Fruit Guide

< PREVIOUS   Page: 2/6   NEXT > 




Botanical Name:


Prunus armeniaca (Rosaceae)


General Description/History:

  • Skin colour can vary from yellowish green to deep orange
  • Flesh colour can range from pale yellow to deep orange
  • One seed enclosed in a pit

Apricots should be a deep yellow or yellow/orange, plump, well formed and fairly firm. Avoid dull looking, soft or mushy fruit or very firm, pale yellow or green/yellow fruit. The fruit’s characteristic flavour and sweetness develops on the tree. Fully ripened fruit have the best quality flavour, but due to their softness are difficult to transport and are highly perishable.


Apricots are delicious when eaten fresh or they can be used - in desserts, poached, stewed or pureed in jams, chutneys, pickles, compotes, salads or sorbets. They are lovely accompaniments to meats and poultry.


Although a deciduous tree, the apricot does have some special growing requirements. The apricot is a very early flowerer; therefore it cannot be grown commercially in areas subject to heavy spring frosts. It does however require the winter chill to break its dormancy and so produce fruit.


The most favourable growing conditions is a climate which is predominantly clear and dry, with fairly cold winters and only moderately high spring and summer temperatures. Apricots also need a fertile, well-drained soil and a good water supply.


Apricots originated in China, with the earliest reference to them found in Chinese writings of 2000 BC. Apricots spread to southwest Asia and the Arabs then introduced them to the Mediterranean. Eventually they found their way to Europe and in the 18th century became a garden plant in the United States and South Africa before arriving in New Zealand and Australia.


The apricot flourishes in many regions of Japan, North Africa, California and the Mediterranean and also grows wild in Siberia and Afghanistan.


The apricot is a member of the rose family. The fruit is known as a drupe that is a fleshy, one-seeded fruit that does not split open itself, and encloses a seed in a pit.


Growing Areas:


QLD - Stanthorpe District

NSW - Bathurst, Dareton, Gosford, Hunter Valley, Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, Orange, Tumut, Windsor, Young

VIC - Goulburn Valley, Mid Murray Area and Sunraysia

TAS - South East Region SA Barossa Valley, Riverland

WA - Donnybrook, Dwelling Up, Manijimup, Perth Hills


Nutritional Value:


An excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C and dietary fibre. Trace amounts of calcium, phosphorus, iron and thiamine. 85kJ/10Og.




-0.5 - 0°C and 95% relative humidity. Ripen at room temperature.


Consumer Storage:


Ripen at room temperature and store in the refrigerator crisper.





Botanical Name:


Persea americana (Lauraceae)


General Description/History:


The pattern of growth of the avocado plant varies with the variety. Some are tall and upright, while others are low and sprawling. Although some avocados are still grown from seeds, the majority of growers’ plant grafted trees.


Avocados only ripen once they are harvested with this process taking a couple of days to a few weeks if allowed to occur naturally. It is advisable for the purpose of retail to stock both sprung fruit (fruit subjected to a controlled amount of ethylene to hasten ripening) and unripe fruit.


To ascertain whether the fruit is ripe, cradle the avocado in the palm of the hand, gently press around the stem end, and if it yields slightly the avocado is ready for eating.


Colour is not a good determinant of ripeness as the only variety that experiences a change of colour as it ripens is the Hass. Hass change from green to a purplish black when ripe. All other varieties are green when ripe.


The avocado fits happily into anyone’s daily diet, whether it is for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Slice onto toast, alone or with bacon, tomato, cheese or simply a dash of pepper. Incorporate cubes or slices into salads for a contrasting creamy texture.


Blended avocado flesh makes beautiful dips, or toppings for baked potatoes and soups. Traditionally known as the perfect accompaniment for seafood, it also compliments chicken, veal and beef. It is also ideal in, and served with, many Mexican, Italian and Indian dishes.


The simplest way to prepare an avocado for use is to cut the flesh lengthwise around the seed and twist both halves gently to separate. Insert a sharp knife into the seed by giving it a gentle tap, twist and lift out. To peel, strip skin from fruit, beginning at the stem end and then use as desired.


Avocados thrive in warm areas, with rich alluvial soil and good rainfall. Adequate drainage is essential, as although they need plenty of water, they cannot tolerate “wet feet”. Little pest control is needed, however fungicides, often together with a soluble fertiliser, are commonly sprayed over avocado groves.


It is a native of Central America, Mexico and the West Indies. Proof of the existence of avocados in Mexico, Central and South America as early as 291 B.C. can be found in the Mayan records and Aztec picture writing. Owing to its high nutritional value and pleasant flavour, the Indians have used it as a staple food for thousands of years.


The avocado first appeared in Australia in the early part of this century, when seeds were brought in from the West Indies. It was in 1928 that the first trees were planted in the Sunraysia district.


The Fuerte variety was brought in from California and planted at Redland Bay in 1930. Further crops were introduced to local districts. In 1974 many trees died from waterlogging, which led to high prices being paid for remaining fruit. Many people saw these high prices and planted trees. These trees are now fruiting which has resulted in large quantities of fruit in the market.


In 1985 there were approximately 200 000 trees in Queensland and by early 1986 the avocado industry was worth $12 million. Australia has become a world leader in terms of production. Queensland is the leading producer of the states with New South Wales and Victoria also producing significant quantities.


Alternative Names:


Avocado Pear


Growing Areas:


QLD - Atherton Tablelands, Bundaberg/Childers, Gympie, Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Tamborine Mountain

NSW - Alstonville, Coffs Harbour, North Coast, Sunraysia

VIC - East Gippsland, Mornington Peninsular, Sunraysia SA Riverland

WA - Carnarvon Gin Gin, Pemberton, Perth, South West


Nutritional Value:


The avocado has been quoted in The Guiness Book of Records as the most nutritious fruit known to man. It is the best energy source in the fruit category, making it an excellent food for active, growing children.


Avocados are a good source of vitamins B6, E and folic acid and are a useful source of vitamin C and potassium. Avocados also contain some B2, B3 and the essential fatty acid, linoleic acid. 820kJ/100g.


Avocados do not contain cholesterol. Cholesterol is present in animal fats not in fruit and vegetables. Avocados contain mono-unsaturated fats that help lower blood cholesterol levels.




Mature Green 7 -10°C at 90% relative humidity. Ripe Fruit 0°C at 90% relative humidity.


Consumer Storage:


Ripen at room temperature and store in the refrigerator crisper. Unripe fruit will only ripen effectively at room temperature.





Botanical Name:


Musa spp. (Musaceae)


General Description/History:


The ‘tree’ is actually a giant herb, and each stem flowers and bears fruit only once. New suckers perpetuate the life of the root knoll (corm). A sucker unfolds a fixed number of leaves before fruiting occurs. The flower stem is pushed from the corm, through the stem and emerges at amazing speed. Under each flower leaf, one hand of bananas emerges.


The male part of the banana (the bell) that hangs below the bunch marginally assists in the development of the bunch. In commercial varieties the male flower is sterile. An average bunch will have 8 hands of 15 bananas.


Nearly all bananas are commercially ripened and people buying the fruit can often get them in a semi-coloured state that will ripen within a matter of days. For ripe bananas, look for bright yellow skin with green tips at each end and free from bruising.


Bananas can be termed the perfect snack food or the basis for a complete meal. They are extremely versatile. Try them in a range of dishes from simple salads to tantalising desserts. Bananas complement chicken, pork and veal and are delicious barbecued.


For a quick snack, serve banana and ham jaffles or for a sweeter version, banana, coconut and sultana jaffles. Bananas can be frozen on a stick, wrapped in foil and stored in the freezer for a quick delicious snack on a hot day. Use ripe bananas mashed for use in cakes, scones, hotcakes, pies and milkshakes. Discover just how quick and easy food preparation can be with versatile bananas.


In southern areas, banana plantations are usually situated on fairly steep hillsides to get above frost level and away from severe cold. Generally these slopes face north or northeast so as to maximise to exposure to the winter sun. In northern parts of Australia growing on hillsides are not required because of the warm humid conditions are ideal for bananas. Bananas grow best in deep alluvial soil and good soil drainage and aeration is essential. Bananas have a considerable requirement for water so that when rainfall is insufficient, irrigation is practised.


Evidence indicates that bananas are one of the oldest fruits known to mankind and also probably one of the first fruits to be cultivated. Their original place of origin is believed to have been the moist tropical region of southern Asia. From here, bananas spread into southern China and the Indian subcontinent. As long ago as 327 B.C., Alexander the Great is credited with discovering them flourishing in India.


Despite the banana’s long history, only a century ago they were still considered a rare, exotic and wonderful delicacy. The first shipments arriving in the United States from Central America attracted hundreds of curious onlookers. Today the banana is perhaps one of the most popular fruits, establishing itself in the eating habits of many countries with ease and rapidity.


Alternative Names:


sugar banana


Growing Areas:


QLD - Tropical North

NSW - Coffs Harbour


Nutritional Value:


Bananas are a good source of vitamins C and B6. A good source of cholesterol-lowering dietary fibre and a useful source of potassium. Bananas also provide complex carbohydrates and energy, with a medium banana (1509) providing 370kJ.




Mature Green 13.5°C at 95% relative humidity. Ripe 13.5°C at 85% relative humidity.


Bananas are harvested mature green. Fullness of the fruit is the main criterion for assessing maturity for harvest. Ripening of bananas can be controlled with the use of ethylene over a specific temperature and humidity range in order to achieve uniformity in the ripeness of fruit and reduce variability in supply. Without controlled ripening, wide variation in ripeness can occur between hands on the one bunch and perhaps more importantly even within the one hand.


Boiling is a serious disorder occurring with bananas at temperatures above 32°C, therefore exposure to temperatures at this extreme should be avoided at all costs.


On the other end of the scale, chilling injury can occur when fruit is held at temperatures below 13°C. Green fruit is slightly more susceptible to this than is ripe fruit.


Consumer Storage:


Ripen at room temperature. Can be stored in the refrigerator, the skin will darken; however fruit will still be edible. Fruit should be kept from 13°-18°C, no more. No less.


Interesting Facts and Myths?


Banana oil never saw a banana; it's made from petroleum.


Bananas don't grow on trees, as is commonly believed. They grow on compacted, water-filled leaf stalks that grow up to 8 metres high. They are the world's largest herb.





Botanical Name:


Rubus fructicosus (Rosaceae)


General Description/History:

  • A member of the rose family, plants are made up of thickets of spiny canes, which bear many flowers and fruits
  • A serious weed problem in Australia and other parts of the world
  • Fruits are soft, black and oval-shaped and made up of many small rounded globules called ‘drupelets’
  • Fruits are red early in the season, but turn black as they ripen
  • Very sweet and juicy, but soft and do not have a long shelf life, so they should be eaten within a few days of purchase
  • Excellent in jams and sauces
  • Store in enclosed punnets in the fridge
  • Available: late December to late April




Botanical Name:


Vaccinium (Ericaceae)


General Description/History:

  • Firm, blue, slightly acid berry
  • 75-150mm in diameter frosted,
  • Dusted look called the ‘bloom’

The blueberry is a shrub varying from 0.5 to 7.5m in height and may be deciduous or evergreen. It is a shallow rooted plant. Flowers are an attractive white or pink colour and can be bell-shaped or tubular.


Fruits form in clusters of five to ten berries. The berries ripen sixty to ninety days after full bloom. Mature berries change colour from green to red to blue.


Select plump fruit with good colour and fresh bloom. Always check the base of the punnet for juice leakage or mould.


Beautiful when served as part of a fruit or cheese platter or cooked in compote, blueberry pie or summer pudding.


Blueberries need to be grown in a climate with cool winters. The best-flavoured berries are produced where the summer nights are cool and days are warm and sunny. Late frosts will damage the young growth and flowers.


Blueberries require varying amounts of chilling During the winter months to induce dormancy and allow an even budbreak in the following spring. According to this chilling requirement, blueberries are loosely classified into high chilling types and low chilling types. The high chilling types include highbush and lowbush varieties with a chilling requirement from 600 to 900 hours between 2.5°C and 9°C. The low chill types include rabbiteye varieties and the low chill tetraploids with a chilling requirement of between 200 and 600 hours at 5.1°C to 14°C.


A well-drained acid soil is needed with organic matter content above 5%. Peat lands are ideal, provided drainage is adequate.


Blueberry plants have shallow fibrous root systems and so require supplementary irrigation throughout the growing season. Mature bushes require 25mm of rain per week for normal growth and as much as 38mm during fruit development. Insufficient water during fruit growth, particularly in the last 2 weeks of ripening, will result in small berries.


Adequate shelter is essential and, if not available naturally, windbreaks should be planted. Exposure to hot drying winds may cause desiccation of young shoots, resulting in dieback and shrivelling of developing fruits.


The timing of planting depends on the cultivar. Dormant high bush berries are best planted in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Early spring planting is preferable for the low chill cultivars, as this allows a full season’s growth before the following winter.


Pruning is essential to promote strong new wood, increase plant size and maintain high yields with large berries. Pruning is traditionally practised in late winter although plants can be pruned at any time from the end of harvest.


Blueberries are native North American fruits and are commonly found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Today blueberries are being grown in Australia and New Zealand.



Growing Areas:


NSW - Camden, Coffs Harbour, Gosford, Hunter Valley, Macksville, Maitland, North Coast, Orange, Tumut, Windsor, Young

VIC - Healesville, Myrtleford

TAS - Huon, Tamar Valley

SA - Adelaide Hills



Nutritional Value:


A good source of vitamins A and C, containing some phosphorus, calcium, potassium and iron.




0°C and 90-100% relative humidity.


Consumer Storage:


Keep dry and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Use as soon as possible as blueberries are very perishable.






  • Called canteloupes in Europe
  • American canteloupes are a different species: Cucumis melo reticulatus
  • Large oval-shaped melons about 15 to 25 cm in diameter with a rough grey/brown skin
  • Flesh is pale orange with a number of pale seeds contained in the middle of each fruit

The Rockmelon, thought to have originated in Central America, is round and has a creamy, netted skin. When ripe it has a distinctive sweet aroma. The flesh is yellow-orange, smooth textured and sweet. Usually eaten fresh or in fruit-salads, it also complements seafood, ham and cheese platters. Choose fruit where the netting pattern on the skin covers the whole melon and is slightly raised. The fruit should have a pleasant sweet aroma and when tapped should sound hollow.


Growing Area:


QLD - Bowen, Burdekin, Chinchilla, Forest Hill, Gatton, Gayndah, Goondiwindi, Ingham, Laidley, Mundubbera, Roma, St George, Texas

VIC - Mid Murray, Sunraysia

SA - Riverland

NT - Darwin, Katherine





Botanical Name:


Prunis avium (Rosaceae)


General Description/History:

  • A member of the rose family
  • Known as a drupe, i.e. a fleshy, one seeded fruit
  • Spherical in shape
  • Approximately 2cm in diameter
  • Deep red/burgundy, edible skin
  • - Flesh can range in colour from pink to burgundy

Cherry trees are quite large. Genetic dwarf varieties have been developed, not only to save space but to enable netting of trees to prevent fruit spoilage by birds.


Choose cherries that are plump, firm and dark red in colour for the best flavour, with a fresh green stem. Avoid small, pale cherries, which are dull in colour, as they may be immature and lacking in juice and flavour. Also avoid over ripe fruit, which are soft and dull and often bruised or split.


When buying cherries, there are two types to choose from, being the red/black varieties or white varieties. Red/black varieties may be used fresh or cooked, while white types are best for cooking and preserving.


To enjoy the flavour of fresh, sweet cherries, use within three to four days. Wash just before use and pat dry with a clean tea towel. When using in a recipe, remove stems and remove stones with a special cherry stoner, available from kitchenware shops.


Cherries can be added to salads, used in gateau, on pavlovas as a garnish, marinated in port and served as a delicious desert with cream or ice cream, added to fruit salads or enjoyed fresh as festive fruit of the season. Cherries can also be frozen. Place 500g of washed, dried, stemmed cherries in a clean freezer bag, remove air, seal, label and freeze.


Cherries have a fairly high chilling requirement and therefore do best in a region, which has cold winters. Cherries require good drainage.


More than 100 species and some 1200 cultivars of cherries are known. The cherry is indigenous in some form or other in the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere, but the present commercial varieties probably originated from the Caucasus, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.


Records of cherries are found in the very earliest historical writings and almost all our present day varieties are chance seedling selections.


About 100 cherry varieties are grown in Australia and New Zealand. Many of these came from England and originally from France. Lately Canadian and US varieties have been introduced.


Growing Areas:


NSW - Bathurst, Camden, Coffs Harbour, Dareton, Gosford, Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, Orange, Tumut, Windsor, Young

VIC - Eastern Metropolitan Area, Mornington Peninsula, Wandin Valley, Wangaratta Area

TAS - Huon, Spreyton, Tamar Valley

SA - Adelaide Hills, South East

WA - Dwellingup, Manjimup, Perth Hills



Nutritional Value:


Cherries are an excellent source of vitamin C and a useful source of potassium and dietary fibre. 250kJ/100g.




0°C at 90 - 100% relative humidity. Keep covered and away from refrigeration fans.


Consumer Storage:


Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a short time.


Interesting Facts and Myths?


The ancient Roman writer, Pliny, claimed that the Roman General Lucullus was so fond of cherries that he committed suicide when he realized he was running out of them.


The earliest known mention of cherries is in Theophrastus (237-272 B.C.) 'History of Plants', in which he indicated that cherries had been cultivated for hundreds of years in Greece.





Botanical Name:


Castanea sp. eg C. sativa (sweet chestnut) (Fagaceae)


General Description/History:

  • A large tree up to 40 m, chestnuts are members of the beech family
  • A number of species and hybrids are used in nut production
  • Nuts are borne in a round, spiky capsule that are called ‘conkers’
  • The nuts are large and heart-shaped with a flat light brown top, the rest of the nut is shiny dark brown with light brown streaks
  • They have a sweet nutty flavour with a texture similar to a baked potato
  • Unlike other nuts they are low in fat, and high in carbohydrates
  • Used in cooking, or boiled or roasted as they cannot be eaten raw
  • Chestnut flour is also used in some cake recipes
  • Fresh nuts have a firm feel
  • Unlike many nuts chestnuts need to be eaten within a week or two of purchase
  • Can be stored for up to 3 weeks in the fridge in a perforated plastic bag
  • Available: Processed is available all year round

Growing Areas:


Australian growing regions: 70 to 80 % of Australian production is located in the North East of Victoria. Other production areas are in Gippsland and the Macedon Ranges. Producers are also located in NSW (around Orange, Canberra, and the Northern Tablelands), Southern Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.



Custard Apple


Botanical Name:


Annona spp (Annonaceae)


General Description/History:

  • Heart shaped, covered with nodules
  • Smooth skin, creating a netted pattern
  • Dull yellow/green skin
  • Flesh is yellow/white
  • Granular texture
  • Very sweet rich flavour

There are two main varieties of custard apple grown; the Pink’s Mammoth and the African Pride. The fruit of the Pink’s Mammoth is the larger of the two and has fewer seeds. The skin of mature fruit is a light yellow/green colour with creaminess between the nodules. The African Pride is usually small to medium in size with less prominent nodules.


Botanically, it is formed of many carpers. The fruit varies a little from plant to plant, being heart-shaped, round or symmetrical.


One of the deciduous species, it is a small tree growing to 5-8 metres in height. The young shoots have a rusty brown coating, but as they grow, the stems and leaves become smooth.


Due to the fact that custard apples bruise easily, it is wise when purchasing to select mature, hard fruit and ripen at home. Select fruit that has pale green skin with a creamy colour between the nodules and free from large black blemishes. The fruit should yield to gentle pressure when ripe.


The soft, white flesh of the custard apple is very sweet and easily scooped out with a spoon; therefore the flesh can be eaten straight from the skin or added to a variety of desserts. Its sweet flavour makes it an ideal addition to fruit salads, parfait and Pavlovas. Puree flesh and add to ice cream or use as a base for trifles.


Tropical - subtropical conditions are required as greater humidity adds to the success of pollination. High rainfall and good soil drainage is also essential.

The custard apple originally came from Peru in South America. It was introduced into Queensland as early as 1874 with a small industry developing in Redland Bay and Brisbane’s southern districts.


Alternative Names:



Bullocks Heart


Netted Custard Apple



Growing Areas:


QLD - Bundaberg, Gayndah, South East, Tropical North

NSW - North Coast


Nutritional Value:


An excellent source of vitamin C, a good source of dietary fibre and a useful source of vitamin B6, magnesium and potassium. Custard apples also contain some vitamin B2 and complex carbohydrates. 305kJ/100g.




15°C and 85-95% relative humidity. Ripen at room temperature.


Consumer Storage:


Ripen at room temperature and when ripe, store in the refrigerator crisper for a short time.





Botanical Name:


Ficus carica (Morareae)


General Description/History:

  • Commonly available figs are fruits of the Common Fig tree (F. carica)
  • Figs are roughly pear-shaped with a rounded bottom and pointed top
  • Flesh is pale pink to red in the centre with a white outer layer
  • Very sweet rich taste
  • They are green when immature and turn purple from the base up when ripe
  • They are thought to be the oldest domesticated crop, dating back over 11,000 years
  • Figs are very nutritious, and are very high in fibre and flavonoids
  • Can be eaten fresh or dried, and are commonly used in jams or cooking
  • At tip or base is an eye (hole) closed by small scales
  • This fruit encloses many tiny flowers which grow and mature away from daylight with the receptacle later becoming the fruit itself

The fig is a broad-leaved deciduous tree and a member of the mulberry family.


Choose figs with good colour for the variety. They should be plump and free from blemishes. Avoid those with a shrivelled or sticky skin appearance and those with a sour odour as this indicates a state of over-ripeness. The fruit is ready to eat when the skin begins to split at the base. It should give to gentle pressure, but not be too soft. A ripe fig is mildly sweet with its own characteristic flavour. The skin of the fig is thin, there is no need to peel unless desired.


Figs are a beautiful addition to a fruit or savoury salad, and are the perfect accompaniment to ham and a variety of cheeses. Try including them with other fruits when decorating platters.


Stewing figs with a little honey and serve with cream/ice cream can make a simple but delicious dessert. Stewed fig can also be incorporated into biscuits, muffins and breads. Figs also make delicious jams, chutneys and pickles. Dried figs make a healthy snack.


If in a state of dormancy, the tree can withstand winter temperatures below 0°C. Young trees are susceptible to frost injury and must be protected during cold weather. High summer temperatures have no adverse effect on trees provided water supply is sufficient. Summer rains may cause the fruit to split as it matures and also increases losses due to mould.


In prehistoric times, plants that were ancestors to figs grew wild in the southern part of the Mediterranean basin from Syria to the Canary Islands. The first cultivation of figs probably occurred in Arabia or Egypt as early as 2700 B.C. The fig was a treasured fruit; the tree and fruit were used as important motifs and designs and were often part of illustrations in graves or on pottery. There are also many mentions of the fig in the Old Testament and in many Greek and Roman writings. Figs were used in religious ceremonies as a special gift to the gods.


The First Fleet brought figs to Australia and in the 19th century figs were grown on a commercial scale under warm and dry conditions. Production declined significantly by 1960, however, more recently there has been a renewed interest in production.


Growing Areas:


QLD - Bracken Ridge, Bundaberg, Gympie, Redland Bay,

VIC - Goulburn Valley, Melbourne, Mid Murray, Sunraysia

SA - Adelaide Hills, Riverland

NT - Darwin, Ti Tree


Nutritional Value:


A very good source of dietary fibre, a good source of vitamin C and also contains some potassium. 170kJ/100g. .




0°C and 90-100% relative humidity, ripen at room temperature.


Consumer Storage:


Ripen at room temperature and store in the refrigerator crisper for a short time.


Interesting Facts and Myths?


The fig was used by the ancient Egyptians as long as 6,000 years ago. They were a favourite of Cleopatra. They also grew in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.


Although considered a fruit, the fig is actually a flower inverted into itself. So there are no blossoms on a fig tree.



< PREVIOUS   Page: 2/6   NEXT >