Sensational lychee, pricey passion fruit: Australia's best value fruits and vegetables for January

Despite some fluctuations in price and availability, it's been a brilliant season for tomatoes, mangoes and berries

After a slow start to the season, the new year brought good news for fruit and vegetables, with tomatoes, in particular, painting the city red this January.

John Velluti, owner of Frank's Fruit Market and Velluti's - which supplies the Sydney restaurant - said he had never seen tomatoes "this good".

“We are definitely having tomato season and it looks like it is continuing. Whatever you want, you can get it.

From heirloom tomatoes, to beef liver to tomatoes on the vine, recent warm, sunny conditions have led to abundant supply and low prices, with ripe tomatoes and grapes being the cheapest in supermarkets at $2.90 to $3.90 per kilo. .

Use them today in David Atherton's tomato and sourdough salad, or save them for the future by cooking up a batch of passata for storage.

Velutti also recommends the zucchini and eggplant, good buys from December that are staying strong. Why not grab it all – your zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes (and the aforementioned homemade passata) – and try a Sicilian caponata?

Corn is also ready for barbecue season. In Gympie, Queensland, it's one of the top picks for January at the local produce market and cafe Farmer and Sun.

Its owner, Trena Waugh, says that as the plants are still reeling from the heat, humidity and drizzle of the past few months, “corn is the only thing that does really well… cucumbers too”.

“Because we grow it here, we sell five corn for $2.50,” says Waugh. Dress up corn on the cob by making cheesy, hot, and spicy Mexican elotes.

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At the supermarket, sweet corn in husks is about $1 each, and Lebanese cucumbers are less than $1 each, or about $3.50 per kilo.

And if you're still hesitant to buy loose leaf after December's hallucinogenic spinach scare, iceberg and cos lettuce goes green in January for $2.50 to $2.90 a head.

Late arrival of stone fruit

Peaches, nectarines and apricots have started to arrive, with plums close behind. "We started the season a little late because of the cold weather," said Velluti.

“It really shows with Tasmanian cherries. Usually they arrive a week or so before Christmas but they are just starting to arrive now.”

Nectarines and peaches can now be found in supermarkets for between $3.50 and $4.50 per kilo, but Velluti's in-season choice is apricots. "I'm very, very happy with the quality," he said.

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