It is always a good idea to eat according to the season. As the weather changes so does the fresh produce that is available. Each season offers a wide selection of beautiful fresh produce that are fresher and sweeter because the fruits and vegetables have been naturally ripened on the vine or the tree and harvested at the right time. This also means that they are more flavourful, nutritious and much cheaper since the crops are harvested in large quantity.
I really love autumn. As the weather is starting to cool off, we get to spend more time in the kitchen, making slow cooked stews, braising meats and baking delicious warming desserts. From beautiful figs and juicy pears to dark leafy greens to sweet root vegetables and squashes, who could resist these seasonal goodies? Everyone should make the most of what they can find at the markets this autumn and cook up the best dishes that this season has to offer.
Here are some of my favourite autumn fruits and vegetables:
I think figs are one of the most beautiful fruits around with their deep dark purple skin and rosy pink flesh and their tiny brown seeds. Fresh figs are delicate, aromatic and have a floral sweetness. They are great on their own but are also a wonderful addition to desserts, cheese platters and some savoury dishes. Figs go bad very easily because of their low acidity and high moisture and sugar content. It is best to eat them within a day or two. But they can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Balsamic Chicken with Figs
There are many different varieties of plums with colours varying from deep purple to red, yellow and green. The chalky white colour on the skin is natural, so do not worry that. Plums are sweet and juicy and are great on their own. But I love to make dessert with them because plums can hold their shape well even after baking and cooking. They are very versatile and you can roast them, poach them and bake the in pies and crumbles. Just remember to take the pit out.
You can pretty much get grapes all year round now but they are the best during late summer and into autumn. Look for plump and firm grapes. With green grapes, they should be slightly yellow and with red grapes they should be bright crimson. You can add grapes to salads, jams and even stuffing for pork and chicken to give the dish a fresh sweetness.
Winter squash includes different types of hard-skinned squash from dark green to orange and yellow skins. Their flesh is usually yellow to deep orange and turns super sweet and starchy when cooked. There are many ways you can cook a squash from roasting to stir frying to pureeing them into sauce and soups.
A little bit of a cheat here but who can resist mushrooms! Mushrooms are not vegetables but are fungi. A lot of the variety can be found throughout the year but they are the most abundant and tasty in autumn. From the most popular white button mushrooms to Portobello mushrooms to the more exotic chanterelles and morels, they all add a touch of earthiness to the dishes. Mushrooms are wonderful in stews, soups, stir frys and salads. When buying mushrooms, look for firm and dry ones without much bruises and wrinkles.
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