Top 5 – Fruits & Veg for Christmas

My daughter is learning about celebrations at school and looking at the list on the classroom wall I was stuck be how central food is to celebration.  Whether you celebrate Eid, Easter, Thanksgiving or indeed Christmas you probably associate food with holidays to a lesser or greater degree.  I can usually tell its Ramadan as the shops start selling loads of dates.  Hot cross buns appear in all the bakeries in the lead up to Easter, and the price of prawns and crayfish goes through the roof due to increase demand in the lead up to Christmas.

Christmas foods in Australia tend to be a strange combination of; European Christmas traditions and efforts to utilise the produce in season locally.  What this often results in is menu combinations such as: barbecued prawns to start followed by roast turkey with all the trimmings then finally plum pudding ice cream.     One day perhaps there will be a uniquely Australian Christmas dinner which takes into account our climate and the seasonal produce available in the meantime these are the foods that mean Christmas to me.

1. Brussel Sprouts – An English friend of my partners refuses to make roast unless he has a least 7 vegetables to serve alongside it.  This is particularly true at Christmas.  One of these 7 must always be brussel sprouts.  In fact Christmas (and even then only if I am celebrating it in England)  is really the only time I ever eat them – smothered in gravy and along with parsnip, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and of course potatoes done at least two ways.


2. Strawberries – Christmas falls at the height of the Victorian strawberry season and as a result they always form part of the Christmas day dessert in my family.  Temperatures here on Christmas day can vary quite a bit.  If it’s hot we often have meringues with strawberries and cream.  If its cooler we have brandy snaps with strawberries and cream.

3. Satsumas – This is a relic of my time in the UK.  I’m not sure where satsumas are in season in December but they sure sell an awful lot in the UK.  While fruit salads are very much a part of Christmas here in Australia in the UK I can’t remember eating much fresh fruit other than satsumas at Christmas.  I do remember eating  a lot of satsumas though.


4. Parsley – In my family if the weather is hot we have ham and salads at Christmas.  If its cooler we have roast.  Either way parsley features heavily.  My mum makes a stuffing of bread crumbs, bacon, onion and parsley for the roast.  If we have salad then one of them has to be tabouleh as its my and my mum’s favourite.

5. Green Beans – Green beans are just coming into season in Melbourne at Christmas.  They are great hot with roast or cold in a salad and they go well with that other Christmassy ingredient – nuts.

I would love to know which fruit & veg you cook with at Christmas.

I won’t do a Top 5 next week but will try and return the week after with something new.

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26 Responses to Top 5 – Fruits & Veg for Christmas

  1. Daphne says:

    I really don’t think of Christmas having any specific fruit and vegetables. But I do think of cookies. Thanksgiving has lots of very traditional things for us and some can be mirrored in Christmas. Like cranberry sauce (or cranberry ice in my tradition), but nothing really specific comes to mind. Though I doubt that I’ve gone to a Christmas dinner without either squash or sweet potatoes being served.

  2. Quite a few years ago we rebelled against traditional Christmas fare and just go for whatever we fancy! Strange to think of you in the heat at Christmas – do you still have snow on Christmas Cards.

    As for sprouts we had the first pickings yesterday – delicious without lots of gravy!

  3. Mark Willis says:

    For us the Christmas veg include parsnips, brussels sprouts and carrots – plus anything else that looks good. We don’t like to have anything that isn’t truly in season locally – for example we would not contemplate having imported asparagus. On the other hand almost all of the fruit we have at this time of year is imported – definitely the satsumas / clementines etc, along with dried fruits such as dates and figs.
    We also tend to drink different things at Christmas – such as Sloe Gin, Sherry and Port, none of which we normally drink at other times of the year.
    Our Chritmas traditions dictate the need to have something “special” that we wouldn’t normally have, making the meal into as much of a feast as we can.

  4. kitsapFG says:

    We are in the very darkest days of winter during the Christmas holidays so our traditional foods are cold weather and items from storage – potatoes, carrots, parsnips, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, and salads – spinach, mache, and lettuce (if still available).

    • Liz says:

      In many ways that was the Christmas fayre I was brought up with – as my descendants are pretty much all from the British isles we always ate what was eaten there despite the fact that it often utilised ingredients that weren’t in season nor that suitable for summer eating.

  5. Roger Brook says:

    I think I detect that you are not all that keen on Brussels sprouts. We went to an early christmas dinner yesterday at a hotel and they were horrid! Fresh from your own garden they are a completely different vegetable and quite delicious, especially if they are not overcooked. My real favourite is the young spring shoots that develop from unpicked sprouts. My mouth waters just thinking about them

    • Liz says:

      Its not so much that I don’t like them – more that I don’t think to either buy them or cook them. I am going to give growing them a go next winter so I’m really appreciative of your tip about the young shoots.

  6. andrea says:

    Hi Liz, Roast meat features on our menu cooked outside in the webber whether 35C or
    21C , this year there will be new potatoes from the plot , fresh cherries,pavlova and mums plum pudding ! My parents have a winery so no doubt Dad will produce one of his favorite years or maybe we will try a new one.

    • Liz says:

      Ah the good old webber! How civilised to have parents with a winery – I should have hassled mine to plant grapes years ago….

  7. Sarah says:

    We’re not too traditional about Christmas dinner, but there will be parsnips from the garden and plenty of rosemary to flavour the roast potatoes.

    • Liz says:

      Do you know rosemary is the one herb I have to admit struggling with a bit – I’m just not convinced it enhances potatoes although I know a great many who disagree.

  8. Michelle says:

    We don’t really have many traditional Christmas foods in my family. We usually have cracked cold Dungeness crab for Christmas eve (but that’s not a fruit or vegetable). And we always found mandarin oranges in our stockings on Christmas morning. It is citrus season here now so I’ve always got some on hand – mandarins, oranges, grapefruit, pomelos and the everpresent Meyer lemons so citrus is a given but necessarily a tradition around the holidays.

    • Liz says:

      Ah so you’re the ones sending the citrus to the UK. I do like the idea of a Christmas crab though – I can definitely see that on the Christmas menu.

  9. Louise says:

    I am pretty unorthodox re Christmas fare. But seeing as the stone fruit is so good at that time of the year, its cherries, peaches, nectarines ( and if you can find a decent one – apricots!) and fresh berries for a Christmas pavlova for me.

  10. Nina says:

    I actually can’t think of any traditional fare that we had when I was growning up. Coming from German stock, we celebrated on Christmas Eve and there wasn’t a traditional dinner though it was always a bit up-market from the rest of the week.

    These days, I have a very small family and out of the six of us who live close enough to get together, four are vegetarian/vegan. I made a stuffed tofu ‘turkey’ one year. That was a challenge! And quite tasty, surprisingly.

    So ANY vegies are on the menu – and lots of them!

  11. I love the idea of seven vegetables with your roast, reminds me of the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes for Christmas Eve, something I’ve always wanted to do. Christmas Eve in New England is similarly based on seafood — a simple oyster stew or lobster chowder based on a milky broth, and served with oyster or Pilot crackers. Otherwise, unlike Thanksgiving, it seems Christmas is when one’s ethnic background really gets expressed at table.

  12. That is quite a list, Liz. I would definitely love to be at that table. I just told my husband that I want to celebrate Christmas in Australia, with strawberries… 🙂
    Love parsley too, this is one of the only two herbs I still have on my balcony (another one is lovage).

  13. Jody says:

    Now that’s a Christmas dinner! We had 7 seas seafood soup on Christmas and scallops and shrimp the next day. Go figure!

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