In season early winter: Bean sprouts, tamarillos, mustard greens

Reviewed by our expert panel
In season early winter: Bean sprouts, tamarillos, mustard greens

Bean sprouts

Sprouts are germinated seeds or beans (usually alfalfa, snow pea or mung beans) eaten at that stage and are a common addition or garnish for Asian dishes, salads, sandwiches and soups, providing crispness and texture. Sprouts can also be sautéed or stir-fried, but very quickly wilt or get soggy, so can only be heated for 30 to 60 seconds. Early finds of mung beans indicate that they date back about 4500 years.

Nutrition facts

Nutrition facts Sprouts are low kilojoule, with different types varying in their nutrition: a cup of mung bean sprouts has 3g protein, nearly 2g fibre and 115kJ, while a cup of alfalfa sprouts has just 1g protein, less than 1g fibre and 37kJ. Health-protecting phytochemicals may be at higher concentrations in sprouts than in the developed plant. For example, broccoli sprouts can have from 10 to 100 times more glucosinolates than broccoli. Glucosinolates are the main compounds in broccoli that have been found to produce anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activity.

Recipe ideas

Quick nasi goreng
Red Thai fish balls


A relative of the potato, tomato, eggplant and capsicum, the tamarillo is native to Central and South America. They were first introduced into NZ from Asia in the late 1800s. Originally only yellow and purple fruit were produced, the red variety was developed in the 1920s by an Auckland nurseryman from seed from South America.

The fruit’s commercial name was officially changed in 1967 from tree tomato, using a Maori word ‘tama’, implying leadership, and ‘rillo’, supposedly derived from the Spanish for yellow.

A surprisingly versatile fruit, which can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes, tamarillos can be poached, fried, grilled, baked or casseroled.

Things to try

  • Slice raw, peeled tamarillos and decorate flans, cakes, cheesecakes and pizza.
  • Add whole peeled tamarillos to a casserole or any dish, as you would tomatoes.
  • Add a couple of peeled tamarillos to stewed apples, for a breakfast fruit or a quick dessert, served with custard.
  • Sliced tamarillo, like tomato, is delicious on a cracker or toast.
  • Puree and sieve poached tamarillos, then drizzle over desserts or grilled meat or fish.
  • Tamarillos make great sauces, jams, preserves, chutneys, jellies, relishes and marmalades.

Nutrition facts

Tamarillos provide fibre and vitamins A and C along with other antioxidants. A 2015 study with obese rats found when freeze-dried, powdered tamarillo was added to their diet it improved blood cholesterol and inflammation markers.

Recipe ideas

Honey vanilla tamarillos with ginger cream
Pork with tamarillo sauce

Mustard greens

This fast-growing, self-seeding, open-hearted brassica is sought after for the mustard flavour it gives to casseroles, boil ups and stews, while young leaves add a little pepperiness to a salad, similar to raw radish. It has been found growing wild in the north of NZ and more generally around our coasts and on river banks, as well as on coasts around the world. It’s believed mustard greens may have travelled with very early migrations going back thousands of years.

Did you know

Did you know the mustard greens plant produces acrid-tasting seeds that are used for making Dijon mustard?

Nutrition facts

Mustard greens are high in the phytonutrient kaempferol, which has anti-inflammatory

Fresh this month

(Harvested in New Zealand gardens in June)

Vegetables: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, fennel, kale, kumara, leeks, parsnips, rhubarb, silver beet, spinach, spring onions, squash, turnips

Herbs: Mint, oregano, parsley, thyme

Fruit: Apples, grapefruit, kiwifruit, lemons, limes, mandarins, nashi pears, navel oranges, persimmons

First published: Jun 2018

Article sources and references

  • Devi KP et al. 2015. Kaempferol and inflammation: From chemistry to medicine. Pharmocological Research 99:1-10
  • Kadir NA et al. 2015. Protective effects of tamarillo (Cyphomandra betacea) extract against high fat diet induced obesity in Sprague Dawley rats. Journal of Obesity ID 846041
  • Lister CE et al. 2005. Crop & Food Research Confidential Report No. 1281 The nutritional composition and health benefits of New Zealand tamarillos. New Zealand Institute for Crop & Food Research Ltd
  • Westphal A. 2017. High-pressure processing of broccoli sprouts: Influence on bioactivation of glucosinolates to isothiocyanates. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 65:8578-85

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