Yesterday I watched a large dog fox sniffing, snapping and gulping his way through the rough carpet of windfall pears in my back garden. This was not the ethereal russet fox of rural folklore, this was an inner city gang leader - an absolute bruiser. A grubby pale rust colour with dark ears and black war paint stripes arrowing from pale amber eyes down his large snout, he feasted on the previous night's bounty, with one eye fixed on me as I watched him from the kitchen and his ears pricked in suspicion of any sharp noises. It was a privilege to watch him at work.
While last autumn was boiling hot, this year's so called Indian Summer has failed to materialise. It really is the time for all those early autumn fruit and vegetables such as apples and pears and perfect British root vegetables such as Jerusalem artichokes and celeriac.
Of course this is the best time of the year for foraging mushrooms, or even just letting someone else do the work for you and buy the results at the local farmers' market.
The first Bramley apples are now in season, as are plums and pears. And don't forget this is the beginning of crumble season! The Jerusalem artichoke season is just beginning and cauliflowers are at their peak, together with main crop potatoes and carrots, sprouts, and broccoli. Lettuce is running out by the middle of the month, and courgettes finish towards the end. But by the end of the month, pumpkins and squashes will be piling up (and I do like my pumpkin soup. Actually I love my mushroom soup too . . . perfect for the cold, damp evenings which have firmly arrived).
vegetables, herbs and wild greens:
artichokes (globe), artichokes (Jerusalem), aubergines, beetroot, borlotti beans (for podding), broccoli (calabrese), Brussels sprouts, cabbages (various green varieties, red and white), carrots, cardoons, cauliflower, celeriac, chard, chanterelles, chicory, chillies, courgettes, cucumber, endive, fennel, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, leeks, marrow, mushrooms, nettles, onions, parsnips, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins (and squashes), rocket, salsify, spinach, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, wood blewits
fruit and nuts:
apples, blackberries, chestnuts, crab apples, cranberries, damsons, elderberries, grapes (English hothouse), hazelnuts, juniper berries, medlars, mulberries, pears, quince, raspberries, rosehips, rowan berries, sloes, walnuts
meat and game:
beef, chicken, goose (wild), grouse, guinea fowl, hare, mallard, mutton, partridge, pork, rabbit, turkey, wood pigeon
fish and shellfish:
cockles, cod, crab (brown, hen and spider), eels, hake, lobster, mackerel, mussels, oysters (native and rock), prawns, river trout (brown and rainbow), salmon (wild), scallops, sea bass, shrimp, sprats, squid