In season: summer

Raspberries, one of the highlights of summer.
Raspberries, one of the highlights of summer.

What's hot for summer? Lynne Mullins checks out the latest looks in fruit and vegetables.

Anticipation of Christmas starts to build in early December and the pace finally slows down as we settle into a sizzling hot summer.

The huge variety of sweet succulent fruit and tender crisp vegetables available at the markets during this time is almost overwhelming and the festive season is celebrated with traditional bounty, from free-range turkey to rosy radishes, redcurrants and luscious mangoes. Midsummer it’s time to enjoy passionfruit, prawns and juicy stone fruit as well as all produce that can be cooked on the barbecue.

Piquant red and white currants only have a brief season, so buy them when they are available and use them as a spectacular garnish or as petite jewels in a salad.

Mangoes are top of the list during the hot steamy months, peaking in January and February, even though some varieties are available during spring. Kensington Pride, a soft medium-size fruit with a rich orange skin tinged with a red blush, is the most popular and makes an appearance on the greengrocers’ shelves from late September until March.

Calypso, R2E2 and Honey Gold are other mango varieties worth seeking out.

Exotic achacha fruit are now grown in tropical Queensland and their tangy effervescent flavour takes a summer dish to the next level. The vibrant orange egg-shaped fruit will be available from December until March and should be stored at room temperature.

Super salads wouldn’t be the same without juicy tomatoes and there are many types to include with your next outdoor meal.

Green to reddish brown kumatoes were originally developed in Spain and are now readily available, along with elegant truss and heirloom types, which come in a vast array of sizes, colours and shapes.

Keep an eye out for ox-heart, plum, beef steak and cherry varieties, which all have different textures and flavours. The longer vine-ripened tomatoes are left on the vine, the sweeter they become and it’s also worth noting that these will last longer after harvest.

Heirloom carrots come in a rainbow of colours from purple, red, white, yellow and black and are available in gourmet greengrocers. As well as being a wonderful source of Vitamin A they will add a kaleidoscope of colour to your plate.

Zucchini and zucchini flowers are at their best in the warmer months. Look for yellow and pale green (Lebanese) fruit in addition to the more familiar dark green variety.

The new kid on the block in the berry family is the karakaberry, an improved form of the blackberry, grown primarily in the Yarra Valley. It is much bigger and sweeter than a normal blackberry and will be in stores from the start of November to the start of January.

Top five picks by month

December

Berries
Currants
Farmed local black tiger prawns
Peaches
Watercress

January

Cherries
Mangoes
Nectarines
Sweetcorn
Western and Southern rock lobsters

February

Achacha
Apricots
Heirloom tomatoes
Plums
Reed avocadoes

Summer - the full list

Below is a series of summer recipes and guides from the goodfood.com.au collection.

Recipes

Prawn salad with asparagus and mango.

Prawn salad with asparagus and mango

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

Stephanie Alexander

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reader rating (1)
Beetroot_TN

Warm beetroot, asparagus and chickpea salad

  • 1-2 hrs
  • Easy

Michelle Bridges

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (3)
Apricot passionfruit jam

Apricot passionfruit jam

  • 1-2 hrs
  • Medium

Caroline Velik

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (4)
Cucumber salad

Cucumber salad

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

Lynne Mullins

salmon with cucumber jelly.

Smoked salmon with cucumber jelly

  • 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Medium

Jill Dupleix

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (12)
Grilled salmon with pickled cucumber and horseradish cream

Grilled salmon with pickled cucumber and horseradish cream

  • 1-2 hrs
  • Medium

Lynne Mullins

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (7)
Cucumber, tomato and mixed olive salad

Cucumber, tomato and mixed olive salad

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

Lynne Mullins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reader rating (1)
Thai fish cakes with cucumber salad

Thai fish cakes with cucumber salad

  • 1-2 hrs
  • Medium

Caroline Velik

Rating: 0.5 out of 5 stars
Reader rating (1)
Neil Perry's passionfruit syrup cake with mango salsa.

Passionfruit syrup cake with mango salsa

  • 1-2 hrs
  • Medium

Neil Perry

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (18)
Barbecued mango cheeks with pomegranates

Barbecued mango cheeks with pomegranates

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

Lynne Mullins

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (4)
Grilled chicken, peaches and avocado

Grilled chicken, peaches and avocado

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

Tony Chiodo

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (7)
Peaches and white chocolate sorbet

Peaches and white chocolate sorbet

  • 1-2 hrs
  • Medium

Jeremy and Jane Strode

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (8)
Lyn's cherry cheesecake

Lyn's cherry cheesecake

  • 1-2 hrs
  • Medium

Stephanie Alexander

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (12)
White-chocolate mousse with cherry compote

White-chocolate mousse with cherry compote

  • 1-2 hrs
  • Medium

Neil Perry

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (11)
Quick cherry ice cream.

Cherry sorbet

  • 2 hrs +
  • Medium

Caroline Velik

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reader rating (1)
Poached cherries with toasted panettone and mascarpone cream

Poached cherries with toasted panettone and mascarpone cream

  • 1-2 hrs
  • Medium

STEVE MANFREDI

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reader rating (1)
Cherries in red wine with panettone and gelato.

Cherries in red wine with panettone and gelato

  • 1-2 hrs
  • Medium

STEVE MANFREDI

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Reader rating (1)
Gazpacho sorbet with cucumber and basil

Gazpacho sorbet with cucumber and basil

  • 1-2 hrs
  • Medium

Jill Dupleix

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (4)
Parmesan tomatoes

Parmesan tomatoes

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

Jill Dupleix

Orecchiette with cherry tomatoes, basil and pine nuts

Orecchiette with cherry tomatoes, basil and pine nuts

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

Caroline Velik

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (9)