What's in season - August 14 round-up

Afourer mandarins

Citrus growers are betting this mandarin will become a new national favourite. The sweet, baggy-skinned Imperial outsells all other varieties of mandarin in Australia, but Afourers have been a success story overseas, where shoppers love its brilliant orange-red colour, intense flavour and juiciness. They are an almost seedless mandarin with easy-peel skin. With an eye to their international success, Afourers have been heavily planted here, especially in South Australia. Supplies will increase throughout the next five years as the orchards mature. Afourers will be harvested until October and sold at Sydney Markets, Coles and Woolworths.

Kestrel potatoes

Flavour is what drew potato farmer SA Potato Co to the kestrel. The company continually trials new varieties developed overseas to see whether they suit Australian conditions. This Scotland-bred spud impresses on taste. Also appealing is its distinctive looks. With purple-blue blushes on a cream-coloured skin, the kestrel is easily identified. SA Potato Co started growing kestrels two years ago, initially supplying only South Australian stores. The potato is in the waxy rather than starchy class, making it good for steaming, boiling or turning into creamy roast potatoes. Several chefs also reported back to the growers it was the best potato they'd ever used for gnocchi. Kestrels can be found in selected Harris Farm Markets stores.

WAYS WITH POTATOES

For a warm potato salad, boil kestrel or other waxy potatoes, then cut into large pieces. Mix with podded broad beans, thinly sliced red onion, parsley leaves and a dressing of olive oil, white wine vinegar and seeded mustard.

Mussels

The mussels famously sold in Brussels are diminutive things. Each mussel is not much bigger than a thumbnail and diners use an empty shell like a pair of tongs to neatly pluck the little mouthfuls from their home.

We grow them bigger in Australia but now, at the beginning of the season, cooks can find small mussels. The new-season mussels grown and packed by Kinkawooka in Boston Bay, South Australia, are 60 millimetres long but in a few months the smallest available will be 90 millimetres.

Farmed mussels are sustainable seafood. They are grown on ropes in pristine water where they filter feed on the passing nutrients. After harvest they are scrubbed, de-bearded and packed live into vacuum packs that give them a shelf life of 10 days. Cooks can open the packs, drain the mussels and cook them either in a stock or sauce, or in a dry pan. They'll open in a few minutes. Unopened mussels aren't bad, just tightly stuck together with two sets of adductor muscles. Use a knife to pry them open.

WHAT TO BUY
Asparagus It's all imported now. The Australian season starts in a few weeks.
Blood oranges Plenty around with great colour.
Broad beans Good buy this week.
Broccoli Time for soup.
Brussels sprouts Try cooking them as separated leaves.
Carrots Good value.
Cauliflower Makes a delicious puree.
Cavolo nero Also labelled Tuscan cabbage.
Green garlic Add the bulb and stem to stir-fries.
Horseradish Plenty around.
Pears Red Anjou are pretty and delicious.
Silverbeet Choose fresh, firm bunches.
Strawberries Choose punnets of fully red berries for the sweetest flavour.
Tangelos Kept best in the fridge.

The story What's in season - August 14 round-up first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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