The Luck Of The Aussie

We’re so lucky in Australia. The growing season for the majority of vegetables is year round and summer sees most fruits available too.

This is in contrast to many other parts of the world where the climate makes growing seasons somewhat limited. Of course, modern refrigeration and transport mean everyone can obtain a wide range of fruits and vegetables all year round. However, our luck in Australia is that we can enjoy it fresh from the markets throughout much of the year without fruit and veg having to come from the other side of the world.

One very clearly defined growing season in Australia though is for stone fruit. Perhaps that’s why the summer stone fruit season is the highlight of the year for many of us, and now is the time to make the most of it before the season ends.

Our warm climate and usually dry summers give us sweet and juicy stone fruit that is vitamin rich and full of dietary fibre, and you find it all at Yuen’s.

Did you know Aussie growers produce over 100,000 tonnes of peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots alone every year from October to April?

Sadly, our cherry season is a mere 100 days. Queensland crops are generally harvested from November to January, but Victorian, Tasmanian and West Australian crops stretch into February so cherry lovers have but a few more weeks to enjoy such tasty delights as chicken, cherry and almond salad, an easy recipe using barbeque chicken and 350g of cherries that takes only 15 minutes to prepare. It makes a nice meal through the remaining warmer weather and if you want to continue the cherry theme, you could also try cherry and watermelon salad. It’s a little longer in the making but this red-hued fruit salad is a great dessert.

There’s no rush to enjoy cabbage and nectarines with yogurt chutney, however. Nectarines go through to autumn and the Chinese cabbage and witlof in this recipe are among the vegie ‘year-rounders’. This salad highlights lovely summer shades of gold and yellow. Slices of firm ripe peaches can be used as well, and the whole salad makes a fabulous and rather impressive side dish to barbeques as the outdoor entertaining season starts to wind down.

Chutney, incidentally, though often thought of as traditionally English, originates in India. It became ‘typically British’ through adaptation in Anglo-Indian cuisine from the early 17th century. Chutney is also sometimes thought of as old fashioned but it helps to realise many chutneys are similar to the salsas of Latino cooking and can add superb extra spice to all sorts of dishes.

It’s another lucky aspect of life in Australia that we draw on a worldwide range of recipes. It’s a long standing quip that ‘Australia is multicultural through its stomach’!

The 18th century settlers brought with them the tastes of Britain but their familiar dishes were often unsuitable for the climate and conditions of this land. Eating habits began to change, however, in the 1850s when the gold rush attracted adventurers and workers from all over the world, particularly from China. It was the Chinese who first began introducing Australia to new tastes, followed by subsequent influxes of other migrant groups.

Today, influenced by tastes from the Mediterranean, Asian and other regions, our menus now reflect Australia’s multicultural society and once traditional dishes have been spiced up with new flavours.

For instance, when the early British settlers arrived with roast beef on their minds, who would have imagined such a dish as coriander, thyme and orange beef with stone fruit, feta and tomato salad? The ingredients for the stone fruit, feta and tomato salad side of this recipe include ripe nectarines, peaches and dark plums, Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, spring onions and mint leaves. No need to shop around – you can get the lot at Yuen’s.

Of course, before European settlers arrived in Australia, there was already a thriving food culture. SBS reports it’s estimated ‘there are up to 5000 native food species (almost 20 per cent of Australia’s native flora and fauna) that were utilised by the Aboriginal people. Traditional bush tucker is innovative and unique’.

Honey ants and witchetty grubs, goanna and bottlebrush flowers are perhaps a little too exotic to consider here, but among the recipes curated by SBS is this mouth watering pavlova with rose sorbet and quandong cream from the network’s Native Australian collection. The makeover of the classic Aussie pavlova by chef Seth James exchanges the more typical kiwifruit for quandongs.

The desert quandong is a member of the Sandalwood family. It’s widely found in the central deserts and southern areas of Australia, and the fruit is sometimes referred to as native peach. It’s one of the best known bushfoods. Domestication started with experimental plantations by the CSIRO in the 1970s.

The use of quandong simmered in crème de cassis in James’s recipe adds tartness to the dish, ‘cutting through the sweetness of the cream and meringue. The sorbet keeps the meringue cool and fresh-tasting, making it the perfect dish for a hot Australian summer.’

Which means it’s perfect for just about now. Bon appetit!