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SA foodies on 2018 ingredient trends: What's set to be hot in the SA culinary space

Expect to see chefs embracing the challenge of food allergies, a movement towards less wastage and an exploration of using edible flowers!

27 Nov 2017

(image: iStock)

We're nearing the end of 2017 and what a year it's been! The drought in the Western Cape has really had an impact - with the big drive towards waterless cooking and then the daunting shortage of both butter and eggs (if there was ever an easy time to go vegan!). It's really urged us to get innovative when it comes to what we eat and how we prepare our meals. 

This year we saw an explosion of turmeric everything! From lattes and flavoured yoghurt to cocktails and even desserts. Speaking of desserts, let's not forget the activated charcoal movement and the artisan doughnut trend. Hello carbs, our old friends!

With the new year just a whisk of an egg white away, we decided to ask some of our foodie friends what ingredients will see the limelight come 2018.

Take a look!

Claire Winstanley (Good Looking and Cooking)

Eating smart is the new sexy. It’s not only good for the waist but even better for the waste. Next year’s latest and greatest ingredient is less about the what and more about the how much. 2018 is about cleverly selecting your ingredients and the amounts needed, using everything to avoid wastage and getting smart with any leftover ingredients. Waste continues to be a concern and instead of excess preparation and presentation, use what you need to. What you don’t use, reinvent and rework the next day to avoid unnecessary food wastage.

Good and clean and fresh tra-la-laa is what your gut will be singing in 2018. A new year always triggers a surge of active participation in all things health and wellness and with this comes a rush of good eating. Just as we saw Poke explode in 2017, I think we will see more clean and fresh ingredients and preparations appearing on menus and in refreshments like water – yes water – particularly sparkling water. Ingredients (flavourings really) such as cucumber, elderflower, rose, ginger and more and absolutely zero sugar or sweeteners. 

Michael Cooke (Chef at Camphors at Vergelegen. Eat Out top 6 and winner of the Eat Out Woolworths Sustainability Award for 2017)

Rosemary flowers from the garden ???? #cheflife #farmlife #chefsgarden #fresh #herbs #flavourpunch #rosemary

A post shared by Michael Cooke (@chefmikecooke) on

Ingredients in their natural or raw form will start making their way on to the shelves. It will take the customer some time to familiarize themselves with these “odd-looking” ingredients because of their unfamiliarity at first glance, before realizing what it is. The customer has been so used to seeing it in its powder form, or in a jar, or dried out – but rarely, if ever, fresh. Think fresh horseradish, fresh turmeric, fresh curry leaves, or even fresh licorice root…

Seaweeds and sea herbs have been on a few restaurant menu’s for a while now during the “foraging trend”, but we’ve already started to see items like fresh samphire (or “sea asparagus”) slowly make its way onto some shop shelves too. Dried seaweeds like Kombu or Nori will show their versatility beyond just sushi, and even Sea Lettuce (or ”Ulva”) will test the experimental home cook.

From a beverage perspective, infused gins are still a big trend overseas, and will continue to be locally as well –craft gin distilleries might get a little bit more experimental with some of their flavor infusions (and if they don’t, people will do it themselves for their own preferred “perfect serve”). It won’t only be gins that see a burst of infusions, but with water being quite the scarce commodity recently, you’ll see some trendy new natural flavourings appearing in water bottles too.

Jason Whitehead (chef and restaurant consultant)

Doing some work in my #organic garden before winter kicks in ????///??Sam Linsell Photography #GrowYourOwn

A post shared by Jason Whitehead (@jasonswhitehead) on

We as chefs will need to embrace dietary requirements and start looking at ingredients such as Health Riot cassava flour as a replacement, which is nut-free (have you seen the prices of almond flour?!), grain-free and wheat-free. In addition to the foraging trend and using local suppliers still being on the rise, there are still so many local producers that we should be considering as alternatives to ingredients such as Maldon Salt, such as Oryx Salt and Khoisan Salt - both locally produced and very good!”

Emma Wilson (Food stylist and stylist for JAN TV show currently airing on VIA

Loving your leftovers! As food costs increase, the need to utilise everything (pips and all!) is coming into focus. Obvious items like celery leaves cut up and used in stews or stocks and pumpkin seeds being roasted off and used in a brittle or crackers. She also says experimentation with new foods and flowers will be big: freekeh and teff in the grains department will become more prevalent, flower flavours such as lavender, chamomile and rooibos will become more evident too.

Sam Linsell (food blogger and recipe developer at Drizzle and Dip

Fermented foods will continue to grow and products like kimchi and kombucha will become more mainstream and readily available vs having to source these at speciality stores. We will start seeing more seaweed on menus and in retail. One trend I would love to see catch on in SA and hasn’t yet is innovation around breakfast and brunch dishes, as our menus are generally quite boring and tend to be very egg and bacon focussed. I would love to see more salad and vegetables on morning menus and see brunch being a bigger deal.

Illanique van Aswegen (Freelance food stylist and recipe developer)

I think people are really thinking about their meat consumption these days which leads to them purchasing less meat and finding new alternatives such as protein-rich grains and vegetables. Eating less meat is not only beneficial for our health but also for the environment on a global scale. Vegan and vegetarian food stalls are seen at most food markets these days offering trendy no-meat products such as dried Mushroom "biltong", cauliflower "steaks" and veggie "meatloaf" etc.

Katelyn Williams (The Kate Tin)

Hitting the big 30 is not so bad when there's cake involved! Bubbly doesn't hurt either! ??

A post shared by The Kate Tin (@thekatetin) on

I think the trend of wanting to know where your food comes from will continue even stronger with a particular focus on sustainability and ethics of ingredients like chocolate, coconut oil and coffee. Flavour wise, specifically in chocolate, we’re going to see a lot more really good-quality milk chocolate in South Africa. It’s huge in America and Europe craft chocolate at the moment so we’ll see that spilling over here. 

What ingredients would you like to see come to the fore in 2018? Let us know in the comments section below or email us!


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Read more on: food trends  |  celeb chefs

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