Quality as good as it gets as prices rise
SOME vegetable prices have crept up this week but overall, the quality and variety of fresh produce arriving at the Brisbane Produce Market is among the best winter offering of the season.
Bargain hunters will find top quality Asian vegetables, beetroot, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, field grown eggplant, snow peas, silverbeet, sweet corn, zucchini and all hard lines, including onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes and pumpkin.
Cauliflower and capsicum have both firmed in price.
Glasshouse grown eggplant, fennel, leeks, parsnips, squash and mushrooms have all cost more in recent weeks but are eating well.
Beans are the big surprise, with fewer arriving from the growing regions, creating a sharp rise to expensive prices compared to recent weeks.
Both Australian and Peruvian grown asparagus is expensive and of mixed quality.
Warm winter days have kept the demand for salad items on the top of the shopping list with tomatoes, lettuce, mixed leaf salad and most herbs reasonably priced. Basil is always harder to find at this time of year and is firmly priced.
Lebanese cucumbers, which look like dark green, fat sausages, are firmly priced.
However, you will find the smaller round to oval, pale greenish-white apple cucumbers and the long, thin, grooved skinned continental cucumbers, which are often sold in a plastic wrap, both reasonably priced.
The best fruit buys include strawberries and blueberries, New Zealand kiwifruit, rockmelon, watermelon, passionfruit and pawpaw.
Pineapples are also value-for-money but are of mixed quality, remembering that whichever ones you pick will not ripen after harvesting and need storing in a cool place. Once cut, they can be stored for up to two days in the refrigerator.
In the citrus category, navel oranges, lemons, mandarins, cara cara and blood oranges are reasonably priced and thriving in the winter weather. Look for citrus that is firm to the touch, well-coloured and feels heavy for its size.
The best quality apples, bananas, raspberries, limes, honeydew and pears are all firmly priced.
For those with a desire to eat their favourite fruit, even when it's out of the Australian season, choose from USA grapes, cherries and stonefruit or Mexican mangoes but be prepared to pay top dollar.