Australians are broadening their horizons without leaving their kitchens, with research revealing that consumers are experimenting with a range of styles of cooking that highlight the natural flavours and textures of fresh vegetables.

A report from the Project Harvest study, commissioned by Horticulture Innovation Australia to track the attitudes of Australian consumers to fresh vegetable purchases, has found that over 2016, there has been a noticeable increase in the amount of consumers trying a range of cooking styles, such as stir-frying, steaming and roasting.

Leading vegetable industry body AUSVEG said that the results reflect Australians’ increasing willingness to experiment with cooking styles that enhance the natural attributes of vegetables, such as their texture, taste and colour.

“The fact that consumers are trying a range of different cooking styles like stir-frying or steaming in the kitchen shows a growing appreciation for techniques that can play off the natural qualities of fresh vegetables or accentuate particular aspects,” said AUSVEG spokesperson Shaun Lindhe.

“This is reinforced by the fact that nearly a quarter of consumers say they’re increasingly eating their vegetables raw – which we think is an incredible testimonial to the natural taste, texture and overall quality of Australian vegetables.”

“Other cooking styles on the rise include roasting or grilling, which add extra flavour and texture elements that complement a vegetable’s nutritional qualities. For example, the most commonly grilled vegetable is capsicum, with consumers enhancing the sweetness of capsicum with the smokiness from grilling.”

“On the other end of the scale, consumers are moving away from more transformational cooking styles, such as mashing or juicing, which breaks down vegetables and can reduce their great natural taste and nutritional value,” said Mr Lindhe.

“Australians are extremely lucky to have a wide variety of delicious, high-quality and fresh vegetables produced by local Australian growers, and we encourage consumers to experiment with different cooking styles for their vegetables to find new and exciting ways to enjoy the great tastes, textures and health benefits that fresh vegetables have to offer.”