In Season - November: With the onset of November, winter feels even more close. However, it’s still very much autumn as far as the food calendar is concerned, with the fruits (and vegetables) of gardens, fields and orchards, still in abundance, as we await the first frosts.
Vegetable-wise there are still salad crops (tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and a variety of leaves) coming through and these will continue with the protection of glass as we head into winter itself. In the fields, the parsnip will benefit from the frosts, as the cold brings out the sugars, making them sweeter.
Another favourite that’s just coming into its own is the humble Jerusalem Artichoke. These knobbly brown little tubers and their suitable nuttiness can be appreciated in a variety of dishes. You don’t need to peel them, a careful scrub with a vegetable brush should suffice. If peeling and slicing them it’s worth putting them in a bowl of water acidulated with a little lemon juice to prevent them from discolouring.
They can be roasted, added to stews, even made into little vegetable crisps. They can also be eaten raw and added to salads if sliced thinly enough. A favourite, though, is often a gentle soup made from the tubers.
Meanwhile the fruits of autumn are still performing well, with apples and pears that have been stored for future enjoyment. The Medlar, the most unusual of fruits, will be ready in the coming weeks, having been bletted - the process of ripening, once the fruit has been picked, allowing it to become soft and squishy. Probably best used to make a jelly, to serve alongside traditionally, meats. You’ll find an excellent ready-made jelly from the good folks at Eastgate Larder that we sell in our shops and online.
However, a personal favourite has to be the quince. It feels at once exotic and at home and, as the predecessor to both the apple and pear, also has an ancient feel. It’s not the most popular fruit as it can’t simply be bitten into; it needs a cook and usually some sugar. A quince can last easily to Christmas and has the added bonus of easily seducing you with its sweet perfume, which can fill a room.