Seasonal Scran – Which fruit, vegetables, fish & meat are available in October?
As autumn sets in here in the northern hemisphere, it's time to see what's going to be fresh in the fields
Time for something a little different. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we're slowly sliding into Autumn. The nights are creeping in, the weather getting cooler and wetter. This seasonal change means a change in the harvests coming in from the fields. A shift to harder vegetables, roots and tubers, tough greens. So if you were to shop seasonally, what would a basket look like in October?
Aubergine, autumn cabbage; both red and green, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cardoons; a flowering artichoke more popular in southern Europe than the UK, but a nice addition to the list, celeriac, celery, chard, chicory, chillies, there is a fantastic chilly farm in Bedfordshire that cultivates some weapons-grade peppers with incredible flavour, courgettes, cucumber, endive; similar to chicory, fennel, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, kohlrabi; a sweetish turnip that's actually part of the cabbage family, lettuce, leeks, marrow, pak choi, parsnips, peppers, pumpkins and winter squashes, radishes; transitioning from summer radishes to hardier winter radishes, salsify; odd one this, it's a flowering plant that happens to have a tasty root not dissimilar in appearance to a thin parsnip, scorzonera; similar to salsify but with a dark skin over the white flesh, technically part of the lettuce family, spinach, spring onions, swedes, sweetcorn, sweet peppers, turnips, tomatoes, watercress.
Chervil, chives, coriander, dill, fennel, lovage; an intense celery flavour, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, sorrel, summer savory; hot and peppery, also an aphrodisiac apparently(?), thyme, winter savory.
Apples, blackberries, pears, plums, quince and late-season raspberries.
Coley, dab, haddock, hake, mussels, native oysters, pollack, red gurnard, sardines, scallops, sea bream, sole, spotted ray, spider crabs, sprat, wild turbot and whiting.
If you fancy heading out on a hunt for your Sunday lunch then you ought to be looking out for guinea fowl, grouse, hares, partridges, pheasants, wild duck, and woodcock. In the butchers, lamb, venison and goose are all coming into their prime this month.
So what to make with all this seasonal sustenance? Well, I've had some ideas, but I also want to know yours. What would you make from this bumper crop?
Fresh mussels in a white wine sauce, with chilli and chives. Served with a crusty loaf and a sprig of watercress.
Parsnip, pumpkin and spinach soup, again with a crusty loaf and a sprig of watercress on top.
Pan-fried hake seasoned with a little dill. Served with roasted beetroot and cabbage, seasoned with a little bit of chilli. A swede and celeriac mash, some honey glazed carrots. A bundle of steamed kale with a small bundle of samphire.
Grouse, partridge, pheasant or venison, roasted and served with stewed cabbage, honey glazed carrots, swede and celeriac mash and roasted chestnuts.
Lamb tagine with pumpkin, aubergine, peppers. Toss in some chickpeas as well, although not seasonal in the UK, they are key to a good tagine. Season the dish well with fresh chillies, lemon zest, garlic and a touch of coriander.
A seasonal fruit tart or crumble. The tart will be lattice topped, the crumble will have hazelnuts or walnuts crushed in. Your fruit mix? Apples, plums and blackberries. Best served with piping hot custard.