Despite summer being almost over, you can still enjoy the taste of summer with the stonefruit season being in full swing.
Despite several bad weather conditions - from hailstorms to drought - Chair of Summerfruit Australia and Stonefruit grower Andrew Finlay is confident that this year's crop will be sweeter than ever.
"Many of the growing regions have had growing conditions impacted by extreme weather events this season - there have been late frosts which were devastating to new flowers, hail and wind storms which ruined fruit and damaged the fruit trees, and of course the impacts of the ongoing drought which is affecting much of eastern and southern Australia. So, growers have needed to work extra hard to deliver plenty of beautiful stonefruit for all Aussies to enjoy this summer."
"Thankfully, if you have enough water for irrigation, stonefruit thrives during drought-weather; so despite the drier conditions and minimal rainfall, this season's fruit will be nice and sweet."
Thanks to the hard work of over 1200 stonefruit farmers from around 26 regions nation-wide, growers are predicting a strong crop, with over 100,000 tonnes expected.
Dietitian Jemma O'Hanlon is also excited for the start of the stonefruit season, which for her, means extra variety and flavour for the family's fruit bowl.
"Apricots, nectarines and plums are low GI, meaning they provide a sustained energy release and help to keep you fuller for longer," she said.
"Stonefruit are a great snack as they help keep the immune system strong and boost energy levels while being low in kilojoules. Stonefruit are versatile - they can be thrown into your morning smoothie, tossed through a salad or simply enjoyed on their own. They're the perfect 3pm pick-me-up on a hot summer's day!"
Here are Jemma's top reasons to add stonefruit to your shopping list this summer:
Plums: The humble plum is a source of vitamin A which is important for glowing skin and reproductive health.
Try: Pureeing your plums. Forget high sugar chutneys - use the real fruit as a tasty accompaniment to grilled meats.
Apricots: The lowest GI of the bunch and if you enjoy two of these delicious little fruits it provides a source of niacin, for a healthy nervous system and brain power.
Try: Baking your apricots. The high temperature turns them soft and jammy and make a nice addition to your morning brekkie bowl, perfect with some crunchy granola.
Nectarines & Peaches: Whether you're a nectarine or peach fan, the good news is they're both great for you! Boasting potassium, vitamin C and fibre, both fruits can help keep your muscles powering, your digestive health on point and your immune system in tip-top shape.
Try: Slicing your nectarines and peaches. Enjoy as a snack or toss through a salad with walnuts and blue cheese for a burst of sweetness.
For more information about Australian stonefruit, visit:
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Jemma O'Hanlon is Director on the Board of the Dietitians Association of Australia and is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist.
Question: What do you love most about stonefruits?
Jemma O'Hanlon: I absolutely love this time of year when stonefruits are at their best. They're sweet, juicy and full of flavour. Not to mention good for you too!
Question: Can you tell us about the health benefits of stonefruits?
Jemma O'Hanlon: Stonefruits are low in kilojoules, providing just 2% of a person's daily kilojoule needs. They contain vitamin C, which keeps our immune system strong and our skin healthy. They also contain dietary fibre and provide slow released energy, so they keep us fuller for longer.
Question: How do stonefruits complement our diets and healthy eating resolutions?
Jemma O'Hanlon: There is nothing better than reaching into a fruit bowl at morning or afternoon tea and grabbing a peach, plum, apricot or nectarine! I often grab a couple of pieces and they tie me over between breakfast and lunch. Forget highly processed cakes or biscuits – you can't beat nature's lollies for that mid-meal snack.
Question: Why should we be reaching for stonefruit this summer?
Jemma O'Hanlon: Aussie stronefruit are not just delicious, they're nutritious as well. We need 2 serves of fruit every day, so why not make the most of the beautiful summer fruit right now and enjoy every bite.
Question: What is the best stonefruit for our health goals?
Jemma O'Hanlon: That's like picking your favourite child! Peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums and are all amazing in their own way. Peaches contain niacin (vitamin B3) while nectarines have a low GI, plums have vitamin A (providing 19% of the daily intake) and apricots are very low in kilojoules, with just 65kJ in one apricot.
Question: When will we be able to enjoy Australian stonefruits until?
Jemma O'Hanlon: You'll be able to enjoy plums until the end of May, with peaches and nectarines around until the end of March. Unfortunately, apricots only have a short season so you best get in quick as they'll be off store shelves very soon.
Question: Can you share your favourite snacks with us?
Jemma O'Hanlon: I love baking stonefruit and adding them to my morning muesli with Greek yoghurt, or layering the fruit with muesli and making a delicious parfait. It's so good you could have it as a refreshing dessert too!
Question: What five ingredients could you not live without?
Jemma O'Hanlon: Coffee – I hate to admit it but those antioxidants are so valuable, particularly with getting out of bed in the morning.
Cacao – I love a homemade hot chocolate or bliss balls made with raw cacao powder. It gives you a chocolate hit without the excess calories.
Greek yoghurt – I rarely go a day without Greek yoghurt and I just love how creamy and versatile it is. I often start my mornings with Greek yoghurt, muesli and fresh fruit, but I also love to use Greek yoghurt as a sour cream substitute, for example on tacos.
Cinnamon – Not only does cinnamon help lower blood sugar levels, it does an amazing job at bringing the sweetness out of foods. It's like nature's solution to refined sugar.
Eggs – Make an omelette, poach them, fry them, bake a frittata or even a (healthy) cake. There are not many days when I'm not eating eggs in one way or another!
Question: How can we get more fruit and vegetables into our diets, this year?
Jemma O'Hanlon: Get in the kitchen and cook what inspires you. No, you don't have to be a master chef, just grab a simple recipe of something you love to eat and have a go. Don't worry if it doesn't always turn out the way it looks in the picture, just give it a red hot crack and you might just surprise yourself!
Question: Can you share your favourite stonefruit recipes, with us?
Jemma O'Hanlon: There's so many, but if I have to choose, I love making apricot frozen yoghurt for a sweet treat, or if I'm in the mood for something savoury, adding them to a salad is a great option. I particularly love this grilled white peach, radicchio and goat's cheese salad. If you head to the Aussie Summer Stonefruit Facebook page you'll find many more recipes to choose from.
Interview by Brooke Hunter