The harvest season is upon us, and as the weather changes so too do our eating habits.
Autumnal recipes tend to reflect the fact that the cold nights are drawing in and lighting the fire for the first time in months, but it’s not all hearty stews and casseroles – there is plenty of fresh fruit and veg that are at their finest at this time of year.
Buying habits noticeably change in September; once the holidays are over people re-focus on healthy eating after a summer of barbecues and holiday food.
How do you like these apples?
September is a month to celebrate as the UK apple season gains momentum.
Katie from EatFruit.co.uk says: “The season starts with the Discovery apple, an apple with a yellow/green appearance and a redness that blushes through the skin where it has caught the sun.
“It’s the earliest variety and the one that you will hear the retailers shouting about the most. Whilst this variety can have a delicious Strawberry twist and is a welcome treat following months of imported apples, the taste isn’t the best and doesn’t store well.
“Luckily, as the season progresses the choice on offer expands rapidly as Early Windsor, Spartan and the first of the Royal Gala come into season. Apples like the Cox with its aromatic flavour that elevates it above other varieties then see us through all the way until April.”
Watch out for more Apple celebrations on National Apple Day on October 21, 2020.
Nothing beats a home-made fruit crumble on a cool day, and that’s why it is probably the first thing people think of when talking about autumn recipes.
Mike Simpson from Eva’s Organics, near Longtown, says: “Autumn is a time of delicious fruitfulness and although the Cumbrian weather may be short on seasonal sunshine this year, our apples and blackberries are at their sweetest and juiciest.
“We think there’s no better way to enjoy them than combined with a little sugar in a traditional apple and blackberry crumble.”
He’s recommended this simple recipe on BBC Food.
Plan to plant
Autumn is rich with hearty root vegetables and nutritious greens – and if you’re planning on planting for one last time before winter arrives, there are many crops that thrive in the cool temperatures.
Bear in mind your area’s estimated ‘first frost’ – this handy map will be a big help – and plant your last round of veg accordingly.
Turnips need to go in six to eight weeks prior to your average first-frost date, while your last lettuces of the year will need to go in around the same time. Carrots will need eight to 10 weeks before the frost arrives, so you’re looking at mid-September at the very latest. You might just be in time to get those Brussels sprouts in for Christmas, though they’ll need at least 85 days before the frost arrives in the North West, some-time around late November or early December.
Veg at its best
If you’ve not managed to plan ahead, or you’re planning for next year’s vegetable seasons, don’t worry – the greengrocers, supermarkets, and delivery services are bursting with fresh fruit and veg.
Will Box, founder of Inter Fresh – a Carlisle-based company supplying a number of restaurants, bars, hotels and schools throughout Carlisle, Penrith, Keswick, South Lakes and West Cumbria – says that you could get more for your money in the autumn.
He says: “During the Autumn months, consumer habits do change as seasonal items are much more cost effective and the quality is exceptionally better.
“A variety of root vegetables, spinach and kale are all in season from around September to November.
“Butternut squash would probably be my chosen seasonal item as I find they’re extremely versatile and work well in a range of hearty dishes such as pies, quiches and soups. They’re also great when roasted as a side dish, perfect for this time of year.”
Sweetcorn treats for all the family
Late September and early October is also the time when sweetcorn is at its best. Sweetcorn is a great source of vitamin A, B3 and C, is fibre busting and is rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene and lutein.
Katie from EatFruit.co.uk says: “We love sweetcorn due to its versatility – you can boil it, grill it or bake it and most of all, unlike many vegetables is a favourite with the kids!”
Here is their recipe for a simple sweetcorn bake:
You will need:
Corn on the cob
1. Pre-heat your oven to 200C/180C gas mark 6
2. Mix together the butter, 3 to 4 cloves of garlic depending on your taste and a few sprigs of parsley
3, Place the cob onto a large square of foil, cover the top with you butter mix and then bake for 30 to 35 mins.