebook on how to best store them, click the link below to take a look. Facebook or Instagram
Dinner idea: Warm Salad of Carrots, Coriander + Chilli Salt is one of my favourite salads and perfect as this time of year when shepherd avocados are in peak season. The salad is so good and the hero on the plate, all you need to do is add pan fried chicken. You can omit the frying of the carrots as I don’t think it makes a huge difference but I do turn the oven up to 220 so I can get a better browning on the carrots. You will need to toss the carrots in oil and orange juice before baking. I also use 2 avocadoes as I don’t think 1 is enough and I omit the extra oil.
Welcoming back our Queensland growers as the highway through northern NSW has reopened. Your Broccoli is from Stanthorpe as there are more daylight hours for the sun to produce growth in comparison to Victoria. Last weekend we had a full moon and broccoli responds better around a full moon, leading to quicker growth so more supply and cheaper prices.
Dinner idea: Saute w Bacon, Garlic + Lemon Juice and serve on the side.
This week’s capsicums are also from Stanthorpe. Stanthorpe growers are singing in the rain as the region received up to 180mm of rain and their dam is over capacity. A far cry from the 500 million litres of water that has been carted in since Jan 2020. Fantastic to see all that rain a week or so ago has made a positive impact somewhere in Australia.
Dinner idea: A quick and easy pasta in around 30 mins; Chicken, Chorizo + Capsicum Pasta
I am really getting into the groove on social media 😆 Last week I posted a short video from my tomato supplier, PETE – whogave us an insight as to what to expect with tomatoes in coming weeks. Pete’s report is spot on, take a look: Facebook or Instagram
Dinner idea: Easter is the biggest holiday of the year for Greeks so a bright, fresh, classic Greek Salad has to be on the menu. Aussies love Greek Salad and we all know how to throw one together. If the local fish and chip or BBQ chicken shop sells one fresh salad, it’s probably a Greek salad! That’s how much we love it.
Cucumbers are great, but have tripled in price, partly because of the horrendous rain we received and partly because many growers pulled out crops as they weren’t making any money. The cost to keep a glasshouse warm is expensive then add labour, freight and packaging meant they were losing money and it wasn’t worth the effort. So we now have a supply gap until Coffs Harbour starts harvesting in mid-late April.
Dinner idea: lots of ideas on my Pinterest board
I did think that last week was going to be our final week for corn, but this week corn is good and corn is cheap. So never say never!
Dinner idea: Use this simple Beef + Bean Taco recipe. Cook corn and slice off kernels to serve with the cucumber, tomato and lettuce.
Snow Peas continue to be great quality, although a little more expensive than usual. Mostly because Gippsland – where they were grown also received their fair share of rain. Only the good produce makes it to markets and as this quantity of good produce was less than usual, it forces the price to go up.
Dinner idea: Great in a Green Chicken Curry. Use store brought curry paste as much easier on your time. To add freshness to the store brought curry paste add grated ginger, crushed garlic and lemongrass. Again for ease use lemongrass paste that you buy in a tube.
Royal Blue Potatoes are in your box this week. Always a great addition to a wholesome and hearty Easter spread. The royal blues make a wonderful mash, great as roasted potatoes or delicious chips.
FUN FACT: You may already know, but when roasting Aussie potatoes, you don’t need to peel them before roasting. Simply give them a good scrub under water and VOILA they’re good to go!
Dinner idea: The smaller potatoes work well in the Crispy Skin Lemon Chicken + Potatoes. If some are a little big just cut in half. This dish has only seven ingredients and packs a serious lemony punch.
This week our growers lime light is on our Potato Grower, Jones Potato’s from Gippsland Victoria. The Jones family have been growing potatoes in Warragul in West Gippsland for four generations. The property is at the foothills of the Strzelecki mountains and consists of free draining red to chocolate clay loams with permanent streams running through most gullies. Over the last 20 years they have moved away from the conventional farming practice of relying on synthetic inputs and have focused on more sustainable, traditional methods including weed control by cultivation heading towards a more organic approach in their growing activities. The balance of the farm is managed according to biological principles. This means they work with the natural defences already in place in the soil to control pests and diseases.
Gippsland, where most of our beans are coming from at the moment, caught the tail end of our rain and while the wild weather wreaked havoc for some, many farmers gleefully reported plenty of runoff flowing into dams and creeks. At the end of last week, there was little supply around due to the weather but thankfully this was short lived and it was all systems go this week. The shelf life won’t be as good compared to previous weeks.
Dinner idea: Lemony Green Beans. Lemons are coming to season and whilst early they are still very good pricing and perfect to compliment beans. Don’t skip on the zest! It may be an extra step but worth it and uses up all your lemon.
Another wonderful Queensland produce, freighted in from Bundaberg. The region’s fertile
soil and warm, sun-drenched climate is exactly what is needed to grow perfect sweet potatoes. Queensland also doesn’t suffer with the heat extremes that we have in NSW + Victoria which makes it the preferred growing area.
Dinner idea: I can’t go past Roasted Sweet Potato. Roasting is the simplest way to add instant flavour to any vegetable. The oven completely transforms bland vegetables, intensifying the natural flavour, caramelising sugar you didn’t even know was in it, and giving it colour by browning the outsides. Colour equals flavour! Sweet potato is a wonderful example of roasting magic in action. The best way to make roasted sweet potato is in a very hot oven so they brown beautifully in the same time it cooks for the inside to become sweet and luscious.
I stayed with the local crop which is generally my preference anyway, as Victorian Zucchini’s were asking for way too much!
Dinner idea: as zucchinis have a mellow flavour they are good for soaking up flavours and work well in a punchy stir fry. Weeknight Spicy Thai Basil Stir Fry uses a good dose of red chillies but you can substitute with sweet chilli sauce.
Will mostly likely be your only leafy green over the next few weeks until the Sydney basin farmers can get back on their feet.
Personally, I love using baby spinach. So versatile and can be thrown into almost every dish one way or another for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here’s a few meals I have already added mine to this week,
- Mid-morning smoothie
- The base of my salad
- Wilted into a quick and easy veggie pasta – can also be wilted into so many different dishes
- Base veggie on my sandwich,
- under the weekend’s poached eggs
- Added to my Ratatouille
Did I also mention how good it is for us?
Dinner idea: any ideas above
Dave, my usual grower wouldn’t let me buy any lettuce this week as he knows I’m fussy and his quality is questionable with little shelf life so hence Mesclun. (French for mixed salad leaves)
FUN FACT: Mesclun came into vogue the mid 1990’s and I have called it Mesclun ever since. But as Australian’s do, we tend to keep it fairly simple and refer to it as “salad mix”.
Dinner idea: A few years ago, Aussies became obsessed with Thai Beef Salad and there’s a good reason, it’s bloody delicious and simple to prepare.
Red cabbage is such a great vegetable for this time of the year.On the colder days cabbage is perfect to braised and on warmer days perfect as the base to your salad. I’m incredibly fascinated and in awe of Mother Nature and how the vegetables she produces fit so perfectly with the season.
Dinner idea: Shaved or thinly slice cabbage and use for a poke bowl. Cook sushi rice and add cubes of salmon pan fried (or you can use sashimi salmon which can be eaten raw), and your choice of additional salad vegs; carrot, cucumber, radish, avocado. Garnish with sesame seeds, shallots or coriander. For a dressing, add to a glass jar 2 tbs mirin, 1½ tbs tamari soy sauce, 2 tbs rice vinegar, ½ tsp sesame oil and 2 tbs toasted sesame seeds. Shake well.