The best of autumn in our kitchen
The season is changing and, with it, the food that will fill our pantry in the coming months. Autumn, in addition to rain, leaves and shorter days, is also accompanied by some products that are at their best in October, November and December.
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It's time to get the jackets and umbrella out of the wardrobe, but also to say goodbye to some foods that have taken centre stage throughout the summer. Although we can find most products throughout practically the whole year, if we want to respect the rhythm of the seasons and go for products of proximity, it is best to leave aside the watermelons, melons, tomatoes, and cucumbers, to welcome in other autumn foods that the land and the sea offer us during these months. Foods that are at their optimum time and, therefore, have more nutrients, better taste and a more affordable price.
Although we are accustomed to consuming apples and pears all year round, it is now when they reach their optimum ripeness. The grape also begins to take centre stage these days, besides being very pleasant to taste, this fruit is rich in antioxidants and also contains fibre, vitamin A, folic acid, phosphorus, calcium and potassium. And with the last of the heat, it's time to take advantage of the figs, a delicate fruit that will disappear in the blink of an eye.
For early autumn citrus fruits also come back: oranges, mandarins and grapefruits arrive at the supermarket and accompany us throughout the winter to give us an extra vitamin C. The pomegranate is another of the fruits of autumn par excellence, in juice or salad, this fruit has many properties. The persimmons and kiwis are also now at their best, as well as cherimoya, another of the most beneficial and least known autumn products.
If we want to take advantage of all the wisdom of nature, we must take note of the vegetables that come. The first artichokes appear in October, with the drop in temperatures, and we can enjoy them until May, Brussels sprouts, however, will only accompany us for three months and by Christmas we will stop seeing them. Meanwhile, the pumpkin will return one more autumn to be part of our creams and stews.
In November we see the return of chard, thistle, asparagus and fennel, as well as cultivated endives and, at the end of the season, lettuce. Leek, spinach and broccoli are characteristic of the cold months too, as well as parsnip, another autumn food. And, attention, because the aubergines that began in August start to come to an end, although until December we can still find them.
It's mushroom season! It is what many followers of this delicacy think about at the beginning of autumn. The rains of late August or the first rains of October, cause the mushrooms to emerge in the fields and forests of much of the Spanish geography. The mycological wealth in our country is enormous. From the typical boletus edulis, which in Catalonia are known as ceps and in the Basque Country simply as mushrooms, passing through the prized niscalos or pine mushrooms, thistle mushrooms (the most abundant), trumpets of death, chanterelles to the appreciated amanitas cesareans. Raw, grilled or stewed. Their aroma, flavour and texture make them the undisputed rulers of autumn.
But if the earth has its fruits prepared for us, the sea would not be less. Sometimes the fish we buy does not taste as good or has more fat or more bones than usual. This is because the proper season for the fish is not correct. Water temperatures and catch zones change in autumn and this favours the growth of other fish species with different colours and flavours than summer fish, which focus on beach fish. Back come the deep-sea fish and rock fish. Autumn is a time of horse mackerel, mackerels, sea bream, northern bonito and mullets. Also, do not forget mussels, cuttlefish, squid and small octopus.
Autumn is also synonymous with hunting. With the season getting underway, tasty traditional stews make a comeback. Roasted roe with apples and chestnuts, wild boar stew, deer stew, pickled quail, poached quail or stewed partridge. Traditional recipes that taste of spices and wild herbs and are also healthy. The game meats are rich in iron, zinc and vitamins similar to the rest of the meats but with a low fat content.
Try this delicious recipe for pumpkin cream, another autumn foods par excellence, and sweet potato very typical of this season: