When it comes to cooking there’s a lot to be said for eating seasonal produce and buying according to the time of year rather than just what’s available at the supermarket.
Health experts and nutritionists have been hailing the benefits of seasonal cooking for years and they’re onto a good thing too. There are plenty of reasons eating and cooking with seasonal produce is the way to go – here are a few to get you started.
It saves you money
Have you ever noticed the price of nectarines skyrockets after summer and eggplants always cost more in winter? Well it’s because they aren’t in season at those times of year and suppliers are being forced to increase the cost to cover their own expenses for growing something when it shouldn’t naturally be producing. If you look around the supermarket next time you’re there, you should notice fruits and veg that are in season are drastically cheaper than those that aren’t. Things like leeks, chilis, cucumbers and capsicum, are always more expensive this time of year and the same goes for any other foods that aren’t in season. By switching things up and shopping seasonally you’ll save money and quickly notice the difference at the checkout and in your bank account.
You get a wider variety of food
One of the best things about shopping and cooking seasonally is the variety you naturally get in your diet all year-round. As you move through the seasons, you find yourself focusing on the right foods for the right time of year. Summer is all about juicy stone fruits, hydrating watermelon and cucumber and luscious berries – everything you need to keep you healthy and fresh on those hot days. Moving through autumn and into winter you’ll find starchy veggies like potatoes and pumpkin to keep you full and nourished as well as fruits with high vitamin C like oranges and kiwi to keep your immune system thriving. Spring is all about starting fresh and cleansing your body with things like asparagus, fennel and peas. Not only do you get to enjoy all of these when they’re tasting their best, you also get the added benefit of all the extra nutrients…
The nutrients are higher
…Speaking of nutrients… Consuming a bigger variety of fruits and veggies throughout the year means you’re getting a range of health benefits and nutrients along the way. It’s all about giving your body what it needs at the right time of year to help your immune system and also boosting your metabolism with a range of fibres, protein and vitamins.
You can support local farmers
One of the best things about buying seasonally is the opportunity to support local suppliers and farmers. Shopping at markets and small fruit and veg shops means you get to put your money towards helping the little guy and boosting Australian produce. Local farmers often don’t worry about trying to produce fruit and veg out of season as it costs too much and often isn’t in line with their values as suppliers. As an added bonus, market stalls are often a lot cheaper than supermarkets so you can save on cash, too.
How to tell what’s in season
There are a few ways you can find out what’s in season at any time of year. Look around your supermarket for fruits and vegetables that are cheaper and more affordable than the rest – this usually means they are ripe and naturally plentiful at that time of year. Similarly, see what you local markets have on offer and ask store holders what’s good this time of year. There are also online resources which will tell you what’s in season when and where – a simple internet search will give you all the info you need.
What’s in season right now
- Custard Apples
- Brussels sprouts
What to cook
For dessert, try baked apples stuffed with a brown sugar, sultana and almond mixture. Serve hot out of the oven, ladle over the juices and pour over a generous serve of lovely fresh cream.
For dinner, make a comforting slow cooker meal with red meat and hearty veggies like potatoes, cauliflower, carrots and mushrooms. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the sauce at the bottom of your bowl.