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Your essential guide to summer fruit and vegetables

Summer seasonal fruit and vegetables

Discover the best fresh produce and how to transform it into delicious meals and treats for a summer’s worth of flavour

Summer is all about lazy days at the beach, and easy, breezy evenings around the barbecue. It’s about kicking back and letting fresh ingredients do the work for you. From sweet, juicy pineapples and rockmelons, to crisp, cool cucumbers, you’ll find plenty of inspiration to make this summer your tastiest ever.

Mango

01

Mangoes

For many, Australian-grown mangoes are a quintessential symbol of summer. A snacking favourite, they’re beautiful in a tropical fruit salad or great diced with Spanish onion, chilli, mint and lime juice for a refreshing salsa alongside barbecued prawns or grilled salmon. Choose strongly perfumed fruit with a slight give when held (the colour doesn’t necessarily indicate ripeness). Fully-ripe mangoes only last a couple of days at room temperature, giving you the perfect excuse to eat them immediately.

Did you know? Mangoes are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A  and fibre.

How to cut a mango into a hedgehog

Step 1 of 3

Slice cheeks

On a chopping board, cut the mango on both sides of the pit to produce two cheeks.

Step 2 of 3

Score cheeks

Cut through the flesh of the cheeks without piercing the skin. First, cut lengthways in multiple lines then crossways to create a criss-cross pattern.

Step 3 of 3

Pop out the hedgehog

Holding the edges of the mango cheek with your thumbs, use your fingers to push into the skin to pop out the mango flesh into convenient mango cubes. Bite these directly off the cheek, or cut off the cubes and add to a fruit salad.

Mango recipes

Peaches

02

Peaches

Sweet Australian peaches are the epitome of relaxed summer living. There are so many easy ways to serve them beyond just eating them straight from the fruit bowl. Add peach wedges to a goat's cheese salad, or halve and grill them to pair with roast pork or chicken. For dessert, you can’t beat a classic peach Melba or stone-fruit salad.

Top tip: Store firm, ripe peaches at room temperature in a single layer to avoid bruising. Once the fruit has fully softened, transfer peaches to the fridge in one layer in a paper bag.

Peach recipes

Nectarines

03

Nectarines

Juicy Australian-grown nectarines are at their peak in summer. Nectarines are also delicious when combined with savoury ingredients, such as in a herby quinoa and haloumi salad, or in a nectarine and mint salsa to serve with poached or grilled chicken. You can even make them a star in a simple pastry tart topped with a dollop of thick cream.

Top tip: When choosing, look for nectarines with smooth, firm skin and a sweet aroma.

Ways to cut a nectarine

Nectarine wedges

Wedges

Wedges of nectarine make a great addition to a summer salad. Try it with halloumi, ancient grains, currants and slivered almonds for a range of textures in this refreshing salad.

Nectarine wedges diced

Diced

Dice nectarine and mix with red onion, capsicum, mint, olive oil and lime for a tangy salsa. Use it as a dip or pop it on fish tacos or barbecued chicken.

Nectarine puree

Pureed

Thicken up a smoothie by adding chopped nectarine into a blender. It teams so well with orange, carrot, coconut water and pear in this luscious breakfast smoothie.

Nectarine recipes

Plums

04

Plums

The wide variety of plums grown in Australia means you can enjoy the juicy morsels right through summer and autumn. They make a perfect fresh snack and are great sliced for a seasonal fruit platter, but they’re also wonderful in both sweet and savoury recipes. Try simple poached plums flavoured with cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Or make a quick salad of rocket, sliced plums, goat’s cheese and walnuts for a perfect summer lunch.

Top tip: Choose fruit with smooth, unwrinkled skin with a white bloom and no brown patches. Plums continue to ripen once picked, so just-ripe fruit can be stored at room temperature, then refrigerated.

Plums recipes

Cherries

05

Cherries

It’s hard to resist sweet, juicy cherries, but the Australian season only lasts for 100 days so grab them while you can! They’re the stars of fruit salads, and also make a great topping for a pavlova or cooked in a sauce for ice-cream. But perhaps the best way to serve them is just as they are. They make a perfect treat for kids and adults alike! Look for plump, shiny unblemished fruit. Store cherries loosely packed in an airtight container or reusable bag in the fridge.

Did you know? You can freeze cherries with their stones removed, that’s a handy tip to know if you ever have too many!

Cherry recipes

Raspberries

06

Raspberries

With their signature tartness, Australian raspberries are unbeatable and served fresh, but they’re also marvellous in a crumble, muffins or summer pudding. However you serve them, make sure you eat them a couple of days after purchase when they’re at their best. If you leave them too long, simply cook them briefly with sugar and a little lemon zest for a sauce to serve with something sweet.

Top tip: Store raspberries (and other berries) in the fridge unwashed in a covered dish lined with a paper towel.

Raspberries recipes

Bananas

07

Bananas

Bananas are the ultimate snack. They’re easy to peel and eat, and also incredibly versatile. Ripe bananas make a great addition to a smoothie, fruit salad, or cake or muffin mix. When buying bananas, think about when you plan to eat them. If straight away, then choose bananas that are bright yellow in colour – a good indication that they are ripe and ready to eat. If they’re a little green, they’ll generally ripen over two to three days. Store bananas at room temperature, but if you decide to refrigerate them, don’t worry if the skins turn black; the flesh will still be delicious.

Top tip: Have a few overripe bananas? Peel them and chop into small chunks, then place in an airtight container and freeze. For a quick, easy summer treat, whiz the frozen banana chunks in a food processor until they form an ice-cream-like texture.

Did you know? Bananas are categorised as a berry, botanically speaking. In Australia, Cavendish is the most common variety of banana, but the small, plump Lady Finger variety is also available year-round.

Banana recipes

Pineapples

08

Pineapples

Sweet, juicy pineapples embody the essence of summer. You can slice them to serve in a refreshing fruit salad or salsa; to go with barbecued seafood, pork or chicken; or turn them into fritters for a light brunch or dessert. They work beautifully with other tropical and Asian-style ingredients, too, particularly coconut, mint and even a dash of chilli. Store whole pineapple at room temperature until ready to cut, then remove the peel, cut and store pieces in an airtight container in the fridge.

Top tip: When choosing and buying pineapples, look for fruit that feels heavy for its size with no bruising. Make sure their crown (the spiky top) is green and upright. The skin colour isn’t related to their ripeness as pineapples are sold ready for eating.

Did you know? To check whether a pineapple is perfectly ripe, flip it upside down and smell the base instead of around the crown. A ripe pineapple should have a sweet, fruity aroma, and shouldn’t be tangy or bitter. It should also be slightly soft when you squeeze it.

 

Pineapple recipes

Cucumbers

09

Cucumbers

Refreshing, crisp and the unsung hero of many recipes from around the world (think Indian raita and Greek tzatziki, European-style pickles or dainty English high-tea sandwiches), cucumbers are the ultimate no-fuss summer staple. You can cut them into batons to serve with your favourite dips, pop a ribbon of thinly sliced cucumber into a refreshing cocktail, or slice a cucumber into rounds to use instead of crackers for bite-sized canapes. Whether you’re a fan of the Lebanese, continental or baby-size Qukes® variety, choose cucumbers that are firm and heavy for their size, with no blemishes or wrinkly skin. Wrap them in some paper towel, place in an airtight container and store in the crisper drawer.

Top tip: To prevent salads, sandwiches or dips from going soggy or watery, wash and dry cucumber with some paper towel, then cut lengthways and use a teaspoon to scoop out the centre and seeds.

Did you know?While they’re most commonly prepared and eaten as vegetables, cucumbers are in fact a fruit, botanically speaking, because they grow from flowers and contain seeds.