The weather’s slowly starting to get a hint of a chill, the summer leaves are beginning to turn a variety of rich colours and we welcome a whole host of vibrantly hued produce, from pumpkins to mahogany chestnuts.
Look out for Royal Gala, Galaxy, Hi Early, Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, Granny Smith and Sundowner. These crisp and sweet new season apples are an absolute treat all throughout autumn.
Deliciously moist in muffins and cakes and also fantastic in a hearty crumble with sprinklings of cinnamon. Try matchstick slices of apple in garlicky mayonnaise with some toasted walnuts for an easy take on that Fawlty Towers classic, the Waldorf Salad.
Select those that have a firm, dark flesh. Fresh stems, leaves and roots are also a sign of good quality. Beetroot can be boiled or roasted whole for around twenty minutes and then peeled for eating. Fresh beetroot with a dab of basil mayo and some crusty bread is earthy and delicious.
Cook slices of red cabbage, apple and onion very slowly with a dash of red-wine vinegar for a traditional spicy accompaniment to good pork sausages. Buy cabbage that has a firm head and is heavy for its size. A wee drop of lemon will prevent red cabbage losing its colour during cooking.
Rich in colour and vitamin A and C, these sweet local red, green, orange and yellow capsicums create beautifully colourful salads. They’re great on the barbecue, grilled with other Mediterranean vegetables and dressed with good olive oil and fresh basil or thyme – serve hot or at room temperature.
Imagine fresh chestnuts roasting on an open fire; Nothing marks the onset of the colder months like these little beauties. Buy in the shiny brown shell and choose nuts that are full and heavy for their size. Best roasted or baked but be careful to make a small slit in the bottom to prevent burnt fingers when peeling!
Cups, mushrooms that are half way through the growing process, have a robust flavour and are scrumptious in soups, pan-fried with woody herbs such as rosemary or thyme and are magical stuffed with a little prosciutto and goats cheese. Cups are also delicious tossed on the barbie whole- they really maintain their meaty juiciness. There’s no need to wash or peel mushrooms- simply wipe down with a damp cloth.
Cut surfaces of eggplants can be sprinkled with salt and allow to stand in a colander for 10 – 30 minutes draw out the bitter juices and to prevent eggplant from soaking up too much oil during cooking. Rinse well and dry with a paper towel. Halved Japanese eggplants make an elegant side dish stuffed with couscous, coriander and roasted cumin seeds.
Look for the brown-purple Brown Turkey variety right through until April. Buy them firm and devour when their skin starts to split a little at the bottom- a sign that they’re perfectly ripe. Store figs in the fridge for a couple of days and bring to room temperature before serving. A real treat with soft cheese and cured meats.
A South American native, Jicama is a vine of which the tuberous root is edible. Characterised by a sweet, nutty flavour (similar to a water chestnut), Jicama is an essential ingredient in popiah, the Malaysian/Taiwanese fresh spring roll. Jicama is predominately eaten raw in salads, as the flesh does not discolour easily, but can also be steamed, boiled or fried. Peel the outer skin and slice for use. When purchasing, check for well-formed tubers and a thin skin which indicates it’s fresh.
Buy WA Pemberton Kiwis all throughout autumn and delight in their tangy sweetness. The colour contrast of green and black makes kiwi fruit a gorgeous addition to the tops of cakes, trifles and that old Aussie-Kiwi moot point, the pavlova!
The crisp green leaves of iceberg lettuce are the perfect foil for a full-flavoured San Choy Bau. Make a basic version with chicken mince, hoisin sauce and some fresh shitake mushrooms. Keep the tough outside leaves attached to the lettuce to act as protection, removing any damaged leaves. To maximize shelf-life, never wash lettuce before refrigerating.
Zingy limes go fantastically with Asian and Caribbean cooking, adding a fragrant lift to curries and salads. As their aroma is so beautifully fresh, they’re best added right before serving.
Gain maximum juice from your lime by rolling between your palm and a hard surface prior to using.
Best stored in the fridge but brought to room temperature before using for maximum juiciness.
These fruit are a unique combination of sharp crispness and refreshing juiciness, looking like an apple but tasting more like a pear. They can be stored at room temperature for about 2 weeks and will keep at their peak for three weeks when stored in the fridge. Nashi retains both shape and colour in cooking and makes an exceptional dessert. Simply poach in a luscious dessert wine or bake whole.
Keep you eyes peeled for the Bartlett and Packham varieties, These Southwest and Hills grown pears are a good all-rounders being suitable for both cooking and eating fresh.
Later in the season pick up the rather delicious Josephine and Beurre Bosc varieties. Completely More-ish in a salad with a blue cheese such as gorgonzola and peppery watercress or baked on a puff pastry square as an easy sweet.
Sweet persimmons, sometimes referred to as Fuyu fruit, can be enjoyed from April through to June and July, with heavier supplies in May. This fruit is as nutritious as it is sweet. It is a good source of vitamin C, A and dietary fibre. Slice into fingers and enjoy with a creamy sweetened ricotta and passionfruit dip.
Varieties to look for are the Butternut, the Jap and the WA developed Jarrahdale. Wedges of pumpkin are divine when roasted and combined with baby spinach, pinenuts and seeded mustard dressing or steamed and added to a thick vegetable curry.
We all know baked Quince is an absolute autumn favourite, especially with a large dollop of vanilla cream, but did you know that they were a symbol of love, happiness and fertility in Ancient Greece? Even better then to stock up on this delicious pome.
A little to astringent to eat raw, Quince is intensely aromatic when cooked- jams, jellies and compotes really show off the quince’s beautiful properties. Handle carefully and store in the fridge well-sealed in a plastic bag as the strong odour can pervade other products.
Piquant Red Flesh Grapefruits are coming into season late March-early April. Savour their ruby-hued jeweled segments as an alternative to lemon with seafood, or make a delicious side salad with finely sliced red onion, grapefruit segments and flat-leaf parsley.
Who could go without these most versatile of veggies? It’s ‘International Year of the Potato’ and what better way to celebrate than by making up a delicious mash with unsalted butter and a pinch of cayenne pepper?
Try potatoes cut into thin wedges and roasted: the perfect hand-cut home cooked healthy chip!
Store fresh Western Potatoes in a cool dark spot and wrap in Hessian or a Western Potato cloth bag to maintain perfect spuds.
A peppery addition to any salad or stir-fry, these guys are much milder than their other onion relatives. To store, trim roots and tops and wrap in paper towel and an airtight plastic bag. Use before the tops start to go yellow. Before using, remove tough outer leaves and wash. Don’t forget the green tops can be used in cooking or as a garnish. Briefly sauté with a little minced ginger to make a refreshing sauce for poached chicken.
These babies are a brilliant source of vitamins A & C and dietary fibre. A great way to cook beans is to blanch in boiling water for about 10 seconds, then refresh in cold water; this gives them that glossy verdant green colour. Cooked this way they can be added to curries and stir-fries at the last minute and still maintain their gorgeous colour and crunch.