Bananas, dragonfruit, wax jambu, mangoes and papaya are some of the fruits in season locally now.
Bananas, dragonfruit, wax jambu, mangoes and papaya are some of the fruits in season locally now.

Farmers’ markets a fruit lover’s paradise

ONE of the highlights of a Northern Rivers summer is the abundance of luscious tropical and sub-tropical fruits.

From juicy watermelons and passionfruit to dragonfruit and papaya, the local farmers' markets are a fruit lover's paradise at this time of the year.

The local mango season kicked off a week or two ago and according to growers, there's a bumper crop.

"There is more fruit than we're going to be able to pick," says Eungella farmer Will Everest, who has a mixed produce stall at New Brighton Farmers' Market.

Will says local mangoes take longer to ripen than their cousins in the NT (which have been available in the supermarkets since December), but it's worth the wait, as the longer ripening results in a sweeter, more intense flavoured mango.

Local watermelon and rockmelon arrived at the Everest Farm stalls at Mullumbimby and New Brighton just before Christmas and these summer favourites will be available throughout January and February, along with papaya, bananas and passionfruit.

The markets are also a great place to pick up some more unusual exotic tropical fruits, like dragonfruit, which tends to come in flushes over the summer.

Puk Brils of Jungle Juice (Mullumbimby Farmers' Market) says she will have the red-fleshed variety over the coming months.

You'll also find dragonfruit at the stall of well-known local tropical fruit growers, John and Lyndall Picone, who are back at the Mullumbimby after a short break.

John has developed his own pink-fleshed dragonfruit variety - the pink ice. You'll find it alongside the pink-skinned, white-fleshed variety and the Aztec dragonfruit, which has a particularly good flavour, says John.

John is also stocked up with his highly sought-after fresh figs, prickly pear and the crunchy wax jambu or wax apple, a bright red fruit that looks like a small apple and has a crunchy flesh and makes a refreshing snack when eaten chilled.

Big juicy blackberries are available at the Blueberry Fields stall (New Brighton/Mullum), plums at Morrow Farm (Mullum) and Costanzo Apples (New Brighton/Mullum), and bananas from Mt Chowan Organics (Mullum) and Neville Singh (Mullum/New Brighton).