October In Season

Eat produce when it's at its best.

This months seasonal produce

Wild mushrooms, onions, sweet potatoes, fennel, apples and plums

Oysters

Oysters

The most storied shellfish of all is worthy of its place in our imaginations – and on our tables, says Clarissa Hyman.

Competitive oyster eating down the centuries makes for an eye-opening, stomach-gurgling list. Casanova ate 50 a day; Henry IV and Louis XIV as many as 300 in a sitting. The champion oyster-swallower, however, still has to be the Roman Emperor Vitellius, who is said to have regularly eaten 100 dozen oysters at a time, which may explain why his reign lasted less than year. That and the fact he spent more than the equivalent of £8 million on his imperial table in that brief period. When in Rome, as they say. As has frequently been noted, it must have been a brave soul who first ate a raw oyster. Desperate, I would say, as there’s no getting away from the fact we eat them both raw and alive. Thankfully they neither shriek when prised open nor squeal when jabbed, but as an American zoologist calmly noted: ‘Even thoughtful people callously look for the muscular twitch as they drop lemon...read more

Other seasonal produce

Sardines

The silver bullets of the sea have shed their oily reputation and embarked on a fresh journey, says Clarissa Hyman

Sardines are small but perfectly formed fish that come in electric shades of gunmetal silver, green and blue with delicate, overlapping scales that give them a quilted effect. So why did I used to hate them so much? Especially when they were served on toast. And as for the dreaded pilchard, or...read more

Sardines

Chard

Tasty in tarts, frittata, stews and soups, this colourful beet vegetable is one of the world’s healthiest foods, says Clarissa Hyman with recipes by Linda Tubby

Goodbye kale, hello, chard! If last year saw a moment for curly leaves, the greengrocer’s wagon has now moved on. Today, I give you the technicolour dreamcoat that is Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla var. flavescens, a jewel-like collection of leaves and stalks that can trace its heritage back to the...read more

Chard

Apples

Helen Hokin celebrates England’s beloved fruit and its many varieties, making use of a rich tradition of recipes with recipes by Linda Tubby

Brace yourself for a rare British food story with a happy ending: after clashes of titanic proportions, lasting more than two decades, English apple growers and the major multiples appear to be living harmoniously ever after. A good news story for an industry that just five years ago was on its...read more

Apples

Fennel

With its aniseed-flavoured bulbs and aromatic seeds this delightfully versatile plant is a Mediterranean favourite, says Clarissa Hyman with recipes by Linda Tubby

Fennel is a two for the price of one plant. Make that three. No, four. Its bulbs make a crisp and cleanly refreshing raw crudité; mellow and rich with a soft, caramel texture when cooked; frothy fronds of sharp green herbs; and seeds that impart a subtle but singular aroma to both sweet and savoury...read more

Fennel

Pears

When eaten at their perfectly ripe moment it’s hard to beat these bulbous fruits – and the juicy flesh will be a match with savoury and sweet dishes alike, says Clarissa Hyman with recipes by Linda Tubby

When biting into a pear it can be like Russian roulette – you never know whether the provocative gold-green minx could be a mouthful of dry and woody fibre or grainy mush. With luck it is a luscious fruit with a subtle, fragile flavour at its fleeting moment of perfection. The pear is a tree of...read more

Pears

Wild Mushrooms

White giant puffballs and slippery jacks, violet-tinged field blewits and shaggy ink caps: these shores harbour strange, beguiling fungi, and the right ones will unleash magic in the kitchen. Clarissa Hyman forages for wild mushrooms and falls under their charm with recipes by Linda Tubby

Mushrooms are the breakfast of champignons’ was a favourite school-room joke. Well, it made us giggle, though Madame, our unbending French mistress, was not amused. In those days, champignons were simply mushrooms: it never occurred to city girls such as myself to distinguish between wild and...read more

Wild Mushrooms

Plums

Whether it’s for the Warwickshire drooper, the Fairleigh damson or guinevere, the arrival of the plum in all its different guises couldn’t be more welcome, says Rosemary Barron with recipes by Linda Tubby

The peculiarly satisfying names of so many plum dishes trip deliciously off the tongue – duff, shuttle and crumble or, ever more elegant, tarte aux mirabelles, clafoutis aux reine-claude and pflaumenknoedl (plum dumplings) across the channel. The fruit themselves are, of course, no less...read more

Plums

Onions

Michael Raffael peels back the layers to discover the secrets of this pungent, versatile bulb with recipes by Linda Tubby

Knowing your onions’ has meant different things to different generations. According to Nicholas Culpeper’s Complete Herbal (1653) ‘roasted under the embers and eaten with sugar or honey’ they cured coughs. In Acetaria, A Discourse of Sallets, his contemporary John Evelyn claimed they...read more

Onions

Sweet potatoes

Baked, steamed, mashed and candied, the vibrant orange-and pink-fleshed root vegetable works a treat in both sweet and savoury dishes. And this starchy star ingredient is at its prime for autumn feasts and Halloween suppers, says Clarissa Hyman with recipes by Linda Tubby

After a famous still life entitled Lemons, Oranges and a Rose by Francisco de Zurbarán – the leading painter in 17th century Andalusia during the reign of Philip III – was radiographed, the results showed the sublimely convincing plate of citrus fruits was originally flanked by a platter of...read more

Sweet potatoes

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