September being the first month of Autumn brings us the last of the years warm weather and produce as the days get quickly shorter and shorter.
The Summer months provides a glutton of outdoor home grown fruit and vegetables, which are much tastier than the greenhouse ones. The Mediterranean brings a great selection of vegetables including aubergines, courgettes and peppers.
Salad Leaves: A large variety of salad leaves hit the supermarket shelves and markets, so why not eat them while they're in season in a cold or warm salad.
Wild Mushrooms: Just like game some mushrooms are unable to be produced commercially and are only available at certain times of the year. Late Summer and Autumn brings us ceps (porcini), chanterelles and blue tips. These are expensive but delicious, you only need a few to produce a full flavour. When choosing mushrooms look for smooth unblemished skin. If picking them yourself always use a good guide book. Eat them fresh or refrigerate for a few days. Clean mushrooms by brushing or rinsing lightly and dry with kitchen paper. Try sautéing mushrooms with a little garlic and finely chopped thyme in olive oil, serve the mushrooms on toasted slices of bruschetta. Alternatively try one of our many recipes for wild mushrooms
Other September Vegetables: Also good are courgettes, aubergines, peppers, and tomatoes which are delicious oven roasted or grilled and served with buffalo mozzarella or in a pasta. Corn on the cob is reasonably priced this month and makes a tasty accompaniment to roast chicken or own their own with plenty of butter for a light lunch or supper. Tuber vegetables begin to come into season to see us through the colder months, these include parsnips and celeriac. Celeriac can be eaten raw or cooked, excellent raw in a remoulade or try as coleslaw with apple, walnuts, lemon juice and a little mayonaise. It makes a great soup with blue cheese and pear or apple, also delicious roasted.
Apples: Autumn marks the beginning of the apple season. The early varieties of apples include discovery, kaly and bramble (cooking apples), most of the early apples have a short availability. Bramble apples are good in pies and when making sauces as they contain a great deal of water and when heated easily become a soft puree. Apple sauce goes well with pork and with spit roasted chicken. While other varieties of apples are good in pies, tarts and stews. A traditional accompaniment to Pheasant is apple and a cider sauce.
Make a simple apple crumble by stewing up a few peeled and chopped cooking apples with sugar, cinnamon and cloves, until the apple collapses and is soft. Remove the cloves and cinnamon and place the apple in an oven proof dish. Make a crumble by mixing together oats, flour, brown sugar and butter until they are well combined. Cover the apple with the crumble mixture and place the apple crumble in moderate oven for 20-25 minutes. Serve the crumble warm with ice-cream or cream.
Figs:In September figs become widely available and are delicious served in a savoury salad accompanied with Parma ham. Grill sliced figs sprinkled with sugar or poach in sugar syrup (try adding spices such as aniseed, cinnamon and chillies). Figs make a yummy tarte tatin.
Blackberries:Blackberries appear on bushes in late summer and are widely available in shops in September. The most delicious way to eat them is to pick them yourself but remember to always wash them before eating. Choose plump soft ones as these are the sweetest, smaller ones will be hard and bitter. Blackberries are great in pies, crumbles, jams, on pavlovas, in summer puddings or simply sprinkle with a little icing sugar and serve with clotted cream.
Also In Season: Seedless grapes are widely available eat them on their own or why not try a Spanish White Gazpacho Soup (made with ground almonds, garlic, olive oil and grapes) or serve them with a selection of cheese. Plums and greenages are at their best. Cobnuts also become available why not use them instead of hazelnuts in recipes, ground cobnuts make a great addition to a crumble mixture.
Going, Going, Gone: September is the last month of the summer berry season so make the most of them while they are still around, why not try serving them with brandy snap baskets and sorbet or serve them in cointreau.
Shellfish:Many shellfish are at their prime until spring, this includes native oysters, mussels, clams and scallops.
Native Oysters:Native oysters are the caviar of oyster and are only available from September to April. They have flat shells with ridged edges. The oysters available all year round are pacific oysters these have much more elaborate shells and are usually larger. This is because baby native oysters grow in their mothers their shells from May through to August. By killing them oyster farmers would be killing their future stock. The pacific oysters have a different reproduction systems, their eggs are spawned directly into the sea. Oysters used to be the poor mans food but these days is considered a luxury and is usually only consumed in restaurants, even though they're readily available and are relatively cheap to purchase. The best way to enjoy oysters is on their half shell with their juices but this is far from the only way to eat them. The traditional way to serve them is on ice and seaweed with pointed ends facing inwards in a circle, with a side dressing of shallots and vinegar, lemon slices, and rye or brown bread. You can enjoy oysters in as many ways as any other shellfish, you can bake, grill, steam and deep fry them or put them in a soup, stew or pie.
Fish:Turbot, skate, plaice and cod are good in September. Try deep fried skate in a light tempura batter served with a sweet chilli sauce.
Last Chance:September is the last month to buy British lobsters and whelks. Make the most of lobsters while they are still here by making our traditional recipe for "Lobster Bisque".
September is the traditional month that pork returned to the table. Pork is an excellent meat that unfortunately is under rated in many countries. Pork when treated correctly is one of the most delicious meats available.
As a rule, game means wild animals that are hunted for sport and are protected in many countries by strict regulations that control the time of year when you are allowed to hunt them. Animals that are not protected also are known as game such as rabbits.
While many game birds and animals are successfully farmed others are not and this is one of the true benefit of the game season, as wild game is available to the public to consume. Game is a luxury food which was once extremely over priced but these days is now available at realistic prices. As fresh wild game is only available for a short period it is worthwhile paying a little more to enjoy the maximum flavour that it offers. Wild game opposed to farmed game has a much stronger flavour and is often tougher, while farmed is milder and more tender this has its advantages and disadvantages.
Wild game in general have an active life so they need to be hung to tenderise the time that this takes is often disputed, traditionalist hang it for long periods of time until it is almost rotten, to me this makes it uneatable. I believe that game birds only need a couple of days while meat such as venison need around 5-7 days (if you are in this situation you would have to organise this with your local butcher). These days most of us will not have to consider these details and we rely on our supplier for the quality provided.
In Britain September marks the second month of the short game season with the debut of grouse in August. Grouse is often considered the prime of all the the game birds, with its rich, tender and smooth meat. As with all game birds, the small ones are best cooked roasted or pan fried, while the larger birds are best cooked using slower methods of cookery such as stewing. My favourite way to eat grouse is traditionally roasted with game chips and watercress, as the flavours are worth savouring. Wild Duck and Partridge come into season in September and will be available until the end of January. Pigeon is very reasonably priced in September. Buy whole birds as they are much better value than just the breast which you can easily remove yourself if this is all you wish to eat and you can make a stock with the rest of the bird. Wild rabbit and hare are also good in September as they are plump from eating stolen grain. Why not try one of this months selection of game recipes yourself.