Discover what fruit and vegetables are in season in September, and how to make the most of your seasonal produce.
I’ve always liked September. The ‘New Year’ feeling has never left me, even though it’s been a fair few years since my sons were at school and many many more since I left school myself.
Although the summer months are behind us now, the weather is still warm enough to spend time outdoors. The evenings are still light and there’s still plenty of summer fruit and veg around to make menu planning interesting.
But there’s definitely an Autumnal chill in the air in the early mornings, and the profusion of red berries on trees and bushes shows that Autumn is really just around the corner. I’ll be making the most of these last few warm weeks before it’s time to bring out my cosy jumpers and start cooking hearty stews and casseroles for dinner!
So here are just some of the seasonal fruit and vegetables on offer this month in your supermarkets, local markets, farm shops and greengrocers. There’s some overlap with previous months, so do check out the monthly posts for August seasonal produce as well.
Just a reminder: I don’t believe that you need to eat a seasonal menu all through the year. Imported fruit and veg has an important role to play, especially in the winter months when local produce could get a bit monotonous. But I firmly believe that seasonal fruit and vegetables add variety to your meal planning throughout the year and help you to take advantage of seasonal bargains and gluts.
Aubergines are technically berries (yes, really!) but in the UK we always treat them as vegetables. They work really well with a wide range of herbs and spices, making them a great way to add body and ‘meatiness’ to a meat-free dish.
You can also turn them into creamy dips and dhals, grill or fry them in oil for a beautiful moussaka or pasta dish like the pasta alla Norma above, or use them to bulk out casseroles, curries and stews.
When you’re buying aubergines, look out for ones that feel heavy and have glossy skin. Avoid really big aubergines as they will be more bitter.
Beetroot seems to be one of those love-them-or-hate-them flavours. A lot of people seem to hate them because they’ve only tried the vinegar-sharp pickled variety out of a jar. But if you get the chance to try freshly cooked beetroot, or even those vacuum-packed beets from the supermarket, they are a whole different vegetable.
Beetroots have a delicious sweet flavour and firm but yielding texture which is a lovely addition to salads. They also make great soup, taste delicious roasted or you can blend them with chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice and oil to make a bright pink hummus. Just remember to wear gloves when you peel them!
If you are lucky enough to have brambles growing near you, wild blackberries will be abundant at this time of year. Don’t forget these basic guidelines for foraging:
- Be sure you can identify what you’re picking, leave it if you’re in any doubt
- Don’t pick from below waist height (to avoid dog and fox wee!)
- Avoid picking near roads due to the fumes from passing traffic
- And make sure you leave some for the wildlife and other foragers
Once you’ve picked your brambles, you can bake them into cakes and crumbles, turn them into jam or even use them to flavour vodka or gin. They also freeze well, so you can keep some on hand to brighten up the winter months.
If you’ve been growing chilli peppers at home this summer, you should be able to harvest them around now. Picking them while they’re green will encourage the plant to produce more fruit, but leaving them on the plant to redden and mature will give more flavour. So you might decide that you’d rather sacrifice quantity in favour of a better taste.
I’m guessing that if you’re growing chillies, you already know how to use chillies in your cooking. You might want to preserve some of your harvest to see you through the winter, so you could have a go at making chilli jam or sweet chilli sauce, or to dry your chillies to use in cooking.
If you’re lucky enough to have access to damsons, now is the time to get ready to harvest them. They’re a fantastic stone fruit that are great to turn into jams and chutneys, or to bake into crumbles and pies.
You can also use them to turn a fairly ordinary bottle of brandy or gin into a delicious damson liqueur which would be ideal for Christmas presents!
If you can’t use your damsons yet, just give them a wash and pop them in the freezer, they’ll be fine to use straight from frozen in many recipes. It will also split the skin on the fruit, which is ideal if you’re using them for liqueur as it helps the flavour to develop.
Alongside apples, pears are a fantastic autumn fruit that really lend themselves to traditional cakes, pies and crumbles. But they’re far more versatile than that!
Pears also go really well with cheese and with pork, so why not try substituting them into a pork and apple casserole, or bake them into a pear and blue cheese tart? You could even use them to top a pizza, or roast them with slices of halloumi.
The main problem that I have with pears is that I do love their flavour, but they can often be too crunchy to eat raw. But they’re great to stew and freeze for quick and easy puddings through the autumn and winter, or you can poach them gently in syrup for a more elegant dessert option.
Some of the other fruit and vegetables in season in September include:
- Apples (early varieties)
- Cabbages (green)
- Courgettes – yes, still!
Autumn will really be here next month and it will soon be pumpkin season. So check back in October for more ideas for your seasonal fruit and veg!