We’re a nation of passionate tea drinkers, with half of Australians drinking at least one cup a week. To celebrate Sydney’s Tea Festival, we find out more about this much-loved beverage, from its history and growth to its potential health benefits, and why markets are the perfect place to find the best blends.
Where does tea come from?
Apart from water, tea is the most popular drink in the world. Tea drinking has been taking place for centuries, and remains a special, timeless routine for many.
All tea comes from the same plant, called Camellia sinensis, which is native to Burma and parts of China. Tea was first drunk by Chinese royalty as far back as the 2nd century BC, where it was primarily known for its medicinal properties. Some Chinese emperors liked it so much, they’re thought to have been buried with it!
European tea drinking was thought to have been started by tea aficionado Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II, who brought her favourite drink across from Portugal and gave it a fashionable, popular status in the UK. By 1750 it had become the UK’s national drink, and was traded as a valuable commodity (and, not unexpectedly, it also increased the demand for imported sugar).
By the time the UK introduced a tax reform, cutting the tax on tea from 119% to just 12.5%, tea consumption went up so much that the government actually saw an overall rise in revenue. New tea plantations started springing up around the globe, and with the invention of the teabag 1908, tea-drinking became accessible to people across the world, including Australia. The first Australian tea shop was thought to have been founded by Alfred Bushell in 1883 (Bushell’s still being a popular supermarket tea today).
The rise of tea
Where once you might have only had the choice between English Breakfast and Earl Grey, in recent years more diverse tea options have taken off, with seeming endless varieties of green, fruit and herbal teas being cultivated, bought and enjoyed. So whilst many people stick to their traditional ‘builder’s brew’, others have delved into a whole wealth of loose-leaf teas from around the world, particularly in Australia, where we’ve seen a boom in popular ‘wellness’ blends.
Many people still promote the health benefits of tea and its antioxidant properties. Some studies have shown it to help fight disease, boost immune energy and reduce stress.
What’s the difference between black tea and green tea?
Made from the same plant, the differences between green tea and black tea are simply a result of different processing methods.
Black tea leaves are oxidised, a process which turns them from their natural green colour to a dark brown/black. Black tea is one of the most popular teas, and it contains caffeine as well as a stimulant called theophylline, both of which help people feel more alert. It also contains substances called polyphenols and flavonoids which have antioxidant properties.
Green tea leaves are unoxidised, which means they keep their original green colour – the greener they are, the less oxygen they’ve been exposed to. Like black tea, green tea is thought to have a range of health benefits, and is the most popular tea choice in Japan, where it comes in a huge range of different varieties, from matcha to sencha.
Buy your tea at a market?
As well as offering fresher, higher quality teas, made in smaller batches, markets are a fantastic place for you to experience and discover more about tea. You can learn about different varieties, where the leaves are grown, how they are processed and blended, and how the different methods subtly impact the taste.
Many Australians are passionate about farming and getting their food directly from the source, and this is a great chance to find out from stallholders exactly where their teas are sourced from, and how buying them can support tea-growers and their local communities. You can also sample tea from a wide range of different countries, and taste some of the rarest teas in the world.
The Sydney Tea Festival
The vibrant, busy Sydney Tea Festival gives you the chance to visit lots of tea stallholders, offering a huge range of loose leaf blends from many different countries. And you can do more than just browse the stalls too – enjoy interactive tea tastings, workshops, and ceremonies, and listen to insightful talks by Australia’s leading tea experts.
Why not pop down to the Sydney Tea Festival on Sunday 20th August and take a look for yourself? Or if you want to find tea sellers at a local market near you, check out our Market Calendar or subscribe to our Local Market Guide Newsletter.
Alan Macfarlane; Iris Macfarlane (2004). The Empire of Tea. The Overlook Press. p. 32. ISBN 1-58567-493-1.
Timeline: A short history of Australian tea - Australian Geographic
Food Culture: Drink your Tea - Australian Museum
"Archaeologists discover world's oldest tea buried with ancient Chinese emperor". The Independent. Independent Print Limited.
Tips for buying organic produce
The higher premium for organic foods, because of the more expensive farming practices, means that consumers often want to know whether they should spend a bit extra and buy organic. What does organic mean? And how can you find out whether a product is actually organic?
What is organic?
Organic food is produced using organic farming practices, that is, without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilisers and sold to the consumer without added preservatives.
Organic farming practices are designed to:
*use best environmental practice in farming activities and regenerate the land and soil;
*not use genetically modified organisms (GMOs);
*provide healthy livestock habitats, and
*use recycling and promote self-sustaining biological cycles.
Is organic good for you?
There have been various studies to try to determine whether organic food is more nutritious than non-organic food. There is no one conclusive study. However, it appears that there may be some health benefits, including a higher level of antioxidants in organic food. One study estimated this difference to be between 19 percent and 69 percent higher in organic foods.
One of the main attractions of organic food is the lack of harmful pesticide residue that can be found on non-organic food. Chemical pesticides are used in conventional farming to prevent damage from weeds, insects, rodents and fungus. Pesticide exposure has been linked to increased rates of chronic diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. However, some experts warn that the amount of potential pesticide residue left on food is not sufficiently high in concentration to be harmful.
Another attraction for consumers in purchasing organic food is the farming practices used in producing organic meat and milk which are perceived as being kinder to animals. The livestock are raised without the use of hormones, antibiotics or food treated with pesticides.
Finally, but importantly, taste is another reason people buy organic produce. The taste of organic vegetables, meat and milk is regarded by many people as far superior to the taste of non-organic produce.
The labelling debate
Any food products advertised as “organic” must follow strict guidelines. Countries have different organic certification standards. In Australia, there is a voluntary standard for growers and manufacturers wishing to label their products ‘organic’ and ‘biodynamic’ (AS 6000–2009).
Some organic products are labelled as “certified” organic, whilst others are not. What is the difference and does it matter?
1. Certified organic
Some products bear a symbol, logo or other trade mark to show that they are certified organic. This certification is provided by various third party, private bodies that have minimum standards required for certification. In Australia, there is a move to try and standardise the organic standards across industries.
A business that labels its product as certified organic must ensure that its product is actually certified and conforms to the relevant certification standards on an ongoing basis.
Being certified as a producer is a big undertaking. In the case of farming practices, it requires developing and maintaining a whole system approach to farming. This process usually takes three years. For example, certified organic status as a farming producer requires a minimum period of three years of verified conformance with standards.
2. Non-certified organic
It is expensive for small producers to have their products certified and many do not pursue certification. In order to claim their product is organic they must still use organic farming practices, however, their farm and products have not undergone a strict certification process.
Come to the markets
For products not “certified” organic, it is difficult for consumers to know whether the product is entirely organic. At the markets, you can speak with stallholders and learn about how their products are farmed or made. Market stallholders also tend to make smaller quantities than large commercial producers and have quality produce.
Come and visit your local markets and speak with the stallholders directly about how they made their product.
[Sources/references] Research with thanks to:
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) “Organic claims”
“Clear differences between organic and non-organic food, study finds” The Guardian, 11 July 2014
Australian Certified Organic “Farming certification”
 “Clear differences between organic and non-organic food, study finds” The Guardian, 11 July 2014 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/11/organic-food-more-antioxidants-study
Two Creeks Honey make pure honey, harvested from the bushland in East Lindfield, Sydney. We find out more about how they started, their prize-winning honey and the benefits of beekeeping.
Owners of Two Creeks Honey, Lynda and Rod Kay, started learning about beekeeping less than three years ago when they joined the North Shore Beekeepers Association and undertook a beekeeping course. They started with two hives and now have twenty hives scattered around East Lindfield and a busy honey-making business.
Lynda says she and her husband “fell in love with beekeeping at the same rate”, enjoying a pastime they can do together. They also found their garden improved ten-fold having its own bees. For example, an orange tree and lemon tree without fruit for about fifteen years are now full with fruit.
The proliferation of hives meant more and more honey which Lynda and Rod wanted to capture and sell. Their honey and honey products are made in East Lindfield and sold at That Great Market in East Lindfield. It doesn’t get more locally made than that. Some of their twenty hives are now hosted by neighbours in East Lindfield who are also enjoying the benefits of having bees in their garden.
Bees will travel up to seven kilometres for food, but they will move to the strongest and nearest source. For the bees at Two Creeks, this is the Garigal National Park. Lynda says, whilst every extraction has its own individual taste, the distinctive flavour of Two Creeks Honey comes from the gum trees in the National Park. These trees produce a lot of pollen and nectar, so the bees can “feast” here.
The flavours in Two Creeks Honey you won’t find in commercial honey, which is usually a blend of honey from different sources. Commercial honey is also heavily processed with heating and filtering. This blending and processing leads to honey that has lost its particular nuance and flavour.
Each hive at Two Creeks makes about 50 kilograms of honey. When there is “nectar-flow” the honey is collected once every two weeks and, otherwise, once a month. At the end of autumn, there must be enough honey left in the hive to sustain it through winter. In late August and September, the hive expands with the birth of thousands of baby bees.
The end of bees?
Bee colony collapse is happening all over the world. Lynda says, about thirty percent of our food requires pollination in order to be produced and bees are the most successful pollinators. This bee crisis doesn’t just impact fruit and vegetable production, but also meat production because of the reliance of livestock on grasses, crops and lucerne for food.
Lynda noticed a lack of bees in their own garden, before acquiring their hives. She thinks the widespread reliance on pesticides and insecticides nowadays is probably largely responsible for this decrease in bees.
Do you want to find out more about beekeeping? There are lots of beekeeping groups and information now available as more and more people are interested in keeping bees and helping pollination.
Come down to That Great Market, East Lindfield, and meet Lynda and Rod and check out their beautiful honey, in the form of liquid honey, creamed honey, and chocolate honey hearts. Their creamed honey is wrapped in paper, old-style, like butter. Last year, they won the Blue Ribbon at the Sydney Royal Easter Show for their creamed honey.
Two Creeks also sell a range of honey products, such as wax candles, lip balm and leather conditioner. Last year, they won the Blue Ribbon and the Champion Ribbon at the Sydney Royal Easter Show for their wax candles.
They are also happy to sell from their premises and will post products too. They make local deliveries of larger quantities of honey.
That Great Market is open on the 3rd Sunday each Month
East Lindfield Community Hall & Surrounds
9 Wellington Road, East Lindfield
9am to 2pm
A guide to the best chillies for your cooking
Some people can eat them straight, but for most of us chillies are added to our cooking or maybe our drinks. Chillies can make or break a dish. Here is a guide to the best chillies to buy and use in your cooking.
Chilli – it’s good for you
Chillies belong to the capsicum family, which also includes cayenne pepper, paprika, jalapeno and, of course, capsicum. They are thought to have originated in Mexico.
Chillies are rich in vitamin C and vitamin A, which is often called the “anti-infection” vitamin. They can help with fighting sinus congestion.
Capsaicin is the chemical compound that makes chillies taste hot. It is found mostly in the seeds and white membrane inside the chilli, although some also seeps into the flesh. Their spiciness is measured in Scoville heat units. The hotter the chilli, the more capsaicin it contains.
The power of capsaicin is well known. Herbal therapeutic creams use capsaicin to soothe muscles. Pepper spray also uses capsaicin.
Types of chilli
Much of the flavour of a chilli comes from its flesh. Chilli features in cooking all around the world, especially in Asia and Mexico, where they have perfected the balance of flavour and heat.
Here are some of the main types of chillies available in Australia and the types of dishes they are best suited to:
*Bell pepper (very mild): we call these capsicums in Australia. They are not spicy and can be eaten raw or cooked. Add to casseroles, sandwiches, pasta sauces and pizza. Or try them stuffed with rice or quinoa, meat and or vegetables, sprinkled with cheese and baked.
*Long chilli (medium): these can be up to 15 centimetres long. They ripen from green to red. They are the most common type of chilli sold in Australia. Their heat levels will vary depending upon the season. The long green chillies are milder and are perfect for vegetable curries. Add long red chillies to salads, pasta sauces and meat curries.
*Jalapeno (medium): these are five to nine centimetres long. They are picked while green, but will ripen to red. Red jalapeno peppers, dried and smoked, are chipotle peppers. Jalapenos can be eaten fresh or pickled. They are often added to sandwiches, burgers, dips or sprinkled on dishes. Try adding them to your tuna salad.
*Cayenne pepper (medium): the thick skin of these chillies makes them suitable for grinding. They are usually ground to make cayenne powder which can add a kick to your cooking. The peppers were first grown and traded in the city of Cayenne in French Guiana. Try cayenne added with lemon juice as a dressing for dark green leaves, or add a little to an omelette.
*Bird’s eye (hot): these tiny two to four centimetre chillies can be exceptionally hot. They are often used in south-east Asian cooking, such as salads and Indonesia’s sambal ulek (chilli paste).
*Serrano (hot): these small chillies look like bird’s eye chilli but have a rounded tip like jalapenos, and when they ripen they are red, yellow and orange. They are often used in Mexican cooking. Add these to a salsa or chutney.
*Habanero (very hot): these are about five centimetres long and are named after the city of Havana, Cuba, where they were traded. They ripen to yellow, orange and red. These chillies are so hot that you must wear gloves to avoid burning your hands. Add a small amount of these to a spice blend for meat.
To deseed or not deseed?
In the world of chilli, there is considerable debate as to whether or not to deseed chillies. There are two schools of thought:
Seed lovers say do not bother deseeding chillies. They argue you will remove all of their heat and you would be better off adding less chilli, or substituting altogether with capsicum.
Seed removers argue that there is nothing wrong with deseeding chillies. Most of the flavour is contained in the flesh and you will still get some heat from using only the flesh. Also, the majority of the nutrients are contained in the flesh.
If you want to deseed a chilli, snap off the green stem at the end of the chilli, using a sharp knife cut down the length of the chilli to split it into two halves. Using either a knife or a teaspoon, scrape out the seeds.
You can keep the seeds and dry them to use in cooking or plant them to grow your own chilli plants.
When handling chillies, some people like to wear thin gloves. Usually, gloves are only needed for very hot chillies. However, it is good practice to thoroughly wash your hands after handling chillies and be cautious about touching your hands to your eyes—chillies cause a burning sensation if they come into contact with your eyes.
At the markets
Talk to your fresh produce stallholder for the chillies they have available and the best ones for your dish.
Try adding some chilli to your favourite recipes, or try a chilli that you haven’t eaten before. If you overdo it, remember milk based products, like cucumber raita, will soothe the burn.
Research with thanks to:
SBS Food: “The burning question: Do you deseed chillies?” http://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2016/04/19/burning-question-do-you-deseed-chillies
Good Food: “A user’s guide to chillies” http://www.goodfood.com.au/recipes/a-users-guide-to-chillies-20130405-2hczq
Chasing Chilli: “Types of chilli peppers (Chilli 101)” http://chasingchilli.com.au/types-of-chilli-peppers-chilli-101/
The World’s Healthiest Foods “Chilli pepper, dried” http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=29
Margot Warre, owner of Margot Design, speaks with us about her love for Sydney, her textile design work, and how she makes the products that have won her a loyal following.
Margot Warre loves Sydney. Her textile designs reflect the natural beauty of its beaches and landscape, and her time overseas, including studying design in Paris, has taught her that Sydney is where she wants to be. Now we can buy a piece of her Sydney at the markets.
A designer through and through
The creator of Margot Designs is internationally recognised textile designer, Margot Warre. Margot always knew she wanted to be a textile designer. Her grandmother was a founding partner of the iconic lingerie store, White Ivy, in Double Bay, and even created some of the lace and underwear for Queen Elizabeth II for her Coronation. And Margot’s mother is a painter and illustrator. Margot inherited the creativity of these women and also their love for fabric.
Margot learned to print, weave and dye. She has worked for Mokum Textiles, Warwick Fabrics and Sheridan. She lived for a couple of years near Sacre Coeur in Paris, during which time she attended the Parsons School of Design and studied Fine Arts, majoring in textile printing. It was here that she appreciated how different her aesthetic was to her fellow students from Europe and the US. For Margot, her colours were so bright and clear, and her designs and patterns were fresh, modern and based in nature. She wanted to bring this aesthetic home to Sydney, the city she loves.
Sydney – a palette
For Margot, Sydney is her inspiration—the light that is unique to Sydney, and its flowers, smells, summer heat, freshness and “the sparkle that Sydney gets”. A self-confessed water baby, Margot regards the beach as medicine and goes to the beach every chance she can, often ending her day there. The colours and movement of the beach landscape give her daily inspiration, as do the intricate shells and seaweed.
Margot’s designs tell a story.
Mélange (French for “mixture and medley”) – Margot’s first collection is a mixture of colour, pattern and textiles inspired by the flowers of Sydney in summer. This collection comprises six floral designs printed on 100 percent silk Georgette, a beautiful draping, lightweight fabric with a crepe-like texture.
*Popular design: Yesterday, today and tomorrow is a stunning blue, floral design, colourful and vibrant. The design is inspired by the plant of the same name which Margot’s mother used to point out to her as a child.
La Mer (French for “the sea”) – Margot’s second collection is inspired by watching storms roll in and change the colours of the sea in winter. This collection comprises four designs printed on a silk, wool twill base cloth.
*Popular design: Jardin de la mer (French for “garden of the sea”) features a Jacaranda blue that rains down upon Sydney.
Her upcoming collection will be released shortly and is inspired by the art deco buildings of Sydney.
Margot’s designs are available as cotton linen throws, which can double as beach towels or picnic rugs, scarves, cushions, and framed, limited edition prints. She also has available, at the markets only, small artworks priced at $15.
Making the art sustainable
Margot uses sustainable, natural fabrics in all of her designs—silk, wool, linen and cotton. There are no synthetic fabrics used, no mass production. All of her work is hand finished.
The work is produced in Sydney, because Margot wants her work to come from here. She oversees the production and works directly with the people who manufacture the work. They also care about the quality of the product and are proud of it too.
Margot Design products are available at markets, the first being The Market Tales, Precinct 75 at St Peters, with potentially some upcoming markets in Paddington and Avalon. You can also purchase direct from www.margotdesign.com.au or you can contact Margot to visit her in her studio.
For more information see her website or visit https://www.facebook.com/margotdesign.com.au/
The Eastern Suburbs have welcomed Rose Bay Farmers Market with open arms. The new weekly market is perfectly located in a leafy park, mid-way between New South Head Road and Old South Head Road. The market offers a quality line-up of produce stalls and a range of gift items too. Whether you are after a quick stock-up, a leisurely morning or a lunchtime snack, you won’t be disappointed.
Piles of fresh produce are ready for the taking including The Regional Store which is laden with fresh Macleay Valley grown fruit and vege. Once a month the market is also proud to be collaborating with the Rose Bay Community Garden who are harvesting their seasonal produce for purchase. Boasting a zero food mile footprint, it is showcasing sustainable practice at its best!
Locals can also stock up on fresh eggs and organic, grass fed meats thanks to The Ethical Farmers, there are delicious breads and baked treats from Organic Bread Bar, raw desserts from Cream Fork, nut butters from Yummee Gluten Free, hand cultured butter from Pepe Saya, fresh creamy milk from The Pines in Kiama (milked the day before!), fresh seafood and beautiful native flowers from Sweetpea and Honeybee to name a few..
The organisers, Cambridge Markets have created a lovely local market with a range of core stalls and a handful of changing merchants to mix it up each week. From French market baskets to gourmet and organic goodies as well as an activity space for the kiddies, there is something for everyone.
Spread the word – this local market is here to stay!
Avoca Beachside Markets always impress. They offer a range of select, unique stalls, are visually stunning and even have a shuttle bus to and from the local pub. Come to Avoca Beachside Markets and see for yourself.
Just over one hour north of Sydney, Avoca feels like another world. Avoca Beachside Markets offer a special experience for market goers. So if you like your markets unique, relaxing and beautiful, this is the place to be.
Creative duo and owners of Fixx Events, Bianca and Brad Cardis, first started the Avoca Beachside Markets seven years ago. They wanted high quality, selective markets in their own community. With their extensive experience in the arts world, together with Brad’s background in organising big events, they have brought a new creative vision to the Central Coast.
What’s on offer?
Avoca Beachside Markets are held on the fourth Sunday each month and are a feast.
*Stalls: These markets have had a waiting list of stallholders from day one and you can see why. There are over 120 stalls with local artisans selling exceptional fashion, homewares, jewellery, art, plants and foodie goods. These markets pride themselves on their Australian produce, with eighty percent of their produce locally made.
*Atmosphere and entertainment: Bianca and her team have made the markets visually attractive and distinct. The markets have a creative, bohemian vibe, with flags, backdrops and quirky, hula hoop signs. All add to an outdoor space that is welcoming and reflects the relaxed Central Coast. Performers take centre stage here as part of the Avoca Beachside Markets Music Momentum Programme, so be prepared to be entertained with live acts by excellent, local and emerging artists.
*Transport: A shuttle bus runs every fifteen minutes from the Avoca Beach Hotel to the markets and back again. This lets you have a beer at the end of a day of shopping and relaxing at the markets. It also cuts down on the traffic going to and from the markets. There is even an “after party” at the Avoca Beach Hotel which everyone is invited to come along to. This is great for live entertainment and some cheap, tasty food before heading home.
Neon Garage - Cretive Space & Workshops
In March last year, Bianca and Brad launched the creative space, Neon Garage, co-ordinating events and workshops and helping performers get their start.
Neon Garage’s workshops offer you the opportunity to learn directly from local artisans and producers. More of these workshops are coming up later this year. Here are some of the big hit workshops:
Avoca Beachside Markets are held at Heazlett Park Foreshore every fourth Sunday, from 9am-2pm, with the next one being held on Sunday, 28 May 2017.
Put it in your diary and see you at Avoca Beachside Markets. See their Facebook page for more details: Avoca Beachside Markets
With approximately 1500 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year in Australia alone, it’s time to take notice. The Rozelle Collectors Market Charity Auction is supporting the fight against the disease with a unique antiques roadshow and charity auction.
Rozelle Collectors Market will be hosting a roadshow and fundraising auction to help raise awareness of Ovarian Cancer on Saturday 20 May 2017.
From 10am you have the opportunity to have your vintage treasures professionally valued ‘Antiques Roadshow’ style for a paper note donation (from $5).
The charity auction will kick off at 12pm and will be hosted by Adam from Aussie Pickers and Lawson’s Auctioneers.
The eclectic auction items range from vintage leather bags to tribal art, a retro robot, an antique library chair, an old netted fisherman’s buoy, workshops, framing, food and shopping vouchers. You can even bid for a marketing internship or a tour of Atlassian.
About Rozelle Collectors Market:
With a history spanning over twenty years, Rozelle Collectors Market is widely regarded as one of the first in Sydney’s now bustling market scene. An essential component of Rozelle’s eclectic community, Rozelle Collectors Market is loved by locals and out-of-towners alike.
The open-air market is dedicated to pre-loved goods and takes place every Saturday and Sunday within the grounds of the historic Rozelle Public School. Packed full of stalls, from one-off pop ups through to longstanding stallholders that specialise in vintage, bric-a-brac and antique wares, Rozelle Collectors Market was taken over by a new operator in 2016, and has continued to evolve whilst retaining its original charm.
The market also prides itself on showcasing local entertainers and artisanal provedores alongside its range of stalls, making for a fun day out for all the family.
Supporting an important cause:
Organised by longtime stallholder John Moran and his family, the Rozelle Collectors Market Charity Auction is supporting the fight against ovarian cancer.
John and his wife Megan decided to organise the event following their own experiences with the disease. Megan was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in December 2015 and after a 17 month battle, is now in remission. Nevertheless, with an average of four women in Australia diagnosed with ovarian cancer every day, the Morans are determined to continue raising awareness of the silent killer.
The five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer currently sits at just 43%, so it’s important women of all ages know what to look out for. As well as the auction, the Morans have organised an information stall where visitors can find out everything they need to know about the disease.
How you can get involved:
Head down to Rozelle Markets from 10am and enjoy a great day at one of Sydney’s most popular antiques, vintage, retro and collectibles markets. All donations will go towards ovarian cancer research and can be made on the day, or via the fundraising page below:
Rozelle Public School, 663 Darling Street, Rozelle.
Saturday, 20 May 2017
10am – 12pm
Brussels sprouts are making a comeback. They are packed with vitamins and when cooked right are sweet and irresistible. Brussels sprouts* are good for you, rich in vitamin antioxidants, including Vitamin C and Vitamin A, in the form of beta-carotene, and Vitamin K. They are also high in fibre, providing 4 grams of fibre in every cup.
Here are tips for buying, cooking and storing your sprouts.
How are sprouts grown?
Brussels sprouts are part of the cabbage family, Brassica, which includes broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Looking like miniature cabbages, they measure between 2.5 and 4 centimetres. They grow on a central stalk, measuring about 60 to 120cm, rather than on the ground like broccoli and cabbage. Each stalk contains 15 to 20 sprouts.
Brussels sprouts are thought to have been cultivated in Brussels, Belgium, in the 13th Century. Some have said that the town of Brussels looks like a Brussels sprout when viewed on a map.
Brussels sprouts are available all year round and are at their best from autumn through to early spring. Choose sprouts that are firm, compact and bright green. The smaller they are, the sweeter.
How to cook sprouts
Brussels sprouts, when cooked properly, are crisp and dense in texture, like a true miniature cabbage. Their flavour is sweet.
It is important not to overcook sprouts as they lose their nutritional value and emit an unpleasant sulphur smell.
They can be boiled, steamed, parboiled and then sautéed or they can be roasted. They can also be eaten raw and shredded in salads and stir fries.
To steam them, so they cook evenly and quickly, cut each sprout into quarters and steam them for five minutes. Alternatively, cut a deep cross into the base to enable the heat to enter the middle of the sprout and steam for seven to ten minutes, depending upon their size. Test regularly, using a knife, to avoid overcooking. Eat steamed or use one of the variations below.
If you are sautéing the Brussels sprouts, but not straight after steaming, cool them in an ice bath, this will help them stay bright green. Also, when sautéing, use a large pan so that they have space and to stop them from steaming further.
Here are some of the best ways to serve and eat sprouts:
*Combine cooked Brussels sprouts with red onion, walnuts and a mild flavoured cheese such as goat cheese or feta.
*Toss cooked sprouts with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to make a cooked salad.
*Shred finely and add raw to a salad for crunch and vivid green colour, or add to your favourite stir fry.
*Sautee with bacon and onion.
*Delicious when roasted, let them become crisp and golden brown with some burned leaves for depth of flavour, and toss with balsamic vinegar and honey.
*Roast with olive oil and herbs, or roast together with sweet potato for a colourful side dish.
*Roast until crisp, add bacon, béchamel sauce and a crispy bread crumb topping for a gratin.
*The traditional UK Christmas dinner includes Brussels sprouts served with cooked chestnuts.
How best to store sprouts
Keep sprouts unwashed and untrimmed in the vegetable compartment of the fridge. They are best eaten within three to four days, but can be kept unwashed in a moist towel in a perforated plastic bag, or in a bowl lined with paper towelling for 10 days.
If you are able to purchase Brussels sprouts on the stalk, these will last for up to a month in the fridge if stored with a moist paper towel around the stub.
They can also be snap frozen. To freeze, rinse and dry the sprouts and blanch for 4 to 5 minutes. After refreshing in cold water, drain and freeze in freezer bags or containers.
Your local fresh produce seller
Stop in and see your fresh produce seller at your local markets for your tastiest Brussels sprouts.
*Wait - we know what you’re thinking, we’re calling them Brussels sprouts (plural), when you’ve heard them called Brussel sprouts (singular), right? No it’s not a typo, there’s been big debate about that and you can read all about it here.
Research with thanks to:
“Brussels Sprouts” Brussels.info, http://brussels.info
“Flemish sautéed Brussels sprouts”, Global Table Adventure, http://globaltableadventure.com
“Brussels sprouts”, whfoods.org, The world’s healthiest foods, http://whfoods.com
More than one million plastic bags are used every minute worldwide. This is taking a massive toll on the environment. But there are things you can do to reduce your usage of plastic.
Plastic Bags – The Shocking Stats
A staggering ten tonnes of plastic waste litter Sydney Harbour and its foreshores each year. And plastic bags are a significant contributor.
It’s not just the look of this amount of rubbish that matters either. For sea life, a plastic bag resembles a jellyfish, something eatable. This is why fish, birds and turtles often die from plastic ingestion, the bags and waste caught in their stomachs. Worldwide, one million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed each year from plastic in our oceans.
Here are some facts on plastic bags:
*worldwide, approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used each year, this is more than one million bags being used every minute
*46 percent of plastics float and they can drift for years before settling in the ocean
*plastic takes between 500 and 1,000 years to degrade
*only about 3 percent of plastic bags are recycled - did you know you could recycle them?
Go Plastic-free at the Markets
Many markets and market goers support plastic-free shopping. People want to buy fresh local produce made using sustainable farming practices with minimal environmental impact. This means fresh food, without packaging.
Some market retailers implement plastic-free initiatives and market goers expect plastic-free shopping, often bringing their own reusable bags to the market or purchasing reusable bags there.
Retailers and consumers will lead change in this area, as government bans on plastic bags have been slow to come into force. In Australia, single-use plastic bags have been banned in South Australia, the Northern Territory, Tasmania and the ACT. There are no bans in place in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. The Queensland government has said their ban will come into effect next year.
Tips for Cutting out Plastic
In addition to bringing your reusable bags to the markets and other shops, here are some tips for reducing your plastic usage:
*bring your own washable coffee cup for your next cup of coffee
*carry water in a washable canteen rather than buying bottled water
*carry reusable utensils in your bag to use when you are out
*travel with a small cloth bag for unexpected purchases
* favour retailers who don't package their goods
*at home, use reusable food covers
*pack kids lunches, and your own, using reusable cloth sandwich sleeves and reusable food wrap
*recycle any plastic that you do have to use - many supermarket chains have dedicated bins to collect plastic bags and wrappings that aren’t collected by local councils in normal garbage and recycling collections.
No More Plastic
Plastic pollution is a global problem with action being taken only by some governments. Consumers and retailers will have to lead the way on reducing the use of plastic bags and packaging, and shopping at the markets is a good way to start. See you at the markets, with your reusable bags ready for shopping and your own coffee cup!
Research with thanks to:
*“22 facts about plastic pollution (and 10 things we can do about it)” Ecowatch, http://www.ecowatch.com
*“Sydney Harbour hidden plastic pollution is killing endangered turtles and marine life” ABC News, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-12/sydney-harbour-hidden-plastics-threatening-endangered-turtles/8263368
*Plastic bag recycling http://recyclingnearyou.com.au/bags/SydneyNSW
Australia - a coffee culture
Coffee is the go-to drink for many Australians. The way we order our coffee is important, but so is the source of our coffee. And now, more than ever, Australians want to know what goes into their coffee.
We invented the flat white but many enjoy the long black, espresso or macchiato. The taste of these coffees turns on the quality of the beans used. Little wonder we are becoming more knowledgeable and selective about the source of our coffee beans.
How much coffee do you drink?
Coffee is consumed by nearly half the Australian population. One in three people aged 19-30 years, and two in three people aged 51-70 years, drink coffee. The median amount of coffee consumed daily is 330 mls, which is about one large mug.
How do you take your coffee?
Everyone has their own preferences for how they take their coffee – is yours a flat white, cappuccino, latte, long black or short black? Here are some newer ways of making coffee that are taking off:
Pour-over coffee: this is made using freshly ground coffee in a filter and a “pour-over dripper” which holds the filter. The coffee is not “plunged” into water, like the French press, instead water is slow dripped over the coffee. This method is slow and emphasises the flavour of the coffee beans.
Filter coffee: people are again buying coffee filters for home. As with pour-over coffee, the quality of the coffee bean is paramount because the flavours are extracted more slowly than with other types of coffee. Filter roast coffee is usually lighter than espresso roast, having been less developed in the roaster. The final finish is milder than the more caramelised finish of the espresso roast.
Cold brew: this type of coffee is replacing the traditional “iced coffee”. It is made by steeping fresh ground coffee in cold water for between 12 and 24 hours. The cool temperature of the water and the lack of movement mean that not as much flavour is extracted from the beans. Some retailers use twice as many beans in making the cold brew so that drinkers get the full “hit” of flavour.
Where in the world does your coffee come from?
Because the new trends in the way coffee is consumed emphasise the flavour of the bean, it isn’t surprising that people are increasingly interested in where their coffee is sourced. Like wine grapes, there are regional differences depending upon where the coffee bean is grown.
Black coffee drinkers in particular will want to source single origin coffee. This means the coffee has been supplied by one farm or estate, rather than a blend.
The two main coffee trees are Arabica, which produces about 70 percent of the world’s coffee bean harvest, and Robusta, which produces the remainder.
Coffee is best grown in warmer climates and therefore usually comes from the “coffee belt” which is roughly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Brazil is the biggest producer, followed by Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mexico, Ethiopia, India and other countries.
Between these countries and within them too, there are variations in rainfall, temperature and soil conditions which, similar to the growing of grapes for wine, impact the flavour of the beans and the ultimate cup of coffee. There are also different types of coffee bean varietals, for example, common varietals of the Arabica tree are Bourbon, Caturra and Typica. All produce a slightly different flavour.
With so many variants and influences, the coffee bean is sounding more and more like the wine grape.
Will the coffee run out?
Coffee farming worldwide is likely to be affected by climate change which has brought about more erratic rainfall in some areas, and an increase in pests and diseases. The Climate Institute in Australia estimated that by 2050 climate change will have halved the area suitable for coffee production. Given the poverty of many coffee producing nations, there is a lack of diversification of crop and a lack of investment and research in ensuring continuing coffee production.
In 2010, the Initiative for Coffee and Climate was founded by key players in the private development and research sectors, to address issues arising from changing climate conditions. Their pilot programs are being run in partnership with coffee farmers in Brazil, Tanzania, Trifinio (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador) and Vietnam, which are some of the biggest producers in the world.
The hope is that with attention now being given to the sustainability of coffee production and real investment in new production methods, some of the worst predictions won’t be realised.
Is “Fair Trade” and organic coffee worth it?
In the coffee trade, the “Fair Trade” certification is important – it guarantees a minimum price and this assists farmers who are often from some of the world’s poorest nations. The “Fair Trade” organisation also supports research programs relating to climate change which will help bolster the resilience of farmers to changes in climate and resulting market conditions.
As for organic – the proof is in the taste. Organic coffee is grown without the use of chemicals and artificial pesticides, and using only natural fertilizers. Coffee that is grown conventionally is heavily reliant upon synthetic pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers. This affects the crop, the farmers who are handling it, and the soil and environment.
Organic coffee allows for more sustainable crop production, and is also supposed to be higher in anti-oxidants – so it is better for you and tastes better too.
Your local coffee seller
Stop in and see your coffee seller at your local markets.
Visit the Saporium Market in Rosebery, held every Saturday from 10am-3pm, and visit
Welcome Dose Coffee which has a “bean-to-cup” philosophy.
Australian Bureau of Statistics “Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Foods and Nutrients, 2011-12” http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.007~2011-12~Main%20Features~Non-alcoholic%20beverages~701
National Geographic: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/coffee/map.html
Climate Institute: http://www.climateinstitute.org.au/coffee.html
Initiative for Coffee and Climate http://www.coffeeandclimate.org/about-cc.html ]
The best chocolate for Easter and all year round
Cacaoette owner and chocolatier, Philippa Bembo, speaks with us about her chocolate obsession, her chocolate market stall and the treats she will be making and selling in the lead up to Easter.
Philippa is a self-confessed, life-long chocoholic. She says that chocolate has to make you go weak at the knees, otherwise there is no point. Her sublime chocolates are fast developing a loyal following among market goers.
The essential, simple bliss of chocolate
Philippa Bembo, now an artisan chocolatier, began working with chocolate about six years ago, initially in a chocolate shop. Her childhood love for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” meant chocolate had long held a fascination for her. Working in the shop, she found the “essential, simple bliss of chocolate” was something she loved and could not let go of. Three years ago, she made the leap into opening her own chocolate business.
The real chocolate factory
Every week, Philippa makes chocolates in her commercial kitchen. These chocolates are for the Frenchs Forest and Kings Cross markets, the Peakhurst Night Foodie Market, pop ups, and some corporate buyers and select wholesalers. She also has a market at the Prince of Wales Hospital from time to time in support of the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation.
The chocolate source
Cacaoette uses single origin, EU certified organic chocolate from Belgium, the cocoa beans coming from the Dominican Republic. The chocolate is hand-tempered in Sydney.
Philippa does not use any pre-prepared pastes or compounds. Instead, she makes everything herself and that includes marshmallows, ganache and even the honeycomb, which begins with Paperbark, Red Malley or Ingleside honey from the Northern Beaches @foreveryounghoney and bought from the markets.
Whenever she can, Philippa uses Australian organic products, such as sultanas, raisins, honey and roasted almonds.
New wave chocolate
Chocolate is increasingly becoming art, Philippa says, and points to these current chocolate trends.
Colour: There is now a more sophisticated use of colour in chocolate making, with some incredibly vibrant chocolate being created through hand painting and spray guns. Lustre dust is also popular, in a wide range of colours.
Artisans: Now, more than ever, people want to buy chocolates made by hand and by local chocolatiers. The tactile, sensual nature of chocolate makes the markets the perfect place to buy chocolate, because you can see and taste the chocolate before you buy.
Classic and elegant: More than anything, the chocolate has to taste beautiful, Philippa says. In Australia, we like our chocolate classic and elegant and not as heavy or creamy as the European market. We like seasonal ranges that recognise our warmer climate and make chocolate a treat no matter what the weather.
Here are some Cacaoette chocolates guaranteed to make you swoon this Easter:
Luxe Road eggs: these are available in milk or dark chocolate and made of blueberries, raspberries, organic coconut and roasted almonds. There is also a tangy, passionfruit and white chocolate version.
Honeycomb eggs: in milk or dark chocolate, these half eggs are filled with chocolate coated, giant chunks of honeycomb.
Golden bantam eggs: these 4cm eggs available in milk, dark chocolate or salted caramel, are dusted with gold.
Hot cross bun bark: milk or dark chocolate speckled with cardamom, ginger, dried figs, cinnamon, currants and gold dust.
Where to find Cacaoette?
Visit Philippa at the Cacaoette stall. She is there every week at Frenchs Forest Organic Food Market and Kings Cross Organic Food Market.
See the Cacaoette Facebook page for further details: https://www.facebook.com/cacaoetteorganicchocolate/
Is the best bit of fruit and veg really on the outside?
We all strive for a long and healthy life and we all know that we need to make sacrifices in the name of wellbeing. So, to a lesser or greater degree, we’re all willing to sweat for that goal, deprive ourselves of certain pleasures and resist the temptation to sit in front of the TV for too long.
But did you know one of the healthiest things you may be able to do is simply to leave the peel on many of your fruits and vegetables?
Why eating the peel is a healthier way to consume fruit and vegetables
It’s not always true that beauty lies within. For many fruit and veggies, the peel is actually their most nutritious part. If you remove it, you’re missing out on a powerful source of antioxidants, vitamins, fibre, nutrients and minerals.
Here are some of the benefits of leaving the peel on common fruits and vegetables.
*Apple: the skin holds about half of its overall dietary fibre content and has four times more vitamin K than its flesh.
*Cucumber: the skin contains the majority of antioxidants, insoluble fibre, potassium and vitamin K.
*Eggplant: its purple skin has an antioxidant called nasunin, which helps protect the brain against cancers
*Carrots: the highest concentration of phytonutrients (another word for ‘good bits’) is found in the skin or immediately underneath.
*Potatoes: gram for gram potato skin has more fibre, iron, potassium and B vitamins than the flesh. It’s also rich in antioxidants.
Eating the peel on lesser known fruits and veggie
But let’s not stop with the peels you’ve already probably tried. What about bananas or even citrus?
Well, there are plenty of tasty ways you can eat their skins too, if you're willing to get a little creative. Citrus peel can be cooked into a sweet marmalade. The skin of a mango can be eaten raw, or cooked along with the insides, or you can simply pickle the entire mango. Lemon zest can be used in a creamy pasta sauce or in a delicious cake.
How to make sure pesticides don’t ruin the peel
Concerned that pesticides and chemicals might ruin all those amazing benefits? Don’t be.
The American organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been reporting on the “Dirty dozen” and the “Clean 15” since 2004. The dirty dozen is a list of foods they claim contain high amounts of pesticide residues. Meanwhile, the clean 15 is a list of the fruit and veg least affected by them. The question worth asking is how relevant is this information for Australians?
The Food Standards Australia New Zealand organisation (FSANZ) sets very strict maximum residue limits (MRLs) on all the produce we consume, whether domestic or imported. Besides, in Australia we use different herbicides and pesticides to those used in America and we reduce their impact by setting the minimum time between crop spraying and harvesting.
Of course, you should always remember to wash all your fruit and vegetables well before eating them. Plain water is usually enough to remove dirt, as well as any bacteria and pesticide residues. A vegetable brush can be useful too, to wash firmer produce like potatoes.
So make the most of an easier and healthier way of eating, leave the skin on and gain without the pain.
If you want to get hold of the very freshest fruit and veg that you can eat, peel on visit your local market.
Two of our favourite Sydney market fruit and vegetable suppliers are Grimas Farm Fresh Produce found at Pyrmont Growers Market and Northside Produce Market and Johnstone's Kitchen Gardens at The Beaches Market.
http://www.bbc.com/news/health-39057146, http://www.stack.com/a/fruit-vegetable-peel, http://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2016/04/28/your-fruit-and-veg-full-chemicals,
After a short break in 2016 one of Sydney’s pioneering farmers markets have reopened thanks to Pyrmont Ultimo Chamber of Commerce, The Star and a passionate local community.
It’s no secret Pyrmont Growers Market is a Sydney favourite, loved for its unique waterfront location and dedication to offering fresh farm produce and quality artisan goods. The monthly market now boasts over 80 stalls set along the wharf and the adjoining park with the city skyline as a backdrop.
There is a healthy mix of old and new stalls, and above all, provenance and freshness are key, each trader with a story to tell and a wealth of knowledge to share.
New comer Little Big Dairy Company offers delicious creamy milk, straight from their farm near Dubbo. They have also recently been accredited as the first Fairtrade flavoured milk producer, committed to the exclusive use of Fairtrade cocoa, coffee, sugar and vanilla.
It is also hard to go past Long Paddock Eggs who proudly told Local Market Guide that “the last of the eggs were laid and packed last night before hitting the road this morning”. Seasonal heirloom vegetables from Grima’s Farm Fresh Produce sit alongside Pepe Saya’s handmade butter, local olive oils from Alto Olives and freshly baked breads.
The joy of a market is that there is always something new to taste and discover. You will love Achacha, a tropical Amazonian fruit grown in North Queensland and Italian antipasti and smallgoods from Pino’s Dolce Vita Fine Foods “just like Nonna makes”.
The offering of wonderful stalls is curated by food professional TawnyaBahr.
Expect more wonderful additions to the regulars over the coming months and be sure to arrive early to avoid missing out!
4th Saturday of the Month Pyrmont Bay Park, Pyrmont
7.30am to 12.30pm
A new monthly market for Sydney's northside!
TGM is excited to announce their second monthly market, now open in Willoughby.
Nestled between Penshurst and High Street, the Willoughby market in set amongst the spacious grounds of ‘Club Willoughby ’with plenty of parking onsite. Most importantly it showcases a carefully selected cross section of unique and local stallholders. Each of the stalls is passionately run by the maker and producer themselves, boasting small product runs, one off pieces and a good ol’ chat!
For those wishing to deck their house out with soft furnishings you will love the range of products from cushions to plants and paintings. There is even macramé hammocks and hangings and beautiful handmade and hand painted ceramics. The market also offers a handful of tasty producers including fresh farm eggs, honey and artisan baked breads along with delicious lunch options too.
“TGM is proud to join the wonderful Willoughby community with a vibrant market, showcasing the best lifestyle products on the lower north and supporting local small business” says Jacqui Landis - Owner of TGM Markets. Jacqui and her team are dedicated to supporting local business which is already evident in the strong community they have built at their East Lindfield market.
Stay tuned – TGM is set to expand over the coming months, a market with a little something for everyone!
Here’s a few of our favourites:
That Great Market Willoughby
Open 9am to 2pm - 2nd Sunday of the Month
Club Willoughby, 26 Crabbes Ave, Willoughby