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    How to buy the best fresh produce

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    Select to see what's in season: 

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     Summer Autumn  Winter Spring 

    By Christine Dominguez 

    There’s nothing more satisfying than a juicy mango on a hot summer’s day. Throw some together with coriander, mint and shredded chicken and, within minutes, you’ve got a delicious tropical salad.

    In the cooler months, it’s easy to eat your weight in roasted vegetables, stews and casseroles. And, for many of us, hearty pumpkin soup seasoned with rich spices becomes a weekly staple.

    Whether or not you’re the seasoned cook, there’s a reason why we enjoy certain foods at certain times of the year – they’re eaten in their thriving season when they’re ripe and packed with nutrients. And so is the art of eating fresh produce with the seasons.

    When you’re eating fruits and vegies at the same time of the year they’re grown harvested and sold, you get to enjoy the benefits of their full flavour, freshness and nutritional value.

    What’s in season right now?

    Summer is a fantastic time for Australian fruit such as peaches, nectarines and mangoes. When choosing the best produce, look for colour as this indicates ripeness. Ripe stone fruit should also respond to light pressure when squeezed gently. The best way to buy mangoes is simply to use your nose and look for the fragrant aroma and avoid soft and bruised fruit.

    Summer also means there’s an abundance of great tasting and inexpensive berries and grapes. Make sure they’re firm, bright-coloured and plump with no soft patches or blemishes.

    This time of the year, vegetables are always subject to rain and heat, but some good reliable vegies you can get this season include carrots, cucumber, tomatoes and spinach. Salads are definitely still a good staple meal this month. In addition, beans, broccoli and cabbage are also at their best. When looking for the best green veg, make sure they’re uniformly green. Those with stalks or leaves should also be green, not yellow or spotted.

    In short, a good general rule of thumb when choosing fruits and veg is to go with good colour and undamaged condition (avoid wilting leaves, slime or yellow or faded spotting).

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    Fruits in season

    Bananas - yellow is a good indicator of ripeness. Yellow means ripe and ready.
    Blackberries – look for dry and deep dark skin.
    Blueberries - look for bright, firm and unblemished fruit.
    Cherries – choose bright glossy skin and firm green stems.
    Grapes – look for firm, plump clusters attached to crisp green stems.
    Honeydew – look for smooth hard skin.
    Rockmelon – look for a golden-brown colour melon with a sweet aroma.
    Mangoes - redness is not necessarily an indicator of ripeness. A ripe mango will give slightly when you touch it. 
    Nectaries – select fragrant nectarines that yield slight to the touch.
    Oranges - look for bright orange skin.
    Peaches – look for a slight yield with a sweet aroma.
    Plums – look for a deep red-black colour.
    Raspberries - look for bright, firm and unblemished fruit.
    Strawberries - look for bright, firm and unblemished fruit.
    Watermelon – ripe watermelon should feel heavy and should sound hallow when slightly tapped. Look also for smooth firm skin.

    Vegetables in season

    Asparagus - look for tightly formed heads and smooth firm stems.
    Beans - look for firm, brightly coloured beans with no blemishes or wrinkles.
    Beansprouts – choose crisp sprouts without any sliminess or softness.
    Beetroot – choose smooth, firm skin and a deep red colour.
    Broccoli – look for bright green broccoli, with tightly packed florets.
    Cabbage – look for crisp, brightly coloured cabbages with a subtle sweet smell.
    Capsicum – look for brightly coloured and smooth-skinned capsicum, free of wrinkles and discoloured patches.
    Carrots – choose firm carrots with no soft or discoloured patches.
    Cauliflower – select pure white tightly packed heads within fresh green leaves.
    Celery – look for crisp and brightly-coloured stems with no discolouring.
    Chilies – look for smooth, brightly-coloured skin.
    Cucumbers - look for firm, even-coloured green skin.
    Eggplant - look for smooth, shiny skin without any holes or splits.
    Leeks – look for deep green leaves, white stems and firmness.
    Lettuce – look for bright leaves and densely packed heads.
    Mushrooms - look for firm mushrooms with minimal blemishes on the caps.
    Snow peas – choose crisp, firm and bright green peas with no blemishes.
    Spinach – look for fresh green leaves and thick flexible stems.
    Spring onions - look for fresh, dark green leaves and avoid any wilted or slimy ones.
    Sweet corn – the husk should be bright green, with the silk poking out from the top.
    Tomatoes – look for an even, rich red colour with no soft or blemished spots.
    Turnips - look for unblemished skin that’s firm to touch.
    Zucchini – look for brightly-coloured firm zucchini, with glossy skin, free from soft patches.

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    Fruits in season

    Apples – look for shiny skin free of blemishes and soft spots.
    Bananas - yellow is a good indicator of ripeness. Yellow means ripe and ready.
    Figs – look for plump, richly coloured figs without any splits on their skin. They should be soft to touch.
    Grapes – look for firm, plump clusters attached to crisp green stems.
    Kiwifruit – look for firm, plump and smooth skin.
    Lemon - choose firm lemons with a rich bright yellow colour.
    Watermelon – ripe watermelon should feel heavy and should sound hallow when slightly tapped. Look also for smooth firm skin.
    Nectarines – select fragrant nectarines that yield slight to the touch.
    Peaches – look for a slight yield with a sweet aroma.
    Pears – look for smooth skin, free from splits and patches.
    Persimmons – select firm, crisp fruit with even-coloured orange skin and green cap.
    Plums - look for a deep red-black colour.

    Vegetables in season

    Asparagus - look for tightly formed heads and smooth firm stems.
    Beans - look for firm, brightly coloured beans with no blemishes or wrinkles.
    Beansprouts - choose crisp sprouts without any sliminess or softness.
    Beetroot – choose smooth, firm skin and a deep red colour.
    Broccoli - look for bright green broccoli, with tightly packed florets.
    Cabbage – look for crisp, brightly coloured cabbages with a subtle sweet smell.
    Carrots – choose firm carrots with no soft or discoloured patches.
    Cauliflower – select pure white tightly packed heads within fresh green leaves.
    Cucumbers - look for firm, even-coloured green skin.
    Eggplant - look for smooth, shiny skin without any holes or splits.
    Lettuce – look for bright leaves and densely packed heads.
    Mushrooms - look for firm mushrooms with minimal blemishes on the caps.
    Potatoes - look for firm, even-coloured potatoes free of wrinkles, soft spots and green tinges.
    Pumpkins - look for smooth, blemish-free skin.
    Snow peas – choose crisp, firm and bright green peas with no blemishes.
    Spring onions - look for fresh, dark green leaves and avoid any wilted or slimy ones.
    Sweet corn - the husk should be bright green, with the silk poking out from the top.
    Tomatoes - look for an even, rich red colour with not soft or blemished spots.
    Turnips - look for unblemished skin that’s firm to touch.
    Zucchini – look for brightly-coloured firm zucchini, with gloss skin, free from soft patches.

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    Fruits in season

    Bananas - yellow is a good indicator of ripeness. Yellow means ripe and ready.
    Grapefruit – choose firm smooth skin and a distinct pink blush.
    Kiwifruit - look for firm, plump and smooth skin.
    Lemon - choose firm lemons with a rich bright yellow colour.
    Mandarins – look for brightly-coloured skin, free of soft spots.
    Oranges - look for bright orange skin.

    Vegetables in season

    Beansprouts - choose crisp sprouts without any sliminess or softness.
    Broccoli - look for bright green broccoli, with tightly packed florets.
    Brussel sprouts - look for bright green leaves clinging tightly to their heads.
    Carrots – choose firm carrots with no soft or discoloured patches.
    Cauliflower – select pure white tightly packed heads within fresh green leaves.
    Fennel – look for bright white, unblemished firm bulbs and green stalks and foliage.
    Mushrooms - look for firm mushrooms with minimal blemishes on the caps.
    Potatoes – look for firm, even-coloured potatoes free of wrinkles, soft spots and green tinges.
    Pumpkin – look for smooth, blemish-free skin.
    Silverbeet – choose crisp green leaves with firm white stalks.
    Spinach - look for fresh green leaves and thick flexible stems.
    Rhubarb – look for straight, firm and well-coloured stalks with unblemished leaves.

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    Fruits in season

    Bananas - yellow is a good indicator of ripeness. Yellow means ripe and ready.
    Grapefruit – choose firm smooth skin and a distinct pink blush.
    Lemon - choose firm lemons with a rich bright yellow colour.
    Oranges - look for bright orange skin.

    Vegetables in season

    Artichokes – look for uniformly green globes with compact leaves.
    Asparagus - look for tightly formed heads and smooth firm stems.
    Beansprouts - choose crisp sprouts without any sliminess or softness.
    Beetroot – choose smooth, firm skin and a deep red colour.
    Broccoli– look for bright green broccoli, with tightly packed florets.
    Brussel Sprouts – look for bright green leaves clinging tightly to their heads.
    Cabbage – look for crisp, brightly coloured cabbages with a subtle sweet smell.
    Cauliflower– select pure white tightly packed heads within fresh green leaves.
    Fennel – look for bright white, unblemished firm bulbs and green stalks and foliage.
    Leeks – look for deep green leaves, white stems and firmness.
    Mushrooms - look for firm mushrooms with minimal blemishes on the caps.
    Silverbeet – choose crisp green leaves with firm white stalks.
    Spinach - look for fresh green leaves and thick flexible stems.
    Spring onions - look for fresh, dark green leaves and avoid any wilted or slimy ones.
    Sweet corn - the husk should be bright green, with the silk poking out from the top.
    Tomatoes - look for an even, rich red colour with not soft or blemished spots.
    Turnips - look for unblemished skin that’s firm to touch.
    Zucchini – look for brightly-coloured firm zucchini, with gloss skin, free from soft patches.