Autumn really is one of our favourite times of the year. Not only does the Monmouthshire countryside explode with colour and beauty as the leaves change, our Victorian walled garden also bursts with fresh autumnal produce.
Unlike summer, where raw fruit and vegetables, salads and grilled foods are in full flow, autumn calls for a different approach to cooking. Many of us have now returned our barbeques to their rightful place in the garage, and are reaching for our slow cookers and stew pots to create warm and comforting dishes to see us through the shorter days.
To celebrate the start of the season, we’ve listed our favourite five autumnal ingredients to cook with over the coming months. Like us, you can either choose to grow them in your garden or, if your fingers aren’t quite as green, you can easily pick them up at your local farmer’s market or supermarket.
It comes as no surprise that one of the big players this season is pumpkin. Usually associated with scaring trick-or-treaters, this bright fruit can be used to make warming dishes such as soups as the weather gets colder. Pumpkin is also rich in minerals and great for keeping healthy as it contains only a small amount of calories.
Fresh beetroot will brighten any meal. Roasted, pickled or boiled, this earthy vegetable goes great with smoked fish and adds a sweet flavour to salads. Beetroot is also great for keeping skin looking and feeling healthy, but be careful when handling- the last thing you want is a ruined wardrobe thanks to its handy staining properties!
Blueberries are renowned for their great taste and health benefits. These little berries are bursting with sweet goodness and anti-oxidants to fight away the inevitable winter colds. Not only do they make for a great snack throughout the day, they’re also a great addition to a bowl of warm porridge in the morning.
Nothing announces the arrival of the cold weather more than the smell of roasting hazelnuts. Although small in size, these little nuts pack a big punch when it comes to giving us energy, perfect as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up if you’re struggling in the office as the days get shorter.
Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the meat lovers. This season boasts an abundance of delicious meats, including venison. This red meat is packed with protein and can be added to stews for that rich velvety taste we all crave in the colder months. Venison is also another autumnal food that could help keep you energised as the nights draw in.
Autumn really is a season that caters to all. Whether you decide to grow your own produce like we do in our walled garden, or head to your local farmer’s market or supermarket, be sure to reap the great taste that these foods have to offer until winter hits.