Woolworths has flagged shortages of frozen vegetables, particularly corn, and packaged foods, like potato chips, could hit shelves in the coming weeks after heavy rain damaged crops. But as inflation creeps up, petrol prices jump again and rents continue to rise, hunny, who can afford frozen or pre-prepared food in this economy?
The ultimate food/shopping/budgeting/life hack is this: buy what’s fresh and in season. Fresh produce shouldn’t be expensive if you know what to buy — and don’t shop at supermarkets.
Seriously, never buy fruit, veg or meat at a supermarket. If your aim is to spend less money on better quality food, shop at markets and greengrocers only. We explain the many convincing reasons why here.
In our world of pre-chopped, jarred, delivered ultra-convenience, most people aren’t as familiar with the seasons as our grandparents were. But once you tap into the cycles of growing and harvesting, not only will you gain a deeper understanding of and connection to what you eat, but you’ll save money too.
And perhaps most importantly, what you eat will be delicious. Like, out-of-season capsicums from the supermarket are literally crunchy water, sorry. I actually like my vegetables with flavour.
So what’s in season in Australia in November?
This November’s been a little weird for produce
November is spring, but thanks to La Niña a lot of spring and summer crops are a little delayed this year. The cold spring temperatures and loads of rain have damaged or waterlogged a lot of crops, but also blocked the sun that spring and summer plants need to grow.
Woolworths has warned Christmas cherries may not be as available and will therefore likely be more expensive. But a lot of winter veggies and other spring crops, like lettuce, have finally recovered from the March heavy rains so prices have come down.
Speaking of lettuce, November is the time to buy leafy greens. We’re also in peak silverbeet and swiss chard season.
Snowpeas, sugar snap peas, broad beans and of course asparagus are all thriving so now’s the time to indulge. Globe artichokes are also in season and so, so delicious. Cook and eat them whole and then preserved the hearts in oil and vinegar for sandwiches. Honestly how impressive would home-marinated fresh artichokes be as a Christmas present?
Winter veggies like broccoli and cauliflower are at the end of their season so they’re still cheap but will start to go up in a couple of weeks as the weather warms.
If you haven’t already noticed, avocados are also stupidly cheap rn but not for much longer.
If you live in colder parts of the country, ’tis the season for some beautiful spring mushrooms like native morels. The season’s very short so if you see some, grab them now. They may not be cheap per se, but they’re worth it.
What about what’s coming into season this month?
November’s when zucchinis, squash, peppers, chillies, cucumbers and sweet corn all start to be harvested. They’ll continue to be in season for a couple of months so you have time to get your fill, but get excited now.
Pumpkin, potatoes, onions and garlic may not be in season right now but they’re always pretty cheap. This is because they’re extremely hardy vegetables that are actually cured for storage.
Curing basically means it’s stored in a very cool, dark, dry spot to toughen up the skin right after harvesting to extend its storage life. It doesn’t change the flavour, it just means they won’t go mouldy within a week or two.
But unfortunately, November is the changeover period between seasons for potatoes and onions in particular, which means it’s the most expensive time of year to buy them. They also won’t be the best quality, so try some other roots (like beetroots, turnips or radishes) and alliums (like wild spring onions or garlic chives) instead.
Not many, if any, fruits grow over winter. They need a lot of heat and sun. But as mentioned earlier, La Niña has kind of borked the weather so early-summer fruits are coming into season pretty unpredictably at the moment.
Strawberries for example are normally in season in October and November but many crops have been damaged by rain so sadly a punnet could set you back about double what it would normally cost this time of year.
Mangoes from Queensland are starting to pop off this month, so grab some of those, and we’re coming to the end of winter citrus season so you might be able to find cheap oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes. But not for much longer — they’re pretty much on an upward trajectory for the rest of the summer.
The fruits to watch out for this month are stone fruits. Apricots are the first to come into season around mid-November, followed by cherries, nectarines, peaches and plums closer to Christmas.
If you need more inspiration for what to eat this month, visit your nearest farmer’s market and you’ll see exactly what’s in season. Chat to your local growers about what they’re sowing, growing and harvesting at the moment and love your life.