Saturday, 6 October 2012

What's in Season... October

September has been a busy month - spent sampling seasonal fare in south west France, a couple of weekends enjoying local produce in the foodie county of Suffolk, and testing out my curry cooking skills on friends - and suddenly October and autumn are upon us. I must be learning from my recent foray into seasonal eating, mostly thanks to Paul Waddington's book Seasonal Food, because as I started to think about what I might be buying and cooking this month I realised I was starting to go with my intuition and new-found knowledge of what's in season and tasting good right now. My foodie bible is far from redundant, however, as Waddington's tips for October's ingredients are invaluable... 

Waddington's chapter on October reminds us that traditionally this is the month when the last harvesting takes place and preparations begin for preserving foods for use during the winter. Summer vegetables are finally on the out and we can look forward to warming, autumnal dishes made with earthy root vegetables like celeriac and parsnips, and seasonal soups and puddings made with brightly coloured squash and pumpkins. Some of my favourite vegetables are coming into season, including the full-flavoured celery and chicory - both versatile ingredients for stews, roasts and robust winter salads. The highlight of October for me, however, is the abundance of game. As Waddington notes, birds are plentiful and many game seasons open in October. The wood pigeon season comes to an end in October (it starts as early as April) and I've picked up some wood pigeon breasts to experiment with. I'm looking forward to pairing the little pink steaks with some comforting ingredients like black pudding and beetroot for a cosy autumnal feast.

The brown crab season also draws to a close around this time; after seeing an impressive demonstration of dressing crabs at the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival, I'm determined to make a trip to Cromer this month to pick up the last of the fresh catch and have a go myself. Fruits and nuts are high on the agenda too: damsons and bullaces for jams, jellies and wine, crabapples for hedgerow jelly (although I've heard this year has so far seen a poor harvest for the crabapple and its useful neighbour the blackberry bush), and quince and chestnuts for chutneys and stuffing. Local varieties of British apples are at their peak in October. I'm not a big fan of apple sauce but have enjoyed sweet slices of roasted apple alongside roast pork belly already this month, accompanied by, of course, a glass of crisp, locally produced Aspall cyder (although thankfully that tastes good all year round). 

Enjoy this month's seasonal treats and keep an eye on the Blog for some autumnal recipes throughout October!