Warm the heart with winter vegies

WINTER is perfect for cooking with some of Australia's best vegetables, from the quality pumpkin, brussels sprouts and parsnips available, to the more unusual turmeric bulbs, galangal and artichokes that love the cool.

Prices will be higher on sweet potatoes and beans, while cauliflower, broccoli, corn and cabbage should remain reasonable.

Brushed potatoes are improving in quality and taste.

Expect inconsistency in size but some great eating from a range of vegetables such as turnips that may be of golf ball size but are also found up to the size of a small watermelon. Look for small to medium bulbs of beetroot for the best roasting.

Tomatoes will improve in quality over the weeks ahead, hass avocados have replaced the thinner, green-skinned shephard variety and lettuce, rocket, water cress and salad mixes are of great quality.

The first of the Queensland strawberries are on the shelves but will be expensive to start the season.

Banana prices will remain firm in price until October.

Look for great value citrus with well-coloured Australian navel oranges, imperial mandarins, lemons and limes in good supply. Red grapes are the pick over the green Thompson variety, which is at the end of its season.

Raspberries are the pick over the more expensive blueberries, and passionfruit are starting to become more plentiful.

Australian and New Zealand kiwifruit, which have a higher vitamin C content than oranges, are in season.

Papaws are eating well although they tend to be green-skinned. Ripen them by putting them in a paper bag with a ripe tomato, banana or avocado, and place them under the kitchen sink.

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