Storms keep prices firm at the markets
MOST salad items and vegetables are firmly priced after recent storms and extreme temperature changes in Australia's growing regions but there are some great fruit bargains and plenty of choice in all fresh produce categories.
You can select quality, value-for-money Asian vegetables, beans, beetroot, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, fennel, leeks, onions and pumpkin.
However, expect to pay more for end-of-season asparagus and top quality celery, eggplant, parsnips, snow peas, silverbeet, squash, sweet corn, zucchini and mushrooms, along with potatoes and sweet potatoes sourced from mud-bogged fields.
Capsicum is reasonably priced but of mixed quality. Red capsicums are more mature and taste sweeter, as they become milder as they mature, unlike many chillies.
Capsicums also continue to ripen after harvest, but they have a long shelf life.
Quality broccoli and cauliflower, both vegetables known by children as "little trees", are expensive with only the best making it the shelves after extreme weather conditions have taken their toll on most crops.
Sweet truss tomatoes, which are grown undercover, are the star of the salad this week, and are at reasonable prices and in a variety of colours, including yellow.
However, you will find most other tomato varieties are struggling with quality and rising from their already firm prices.
Avocados are expensive and lettuce, basil and eshallots are firmly priced but you will pick up some reasonably priced, top quality, mixed leaf salad, cucumbers and most of the herbs.
In the fruit aisle, bananas are this week's best buy with prices reducing in both the cavendish category, known for their creamy, smooth texture and thin peel, and the naturally sweeter lady fingers, which taste best when they are fully ripe.
Other great buys include blueberries, lemons, limes, end-of-season honey murcott mandarins, navel and valencia oranges, all melons, pears, passionfruit and pawpaw.
Mango season is finishing in the Northern Territory with a short delay while the North Queensland trees are ripe for picking, with less stock firming prices on kensington pride, R2E2 and calypso varieties.
Quality apples, summer strawberries, raspberries, New Zealand kiwifruit, pineapples and early season cherries are firmly priced.
Expect to pay top dollar for figs and the first of the tightly bunched Australian menindee seedless grapes, which are known for their firm, sweet flesh, while the US-grown grape stocks dwindle as its season draws to a close.