Autumn has truly arrived with the month of October. The past week or so we’ve seen warm temperatures and perfect autumn days, with the sun reflecting off the golden, bronze and amber colours of the leaves on the trees. And some truly magnificent sunsets. But October has properly arrived today – with mist and soft drizzle. The odd stiff breeze is enough to scatter autumn’s burnished leaves in all directions. The end of the month will see the clocks go back as winter daylight saving begins. October is a month to reflect on the summer past and gather all around us as winter sets in. This is the time we feel the need to stock up and hunker down. We fill cupboards and larders and freezers with a few ‘extra little bits, just in case’, rather like a squirrel gathering acorns for his winter store. In rural areas, we stock up on firewood and fuel to give us a sense of security if bad weather hits. We prepare for the cold months, but still with a lot to look forward to in the next few weeks. Halloween is coming, and the kids are already planning their costumes for the party!
In food terms, there’s lots to celebrate. Just as October is colourful in foliage, it is colourful in seasonal produce. Bright orange, deep golden and even pale bluegreen squash are starting to come into the market. The familiar carving pumpkins will soon be arriving. Pumpkin and squash flesh is great for smooth flavoursome soups, spicy curries, autumnal casseroles, and for roasting, drizzled a good culinary oil like Irish Rapeseed or Olive oil, seasoned and with a scattering of herbs and perhaps some hard flavoursome cheese. Carrots, parsnips and swede roast well and also work in the robust soups and stews of the season. Raw carrots add colour, crunch and sweet flavours to winter salads and slaws. There is still some spinach around, from growers who have tunnels. Leeks and celery are also arriving. Kerr Pink potatoes are now in the shops, perfect for the fluffiest mash and for crackly golden roast potatoes to go with the Sunday roast.
Lamb is good this time of year – it has aged a little since on summer pastures and takes on a sweeter more developed flavour in autumn. Grab some mountain lamb if you can – headily fragrant meat infused with the tastes o wild herbs and heathers of the hilltops. Game is back on the menu this month in time for the approaching festive season. Free range pork is also good – a piece of shoulder makes a fantastic slow roast, with lots of crackling. You’d have to include some apple sauce – made from new season Irish apples – there’s a fine crop in local orchards and some windfalls for the lucky gatherer! Cooking apples are perfect for apple sauce for pork or duck – they have a bit of acidity that really helps balance these rich meats.
Autumn is a good time for fish – colder waters give firmer flesh and intense flavours to locally caught hake, haddock, plaice, lemon sole, black sole and monkfish. Lobster and crab may be gone for another year in some places, but they are replaced handsomely by new season native oysters and superlative farmed oysters and mussels.
Here are some autumnal dishes from our Recipes collection to whet your appetite for the month to come.
Try this easy to make Pumpkin Soup
Also use pumpkin flesh for a seasonal Pumpkin Pie
Loin of Venison with butternut squash and beetroot combines beautiful autumn tastes and colours
Carrots are not just for savoury dishes! This delicous Carrot Cake satisfies the sweet toothed!