SO FRESH: Head to the market for great quality produce.
SO FRESH: Head to the market for great quality produce.

Salad aisle bulging and easy on wallet

IT'S A great time to be eating top quality and reasonably priced vegetables and salads while the unseasonal warmer weather has also prompted some plants to bear fruit sooner than in other years.

In the vegetable aisle look for good quality beetroot, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, celery, snow peas, silverbeet, zucchini, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes and pumpkin, all at reasonable prices.

Asian vegetables and sweet corn have crept up in price and will cost more along with beans, capsicum, leeks, squash and mushrooms.

Parsnips, the cream-coloured skinned root vegetable that is a close cousin of carrots and parsley, is firmly priced but you can always find bargains on the small or odd sized offerings, which should be less fibrous and easier to cook.

There are two markets for eggplants, with the glossy greenhouse grown ones firmly priced over the cheaper field grown variety but both are eating well.

In the salad aisle, the tomatoes, lettuce, mixed leaf salad, cucumber, eshallots and most herbs are plentiful and value-for-money.

The demand for avocados is high, keeping prices firm but affordable while you can expect to pay more for basil. You can keep basil for up to five days at room temperature with its roots in water or by wrapping it in a damp paper towel, placing it in a sealed plastic bag and keeping it in the refrigerator crisper.

The first flush of Northern Territory mangoes has made it to the Brisbane Produce Market early and although expensive, they are delicious. However, it will be some weeks before the official mango season begins when the supply will be quality consistent and plentiful.

The best fruit buys are bananas, strawberries, blueberries, lemons, the reddish caracara and blood oranges, New Zealand kiwifruit, all melons, pears, passionfruit and pawpaw.

After some warm conditions and big harvests of pineapples in Queensland's growing regions, the supply has started to reduce making them firmer in price than usual.

Limes are expensive, as are the best quality honey murcott mandarins and USA grown cherries, stonefruit and grapes.

There are still carambola (star fruit), chestnuts and some imported persimmons and mangosteens available for those looking to try something different.