October is a great month for warming, wholesome vegetables. Squashes take the starring role. Expect colourful Harlequin and Spaghetti Squash. Pumpkins will be in good supply too. Expect Butternut squash to be deep orange and very sweet when slow roasted.
For me, the fruity highlight of the month is the arrival from France and Greece of wonderful sunshine-yellow Quinces with their pungent aroma. A good time to make and stock up on Quince jelly or Membrillo for your cheese boards. It will last in the fridge for a year!
Nuts will start too! Really roastable Chestnuts and Wet Walnuts first reach the markets in September but become riper and more keenly priced in October.
European Plums start the month well but soon fade away to be replaced by more beautiful but less flavoursome US and Israeli fruit.
Leafy Clementine’s from Spain start to appear on the market, a sign that Christmas is...well….you know!
Seedless Grape supplies can become more than a little difficult in late October usually meaning that prices tend to be unstable. We will say farewell to English Strawberries as well.
English Cox's are at their sweetest and crunchiest throughout the month. All apples are in great shape in October really so get your Tarte Tatin pans seasoned and ready.
The first Persimmons arrive from Greece (remember not to eat them until they’re squidgy-ripe, or they’ll taste worse than soap).
Pomegranates are always a brilliant autumn buy and can add great flavour and texture to salads, desserts or Moroccan inspired lamb dishes.
Succulent Turkish Black Figs are now in full swing and are great value and should be on starter and dessert menus alike!
English Purple/Brown-Skinned Jerusalem Artichokes are a becoming more and more popular. Try them mashed with lots of butter and cream for an indulgent side.
Another nice seasonal choice would be English Purple Sprouting Broccoli. It’s always a good side dish with minimal prep involved as well.
Cabbages are also a good option this month with the appearance of Cavalo Nero (Black Cabbage). Savoy's are still very good as are the English Primo Cabbages.
Celeriac the ugliest of all the root vegetables is a warming choice for October and like most of the other root vegetables will be in excellent supply. Also don’t forget about Salsify for something a bit different. Try them mashed, roasted or even deep fried for an interesting twist on chips
As for English produce this month we should start seeing the lovely mixed boxes of heritage squash which are not only beautiful but are very tasty as well.
We are hoping for an extended availability of the local Baby Veg as well including Baby Beetroot in 3 different varieties Baby Fennel, Baby Turnips, and Baby Leeks. That said it’s up to Mother Nature how long they will be about for. Baby Carrots will finish first, which marks the end in sight for the rest too, so get them while you can!
Piccolo Parsnips have been around for a few years now and are always a great menu choice. They are small, sweet and tender Baby Parsnips. They are similar to Chantenay Carrots in the way that there is no need to peel them, just top them and cook whole. And don’t forget about Tri Colour Chantenay carrots as well if you want a nice colourful side dish.