'Tis the season for festive fruit feasts

ALL seasonal fresh produce is available to lay out a truly traditional festive table this Christmas but all the colours, tastes and smells of most good-quality fruit and vegetables come at a high price.

In the vegetable aisle, New Zealand asparagus is expensive and average quality broccoli, Victorian brussels sprouts and top quality cabbage, cauliflower, capsicum, carrots, parsnips, squash, potatoes and sweet potatoes are firmly priced.

Beans have fluctuated in value for some weeks and are of average quality but cheap. Good quality celery and eggplant are also cheap.

You will find beetroot, fennel, leeks, snow peas, silverbeet, sweet corn, zucchini, mushrooms, onions and pumpkin are of good quality and affordable.

Salads are the go-to item for anyone looking to spread their dollar further with avocados, lettuce, mixed salad leaves, cucumbers, eshallots and all herbs reasonably priced.

Tomatoes have taken a dramatic upswing in price and are expensive with some good-quality stock arriving from the Bundaberg growing region.

The best fruit buys are reasonably priced bananas, limes and New Zealand and Italian-grown kiwifruit.

Expect to pay firm prices for apples, all berries, navel and valencia oranges, figs, passionfruit, pawpaw, pomegranate and grapes, with the red grape varieties the best eating.

Mangoes and stonefruit are falling into two markets - reasonable-to- firm prices for the not-so- tasty offerings and top dollar for the larger sized, juicy fruit that is the quality expected for the Christmas table.

Poor growing conditions in the harvest regions have meant fewer top-quality rockmelon, watermelon, honey dew, pineapples and cherries are available, pushing prices for good-quality fruit upward to become the most expensive seen all year.

Other fruits such as dragon fruit, lychees, and rambutans are available but expensive. It is noted that lychees and rambutans are perishable at room temperature and fluctuating heat and will dry out quickly, so store them in the refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag in the vegetable crisper until they are ready to be served.

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