A Balance of Autumn & Winter

It may be bleak outside, but the foods are bright, delicious and comforting!

Eating foods which are seasonal is the best way to ensure top nutritional content as well as a flavoursome product. Enjoy hearty root and cruciferous vegetables in warming soups and stews either as a top veggie dish or accompanying rich meats such as venison or mutton.

Other foods to enjoy at this time year includes some surprising ones such as honey and oysters which one would think would be at their best in the summer months.

All of the foods mentioned in this article can be purchased locally in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.

Top Seasonal Foods

Here on the Foodful is the top seasonal foods to enjoy at the moment:

Fruit

  • Apples, Pears & Plums

Enjoy locally grown apples in your fruit and vegetable boxes, from farm shops, greengrocers or try some locally pressed, award-winning apple juice from Laprig Valley.

Enjoy pears and plums either raw or in desserts after a Sunday lunch.

Apples ready to be harvested
Apples ready to be harvested

Vegetables

Source locally grown vegetables from local farm shops, greengrocers, vegetable box subscriptions and delis. Try visiting Brocksbushes Farm Shop, The Green Shop in Berwick upon Tweed or try a box scheme from North-East Organic Growers.

Cruciferous vegetables are in season. This group includes cabbage (both Savoy and red), Brussels Sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, chard, kale and cavolo nero.

Brussels sprouts are one of the most healthiest foods being rich in vitamins A, C & K.
Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamins A, C & K and purportedly contain an antioxidant to destroy cancer cells

Root vegetables are also versatile vegetables to be enjoyed in the colder months. Enjoy carrots, parsnips, swede, turnips and beetroot. These vegetables are hardy enough to withstand roasting and as ingredients in soups, stews and also in baking!

Nestled under the soil away from the elements, these vegetables are ready to be pulled up from and enjoyed. Underground, these vegetables have the time to grow to be full of vitamins and minerals.

Root vegetables include beetroot, carrots, parsnips, pumpkins, squash varieties, radish, onions, celeriac, turnip and swede.

Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables
Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables

Enjoy in various ways including root veg cakes such as the classic carrot cake, roast vegetable medleys, add to curries and casseroles and make into soups. Classic root vegetable soups include parsnip and cumin soup, french onion soup and borscht, an Eastern European beetroot soup, perfect for a cold winters eve.

Tubers

Potatoes are a common accompaniment to many homely foods. You’ll have mash with your pie, roasties with your roast and chips with your fish. Potatoes are generally harvested at the start of Autumn, but with the right storage methods, you can enjoy them right over the winter. You can buy large sacks of potatoes locally from Buston Potatoes near Alnwick.

Potatoes can be kept for months if stored correctly
Potatoes can be kept for months if stored correctly

Fish

  • Oysters

Considered one of the world’s top luxury foods, up there with caviar, truffles and wagyu beef, we are lucky to be able to source this top-quality local seafood from Lindisfarne Oysters.

The oysters' flavour is determined by the terroir
The oysters’ flavour is determined by the terroir
  • Whiting

Although not as exotic or exciting as other types of fish, Whiting is a cheap and environmentally friendly fish to purchase. It is similar in taste and texture to cod and can be enjoyed in a similar way such as frying in breadcrumbs or baking. You can buy it from Northumberland Seafood Centre.

  • Crab

Try some from award-winning fishmonger D R Collin in Eyemouth. Whole crabs are recommended to purchase for freshness.

  • Kippers

Try some oak-smoked kippers from L Robson & Son in Craster. World-renowned for their smokery on the Northumberland coast, kippers are a great addition to warming weekend brunch!

Meat

  • Goose

In times gone by, the goose was known to grace many a table at Christmas. These days it is lesser known and has been replaced by the American turkey tradition.

Although it has a high-fat content, the fat is under the skin and melts into the meat to leave it succulent and tender. It is more expensive than other types of poultry, but the fat can also be used for roasting other ingredients for the meal including potatoes.

Buy local geese from Alemill Farm in EyemouthAlemill Farm provides oven-ready geese from their farm in the Scottish Borders. Geese from 4–6kg are available, supplied with giblets, and tubs of goose fat can also be ordered.

Alemill Farm supplies their geese to quality local butchers such as Forsyth’s of Peebles. Alternatively, products can be ordered online, on the phone or bought from the farm.

  • Goat

Goat meat is certainly increasing in popularity as people start to look for more earth-friendly alternatives. Goat meat can be enjoyed in similar ways to beef, but with fewer calories, fat and a higher mineral content.

Last month, the country celebrated Goatober, which calls for the use of billy goat meat, a by-product of the dairy industry.

Goat meat is popular in many other parts of the world from Africa, to South America to India and enjoyed in several dishes, perhaps the most famous being goat curry.

You can buy goat meat from The Goat Company in Morpeth either online or find them at a farmers market near you.

Goat is the most widely eaten meat in the world
Goat is the most widely eaten meat in the world
  • Mutton & Lamb

Mutton and lamb are best enjoyed at this time of year. Perhaps in its most popular guise, mutton is best enjoyed in a traditionally made Scotch Pie. Why not try one from Peter Walker’s Butchers in Coldingham for a real taste of the classic pie?

Lamb is also best enjoyed this time of year. Although associated with Spring, British lamb can only be enjoyed at the start of Autumn. Lamb pairs wonderfully with other Autumnal bounties such as sweet vegetables such as parsnips and celeriac which bring out the sweetness and richness of the meat.

A lamb and sheep in the field
Lamb is best enjoyed slow-cooked in dishes such as casseroles and stews.

If you want lamb for the main meal, you can get lamb from The Lamb Man. You can find him at local farmer’s markets including Alnwick and Morpeth.

  • Game

With the game season in full swing, it’ll be easy to find locally sourced game in restaurants and butchers near you. Game covers a wide range of animals from woodpigeon to rabbit, from deer to partridge.

Venison & Wholegrain Mustard Pie by Hadrian's Game Larder
Venison & Wholegrain Mustard Pie by Hadrian’s Game Larder

Buy local game products from Hadrian’s Game Larder, Tweed Valley Venison and Ridley’s Fish and Game.

Drink

  • Hot Chocolate

You can enjoy hot chocolate at many local cafes. But for something special try a hot chocolate from Cocoature in Berwick upon Tweed or how about the French alternative at Cabosse? If you’re on the other side of the border, Cocoa Black Boutique’s decadent hot chocolate menu is a 5-star rated experience.

Winter time is the best time to enjoy hot chocolate (with marshmallows)
Winter time is the best time to enjoy hot chocolate (with marshmallows)

Why not top off your indulgence with some locally made, award-winning, gourmet marshmallows by Katy Cloud Marshmallows?

  • Seasonal Ales

Seasonal beers can either reflect the taste of season or complement seasonal foods better. Autumnal beers are generally heavier than summer beers, with a more malt-focused flavour and amber in colour. Belgian-style beers are also popular in the Autumn months.

As we move into winter, stouts, porters and darker ales take centre stage. Complex flavours of coffee, chocolate and caramel come into play alongside rich, malty flavours and heavier, less carbonated drink.

Around these parts, we are very lucky to have so many great local breweries to hand offering a different taste of life in the North. From Cheviot Brewery‘s Menhir stout to Tempest Brewing Co Mexicake there is something for everyone.

  • Sloe

Sloe berries are ready to be harvested once the Autumn days come and you can make your own creations. Alternatively, why not try some Sloe Gin on a cold evening from Sloe Crafts? Alnwick Gin has also launched a Sloe Gin. Have you tried it?

Sloes are part of the rose family
Sloes are part of the rose family

Enjoy sloe gin with locally made cheese or with game meats.

Extras

  • Honey

Summer’s honey bounty will have just been recently harvested. Why not sample some fresh, local honey this winter. You can get local honey from a number of local producers including Chain Bridge Honey Farm, The Northumberland Honey Co and Peebles Bees and Honey.

Enjoy summer's sweet bounty in the autumn months
Enjoy summer’s sweet bounty in the autumn months
  • Chestnuts

Difficult to source locally grown, sweet chestnuts are perhaps easier to forage. You can find these trees in Northumberland, with some being located near Wooler thanks for the Woodland Trust’s Ancient Tree Hunt. If you discover any on your walks, report to the Woodland Trust to help with their data collecting. The sweet chestnut tree was brought to the UK by the Romans. Chestnuts were a staple food for the Roman infantry[1].

Always cook your chestnuts before eating
Always cook your chestnuts before eating
  • Mushroom

Although generally thought to be a vegetable, the mushroom is a fungus. It’s technically not even a plant. However, the right varieties of mushrooms come with an abundance of health benefits. Widely renowned for their high content of B vitamins, selenium and a non-animal source of vitamin D[2], they are a common option for vegan and vegetarian meals.

Mushrooms are available from local farm shops, but you can also forage for them locally. It is important, however, to know what you are looking for as many varieties are either poisonous or hallucinogenic.

If foraging for mushrooms make sure you have a field guild or have taken a course to be safe
If foraging for mushrooms make sure you have a field guild or have taken a course to be safe

Celebrate the Harvest

Whether you are foraging, trying a different locally sourced product or cooking a wholesome dish for the family, we have a fully-stocked larder here in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.

Join the conversation and tell us your favourite seasonal produce on social media. Follow Foodful on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Subscribe to the Foodful blog

Enter your email address below to receive a monthly round-up of everything that’s been happening on the Foodful blog!

We'll never share your email with anyone else. By subscribing you agree to our privacy policy.
References
  1. Sweet Chestnut
  2. Mushroom Guide