What’s In Season

The reasons for eating seasonal food are many and various:-

Better for the environment – food that is grown according to the seasons in our surrounding area has travelled a relatively short distance compared to the all year round veg that we import (often by air) from warmer climes. This results in much lower ‘food miles’, a smaller carbon footprint and a lesser Impact on the environment.

Better tasting – British strawberries taste better than their foreign counterparts! We’re famed for them. Same goes for rhubarb grown in the ‘Rhubarb triangle’ in West Yorkshire (Google it! It’s really a thing!) and British asparagus and apples and potatoes and….well, you get the picture. Ensure you enjoy the tastiest and freshest fruit and veg and buy local and seasonal. Fresh food starts to deteriorate in flavour, appearance and nutrition as soon as it is picked so it makes sense to pick, buy and eat it in as short a period as possible.

Cheaper – abundance locally means prices are lower. Following the basic laws of supply and demand plentiful produce is cheaper – just look at the price of strawberries (and the size/weight of the punnet) in the supermarket in June and July compared to January. Also, local farmers benefit as does our local economy generally.

All great reasons to eat seasonally….

But the thing that most appeals to me is the great variety of food you are introduced to if you cook what is in season! I often find myself standing in the kitchen at meal times, staring blankly in the cupboard/fridge/freezer and end up throwing together ‘old faithful’ yet again. If we look at what is in season and plentiful it gives a starting point to build the meal around. And, as it’s not just fruit and veg but meat, game, fish and seafood that have seasons too, the food that we can choose from changes throughout the year.

A lot of traditional dishes hark back to times when we more closely followed the seasons with our eating habits. Unsurprisingly, squash and pumpkins are in season around Halloween. Goose and duck, the traditional English Christmas meal before we adopted the turkey from America, are plentiful during the winter months. Root vegetables such as parsnips and turnips, the staple of winter stews, are also coming into season.

So what is in season now in October and November?

Pumpkins can be cut into chunks, baked and eaten as a meal in themselves (add feta cheese, red onion and pine nuts for a tasty veggie treat) or whizzed up as a soup or mashed and served as a side dish.

Mussels are coming into season. Delicious cooked with shallots, cream and white wine with crusty bread for a weekend treat or added to pasta for an Italian favourite.

Beetroot is in the middle of its most plentiful period. Can be served boiled, baked and in salads as a slaw. Like other root veggies it can be used in cake recipes as an alternative to red food colouring for the Red Velvet effect.

The marmite of vegetables – the Brussels sprout – is starting to become more plentiful in October.  Steer clear of boiling this poor, maligned veg! Instead, steam them and serve them with chestnuts (also in season now) or fried lardons or bacon. Get the kids to try the ‘mini cabbages!

Pears and apples are at their best throughout Autumn and Winter (who did ‘duck apple’ at Halloween before ‘trick or treat’ was even considered in Britain?) and can be baked on their own with a filling of mincemeat or drizzled in honey, poached gently in flavoured sugar syrup or even spiced red wine or packed into a pie or buried in a crumble.

For more ideas on seasonal food and recipes the BBC Good Food magazine has a great calendar on their website which tells you what is good to eat when. http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/seasonal-

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