Find out which fruit and vegetables are in season in October and how to make the most of your seasonal produce in Autumn.
The mornings are getting chillier, the nights are drawing in and before long the clocks will be going back. Autumn is well and truly here and I’m ready for it!
I love Autumn cooking, when I can start to serve up pies, casseroles, crumbles and piles of mashed potatoes again. It’s comfort food, isn’t it? And that feels like just what we need right now.
The bounties of the summer may be starting to fade, but there’s still plenty of delicious fruit and veg around. In fact, some of my favourite produce comes into season in Autumn, so don’t think that Autumn food is boring!
Here are just a few of the seasonal fruit and vegetables that you’ll see this month in your supermarkets, local markets, farm shops and greengrocers. As always, you’ll find some overlap with the previous month, so do check out the monthly post for September seasonal food as well.
Just a reminder: I don’t believe that it’s necessary to eat strictly seasonal food all through the year. There’s an important place for imported fruit and veg, especially in the winter when local produce could start to get a bit monotonous. But I do strongly believe that seasonal fruit and vegetables help to add variety to your menus throughout the year, make meal planning more interesting and help you to benefit from seasonal bargains and gluts.
Yes, I know that apples are available all year around and that, if you look after them, apples will store really well through the winter.
But autumn is when they really come into their own and you’ll find different varieties of apple coming into season over the next couple of months. Did you know that there are over 2500 varieties of apple in the UK alone, and around 7000 varieties worldwide? I find that absolutely amazing!
So instead of sticking to the same old variety all the time, why not try out a new variety of apple this Autumn?
As well as being great to eat as they come, apples are fantastic cooked into a variety of cakes and puddings, and are also a key ingredient in chutneys as well. You can even add them into savoury dishes – they’re great shredded into a coleslaw or roasted with sausages or pork chops.
Fennel is a hugely versatile vegetable that I don’t use anywhere near enough, so I’m planning to make more use of it during its season this year.
It has a delicious mild aniseed flavour and can be used in a wide variety of recipes. You can add it raw into a coleslaw, roast the bulb in the oven, saute it with onions as the start of a soup or stew… And don’t forget that the delicate fronds at the top of the bulb are also a delicious herb that you can use in garnishes, salads, dips and more.
I love leeks and definitely get full use of these in the cooler months. I chop them finely to use as part of the base for casseroles, smother them in cheese sauce and bake as a side vegetable, and add big chunks of them to a spicy vegetable stew.
Like other members of the onion family, the flavour of leeks gets sweeter if you cook it low and slow. I like to gently saute some thinly sliced leeks in butter, add some grated cheese and a splash of cream and then pile the mix on top of a thick slice of toast before grilling to brown the top. It’s a delicious light dinner that’s great for using up that last bit of cream in the pot.
Pumpkins and Squash
Well, I can’t really talk about October’s seasonal produce without mentioning pumpkins, can I? I’ve hollowed out and carved so many pumpkins over the years but the great big pumpkins that we use for Jack o’Lanterns is only one of a wide variety of squash.
The bigger pumpkins can lack flavour and be a bit watery, but roasting the flesh might help with that. I love roasting slices of butternut squash that have been rubbed in a mix of oil and spices, or turning it into a rich, velvety butternut squash soup that makes a warming lunch or an elegant starter.
Why not keep your eyes open for some of the more unusual squash this pumpkin season and see what you can make with them?
If you’re lucky enough to have a patch of blackthorn bushes near you, the fruit (known as sloes) will be coming into season around now. They’re ready for picking from now until the end of the year but you may have to be very quick to get hold of any, because these are a very popular foraging fruit.
Sloes taste better after the first frost, but our winters have become so mild recently that you might be waiting a long time for that and the birds will probably have had them by then. You can replicate the effect of the frost by popping the sloes in the freezer before you use them, which helps to split the skin as well as reducing the bitterness.
As always, here are a few very basic guidelines for foraging:
- Be sure you know what you’re picking, and leave it if you’re in any doubt
- Don’t pick fruit from below waist height (to avoid dog and fox wee!)
- Avoid picking fruit that is growing 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 sloes, you can turn them into sloe gin, sloe brandy or make them into a jam.
Some of the other fruit and vegetables in season in October include:
- Borlotti Beans
- Cabbages (Green)