what's in season: september

vegetables at Borough Market
With half-hearted levies of frost that make foray, retire, and refrain
Ambiguous bugles that blow and that falter to silence again.

With banners of mist that still waver above them, advance and retreat,
The hosts of the Autumn still hide in the hills, for a doubt stays their feet;

But anon, with a barbaric splendor to dazzle the eyes that behold,
And regal in raiment of purple and umber and amber and gold,

And girt with the glamour of conquest and scarved with red symbols of pride,
From the hills in their might and their mirth on the steeds of the wind will they ride,

To make sport and make spoil of the Summer, who dwells in a dream on the plain,
Still tented in opulent ease in the camps of her indolent train.

Early Autumn by Don Marquis (1878-1937)

Fabulous September is bursting with beautiful fruit and vegetables, such as sweetcorn, broccoli, apples, damsons and early pears. In fact, this year, there has been an abundance of early-ripening blackberries. As the season should extend until November, let's hope they haven't peaked too early!

Right now, salad vegetables such as peppers and juicy tomatoes are very much in season. I can't get enough of tomatoes, a trait that I suspect I have inherited from my late father, Henry, whose love of tomatoes was legendary. I'll be making one of my favourite recipe discoveries, from Nigel Slater of baked tomatoes with coconut and spices.

It's at this time of year that I start to look out for cheap deals on gluts of vegetables at the market and supermarket for an embarrassment of riches to make pickles, chutneys, jams and relishes, as well as laying down some fruit vodka for Christmas (I do like to be prepared!)

You'll begin to see more of the autumn and winter vegetables such as pumpkin, celeriac and cauliflowers. But September also marks the beginning of the fish season (every month with an R in it). Look out for sea bream, crab and my favourite mackerel, which packs such a punch in flavour.

vegetables, herbs and wild greens:
artichokes (globe), auberginesbeetroot, borlotti beans (for podding), broad beansbroccoli (calabrese), cabbages (various varieties), carrots, cardoons, cauliflowerceleriac, ceps, chardchilliescourgettescucumber, endive, fennel, french beans, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, lambs lettuce, lettucemushroomsonions, oyster mushrooms, pak choi, peppers, parsnips, peas, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins and squashes, rocket, runner beans, salsify, sorrel, spinach, swede, sweetcorn, tomatoes, watercress

fruit and nuts:
apples, bilberries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, chestnuts, damsonselderberries, figs, grapes, greengages, hazelnuts, juniper berries, loganberries, mulberries, peaches, pears, plums, raspberries, rhubarbstrawberries

meat and game:
beefchicken, duck, goose (farmed), grouse, mallard, mutton, partridge, pork, rabbit, turkey, venison, wood pigeon

fish and shellfish:

black bream, crab (brown, hen and spider), freshwater crayfish, herring, lobster, mackerel, mussels, oysters (native), prawns, river trout (brown and rainbow), salmon (wild), scallops, sea bass, shrimp, sprats, squid, whiting

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