October and Autumn is here! I adore autumn! Time to start storing the summer glut of produce and enjoy the autumn produce. Seasonal produce is wonderful in the autumn (fall).
Halloween is turnip (or pumpkin) carving time. Get out your, not so sharp, knives for some carving and don’t throw the (edible) flesh away. Pumpkin season is beautiful!
Seasonal fruit and vegetables are abundant now and we should make the most of preserving methods: pickling, jam, chutney, fermentation. All are wonderful ways to enjoy the abundance through the next year.
Seasonal fruit just gets better this month. Crab apples and cultivated apples, more pears and quince! We have
- Apples: cox, crab, egremont russet, royal gala – fantastic just to eat and fabulous to use in preserves or in Apple and Blackberry Cobbler
- Blackberries – I used to go blackberry picking as a child and loved it and making blackerry and apple crumble is a fabulous use or how about Blackberry and Almond Chocolate Mousse
- Cobnuts (AKA hazlenuts) – delicious flavour and fantastic in desserts
- Figs – just amazing straight from the tree if you can stop yourself from eating them figs are great in warm salads and in tarts
- Pears: comice, concord, conference – just great in tarts and in Endive Salad with Pears and Almonds
- Quince – resembling a pear they are too sour and astringent to eat. Stewed or used in a Bramley Apple and Quince Crumble. Quince is subtle. Quince jelly is lovely
- Raspberries – always good with chocolate – Chocolate, Hazelnut and Raspberry Torte anyone?
- Rosehips – great in teas, jams, chutneys and pickles
- Sloes – we all know sloe gin but sloes can be used in preserves and chutneys
- Sweet chestnuts – these are great raw but most people roast them. Wonderful in roasts and terrines
- Walnuts – fresh walnuts are amazing. Fabulous in Warm Pear Salad.
Herbs seasonality is much reduced from September. Parsley is a great herb to enjoy in October. Available herbs this month include
- Bay – fabulous with any long cooked dish such as casseroles or roasts.
- Mint – fantastic in rice paper rolls, amazing in drinks
- Parsley: flat – a robust herb that works so well with walnuts
- Rosemary – the smell of fresh rosemary is instantly relaxing. Wonderful with roast potatoes.
Vegetables are still abundant in October. Look out for the root vegetables. Available October seasonal vegetables (and they will vary according to region) include
- Artichoke: Jerusalem – can make you windy but great in soup
- Beetroot – earthy and sweet. Gorgeous as a light pickle but amazing raw in salads
- Broccoli: calabrese, purple sprouting – a stirling vegetable that is wonderful steamed and served with slivered almonds
- Cabbage: red, white – wonderful shredded in Cabbage and Carrot Salad, red is particularly great as a side cooked with star anise
- Carrots – often too good to cook but I adore them in this Carrot and Lemon Soup. Try grated or sliced in to strips in salads with toasted caraway seeds
- Cauliflower – so versatile, raw, steamed, riced or roasted
- Cavolo nero – a wonderful dark green its almost black and so easy to grow, amazing steamed with olive oil, salt and pepper
- Celeriac – fabulous roasted and made in to a silky soup
- Celery – one of the foundations of classic cookery with a very distinctive taste. Great in salads with apples and walnuts or in stews and soups
- Chard – fresh young chard is great in salads, older chard is great sautéd or steamed. One of my favourite ways with chard is Chard, Courgette and Pea Tart
- Chicory/ endive/ radicchio – slightly bitter tasting but if you grill and use in a simple salad with olive oil and walnuts it is wonderful stuff. Young and raw it is perfect in Endive Salad with Pears and Almonds
- Chilli – I love chillies, use in everything (dependent upon the heat and flavour) from guacamole to Ma Po Tofu to Chilli Sin Carne and all the other amazing uses in between
- Cress: mustard/ mixed – always available, what more do you need to top off a salad
- Fennel – a lovely aniseed taste crunchy addition to salads. Great roasted with lemon
- Garlic – a foundation to classic cookery, what isn’t garlic in. Roast whole to get a wonderful flavour
- Horseradish – the ultimate kick to any dish. Horseradish aioli would be an amazing dressing for any salad
- Kale – sooo fashionable… great steamed and served gluten free pasta, olive oila nd fresh chilli
- Kohlrabi – turnip like but with distinct layers. The tops can be used as greens, the flesh is great in salads
- Leek – roast these little beauties
- Lettuce: little gem – one of the fundamental salad ingredients, keep it simple with a light dressing, enjoy the in season flavours. Try in Lettuce and Pea Soup
- Marrow – roast with lots of spices and use in soups
- Mushrooms: button / cup /flat (cultivated), enoki (Cultivated), girolle Scottish (wild), oyster (cultivated), pied bleu (cultivated), shitake (cultivated) – lots of different types with different flavours, bring out the earthy, nutty flavours in a risotto, Lentil and Mushroom Soup, or a simple stir fry
- Parsnip – nutty, sweet and the best flavour comes from roasting and then you can use in a roast, make Parsnip and Walnut Soup with Walnut Pesto or whatever you fancy
- Peppers: capsicum – versatile and available in several colours each with a subtly different flavour. Fabulous in a robust salad, as a key ingredient in ratouille, in tofu with green peppers and black bean sauce
- Potatoes – early: maris peer, osprey – new potatoes are perfect with their waxy integrity for potato salads with a light dressing, mint and salt
- Potatoes – main crop: anya, King Edward, marfona, maris piper, pink fir apple, rooster – perfect for Crispy Roast Potatoes, mashing or chips!
- Pumpkin – wonderful Roasted Squash with spices and then the options are endless
- Radish: daikon/ mooli – fabulous as Japanese style pickle accompaniment or as the main ingredient in Chinese turnip cakes. The green tops are eaten in Pakistan
- Radishes – the mustardy heat of home grown radishes is wonderful, a simple salad is a perfect showcase
- Rocket – growing like Billy-O at the moment, mustard hot, avocado and rocket salad is wonderful
- Romanesco – the most beautiful vegetable in the world. Crunchy and mild great in salads and steamed
- Samphire – there are lots of types of samphire. Mild and crunchy it is wonderful pickled, used in salads or lightly steamed
- Savoy cabbage – amazing really finely sliced in a stir fry or use to wrap Walnut and Mushroom Parcels
- Shallot – little bulbs of flavour, sautéd shallots form the foundations for lots of dishes, try roasting whole for soup
- Spinach – deep greens with a light metallic tinge, perfect in salads, great in bakes
- Spring greens- delicate steam to get the best from their delicate flavour
- Spring Onions – great in salads and as a garnish to stir fries
- Swede – or turnip depending where you are from. Spicy and earthy, wonderful in Gluten Free Vegan Haggis, soups, get them with the tops on and use the tops as greens
- Sweetcorn – fresh sweetcorn in a wonder try grilled whole on a barbeque or in a corn chowder
- Sweet potato – now grown in some parts of the UK, roast and then go crazy/li>
- Turnips – a much under rated salad vegetable, sweet and peppery, slice thinly with carrots and parsley. How about carving them instead of pumpkins for Halloween – this is what was traditionally used.