Five seasonal ingredients to include in your autumn meal plans
Autumn marks the last of the sweet, summer fruits and the beginning of root vegetables coming into season. As the seasons change, it makes sense that we change what we eat too, aiming for ingredients when they are fresher, tastier, and packed with nutrients rather than food that’s out of season and therefore imported, travelling miles before ending up on your plate.
Eating seasonally means we can reconnect with nature’s ecological cycle and, with this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite ingredients that are at their best during the autumn months.
Game is at the height of its season and popularity during autumn. Cooking it at home can seem intimidating but the results are definitely worth it! From feather to fur game, pigeons to hare, there is a wide selection available from the end of August through to February. Game is naturally leaner and more flavoursome than traditionally farmed meats due to the animals being more active, and it goes perfectly with other seasonal produce like hedgerow fruit and root vegetables.
Beetroot is packed with vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants, making it one of the most nutritious vegetables available in Britain. No wonder people call it a superfood! It’s incredibly versatile and delicious, whether it’s roasted in a tin or mixed into a brownie batter.
Butternut squash is a monster of a vegetable that peaks in popularity and flavour near the start of autumn. It has a caramel-like sweetness that can pack a flavour punch in warming, hearty dishes whether it’s stuffed, mashed, or roasted. Give it a try in salads, stews, and risottos – an autumn cupboard staple if ever there was one!
From the end of August, you will start to notice the dark, juicy blackberries hanging from their stalks in hedgerows. Wild berries have a wonderful depth of flavour that you struggle to get in cultivated varieties. Where you would normally have a bowl of cold berries with sugar or cream in the summer months, blackberries also lend themselves perfectly to comforting hot desserts, such as pies and crumbles.
Plums are often associated with summer; however, British varieties of plums are actually in season from mid-August to October. The juiciest fruit of the stone family, plums are full of vitamin C and antioxidants and are perfect for autumn favourites like crumbles, tarts, jams, and chutneys. You could even try drying them to create prunes and add to stews and salads.
So, whatever you may be cooking this autumn, make sure you keep these seasonal ingredients in mind when planning your dishes!