Posted 2nd September 2013 by Celia Lacy
Wave a fond farewell to the summer holidays and welcome the fresh beginnings of September, with an exciting new food season that’s rich in colour, flavour and contrast.
The warmth and vibrancy of autumnal food is such a welcome change to summer’s fayre as we see plump, sweet fruits tumbling from the trees and healthy leaves and roots being plucked from our fields.
Let’s take a little look at what’s good to eat right now, and how you can make the most of one of my top months of the year for eating the best of British produce.
The pleasure of venturing out with an old ice cream tub and filling it to the brim with juicy blackberries is one of autumn’s greatest gifts.
Should you be lucky to find berries growing near you, look for dark, ripe fruits that pull away from the stem easily. Always wash your berries when you get them home and discard any that are discoloured.
If like me, you’re not ready for a crumble just yet, a quick batch of berry compote is a lovely way to eat these soft September fruits. Spoon a little compote onto your morning cereal or into a bowl of yoghurt – or, for a little weekend treat, try it with a slice of French toast.
For crisp, sweet eating fruit, look for a firm feel without nicks, bruises or wrinkles. Ripe apples tend to make a hollow sound when tapped.
Lingering fruit that needs eating up can be brilliantly transformed into yummy meals when peeled, cored and teamed with a little sugar and cinnamon.
Use as a simple sweet sauce or bake into a shortcrust pastry case. Or, slice your apples up and cook in a savoury one-pan roast with sausages – a brilliant twist on the classic pork and apple sauce combination.
Popular varieties of pear are at their best right now, including the slender Conference, pale green Concorde and the Comice, which has a meltingly soft texture.
Pears ripen from the inside out, so buy them when they’re hard and place them in a fruit bowl at room temperature for 2-3 days.
As well as being great for popping into lunchboxes, pears are very happy when cooked into a beautiful pudding or cheese dish like this warm salad of pan-fried pears with goat’s cheese - the perfect transitional supper to take you merrily into autumn.
With a velvety texture and delicate flavour, squash is great in warming stews and soups.
Belonging to the same family as the courgette, cucumber and pumpkin, squash is best bought with firm, unbroken rind and a uniform matt colouring.
The flesh of the butternut is super versatile and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. This pan of roasted vegetables with harissa is a colourful and filling dish that all the family can tuck into alongside a Moroccan-style roast chicken.
Sardines are firmly back on the menu in some of the UK’s top restaurants thanks to an army of chefs across the country celebrating their virtues as a healthy, sustainable fish.
“Choose fish with sparkly eyes and shiny skin” says Sam Lambourn, a sardine fisherman based off the coast of Cornwall and supplier to Tesco.
Fresh sardines taste so good! You can barbecue, roast or pan-fry them whole - try them with garlic, tomato and a little chilli. For a true taste of the Mediterranen, try them with a tongue-tingling marinade in a colourful escabeche.
Which recipes do you look forward to cooking again as autumn sets in?
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