How to eat this autumn
As the warmer months and the distant memory of summer slips into the past, we begin to swap our sandals for boots and our ditsy dresses or snuggly scarves. Autumn is here and we are welcoming her in with open arms. This time of year is our favourite as it conjures up beautiful connotations for any foodie. Think crisp, chilly mornings and warming up by an open fire. Think Halloween and Bonfire night. Think toffee apples, trick or treating, ginger cake and the smell of firework residue on a dark November night.
“It is hardly witchcraft that in the cooler months, our bodies need more energy to keep us warm…”
Autumn may indeed mark the end of a plentiful summer, but it is also a time of culinary abundance. We live in a world where we have everything at our fingertips due to forced harvests and imported produce from abroad. We can pretty much eat anything whenever we want and eating with the seasons has almost become a thing of the past. It is hardly witchcraft that in the cooler months, our bodies need more energy to keep us warm and our native land, as if by magic, becomes riddled with a plethora of nutritious fruits and vegetables to do just so. Not only is eating seasonally better for your body, it is better for the environment too, and we feel it is our duty to make the most of what Mother [nature] has given us.
Meat & Fish
Autumn and winter are prime time for Game (venison, grouse, duck, pigeon, pheasant, guineafowl, rabbit). Obviously, these aren’t always the easiest to find in standard, supermarkets, and we understand that the price tag can often be a little off-putting too. However, Game is delicious and extremely good for you. Venison, for example, is jam-packed full of iron and other minerals and boasts an extremely low-fat content compared to other red meat such as beef. Don’t be afraid of Game. The birds can be treated in the same way as chicken, but do expect a stronger flavour. Try roasting a whole guineafowl on a lazy Sunday with all the trimmings if you want a gateway into Game, or if you’re feeling adventurous this recipe for rabbit ragu from BBC Good Food will have you feeling fuzzy in no time.
From the sea, you can enjoy a variety of superb shellfish at this time of year. Lobsters, mussels, crabs and oysters, particularly from the icy waters of the Scottish coast, are at their best, their biggest and their juiciest as the colder months begin to creep in.
Apple crumble season is here and it’s time to celebrate. As the leaves on the trees turn to golden-amber many of the apples that adorn the orchards of England begin to fall in their hundreds. Apples, when picked at the right time and stored correctly in a cool, dark place, can last for months and see you through until spring-time. Pears are also at their best at this time of year and are just waiting to be baked, poached and pickled. Blackberries or brambles are everywhere, and if you are out in the sticks you might even come across a damson or two. Damsons are in the plum family with a dark blue skin and a strong acidic flavour. They are too sour to eat on their own, but when teamed with copious amounts of sugar, can be made into jam, sorbet, or even Damson Gin, a family favourite of T’s come Christmas.
You only need to say the word ‘October’ and the first thing that will pop into anyone’s head would be that of a pumpkin, or perhaps Hocus Pocus… but that could just be us. Autumn ‘tis the season for all members of the Gourd family (think pumpkin, squashes, courgettes, marrow etc.) Not only are they versatile, nutritious and colourful, they are delicious too. Think back to our Butternut Squash risotto if you’re after a little inspiration, or if you have the benefit of foresight, perhaps next week’s post might have a few ideas (hint hint…)
Sticking with the Halloween vibes celeriac, often referred to as “Zombie brain” also takes centre stage during the autumnal months. Bless its non-existent soul (we can almost hear the super-vegans protest from here, but we don’t need to get into that debate), but the celeriac isn’t the most attractive of vegetables. But, damn… it is delicious. Treat it as you would a potato: Roast, mash it, puree it or throw it in a soup. The creepy, werewolf infested sweetcorn fields will also be stripped bare just in time for the 31st. Grill or boil them and smother with enough butter to clog up the Eurotunnel and sprinkle with salt, pepper and chilli flakes for a flavour explosion.
Nuts, Herbs & Fungi
We can almost smell those chestnuts roasting on an open fire and they are here to stay. The British countryside will be budding with woodland nuts such as these as well as wild herbs like rosemary, sorrel and thyme. The forest floors will have mushrooms springing up left, right and centre and the experienced forager might even come across the odd Truffle hidden deep in the earth. Just be sure to remember your loyal truffle hunter (either the canine or the swine variety.) Truffles are almost worth their weight in gold and are considered one of the most highly prized foods of all time. They have a strong pungent flavour and only a little is needed to flavour a whole dish. Black truffle goes exceptionally well with cheese, like in this delectable Fondue. Of course, you do not have to be Ray Mears to get hold of any of these native ingredients… your local supermarket or deli will be just as abundant.
So, there you have it, a complete guide to eating seasonally this autumn. It is time to start embracing the colder weather and warming your soul with everything Mother Nature has on offer this October. Tune in this winter for an update.