Lovers of â100% Dribbiliciousâ Australian summer stonefruit should check where their fruit is coming from before putting it into their shopping baskets with imported nectarines and peaches set to still be on shelves once the highly-anticipated local season begins.
U.S stonefruit has been made available to consumers in winter during off-season for the first time after a 20 year ban. Now the industry is calling on Australians for support as the first trucks carrying juicy, aromatic new seasonâs bounty begin to make their way to supermarkets and green grocers nationwide.
Chairman of Summerfruits Australia, Andrew Finlay, said buying local not only means a fair pay for farmers, but also allows consumers to indulge in the freshest and tastiest produce available.
âItâs important for grocery buyers to know imported stonefruit will still be on shelves when our local season begins in October,â he said. âSupport our growers and help save our industry by double checking country-of-origin food labels and make sure what you take home is Australian made,â he said.
âHomegrown stonefruit is one of summerâs most precious gifts. Thereâs truly nothing better than getting stuck into a rich, succulent peach, nectarine, plum or apricot on a hot summerâs day, and having your chins and arms completely drenched in its juice. They make such a special, memorable treat,â he said.
âThe great news is that winter has been kind to our hardworking growers and early signs are pointing to a spectacular summer of stonefruit, so shoppers can expect an abundance of some of the worldâs most loved fruit this year,â Mr Finlay said.
The first trays will come from sub-tropical Queensland then production kicks in down-country as the sun heads south for summer. The northern areas Nexus Pheromones 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.
âMany growing regions have had a drier and warmer than average start to the season and the benefit to the consumer is that fruit will be all the more sweeter and delicious as a result,â Mr Finlay said.
When purchasing ready-to-eat stonefruit, look out for ones that are fragrant and yield 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 Finlay said stonefruit only ripens at room temperature and is best eaten as soon as it is ready.
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 the beginning of October to April each year.