Your go-to seasonal chart, to help you navigate your way around the supermarket this Autumn. Learn more about what’s in season now, how to buy it, how to store it, and how to make it.
Here we go, in alphabetical order!
Apples: Although you can find them year round at the supermarket, as you can probably tell, fall is when apple season really set its pace. The bulk of the harvest starts in September and ends in late November, so now is the perfect time to head to your farmers market and spot out your favourite variety (yes, there’s more to apples than pink lady and cox). Although firm-ness varies from one variety to another, a perfectly ripe apple won’t be squeezable and won’t feel waxy (the latter only applies to farmers market apples though, as commercially produce apples are all coated with food wax). Apples store best in cold humid environments, so pop them in the bottom drawer of your fridge, sealed off. Tired of munching on raw apples? Turn your oven on, it’s baking season after all. This apple tahini crumble and this apple cinnamon tray cake were my go-tos all winter long last year, and these crumb cakes have been on my to-make list for the past couple of months. In a savoury mood? Make this turmeric carrot and apple soup. Need a topping? Make this apple relish to go with roasted vegetables.
Beets: Debatably the most beautiful root out there. Purple, golden or candy-striped, I’ll take them all. Like apples, they’re available all year round, but this season stocks the sweeter baby beets. When shopping, you’re looking for heavy and firm beets, with the roots still attached and preferably the greens too (these taste great sautéed). To store them, remove the the greens from the bulbs (as they suck moisture from the root), and seal them in a bag in the fridge for up to 2/3 weeks. If you’re after something warm and cosy this week, try make this beet and bay bourguignon and if you’re after something fresh, either make this beet, apple and sprout salad, these beet tacos with beet green salsa verde, or this golden beet and vegan tzatziki sandwich. And of course I wasn’t going to leave you without a recipe for pickled beets, here it is.
Broccoli: Again, broccoli is available at supermarkets pretty much all year round. But it mainly peeks in the fall. Size doesn’t really matter when choosing a broccoli head, but you want to look for green compact buds, without any hint of yellow. Keep broccoli in the fridge, store it for up to a week, and wash it just before using it. There’s no need to overthink it when cooking broccoli, simple is best. This crispy broccoli bowl and this charred broccoli with ginger sauce are perfect examples of that. If you want to step it up a notch, this spicy vegan pizza with truffle cream has also been on my to-make list for over 6 months. Want a dip? Leave the hummus out this week and try this broccoli pate and broccoli pesto.
Butternut Squash: Without sounding like a broken record, it’s available all year long, but it’s best from early fall to through all of winter. For a meaty squash, look for a fat neck and small bulb (so you’ll have less scooping to do). There’s no need to refrigerate butternut squash if it’s unopened, and it will keep for up to a month in a cool dark place. If you’re looking to change up your squash routine, and are tired of creaming it into a soup, read on. Need a chilly? Here’s one and here’s another. I’ve tried and tested them, and both are delicious. Need an addition to your grain bowl, here are some butternut fritters with pumpkin seed and sage pesto.
Brussel Sprouts: Brussel sprouts, or as I used to call them, mini cabbages, start rolling in towards the end of Autumn. Look for small to medium, as they are more flavourful and less diluted than the larger ones. They should be tightly packed and bright green. To store, refrigerate them for up to a week. Now for the fun part, cooking. Whatever you do, just don’t overcook them until mushy. Laura from The First Mess seems to be the queen of creamy vegan dishes, and this creamy miso pasta with brussel sprouts has never disappointed. If you’re looking for any easy week night meal, this veggie tray is the one, and if you don’t want to cook the stuff at all, this one’s for you. Got the fermenting bug? Try this brussel sprout kimchi.
Cabbage: Ah cabbage, so humble. There’s white, red, napa and many in between. When buying, a head of cabbage should feel heavy and the leaves should be tightly packed. Don’t worry too much if a couple of the outer leaves are a little wilted, as these will be removed, and the healthy cabbage will be hiding underneath. Cabbage lasts for a really really really long time, just store it loose in one of the drawers of your refrigerator. Want to make it last even longer? Try this golden sauerkraut. Want to make it the star of your meal? Try this braised purple cabbage or this sweet and sour cabbage stew.
Carrots: Carrots are the backbone of a great meal, and like all backbones their efforts (in building stocks, sides, mains, soups and baked goods) sometimes go unappreciated Look for carrots with their tops on (as these make a really great pesto), even though the topless ones tend to last a little longer. If you’re buying them with their tops, remove these at home, wrap them in a damp paper towel and store them in a bag for up to a few days. Like with most vegetables, if you’re buying organic, you don’t need to peel them – just give them a scrub and they’ll be read to go. If you’re looking to change up your roasting game, take a look at these two recipes, one with dukkah and the other with ginger and miso. Miso is also the star of this incredible carrot soup. And if you’re trying to sneak carrots into a meal give this carrot smoothie and these chickpea and carrot pancakes a try.
Cauliflower: Despite what my flatmate once said, cauliflower isn’t just white broccoli. Cauliflower is way ahead of the game, and between you and me, it might even be better than broccoli. When shopping, look for film cauliflower with fresh green leaves and no sign of wilting or browning. Store cauliflower in your refrigerator, wrapped, for three to four days. This queen of a whole roasted cauliflower dish graced the tables at my New Years dinner last year, and I’ve never seen a more successful dish, amongst vegetarians and non alike. If you’re after a warm and cosy gratin, these two will sort you out – one with kale and one with leeks. And for two incredible cauliflower sides, beautiful and satisfying enough to make a main, head over here – one roasted, the other fried – both delicious.
Grapes: You can find grapes from the end of the summer, into the midst of Autumn. Look for dark, plump and fragrant grapes. Store them in the fridge. Although it’s tempting to wash the whole bunch before storing them, the moisture will filter through the skin, so its best to store them dry and cold, and to wash them right before you plan on eating them. There is more to grapes than eating them by the handful, however satisfying that is. If you’re going savoury, pair them with fennel and rice in this sprouted rice dish. If you’re having people over for dinner, and want to impress with a non-alcoholic drink, you can put the fennel and grape combo to good use with this vibrant natural and bubbling grape soda.
Kale: Kale is probably the vegetable that requires the least amount of cheerleading out of the bunch. It’s loved and used by everyone everywhere. So you think you already know how to cook the stuff, but do you know what to look for when buying? Its harvested at the end of Summer into early winter. There are a few different types of kale, the most common being tuscan kale (thick and dark) and curly leaf kale (thinner and lighter). What you want to avoid when buying kale, no matter the type, is wilted and yellow leaves. If you’re buying organic kale, you might notice small holes in the leaves – it’s due to small insects, but it’s completely harmless and natural. Store refrigerated, wrapping the leaves in damp paper towels and in a bag. Unlike most other vegetables, kale can stand to being washed before store. Eat the stuff raw (after having massaged it with lemon and oil, to break to down the fibres in the leaves), sautéed with garlic and chilli, or folded into soups. If broccoli and rocket pesto weren’t quite enough, here’s a kale pesto. And I couldn’t close this section off with coconut green soup I make week in and week out.
Pears: Pears have just started ripening this month and can last for weeks when stored correctly. Pears bruise really easily, so handle them gently when choosing them and press lightly on the neck of the pear to test for ripeness. Pears can be stored in the fridge, if already ripe, or on the counter to ripen. Eat them raw with this sprouted sunflower seed cheese spread, bake them into these chocolate pear scones, or stew them into your breakfast. And of course, pickle them.
Pumpkin: So I could have really grouped butternut squash and pumpkin together, but I had so many good pumpkin recipes to share that I thought I’d give them a whole section. When buying pumpkins, choose the smaller denser stuff rather than carving ones. Like butternut squash, store pumpkin out of the fridge for up to a month. Soup wise, we’ve got two more of my go-tos: pumpkin miso soba soup and kabocha squash ginger soup. Need something to go with your soup? Make some kabocha biscuits. If you’re feeling the need to blow your wool socks off on a cold autumn day, make this vegan mac and cheese. And even if you’re trying to resist the pumpkin spice cult, these vegan pancakes and no bake pumpkin pie bars are worth making.
Roots: Again, I know beets and carrots should have been in this group, but I wanted to give them their own spotlight. Roots includes sweet potatoes, carrots, kohlrabi, parsnips, rutabaga, beets, turnips and celeriac. And they’re all in season! Like with beets, you’re looking for heavy and firm root vegetables, with the roots still attached. If you can’t decide on one root at the market, choose them all and make this winter rainbow panzanella. And I know celeriac can be a little daunting, but Luise and David from Green Kitchen Stories have made it easy to face your fears with this celeriac mushrooms lasagna. Last on the savoury front, fries! Switch it up this weekend by making parsley root fries and parsnip fries. On the sweeter side? Try these dessert slow roasted sweet potatoes, double the batch and cook them into your porridge the morning after.
Mushrooms: My kryptonite. Excitement doesn’t even cover it when it comes to mushrooms. I don’t need to tell you these are in season, as you’ve probably become aware of how quickly they took over your market. There are a lot of them, and although a detailed guide to choosing which mushrooms to buy is coming to the site next week, here’s a quick run through. Store fresh mushrooms in the fridge for up to 3 days, covered with a damp paper towel. I’ve been told over and over again that mushrooms are like sponges, so they will absorbe a lot of water if rinsed. Instead, clean them lightly with a damp paper towel. Like carrots, they’re the backbone to a lot of cooking. Learn to make your own dashi stock and ramen here. As usual, get cosy and creamy with one of Laura’s mushrooms and gravy pies or these creamy french lentils with mushrooms and kale. After something fresh? Make some vegan banh mi with portobellos or some shiitake tofu lettuce cups.
If you still have no idea what to make this season, then I think I have failed. But hopefully you now have a better idea of what to do with all of the goods at the market, and how to make them last. Happy Autumn!