Seasonal British Blackberries. Gluten-free, vegan, allergy-friendly, seasonal

Lazy warm August has given way to warm and comforting September. Autumn is just around the corner.

Seasonal fruit and vegetables are abundant now and we should make the most of preserving methods: pickling, jam, chutney, fermentation. I LOVE preserving the abundant fruit and vegetables I can in any way I can: from brining to pickling to jams. All are wonderful ways to enjoy the abundance through the next year.

If you want to know more about preserving check out one of the best books I have found: The Art of Fermentation* by Sandor Ellix Katz. Not so much a recipe book as a gentle guide and encyclopia of fermenting. WOnderful. I will also be sharing a few preserving recipes this month so keep your eyes peeled!

Seasonal fruit is wonderful this month. More apples, cobnuts, damsons gooseberries! We have

  • Apples: bramley, cox – bramleys are the best bakers for Bramley Apple and Quince Crumble, tarts and preserves
  • Apricots – perfect just the way they are or make jam if you have lots
  • Blackberries – I used to go blackberry picking as a child and loved it and making blackberry and apple crumble is a fabulous use
  • Cherries – warm from the sun cherries are an delightful flavour. Life is too short to stone a cherry. Just eat them (unless you have too many and then get making some preserves)
  • Cobnuts (AKA hazlenuts) – delicious flavour and fantastic in desserts
  • Damsons – a sub-species of plum the skin is very tart. Damson wine is very, very good or you can make damson gin (just like sloe gin) and damson jam is pretty amazing too
  • Elderberries – fabulous jams, tarts, chutneys can be made with elderberries
  • Figs – just amazing straight from the tree if you can stop yourself from eating them figs are great in warm salads and in tarts
  • Gooseberries – can be super tart fresh but amazing in a crumble, in gooseberry fool or tarts
  • Nectarines – fabulous and juicy, slice in half and grill for Grilled Nectarine Salad with Rocket and Walnuts
  • Peaches – grilled peach salad, peach chutney are both winners or how about Grilled Summer Fruits
  • (still possible in September)

  • Pears: Williams, conference – just great in tarts, in Pear Frangipane Tart, in Warm Pear Salad
  • Plums – fabulous in preserves but also great stewed with cinnamon and nutmeg and served with gluten free, vegan icecream
  • Raspberries – always good with chocolate – Chocolate, Hazelnut and Raspberry Torte anyone?

Herbs seasonality maintains the choice from August. Sage is a wonderful herb to enjoy this month. Available herbs this month include

  • Basil – aromatic and fabulous with tomatoes added to a Rich Tomato Sauce at the end of cooking or in a tomato salad
  • Bay – fabulous with any long cooked dish such as casseroles or roasts.
  • Borage – with a taste similar to cucumber it is great in salads, soups and with gluten free pasta. The flower is sweet and can be used to decorate desserts
  • Chives – delicate herbs with a strong flavour great garnish that actually adds flavour and depth to spinach and potato soup
  • Coriander – some people have a strong dislike of coriander (like me with grapefruit!) but the slightly soapy pungency works so well with Vietnamese Summer Rolls or Chick Peas and Kale in Tamarind Tomato Sauce
  • Lavender – not just an amazing border but wonderful to eat as Lavender Ice Creamalso great in sorbet and with strawberries
  • Marjoram – wonderful fresh in super simple tomato salad with olive oil and salt
  • Mint – fantastic in Vietnamese Summer Rolls, amazing in drinks
  • Oregano – (AKA wild marjoram) wonderful in salads and tomato sauces
  • Parsley: curly, flat – a robust herb that works so well with walnuts
  • Rosemary – the smell of fresh rosemary is instantly relaxing. Wonderful with roast potatoes
  • Sage – whole sage leaves fried until crisp top and complete any gnocchi dish or in Baked Mushrooms With Crispy Sage
  • Savory: summer – great with beans, the flavour reduces the longer it is cooked
  • Tarragon – delicate aniseed flavour which works wonderfully with delicately handled mushrooms
  • Thyme: common, lemon – pungent wonderful flavour. Amazing with roast potatoes, baked with nectarines and added to a warm salad

Vegetables are even more abundant in September. Available September seasonal vegetables (and they will vary according to region) include

  • Artichoke: Jerusalem – can make you windy but great in soup
  • Aubergine – bake whole to make baba ghanoush, fry slices and bake in a gluten free, vegan lasagne or just wonderful in Ratatouille
  • Beans: borlotti , broad, French, runner, flat – fabulous in a fresh borlotti bean soup or in a warm salad dressed with lemon juice
  • Beetroot – earthy and sweet. Perffect for juicing in Beetroot and Carrot Juice – No Juicer Required. Gorgeous as a light pickle but amazing raw in salads like Nasturtium, Beetroot and Walnut Summer Salad or Beetroot and Millet Mega-Salad
  • Broccoli: calabrese, purple sprouting – a sterling 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 – too good to cook. Grate and slice in to strips in salads with toasted caraway seeds. If you want to cook them how about Carrot and Lemon Soup
  • Cauliflower – so versatile, raw, steamed, riced or roasted. Try Roasted Winter Vegetables with Almonds and Olives
  • 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. My favourite way to eat chard is in 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. This Endive Salad with Pears and Almonds is wonderful
  • 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
  • Courgettes – underused as a salad vegetable or slice thinly, grill and add to salads with lemon and flaked almonds
  • Cress: mustard/ mixed – always available, what more do you need to top off a salad
  • Cucumber – nothing better than in season cucumber with the seeds removed and sliced with sesame, soy sauce an toasted sesame seeds
  • Edible flowers – lots available from borage to nasturtium a striking addition to any salad, the tastes are amazing
  • 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
  • Kohlrabi – turnip like but with distinct layers. The tops can be used as greens, the flesh is great in salads
  • Lettuce: cos, curly, iceberg, lambs, little gem, round –  – one of the fundamental salad ingredients, keep it simple with a light dressing, enjoy the in season flavours. If you are feeling adventurous try the delectable 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
  • Onions – a fundamental ingredient in many kitchens and forms the foundation to many classic dishes
  • Pak Choi – wonderful in a stir fry with chilli and soy sauce
  • Parsnip – nutty, sweet and the best flavour comes from roasting and then you can use in a roast, make soup or whatever you fancy
  • Peas – if you must cook them use them in risotto at the last minute to keep their delicate texture and flavour or keep it simple with Lettuce and Pea Soup
  • Peppers: capsicum – versatile and available in several colours each with a subtly different flavour. Fabulous in a robust salad, as a key ingredient in ratatouille, 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 Radish and Cress Salador Fennel, Radish and Orange Saladis 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
  • 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
  • Sweetcorn – fresh sweetcorn in a wonder try grilled whole on a barbeque or in a corn chowder
  • Tomatoes – lots and lots of types of tomatoes in varying sizes, shapes and flavours. Serve at room temperature with a good olive oil and sea salt. More battered tomatoes can be made in to chutneys, pickles and tomato sauces
  • Turnips – a much under rated salad vegetable, sweet and peppery, slice thinly in Winter Vegetable Salad With Walnut Dressing
  • Watercress – iron rich and peppery a wonderful salad foundation and a really, really great Watercress Soup.
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