Incorporating seasonal ingredients into your diet, and where you'll find them

As the mornings get cooler and the leaves are slowly starting to change, the produce you notice for sale will also be starting to change. These weather changes not only bring out last season’s jumpers and call for an extra outer layer of clothing, but they also bring out the best of autumnal produce. We are lucky here in the UK to have such definitive seasons, as this means that the weather conditions allow for the correct climate for a huge variety of fruit and vegetables to grow and flourish.

The drastic change of season allows us to eat locally grown, fresh produce year round and sometimes we just go with the flow and don’t actually take in the fact that an array of different ingredients suddenly appear in the produce section. 

We are a generation that has become slightly spoiled and perhaps even confused by the availability of almost anything at practically any time of year. We can get whatever we want if we look hard enough due to the accessibility of science and thus genetic modification and the simplicity of transport. This, however, is something that we occasionally need reminding is not necessarily as nature intended and rather, we should really be eating what’s fresh and as locally sourced as possible to maximise our nutrient intake. 

I personally love to eat with the seasons and make the most of the produce that’s available as it’s picked, so I’m aware of what’s on the shelves at my local stores at any given time. I especially long for the appearance of rhubarb on the aisle and the first sighting of juicy-looking cherries in the early summer, but also love watching the colours change in the produce aisle as the leaves on the trees turn from green to orange as is happening right now.

To me, autumn is the return of the Sunday roast and with that, I immediately think of fruit crumbles. Apples, pears and blackberries most notably and perhaps it’s no surprise that these three fruits are some of the most commonly distributed at this time of year in the UK.

Bramble bushes will be borne with fruit as we wander through fields with the autumnal freshness in the air in October and apples will sit on trees longingly looking to be turned into our favourite Sunday pudding. 

My sweet tooth is talking and jumped straight to dessert first as my eyes generally do when I’m handed a menu, but the reality of the turn of the season is that it’s a time for vegetables to shine in all their intended glory. The accompaniments to a roast is really where seasonal produce lies. Think brussel sprouts, onions, leeks, parsnips, carrots and potatoes to name but a few. These are the veggies that are in season as the weather changes and is therefore no surprise that they’re best drizzled with a little oil, generously seasoned and roasted with some fresh herbs to be enjoyed next to your meat (or not!) of choice.

It is important to incorporate seasonal produce into our diets not only because variety is the spice of life, but the freshest, most naturally sourced fruit and veg are, of course, most nutrient dense and the bold mix of colours in the veg we find at this time of year brings each of the vital vitamins we require to stay healthy, which is even more important as the cooler temperatures can play havoc with our immune system.

Look out in your local supermarket, grocery store or street markets for these ingredients, but if you can, the best place to source quality, local and fresh produce is any farm shop. Keep an eye out for pumpkins and winter squash too, of course, and watch this space for some inspiration on what to do with them!

By Lauren Loudon

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