Autumn Seasonal Produce Update
Autumn brings a whole new layer of lovely special produce to enjoy and to inspire us to cook differently.
The seasons are tricky to predict and they are often late, so it’s hard to be strict around when we actually move from one to the next, with our weather all over the place in all corners of the country.
Watermelons, rockmelons and honeydews are full flavoured and sweet after long ripening through summer.
Tomatoes are bursting from their skins, in shades of colours from black to yellow and orange to red. Romas are spot on for salads and saucing. This is the time of year to celebrate the tomato, and it is a late season.
Pumpkins, eggplants, bell peppers, bullhorn peppers and sweet potato are perfect now and should be plentiful and cheap.
Rains with the right amount of sunshine trigger wild mushrooms so look out for these. The season is often short and there is nothing better than pan fried wild mushrooms in butter to adorn your sourdough toast, steak or braise like coq au vin. Other mushrooms are good all year round.
Nut trees that blossomed earlier now drop ripe nuts, so look out for new season almonds, walnuts, pistachio, macadamias and chestnuts. There is a lot to be discovered with new season nuts so see if you can taste the difference.
Apples and pears are at their fresh best. The harvest starts in mid to late summer so look for many different types: the early-season soft Williams to the firmer elegant beurre bosc, and of course the bumpy green flavourful Packhams. Look out for my favourite pear – the Josephine pear which is green and smooth skinned with a big fat bottom. I love to poach and roast these beautifully delicate fruits.
In the same family there is the quince, which is so special with a short season and fragrance to die for. Learn to slow cook them until they turn crimson in colour, the oven is often best, and be patient with the process.
Figs are cheap enough to jam and slice in salads and toss on cheese boards.
Grapes are still good at this time– try roasting them with chicken and thyme or tarragon and garlic.
Expect local pomegranates to start appearing; and Australian persimmons hit the market now. This fruit can be eaten firm like an apple, if you buy the right ones. If you aren’t familiar with this fruit then be sure to have a chat with your helpful stallholder!
Citrus lovers can get mandarins, grapefruit and the early varieties of navel oranges. Lemons are often cheap and plentiful, and become local again. The cooler weather brings on vegetables from the paddock that love the cold and that don’t really exist well in the heat.
Celeriac, horseradish, fennel, Brussels sprouts and parsnips get a look in and are all superb. Try horseradish freshly grated and stirred in to cream fraiche with a touch of Dijon and serve with fire grilled steak or beef roast.
Radicchio, kale and endives – such cavolo nero and Russian kale – come into their own in late autumn.
Happy shopping, cooking and sharing.