Our top 5 winter produce picks

04 Jun 2020

In-season fruit and veg is not only more readily available (and therefore more affordable), it often tastes better too. While summer heralds the arrival of many of our favourite fruits, don’t for a second think winter’s bounty is boring. Here are the in-season goodies we’re craving as the temperature drops.

 

AVOCADO

When’s the best time to buy? There are two main varieties of avocados grown in Australia – hass and shephard. Here in WA, hass is the most common locally grown avo, and while growers are based in Pemberton all the way up to Carnarvon (meaning avocados are available year-round thanks to the differences in climate) you’ll find the bulk of locally grown hass instore from May (right through to January).

Why we love them? How much time do you have, because we could be here all day!? These wonder fruits are creamy and delicious, are nutrient-bombs (hello fibre, folate, potassium and vitamins K, C, B5, B6 and E), high in antioxidants, exceptionally versatile and can be used in everything from smoothies to dips, salads, sandwiches and sweets; can be substituted for saturated fats such as butter and cream; and are sugar, sodium and cholesterol-free.

How to tell if they are ripe? The fruit should be slightly soft to the touch, but not mushy. The darker the skin often the riper the fruit, but considering skin colour can vary, you’re best to go by feel. Got hard avos that need ripening? Place them in a paper bag in a warm spot with a banana or apple. This will allow natural ripening to occur.

How we love to use them? We try to cram avocado into anything we can. At The Black Truffle you’ll find it in many of our wraps and rolls, in the delicious salsa that sits on top of our potato rosti, in chef Karl’s moreish jalapeno and avocado salad dressing and in our charred corn, pulled pork and house-made guacamole soft tacos.

Did you know? Avocados are in the same family as cinnamon! They’re also Instagram stars. In the summer of 2017 more than 3 million photos of avocado toast were uploaded to the platform DAILY!


RHUBARB

When’s the best time to buy? Available year-round, rhubarb is at its best from May to August.

Why we love it? It may look unassuming, but don’t underestimate rhubarb. Not only can it add incredible cherry-like vibrancy to your dishes, it’s extremely versatile. Turn it into a tangy jam or jelly, add it to sweet pies and custards, and pair it with meats and cheeses as you would apple or pear.

How to pick a winner? Choose rhubarb that has long, firm, brightly coloured stalks – the redder the less tart. Also, thick stalks will tend to be more fibrous, so go for more narrow stalks if possible.

How we love to use it? If you’re not sure what to do with rhubarb, you’re not alone. Many people shy away from it due to its tartness, but given the right TLC, this vegetable is sure to win you over. Here at The Black Truffle, you’ll find it in our rhubarb and apple crumble (which is brand new instore this month), in our apple and rhubarb pie, part of our new range of sweet pies and desserts, and in our apple and rhubarb muffins.

Did you know? Rhubarb leaves are extremely toxic and need to be tossed. Also, the stalks contain very little natural sugar so are extremely tart. To be palatable, they need to be sweetened with sugar, maple, honey or orange juice during the cooking process.

 
BEETROOT

When’s the best time to buy? Beetroot is rarely sold by variety in Australia, other than as regular or baby beets (which are sweeter and ideal for salads). You’ll find locally grown regular and baby beetroots instore from as early as April right through the winter months.

Why we love it? Easily one of our favourite winter veggies, beetroot instantly adds vibrancy to salads and main meals. Better still, it can be added to juices and smoothies for a colourful, healthy pick-me-up.

How to pick a winner? Firstly, if leaves are attached they should be bright green and firm. The bulb itself should be firm to touch – soft spots mean the beet is old. Blemishes are fine (beets are tough cookies, after all), but will shorten the beet’s lifespan and make it more susceptible to bacteria. Finally, go for the smaller beets – they’re sweeter and more tender.

How we love to use it? Beetroot is an incredibly robust and versatile vegetable. At the Black Truffle a favourite among customers is our roasted beetroot and chickpea patties topped with house-made hummus or cream cheese (pictured). We’re also famous for our beetroot and goats’ cheese tart (made with local Empire pastry).

Did you know? Looking for a competitive edge at the gym? Eat more beets. Beetroot is high in nitrate, which has been shown to increase stamina in elite athletes.

 

NAVEL ORANGES

When’s the best time to buy them? WA-grown oranges are available year-round however, the peak time to purchase the king of local oranges – the sweet, juicy, seedless navel – is through the colder winter months.

Why we love them? Not only are they sweet, juicy and seedless, they’re also easy to peel, and are packed with vitamins (vitamin C, B, A, fibre, potassium and folic acid among others). This makes them ideal for lunch boxes, half time treats during kids’ weekend sport, a quick snack and baking.

How to pick a winner? Once picked, oranges do not continue to ripen so they must remain on the tree until fully ripe to develop maximum sweetness. Choose navel oranges that have a bright, vibrant orange hue – avoid those with a green tinge.

How we love to use them? Easily our favourite recipe using navels is our super delicious, moist gluten-free orange and almond cake. Pop in during winter and you’re likely to find orange scattered through our fresh selection of salads.

Did you know? Familiar with the cute bellybutton-like indentation at the bottom of every navel orange (that’s how it gets its name, by the way)? This is actually the result of a mutation and is, in fact, a second small orange.

 

WHAT ELSE IS IN SEASON DURING THE WINTER MONTHS?

Fruit: apple, banana, grapefruit, guava, kiwifruit, lemon, lime, mandarin, pear, persimmon, pineapple, passionfruit, quince, tangelo and strawberry.

Veggies: Asian greens, broccoli/broccolini, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, eggplant, fennel, kale, lettuce, mushroom, parsnip, peas, potato, truffles, turnip and zucchini.