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Sat 28/10/2017

What's in season?
What's in Season

Food writer, Mary Gwynn's September

If thereís a time not to miss a visit to your local Farmerís Market then this must be the month. All the promise of the summerís long growing season is now delivering, though the weather may still provide us with plenty to talk about as we might get a lovely Indian summer or an abrupt entry into the winds and chills of autumn. Itís the time to enjoy an abundance of game, wonderful seafood, and here in the Garden of England all the finest apples and dessert pears for which this area is justly famous. It should be a great season after the cold winter and warm summer so make sure you try as many local varieties as possible. You can still find the end of the summer berries but also the richer hued autumn fruit, such as plums and gages.
Fish and seafood are plentiful this month and very reasonably priced. For seafood lovers look out for crab, mussels and prawns Ė and with an r in the month, itís the start of the native oyster season too.

The changing season and the return to school also herald a longing for richer more comforting meat dishes so make a vow to try game this year, particularly venison. Itís the perfect locally sourced free-range meat Ė minimum food miles, low in cholesterol and full of useful vitamins. You can find farmed and wild Ė and modern game is no longer the tough, strong meat that needs long cooking. Lean and tender, it suits short cooking methods such as frying and grilling. Look for recipes on the internet as plenty of chefs are now using British game on a regular basis.

If watching budgets remember that cheaper cuts of meat such as belly pork, shin of beef and lamb shank all taste particularly good and tend to be easier to find at the market where meat producers use their skills to ensure the entire animal is prepared for home cooks to enjoy at its best with no waste. For lighter meat, try guinea fowl, which should be free-range. Cook in the same way as a small chicken, maybe roast wrapped in streaky bacon, and enjoy the flavour, which is richer than chicken and subtly gamey.

With tomatoes, courgettes, sweetcorn, peas, cauliflowers, runner beans and onions all plentiful and cheap right now this might be the month to try making your own chutneys and pickles. You donít have to make huge amounts Ė just a jar or two can be very satisfying and you might just get the bug. Winter squashes and pumpkins are starting to arrive and come in an amazing array of shapes and sizes all with different flavours and textures Ė try in soups, curries, gratins and risottos. If the weather turns wet look out for the appearance of wild mushrooms, and also search out local cobnuts and walnuts.

Tree fruit are at their best and juiciest so donít miss plums, damsons and greengages. They are wonderful for eating (not damsons!), and using in preserves, ice creams, pies, and, if feeling very adventurous, even your own liqueurs and wines. (For recipes the Womenís Institute books are very reliable.) The blackberry season is also at its height and you can find both cultivated and wild berries for crumbles, jellies and jams.

What's Cookin'

Order Mary's latest book, commissioned especially to celebrate the centenary of the WI.
WI Cookbook

celebrate the centenary of the WI
celebrate the centenary of the WI
celebrate the centenary of the WI
celebrate the centenary of the WI
celebrate the centenary of the WI

Read more from Mary Gwynn at:

Why buy seasonal food?