Autumn is here and it’s a great season to enjoy delicious autumnal food. With plenty of seasonal fruit and vegetables to choose from, including pumpkins, parsnips, winter squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, carrots, turnips, tomatoes, apples, blackberries and elderberries we really are spoilt for choice.
Here are some of my suggestions for making the most of it:
1. Get out and explore
It’s the season to visit your local farmers market. Make it an experience that the whole family can enjoy. Kids will love the opportunity to learn where their food comes from other than just the supermarket shelves! They can also sample some of the produce and interact with the producers there. This will help expose them to new foods.
Last weekend I went to the Skibbereen Farmers Market in West Cork. The market is held every Saturday from 9.30am to 2pm. With between 40 and 120 stallholders there in any given week it really is a treasure trove of fresh local produce, with a vast selection on offer there. I brought some local gubbeen cheese, olives, marinated artichoke, Macroom buffalo halloumi cheese, butter beans, colds meats and anchovies.
2. Enjoy a picnic
A picnic is always an enjoyable outdoor activity. All you need to do is pick a nice scenic spot, soak up the views and enjoy what you’ve brought along to eat!
On route back from Skibbereen I came across a signpost for Owenahincha Beach, a lovely sandy, blue flag beach located near Rosscarbery. I got out my picnic blanket and enjoyed the lovely goodies that I brought earlier at the farmers market. It was really relaxing and I enjoy the peaceful views there.
3. Go Fruit Picking
Autumn is also the season of nature’s harvest, with plenty of wild berries and fruit available. Always remember to bring a bucket when you go fruit gathering!
Wild blackberries become ripe in autumn and can be found in abundance growing wild around the countryside. They are a great source of vitamins C and E, fibre and folic acid and can be used in a variety of dishes such as fruit crumble, ice cream, yoghurt and shortbread.
Blackberry picking is also a great opportunity to explore the outdoors and appreciate the scenic wildlife.
Rose hips are a valuable source of vitamin C. They can help to boost your immune system, lower cholesterol, relieve various respiratory conditions and also help prevent cancer. They are great for making jellies, soups and sauces. However it’s advisable not to use rose hips from plants that have been treated with a pesticide and like all wild berries if you’re not sure, it’s best to avoid using them.
Crab Apples trees also grow wild and can be found in hedgerows throughout the countryside. Crab apples are fantastic for making crab apple jelly and they are also lovely pickled. The apples can help with intestinal infections, mental and physical fatigue, anaemia and kidney malfunctions.
I am lucky to have all three sources of fruit in my nearby hedges. All I need to do is take the time out to pick them, preserve and/or cook with them.
There’s lots to explore in the great outdoors this autumn season. So my best advise would be to get out there and enjoy it!
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