Cauliflower is a member of the cabbage, but differs from being a brassica made from leaves and is instead made up of tiny florets. Typically only the white flowering head of the plant is eaten and is a nutritious vegetable which can be eaten raw, steamed, pickled or stir-fried. Growers have been working hard in recent years to successfully produce baby versions of cauliflowers. They are often easier to handle and taste terrific too.
Right in the midst of the season which runs from April to October you can also find green and purple cauliflower and romanesco, a hybrid of cauliflower and broccoli. All can be cooked in a similar manner, but care should be taken to not over cook as they release an unpleasant sulphur smell.
For a perfect head of cauliflower, look for compact creamy white florets. Loose or spreading florets mean that the cauliflower is too mature. Cauliflowers are crisper and whiter after a recent downpour. Look out for purple cauliflowers, which will revert to green upon cooking and baby cauliflowers that have an intense flavour.
Cauliflower will keep for up 4–5 days in the crisper section of the refrigerator.
Ensure you cut cauliflower florets into even sized pieces for even cooking.
View our cauliflower recipes.
Members of the citrus family, oranges are in season from April through to September, with some varieties falling outside of these times. They have something for everyone. Typically, these are fruits that are enjoyed in their natural state; simply peeled and eaten they are one of the joys of winter. They also provide wonderful juices for breakfast.
The majority of oranges grown in Australia are valencias and navels with sevilles and blood oranges appearing late in the season and being more prized after for their culinary attributes. Blood oranges are derived from abnormal pigmentation of the fruit, that gives its pulp a streaking red colour. The juice produced from such oranges is often dark burgundy and much sought after for its flavour.
When purchasing don’t be fooled into thinking a partly green orange isn’t ripe, these are actually the ripest oranges. They change colour from orange to green after being in the sun, the heat draws out the natural chlorophyll in the skin and creates a sunscreen to prevent them from burning. Choose fruit that is heavy for its size, firm and gives off a great aroma. Avoid fruit with brown or mouldy patches or that looks dry and shrivelled.
If a recipe calls for segments of citrus fruit this can be done by first removing all the skin and pith with a sharp knife. Then with a small knife cut down in between the pith segments on both sides of the fruit and remove fruit segments. Recipes that use citrus can usually cope with substituting one fruit for another as long as the quantity of juice is the same. Try swapping blood oranges for lemons, or tangelos for mandarins. One orange will produce nearly 100ml of juice.
View our orange recipes.
Carrots are a member of the root vegetable family and are in season from April through to September when they have the best flavour, a resounding crunch and cheaper in price. As they are one of the most popular vegetables you can find them all year round. Traditionally most people are aware of the regular carrot with varieties such as imperator, nantes and kuroder the most popular. During the height of the season you will find carrots in colours such as purple, red, white, or yellow, as well as the baby Dutch carrots.
When choosing look for bright-coloured, firm, well-shaped roots with fresh, green leaves is still attached. Avoid any that are dry, wilted, shrivelled, soft or split.
Keep refrigerated in a plastic bag or store in the vegetable crisper.
Carrots can be eaten raw, but to get the full amount of carotene they need to be cooked, either boiled, fried or steamed, or cooked in soups and stews. Grated carrot is often used in carrot cakes and carrot juice is widely available, promoted as a health drink, either on its own or blended with fruits and other vegetables.
View our carrot recipes.
Ginger originated in India and China and has had great importance in Chinese medicine and was one of the earliest spices known in Western Europe.
Often called ginger root it is actually a rhizome, it is also available powdered (ground), preserved (stem), crystallized or pickled. As a fresh ingredient it has a fiery taste and is widely used in Asian cuisines. Whole raw roots are generally referred to as fresh ginger. A piece of the rhizome, called a 'hand’. It has a pale yellow interior and a skin varying in colour from brown to off-white. Fresh roots provide the freshest taste, and are in season from April through to September. Look for ginger with thin papery skins to represent freshness, the skin becomes thicker as the root becomes older.
Fresh ginger can be kept for several weeks in the salad drawer of the refrigerator.
In Asian cooking ginger is almost always used fresh, either minced, crushed or sliced.Sometimes the roots will produce green sprouts which can be finely chopped and added to a green salad.
View our ginger recipes.
Lime is a member of the citrus family and has the same season, but is more widely used as a flavouring or garnish rather than the main ingredient of a dish. They are typically round, green to yellow in colour, 3–6 cm in diameter, smaller than lemons and contain sour and acidic pulp. Limes are also used to accent the flavours of foods and beverages.
Like the lemon, the lime is used for such culinary purposes as a drink, being used as a garnish for drinks, and used for flavouring for desserts, condiments, salad dressings, meats and vegetables. In cooking, lime is valued both for the acidity of its juice and the floral aroma of its zest. It is a common ingredient in authentic Mexican, Vietnamese and Thai dishes. In addition the leaves of lime are used in Southeast Asian cuisine.
At markets now you will see punnets of finger lime, a rare rain forest tree from native sub-tropical rain forest around the hinterland of Byron Bay. The fruit from these native trees has been used as a food source by the Australian Aboriginal people for thousands of generations. They have a very sharp acidic taste are longer and more finger-like in shape. The fruit is side is more like small pearls rather than the elongated flesh of regular lime and the finger limes are used to garnish foods as it represents caviar.
View our lime recipes.