When it comes to Australian Christmas desserts, stonefruit is certainly a popular choice. You know summer, and therefore Christmas has arrived when you see that first tray of mangoes at the fruit shop. For many, it's a defining initiation of the season. Peaches and nectarines are also some of the most common fruits used, but apricots, plums and cherries are widely available as well at Christmas. Stonefruit contains a wealth of important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, folate, potassium and dietary fibre which all contribute to maintaining your health.
Here are a few of the very best stonefruits available around Christmas.
Mangoes are a fresh, fragrant and delicious addition to most Christmas lunches in Aussie households. They're in season during the warmer months and feature strongly in a range of Christmas desserts. Mangoes are refreshing and sweet with a tropical flavour that's unlike any other fruit.
What's more, they're nutrient-rich and loaded with omega 3, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, beta-carotene and antioxidants. Like many vibrantly coloured fruits, they're full of plant polyphenols that help offset some of the festive indulgences that accompany this time of year. Research is in full support of mangoes, with evidence showing they have anti-inflammatory properties and help protect cells from DNA damage. They're also great for helping balance blood glucose levels and support digestion and heart health. They make a perfect addition to Australian Christmas desserts.
Cherries can be an expensive addition to Christmas desserts here in Australia, but when they're good, they're really good! And since they only come around during the summer months, plenty of Aussie families indulge in them.
As far as traditional Christmas desserts go, we all know the ludicrously green and red glacé cherries that adorn slices, puddings and Christmas cakes. These little sweet treats can transform any Australian Christmas dessert into an instant festive delight.
Many people may not realise that cherries are surprisingly good for you. Cherries are high in antioxidants which protect the body against free radicals. Cherries are a good source of beta-carotene and potassium. They also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the symptoms of conditions like arthritis. Overall, research shows that cherries can help with reducing blood pressure, improve sleep quality and help brain function. Sour cherries are also very high in vitamin C, containing 50% more vitamin C per serving than sweet cherries.
An intriguing finding in a recent scientific paper found that cherries support glucose metabolism. They're a naturally low-G.I. food and can improve satiety and a sense of fullness long after you've finished enjoying a few with your Christmas dessert. Cherries may be a proper indulgence at Christmas, but they're worth it!
Continuing on the stonefruit tangent, we have subtly sweet plums. They have a mellow flavour and soft texture with an incredibly juicy interior. Smaller than a nectarine and nowhere near as sweet, sometimes plums get overlooked as a summertime stonefruit choice. However, these palm-sized fruits are a true marvel when it comes to their health-giving properties.
Plums are naturally high in fibre and antioxidants, which support digestive function and help protect your body from free radical damage. The natural beta-carotene, magnesium and potassium content helps with eye and heart health. Plums are also uniquely high in boron, which is essential for healthy bone metabolism.
If you want to take advantage of the health benefits of plums when they're out of season - don't forget about prunes! Prunes and plums actually share many of the same nutrients and health benefits, and prunes are available year-round.
It may seem incredible that such a small fruit could have so many health benefits, but plums really do pack a nutritional punch. We hope they make an appearance in your fruit bowl this Christmas!
Berries are one of the most popular Australian Christmas fruits, with Australian varieties including blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. All berries contain powerful antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and can support brain health.
Another great quality of berries, is that of all the fruit, they're typically the lowest G.I. This means that they won't spike your blood sugar, so you can enjoy them in abundance during the holiday season. They're of course very high in vitamin C which is a nutrient known to support adrenal function, which may be important during the busy period of Christmas.
Fresh berries make an excellent choice for Australian Christmas desserts. These fruits can be added to pavlovas, Christmas trifles or summer puddings for an extra fresh burst of flavour and cheerful colour.
Here are some of the most popular berries used in Christmas desserts in Australia.
If stonefruit is out of your food budget during Christmas, yet you still want to add a vibrant, healthy fruit to your desserts - make room for blueberries. These little fruits are bursting with juicy flavour and display gorgeous deep blue hues that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Blueberries are splendid any time of year, however, at Christmas, they can help you offset some of the heavier, richer foods often eaten during the holidays.
Blueberries are a great source of vitamin C and manganese, and they have a low glycemic index. Moderate consumption of blueberries aids in weight management and decreases diabetes symptoms. They're one of the most well-researched berries when it comes to protecting the brain, and improving memory and cognition.
Fresh blueberries are beautiful in parfaits, pavlovas and summer berry jellies. For textural contrast, while still enjoying their health benefits, a great alternative is dried blueberries. Whichever way you go, blueberries are a delicious, elegant berry to add to any Christmas dessert.
Cranberries are traditionally part of Northern American and European Christmas dishes, and as such may not be front of mind for Australians during this season. Dried cranberries are a beautiful rusty red, and offer a tart sweetness to both savoury dishes and sweet desserts. Use them in roast chicken or turkey stuffing or make your own stunning cranberry and pistachio shortbread to give as a handmade gift this year.
You can easily source dried and organic dried cranberries these days, both conferring a wealth of benefits. Cranberries, whether fresh or dried, are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants to promote a healthy cardiovascular system.
Traditionally dried cranberries are a vivid red, delivering a pop of colour that deserves to be seen at Christmas. Organic dried cranberries are a slightly softer red hue because they have been naturally preserved. Cranberries are a traditionally used fruit around the world during the holiday season, so if you haven't used them in your Christmas desserts, go ahead and try some this year.
We could talk about raspberries, which would of course be a delicious choice for your Christmas desserts. However, blackberries are sometimes forgotten, which is why I feel they deserve some recognition. Because blackberries are not often available year-round, it makes sense to make the most of them while you can. Blackberries make a wonderful inclusion to trifles, galettes, pavlovas and even to your Christmas berry punch.
Blackberries are healthy little fruits that have a slightly sweet, juicy and delicately perfumed flavour. And like every other berry, they're full of healthy compounds. Blackberries have small amounts of zinc, calcium, iron and magnesium. They're also full of vitamin C, B vitamins and beneficial phytochemicals. All of these nutrients support immune health and cellular energy. Research has shown blackberries to be effective in protecting against chronic diseases and promoting healthy cholesterol levels.
Enjoy blackberries, raspberries, mulberries and any of your favourite berries all throughout the summer and Christmas festive season.
Enjoy Australia's favourite Christmas fruits
No Australian Christmas would be complete without some of these delicious fruits in your festive feast! Stonefruit, berries and Australian-grown fruits are all excellent this time of year. They provide you with essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals as well as natural sugars and flavours that will make your festive feast even more enjoyable. These are some of the best fruits for Australian Christmas desserts, so enjoy them this festive season.
Traditional Christmas Pavlova
I sit comfortably on the fence with the 'origins of pavlova' debate, due to my dual Kiwi-Aussie heritage. To my mind, the genesis of this airy, sweet and fruity dessert is beside the point. It seems to be a staple for most Australian families and it's not difficult to see why. If you want to give a homemade pavlova a try this year, here's a recipe to get you started.
- 4 egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fruit to serve: I like to use a mix of kiwifruit, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries and passionfruit)
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C (200 degrees C fan-forced). Draw a 22cm circle on baking paper and line an oven tray with it.
- Put the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, cornflour, vinegar and vanilla, beating until the mixture is thick and glossy. (Pinch some mixture between your fingers to check that the sugar has dissolved).
- Spoon the mixture onto the prepared tray and shape it into a circle. Spread evenly and make a slight depression in the centre.
- Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until the pavlova is dry to the touch and feels firm when pressed lightly.
- Turn off the oven and leave the pavlova inside to cool completely.
- Remove from the oven and serve with fruit and a dollop of whipped cream if desired.
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