Autumn essentials

Beetroots, turnips, carrots, red cabbage, Russet apples, dried porcini, dried fennel seadhead

Temperatures are getting cooler, days are shorter, and autumn is gently creeping in. Plants loose their leaves, and focus is shifted towards the roots. As nature draws in, it’s time to look inwards. We, with all nature, enter a time of quiet reflection and meditation.

As flowering plants go to die making seedheads, it’s time to save the last seeds for growing or for food before the rain have bashed them away into oblivion. If you were growing, for instance, any coriander or fennel, let them go to seed and then harvest the seeds. Coriander has nice warming and aromatic qualites that can be added to preserves, ferments, or baked goods. They make a terrific combination with roasted apples.

This is the peak time for root vegetables. Most root vegetables, whether it’s a swede or a gnarly celeriac, are wonderful mashed. You can mash them alone or with other root vegetables. Adding something with a bit of a flavour quick, such as a horseradish root -grated in raw, or mixed in as a cream will elevate it to new levels. Mixing in some plain cream will help too.

Another easy way to use your root vegetables if you’re at a loss, is to roast them. You can add some hardier herbs that are available at this time and withstand heat well. Rosemary, thyme, sage or savoury are all wonderful pairings for roasted root vegetables.

One more smashing way to cook some root vegetables is glazing. It works well with vegetables that are naturally quite sweet such as carrots, onions, turnips Jerusalem artichokes.

You can start preparing for late autum and winter by preserving your harvest in different ways. Mushrooms, pears, apples are all wonderful dried, retaining their wonderful flavours. You can buy some really good quality dried mushrooms in Eastern European grocery stores. They add rich and deep flavours to stews and soups. Fermenting or pickling are great ways of preserving your autumn harvest for a bit longer and adding new and exciting flavours to your food.

You can also try to store your harvest abundance long-term. For example, Russet apples can be stored somewhere darker and cooler for months. So do some root vegetables. Certain vegetables, such as parsnips, artichokes, or horseradish, can be kept in the soil for a while, and are said to improve in taste with colder weather.

Naturally, with weather getting colder, it’s good to warm yourself from inside. Cinnamon, ginger, tumeric, cardamon, horseradish, coriander, cumin, fennel are all known to have warming properties. So use them in your teas, porridges, baking, stewing etc.

The growth of more tender herbs such as coriander, chives, dill, and even parsley has either completely come to a halt or slowed down significantly. Which is why hardier herbs such as rosemary, sage, savoury and thyme are a real gift from nature this time of the year. Hardy herbs can be added to roasts, soups, stews and teas. They are also known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties which is helpful for this time of a year.

My favourite autumn staples are oat porridge with stewed apples and molasses, pumpkin granolla, celeriac and apple mash.

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