British Food in Season During the Month of September
Nature’s basket is overflowing with delicious fruits, vegetables and meats at this time of year. Summer crops coinside with arriving Autumn / Winter ones to provide a fine feast for any man. Enjoy the last of the summer sunshine and get out and about foraging too, as there is a whole host of wonderful free food ripe for picking. From Blackberries, Raspberries and Elderberries growing in easy to reach bushes and trees to wild mushrooms growing in the woodlands. Head to your local farmers markets to find the best varieties of Plums, Greengages and Tomatoes, don’t miss the short season for British organic Sweetcorn and remember an old favourite in a festive Goose.
Blackberries or brambles as they are known in Scotland are a great reason to get out foraging. They are easy to find in many hedgerows and are an incredibly tasty berry. Available from Aug to Nov, but they are said to taste best in the first two months of the season due to frosts which start to come in later in the year and change their taste.
Blackberries are fantastic to eat raw, make excellent jam and delicious summer pudding. They pair particularly well with apples.
I have been looking forward to seeing the berries come out on my Elderberry tree. You are unlikely to find Elderberries in the supermarket so you will need to gather them on your foraging trip. Take a pair of scissors to cut the bunches and gather them in bags. Look for bunches hanging down rather than pointing up, this indicates their ripeness. They don’t taste good raw so you will need to wait until you get home to cook them before munching on them. Once home separate the berries from the stalks using a fork and bake them into jams, pies and puddings. They also make some of the most excellent country wine!
Elderberries are loaded with healing pain relieving properties great for easing of ailments such as rheumatism.
The season for Goose starts in September and runs through to the end of the year. It was most commonly served at Christmas but has been replaced largely with Turkey. Goose is rather messy and difficult to carve but the meat is said to be far superior to that of Turkey. This is most likely due to the fat content of the bird which provides lots of flavour. The fat dripping famously makes the most excellent roast potatoes.
You may like to try stuffing the bird with rabbit legs adding some meat content to a glorious feast and offering a succulent way to cook rabbit which is prone to drying out.
One of the really great things about this bird is that they are not suitable for intensive farming and so will have been raised in natural outdoor surroundings.
Another wonderful addition to your foraging basket but as you get into the woodlands do take along an expert to ensure you don’t pick anything poisonous. So versatile and tasty, mushrooms can be added to many dishes or eaten sauted in a little butter. I love to make a great sharing dish of bulgar wheat, a mix of mushrooms, chopped nuts and parsley. Just delicious and always a hit with our guests.
Plums and Greengages
In season British fruit is something to be desired. Plums and Greengages are available and ready for picking from late July to October. Sweet juicy dessert plums make great raw eating while cooking varieties make puddings to dye for. One of my favourites is a crumble, so quick and easy to make crumbles are a great warming comforting finish to any meal. To find variety you will need to get out to your local farmers markets or nearest orchards, and if you do you won’t ever bother with an imported supermarket plum ever again.
One of my favourite berries has a double season. The first of them arriving In June and then the second round starting in September until the first frosts. Scotland is famous for producing the most flavourful berries, providing over 60% of Britain’s supply. The berries do well there because they require long hours of daylight to mature and ripen instead of heat. There is a whole host of wonderful things that can be done with Raspberries such as summer pudding, jam, ice-cream or stuffed into a grouse as is a traditional use for them in Scotland. Raspberries are great for soothing sore throats and the leaves can be made into therapeutic tea particularly good for pregnant women.
A difficult crop to grow in Britain as it requires long periods of sunshine. It is however a great addition to any BBQ which I think is how it tastes best. Like peas and beans it has high levels of sugars which start converting to starches from the moment it is picked so freshness is paramount. Sweetcorn is however associated with a number of highly problematic environmental problems such as soil run off, high use of artificial fertilizers and herbicides, so be sure to buy organic or grow your own.
To get the most out of the tomato season get down to your local farmers market where your eyes will be opened to a whole range of delicious varieties just bursting with flavour! I had no idea there were so many different kinds until I started going along to my local market. I was just astounded at my own ignorance on the tomato front. The best tasting tomatoes are the ones grown outdoors and not under glass. This does mean that these varieties will only be around for a short time in Britain from July through to October. While under glass varieties will be available from March through to November but at the expense of taste. They are fairly easy to grow yourself out of grow bags and placed in a sunny spot.
Try out this fantastic Italian Summer Pesto Tomato Flan recipe by Jennifer Ryan which featured in the E9 magazine this month. It is just delicious! And if your tomatoes haven’t ripened by the end of the season make a lovely green tomato chutney.