bare Seasons: May in the Southern Hemisphere

Autumn brings a mixed bag of weather, hot one day, cold and wet the next, but it is also a season when there is produce that is unavailable the rest of the year.


In the Southern Hemisphere there isn't a game season like the other side of the world, where game can only be hunted and sold at specified times of the year. Even so, Autumn months still remain the season for wild game

Wild duck season is under way in May and it makes an excellent roast, and if you are lucky enough to have young wild duck you can cook the breast meat in much the same way as you would the farmed variety. Score the skin in a criss-cross fashion and pan fry it in a little olive oil, for 8-10 minutes(skin side first) so that the skin is slightly crisp. Serve the breast with a port and redcurrant sauce and accompany it with potato rosti and sautéed spinach. The wild duck legs work well in a confit, an excellent way to prepare and preserve the flesh so that it is tender and melts in the mouth. See our index, to read our step-by-step guide to preparing duck confit.


An obvious vegetable in May is the wild mushroom, and these appear in endless recipes as their flavour is rich and earthy. Wild mushrooms are often very expensive but you only need a few to bring out their full flavour. Wild mushrooms make excellent warm salads, pasta sauces and risotto dishes. Try our recipe search to for these recipes and more.

The Onion family is in full swing in May, this includes brown, white, yellow and red onions, leeks, and shallots. Brown and white onions are best sliced or finely chopped and cooked, while yellow and red onions are best served uncooked in salads, sandwiches and salsas. Leeks can be cooked as a dish on their own braised, baked, steamed or poached or use them in a similar way as the brown and white onions. Leek makes excellent soups, try our recipe for "Cock-a-Leekie" or poach medium sized trimmed leeks for ten minutes and serve them hot or cold tossed with diced tomatoes, olives, garlic and a dressing of olive oil with red wine vinegar, a little sugar and seasoning. Shallots need to be peeled and cooked whole or chopped, they are an important ingredient to many Thai and Indonesian curries and French casseroles and sauces.

Silverbeet is good in May it is mainly called spinach in Australia but has a much stronger flavour than spinach and is coarser. Silverbeet is part of the beet family and is also known as Swiss Chard. It works well in dishes such as spinach pie and ravioli and many Italian recipes which call for spinach. The stem needs to be removed when prepared for quick cooking dishes but can be left on for stews and soups.

Beetroot is a good Autumn vegetable that goes well with the gamey meats and poultry. It is good raw and cooked. Try washed and peeled grated beetroot in salads. I like to roast wedges of beetroot with a little olive oil and fresh stem herbs eg. thyme and rosemary. Beetroot also makes brilliant game chips, thinly slice them and deep fry them at 190C for around a minute. Why not try our "Beetroot Risotto" recipe in this months addition or search for one of our many recipes for beetroot.

Also good this month are Brussels sprouts, chicory (also known as Belgian endive and witlof), fennel and bok choy.


Chestnuts are at their best in May and June, choose nuts that are heavy for their size. They are best stored in a covered container in the refrigerator or in a cool place. Cook them by boiling, grilling, roasting, or microwave them, make sure you split the shell on the flat side first (this helps to remove them later). Cooked chestnuts are good in stuffing's for poultry such as chicken, goose, duck and pheasant. They also make a good addition to sauces and salads.

Pomegranates are a sweet and ripe in May, their juice and seeds have a rich brown sugar taste with a slight tang to it. The seeds and juice are held in a yellow membrane which you squeeze and spoon out the seeds and juice from. This can often be a messy process so I recommend wearing an apron. Pomegranates are good in sweet and savoury dishes. A hot sauce prepared from pomegranate juice and seeds with the addition of port is excellent served with a roast rack of lamb or polenta croutons with wild mushrooms. The juice and seeds can be served as a simple but delicious sauce for a good vanilla ice cream.

Pears, persimmons, grapes and figs are all good this month. Figs and grapes both work well in our "Clafoutis" recipe instead of cherries. Pears I enjoy simply poached and served with a little ice cream or creme fraiche or with a selection of cheeses.