October is marked with the arrival of apples. Autumn brings a wealth of flavoursome fruits and vegetables ready for our seasonal dishes, but why do we really care about seasonality? Here’s four key reasons as to why seasonality is important.
1. It’s good for you. Getting a mixture of nutrients each month is much better than the same ones from the same dishes.
2. It’s good for the planet because they travel less miles, and it’s cheaper because it doesn’t need to travel as far.
3. It’s more natural, seasons were created for a reason.
4. It tastes better!
This is what you should be looking out for from your local green grocer, fishmonger and butcher throughout October. Check out our ‘In Season’ Pintrest board to see what takes your fancy.
What’s in season throughout October?
Fish & seafood
Meat & game
Apples go with so many things. They have good acidity and sweetness so can cut through fatty meats like duck.
Perfect match: Duck, pork, mackerel and game.
Top tip: Don’t immerse in water to preserve them and stop them from going brown as they take on moisture and loose their flavour. Peel just before you are going to use them.
There are over 7,500 different apple varieties to choose from. Bramley’s are the best for cooking as they aren’t too sweet. Cox’s, Braburn’s and Gala are all good eating apples. Golden Delicious have good acidity but they don’t break down as easy as other apples, which means they aren’t good for sauces but perfect for tarts where they need to hold their shape.
Show off your apples with chef’s delicious tarte fine recipe.
Top tip: Pick a pumpkin that feels heavy and doesn’t have any soft spots.
Pumpkins are a winter squash and native to North America. It’ s most popular use, other than at Halloween, is in pumpkin pie during Thanksgiving, where the pumpkin is mixed with sugar and spices and baked. If you don’t fancy pumpkin pie, it’s perfect for soups or roasting.
Top tip: Don’t waste the seeds. Dry them in a low over and then toast and sprinkle on soups, salads and pasta. Or use as an alternative to pine nuts in pesto.
Take a look at our Bonfire Night recipe for pumpkin candy (toffee).
Like apples, there are many different varieties of mushroom, more that 10,000 and probably lots more that are yet to be discovered. Some are edible, some are antibiotic and others are very poisonous.
Top tip: Do not touch, pick or eat if you are unsure what type of mushroom it is.
Mushrooms like this time of year because it is warm and damp, perfect fungus growing climate. Our favourites are porcini, also called cep in France and penny bun in the UK, and the griolle mushroom.
Mushrooms can be used in almost anything, from pasta and risotto to soups and stuffed in roast joints.
Perfect match: Game, chicken (chicken and mushroom pie) and fish. Mushrooms are very earthy so need a meaty fish like brill or monk fish.
Top tip: Don’t immerse mushrooms in water to wash them as they are already 80% water. Try brushing off the dirt or wipe and then dry. For larger mushroom you can peel them but the skins have lots of flavour too.
Top tip: Never cover with cling film, this will make them sweat, only cover with a cloth.
Hake is a really underused Cornish fish. It is popular in Portugal and Spain and is where most of our Cornish caught hake is exported to.It’s soft in texture and not as meaty as cod, but a good alternative.
Top tip: The bones are difficult to remove so always ask you fishmonger to prepare for you.
Perfect match: Spinach, mushrooms, mussels, cream.
Try chef’s recipe for pan fried hake with Rodda’s clotted cream and cider sauce
Top tip: To get the best flavour from hake, salt with course sea salt for an hour before cooking. Wash off and pat dry, no additional seasoning is required. Salting in this way will firm up the structure of the fish.
Perfect match: Wood pigeon can take strong flavours like mushrooms and other autumnal vegetables like lentils, kale and beetroot. Good with thyme.
As wood pigeon is wild it is quite meaty and red with a firm texture. It’s lean, so easy to over cook. It is best served medium/ rare.
Top tip: Best to cook on the bone to retain moisture.
Works well as a starter, like mushrooms on toast with roast wood pigeon and watercress.
We think seasonality is really important for sustainability and great tasting food. Each month we put together a series of hints and tips, maybe a few recipes, focusing around what you should be cooking and eating in that month.