When we stock up on fresh produce at this time of year, it’s another reminder of how lucky we are to live in this great State. Sure, the distances provide their challenges but the different growing conditions mean, for example, that we can still eat local mangoes and melons in March and April, and bananas year round. How good is that? Some of the fresh produce below is also available at other times of year but we think they deserve a special shoutout in autumn.
Like bananas, apples are one of the easiest and most portable fruits. Simply wash and pop in your bag for a quick snack mid-morning or an after-lunch treat. Sweet, juicy and crunchy, we can totally understand why Adam and Eve might have been tempted by one. But was it Fuji, Golden Delicious or Granny Smith? Certainly not Western Australia’s striking Bravo, which was only released on the market in 2016, but there are so many fabulous varieties grown in the State now.
Newton Orchards has been growing apples in the Southern Forests for decades, and also turns them into apple ciders, juices and spirits under the Cloudy South and On the Shoulders of Giants labels. NewLeaf Orchard also uses the region’s bounty to make sparkling fruit juices from its apples, including Pink Lady and Granny Smith, as well as apple lemonade and apple cider vinegar.
If you have an abundance of apples, you don’t have to make juice, though. Try one of our many apple-inspired recipes, including this delicious apple tea cake or some warm apple and cinnamon donuts.
Nothing spices up a dish like a well-placed chilli or two. Blazing Saddles Chilli Plant Company grows an array of chillies year round using hothouse technology, but says the milder red cayenne is the most popular. Carnarvon growers Loveapple start to produce chillies in autumn and can supply the market well into the year with the region’s favourable growing conditions. You can give them a starring role in a dish, such as with this Singapore chill blue swimmer crab and Anna Gare’s hot green sauce, or add just enough heat to give a stirfry or sauce a bit of extra zing.
There are also plenty of West Australians making the most of local chillies, producing some delicious condiments to spice up your life. Bluey Zarzov’s Hot Sauce brings a commitment to zero waste as well as a range of heat to its sauces and rubs, while Jewel Jackson-Fisher has been dishing up The Devil’s Tears gluten-free sauces for 20 years. Chunky Sambal also gives local produce its due in sambals that use ripe green chillies, hot bird’s eye and milder red chillies.
Another fruit disguised as a vegetable, eggplant is part of the nightshade family that includes white potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. Also known as aubergine and brinjal, it comes in a variety of shapes and colours, though the long purple bulbous variety is the most common in Australia. Again, thanks to the size of our state, we can generally get eggplant year round, from growers around Perth such as Trodan Produce from summer through autumn, and the likes of Loveapple in the Gascoyne through winter and into spring.
Eggplants can beef up a meal and feed a crowd, whether in Greek moussaka, French ratatouille or Indian curries, but it’s very versatile. Pair it with other vegetables in this easy stirfry, or make it the hero of the dish, such as in these miso-glazed eggplants or the traditional Italian favourite pasta alla norma.
While their role in creating Western Australia’s award-winning wines usually hogs the limelight, table grapes shouldn’t be considered vintage’s poor cousins. At their best from December through to the end of autumn, these sweet and crisp beauties give a burst of flavour like no other, which is why you should only choose the freshest, local grapes.
Fruitico grow a range of premium red, green and black table grapes, including Sweet Sapphire, Cotton Candy and Adora Seedless, on farms just south of Perth, while Carnarvon’s Bumbak & Sons specialise in seedless table grapes. They are staples in lunchboxes, fruit bowls and on cheese platters for good reason, but they also work in salads and cooked dishes. Make this divine grape and rosemary foccacia for starters.
If you haven’t ventured beyond the kalamata and green olives you grew up with, now’s the time. WA growers, including Great Southern Groves and Wirra Gamba Olives, produce a wonderful array of olives such as frantoio, leccino, coratina, manzanilla and nevadillo.
Olives are popular bar snacks and cheese board additions, but you can also incorporate them into so many dishes. For something hearty as the nights cool, try this chicken tagine with olives and lemon or make the most of other seasonal ingredients with the warm potato, olive and bean salad.
The vast majority of olives, of course, make their way into one of our favourite pantry staples, olive oil. Drizzle some of Jingilli EVOO’s finest over meat or salad, or amp up your dressing stakes with one of Sathya Olive Company’s or Eagle Vale Olives’ infused oils. Gingin-based Fini Olives and York’s Talbot Grove also produce award-winning olive oil.
Despite its name, the sweet potato isn’t related to the not-so-humble spud. It’s a member of the morning glory family and it certainly brightens up the vegetable clan with its bold colour and sweet taste. They are also packed with fibre, vitamin C, a good amount of vitamins A and B, as well as calcium and iron. Though there are many varieties, the most common is the gold variety, also known as Beauregard. With its rosy skin and orange flesh, they are in
Available year round in Western Australia, sweet potatoes are grown from Perth to Kununurra. They really come into their own in the cooler months, however, as they are so good in soups, curries and casseroles. Try this super easy Thai sweet potato soup when the temperatures start to drop, or take your shepherd’s pie up a notch with a combination of sweet potato and potato mash topping. Or simply chop them up, skin still on for extra goodness, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the oven.
Known for their health benefits, jujubes (also known as red dates or Chinese dates) are packed with vitamin C and used in traditional Chinese medicine. South West grown Capel River Dried Jujubes are handpicked, washed, graded and oven-dried without the use of sulphites. Delicious as a snack, or used in trail mix, desserts and available fresh from February to May at select fruit and vegetable retailers in Perth and the South West.
With the fruit native from Iran to northern India, fleshy pomegranate seeds are a popular addition to desserts and salads, while the juice can be used to make jellies, dressings, and syrups. Koorian farming in Gingin grows fresh pomegranates as well as figs in season (approximately mid-February to late May) as well as producing extra virgin olive oil.
While this fruit, which at first glance looks like an orange tomato, comes in both sweet and astringent varieties, sweet persimmons are the main variety available in Australia. Their delicate, sweet flavour makes persimmons delicious eaten fresh, or as an addition to autumn salads, cheese platters, desserts or jellies.
Also known as paw paw, papaya are a versatile fruit that can be eaten raw when ripe, but also grated and used in Asian style salads when still green. To eat ripe, cut the papaya open and scoop out the flesh like a melon. The seeds are edible but peppery – they can be rinsed, dried and baked to dry and used in place of peppercorns.
For the full list of seasonal fruit and vegetables, see our seasonal guide. Follow us on socials for great recipes, produce tips and so much more.