Victorian Produce in Season: December
WE'RE fortunate to benefit from several locally grown varieties of this creamy fruit throughout the year. Hass is the variety of the moment, available until February. It has a warty skin that darkens to become almost black when very ripe. This variety is wonderful in salads and pastas, the key ingredient in guacamole and an ideal replacement for butter in sandwiches. For serious indulgence, simply pour a good dressing into the cavity once you've halved it and removed the stone, and spoon from the skin.
SUMMER cabbages equals coleslaw and other salads. Look for red, green, savoy or the milder-flavoured wombok. Select specimens that feel heavy with tight heads, indicating densely packed leaves. Great as a sandwich ingredient as well as a side dish.
GIPPSLAND potato grower Gordon Jones says this season will kick off with the Nicola, Cranberry Red and Royal Blue waxy varieties - suited to salads - and the starchy/floury Wilwash and King Edwards that are best baked or roasted. This early in the harvest the potatoes are immature and slightly smaller, with soft skins and a shorter shelf life.
CITRUS, by and large, are winter fruits but the Valencia orange is a summer crop. Often they have few seeds and are generally considered to be a sweeter orange, making them popular for juice as well as eating. Don't let a green skin put you off; it's part of the process of the fruit ripening at this time of the year and can even indicate an extra-juicy specimen.
IT'S a topsy-turvy harvest this year, according to organic blueberry grower Mal Deveson. His plants in Moondarra have a light crop - cooler temperatures in the flowering period, when pollination would normally occur, kept the bees at bay. Several weeks later, his early varieties seem to be behind schedule and the later ones are coming on early. In northern New South Wales, where most Australian blueberries are grown, damage from wind and rain doesn't bode well for the harvest. Northern Victorian plantings are heavy with delicious fruit, available now. It comes down to individual microclimates, so lovers of blueberries are advised to indulge when and wherever they sight good fruit. Happily, the small bursts of blue antioxidant goodness last well in the refrigerator when handled lightly.
Source: Victorian Farmers' Markets Association, vicfarmersmarkets.org.au