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Seasonal Produce – January

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Passion fruit

Tropical passion fruits are native to Brazil, Paraguay and Northern Argentina, where they grow from stunning exotic blooms on winding vines.

Passion fruits are actually a type of berry, with a thick purple skin that houses sweet seedy orange flesh. The entire contents of a passion fruit can be eaten, seeds and all.

Passion fruits are full of immune boosting nutrients including antioxidant vitamin C and carotene. They are also a rich source of fiber for a healthy digestive system, and anti-aging vitamin A for skin and eyes.

Cut the fruit in half and spoon out the flesh for a convenient lunchbox snack, or use it as a garnish for cocktails and a topping for desserts such as pavlova, ice-cream and cheesecake. Passion fruits also make a great addition to fresh juices.

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Plums

Vibrant plums come in a rainbow of varieties, ranging from dappled red skin with golden flesh, to deep purple skin with blood red flesh. Plums have a similar size and texture to other stone fruits like peaches and nectarines, but the flavour is much more tart.

Mature plums form a dusty white coating, known as a wax bloom. Once ripe, keep them in the fridge for up to five days.

Plums are extremely versatile and can be eaten fresh or cooked. Poach them with vanilla and spices, bake them into a crumble cake or tart, or enjoy fresh in a fruit salad. Plum sauce also works very well with the rich savoury flavour of duck. In Japan, plums are fermented to make a delicious sweet plum wine called Umeshu.

Dried plums are prunes, which are an excellent source of fibre to regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol and promote healthy bowels.

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Lettuce

Often underappreciated, lettuce is so much more than just a filler for salads, it can be very flavorsome and add fantastic colour and texture to a dish. Try experimenting with different varieties, from sweet and crunchy cos, to tender butter lettuce, and vibrant bitter radicchio.

In Australia we are lucky to have most varieties of lettuce in season throughout the year. Where possible, opt to buy the whole head of lettuce over loose leaves as they will stay fresh for longer. Don’t store with apples, pears or bananas as this will accelerate its deterioration. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Use lettuce leaves fresh in a salad, smaller leaves as a crunchy garnish, or use them to wrap Hanoi style spring rolls or san choy bau. You can also braise, steam or sauté some lettuce varieties, such as gem lettuce, making them great for stir-fries or braised peas.

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