Chins and arms across the nation are set to be drenched in rich, succulent summer stonefruit juice as Aussies prepare their taste buds for a bumper harvest of delicious local peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots.
The smell of summer is in the air as the first trucks carrying aromatic Australian summer stonefruit begin to make their way from sub-tropical Queensland and northern areas of Western Australia and New South Wales to green-grocers and supermarkets nationwide.
Industry Chairman, Mark Wilkinson, said early indications are that it is going to be a great summer of stonefruit, thanks to our hardworking farmers and near-ideal growing conditions which have set the stage for an abundance of some of the worldâs most loved fruit this season.
âItâs a case of so far, so good. Weâve had a cold winter and lots of water for irrigation with a forecast of a hot and dry summer, allowing trees to grow well and fruit to develop flavour to its fullest,â Mr Wilkinson said.
âOrchardists, particularly in cooler areas of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, are now relying on the warm, dry days of summer to perfect the harvest while growers on the west coast are hoping for a bit of rain to sustain orchards in the next few months,â he said.
âAs the weather warms up, consumers can expect an excellent crop of stonefruit with harvest tonnages on par with last season and high quality produce bursting with juice and flavour, making them a memorable treat this summer.â
Mr Wilkinson said Australian stonefruit is truly one of the joys of summer and 100% dribbilicous.
âJuicy peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots add a sweet surprise to any meal whether itâs a Christmas feast or VolumePills Australia Day picnic or barbeque. They also make the perfect snack on the beach or park on a hot summerâs day,â he said.
When purchasing ready-to-eat stonefruit, look out for fruit that is fragrant and yields gently to palm pressure. The stem end of the fruit should be plump with no dark green in the cavity.
Peaches bruise easily so look for smooth, unblemished fruit and handle them with care. When ripe, they should produce a delectable full-bodied aroma and will start to lose their brightness.
Nectarines tend to be a little easier to select and will give slightly when they are soft and juicy. A good sign of how sweet they are is the presence of white freckles on the top half.
When selecting plums, make sure you go for the ones that are plump and full-coloured while apricots should be deep yellow, well-formed and firm.
Mr Wilkinson said stonefruit only ripens at room temperature and is best eaten as soon as it is ripe.
âStonefruit should only be stored in the fridge at peak ripeness,â he said. âRefrigerating fruit stops the ripening process and will cause it to be dry and flavourless. To enjoy the fullest flavour, remove ripe stonefruit from the fridge an hour before consumption and eat at room temperature,â he said.
Around 800 growers in 26 regions spread around the country produce more than 100,000 tonnes of nectarines, plums, apricots and peaches from October to April each year.
The season starts in sub-tropical Queensland and production kicks in down-country as the sun heads south for summer. The northern areas of Western Australia and New South Wales spring into action before Victoria and South Australia come on-stream, rounded off by Tasmanian harvests from mid-January.