October has arrived, and with itautumn has knocked at the door. I had also written this in thearticle on spring seasonality, but I repeat myself: the change of season this year seems to be just ahead. From one day to the next, the cooler weather has slipped jackets out of closets and light scarves adorn our shoulders. The days are rapidly shortening, the earth is warming more slowly during daylight hours, and greenery is giving way to fall palettes that favor warm, enveloping colors.
The succession of seasons is fulfilled, and the market stalls change: it is time to welcome back fruits and vegetables that call forth the scent of soups, velvety soups, and baking pans.
There is no obligation: we can decide to buy what we want. But if you like the idea, reading this article will help you start paying attention to seasonality from now on. In many cases it will mean enjoying more taste and flavor, along with the pleasure of experiencing the rhythms of the earth.
Following the seasons has something inherently beautiful about it. Sinking our hands into nature, to listen to it and follow its pace, teaches us how to feel closer to it.
Fall foods: fruits, vegetables and…
To popularize the seasonality of foods , we cannot only talk about fruits and vegetables. How many foods have their own seasonality? Fish, seafood, and herbs in turn follow rhythms in nature. In certain cases it is essential to respect them in order to make our food more sustainable: this is the case with some seafood products, where species restocking and spawning seasons must be respected by law. Indeed, fishing at the right time and with the right methods serves to protect fish species from the risk of extinction.
Legumes also follow their own seasonality: it is true that we can dry and store them for years, but they are harvested at certain times of the year. They are usually harvested in spring or summer, but some go as late as October: this is the case with borlotti beans and green beans.
The first moments of autumn remain linked to vegetables and greens that have accompanied us even in the warm months. Zucchini, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes stay with us through most of October, although in the north it will be harder to find them as tasty as they were in the summer months.
In this first month of autumn we find several green leafy vegetables. Salads leave us between the end of September and mid-October, except for the iceberg variety, which will instead last until late November. There is also spinach, which like salads will disappear in cold weather. During autumn we then find escarole, chard, and chard for cutting. But also Belgian endive and ribs.
But let’s not chinch, let’s just say it, we all know and want it anyway: pumpkin is back! The queen of autumn is back, to lend creaminess, fullness and sweetness to velvety soups, savory pies, grain and legume soups, Indian but also Japanese curries. On its own, smeared on a shoe insole: it’s good either way.
Starting in October, the large cruciferous family, which includes the likes of broccoli, cauliflower, turnip greens, savoy cabbage and arugula, also returns to the scene. They will not greet us until April, so we will have plenty of time to have fun coming up with a thousand ways to prepare them.
From October to December , the olive harvest takes place ! Do you know the right time to harvest them? When it turns color, from green to purple. Not when it is too ripe, nor when it is too unripe: this is when its organoleptic characteristics are at their peak, to give the oil perfect aromas and flavors.
Two steps in the woods
Walking in nature is good for the body and mind-we should take advantage of it now, before the bitter cold returns and we feel like hunkering down under the covers to watch movies every night! In Japan this is the time of momiji, the phenomenon whereby the foliage of trees and shrubs turns from green to the warm colors typical of autumn: brick, orange, yellow, red. An occasion to remember the transience of things, a concept that has in it as much wonder as sorrow.
Caducity that we also find in some precious fruits of the forest such as chestnuts and mushrooms, which we can harvest for a short time: the former because they fall in a period of a few weeks, the latter because their life span lasts only a few days before they rot.
Below I leave a list of other typical vegetables and greens of the season: cardoons, Brussels sprouts, red cabbage, Chinese cabbage, white cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, red/trevigiano chicory, turnip greens, watercress, escarole, pak choi, parsnip, Milan chicory, purslane, horseradish, Romanesco cabbage, celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke.
Last but not least are then the products we find all year round such as garlic, carrot, onion, celery , and potatoes.
Autumn also brings fruit to our tables, starting withgrapes, black and white-with or without berries-full of vitamin C. I mention this vitamin without telling you things like “it will save us from colds,” also because it is not the truth. But interestingly, it is much more concentrated in this fruit than in citrus fruits!
And speak of the devil, here they are popping up from around the corner. The fall red carpet the crucifers are contending with them: a beautiful parade of round, tart silhouettes. Oranges, lemons, mandaranges, grapefruits, tangerines and citrons. The practically full family is back. Pears and apples are also in season, and from late October we can also find persimmons and kiwis.
Curious both, seasonal both: quinces and jujubes are harvested at this time! Last but not least, let’s finally talk about the pomegranate: did you know that its name comes from the union of the terms malum (apple) and granatum (with seeds)?
Fall is a good time to harvest, but also to sow some herbs. As long as the temperatures are not too cold, in fact, we can devote ourselves to the hardiest varieties. They perform well, even in pots: rosemary, sage, chives, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, mint, myrtle , and savory. If you buy them at the nursery, after purchase the advice is to repot them in a pot one or two sizes larger, with new potting soil, preferably specific for aromatic plants.
As for planting, this is the right time for watercress, dill and chervil. They also give satisfaction on the balcony in the sun. The important thing is to water only when the soil is dry-the cold-wet soil combination is dangerous for the roots! CURIOSITY: September and October are the best time to harvest chilies!
First we made a premise. We said it would be advisable and responsible for consumers to respect the seasons of the sea and give time for fish to repopulate the waters. Seasonal fish therefore are those that are not in spawning stage at that time. Eating these species allows others to grow in the meantime!
The method of fishing should also be taken into consideration. This is a long and complex discussion that we won’t be able to cover here, but in principle I can tell you something: read labels, avoid trawling and, if you can, favor pole fishing. If you then want to buy only seafood caught in the Mediterranean Sea, remember the number that indicates its origin: it is number 37!
Below is a list of fish that are in season in the fall:
- alalunga (albacore)
- alice (anchovy)
- squid and calamari
- corncob (also called corncob or cicada)
- strawberry (strawberry pagello)
- prawn (imperial shrimp)
- murmur (marmora)
- sardines (sardines, pilchards)
- mackerel and bigeye mackerel (or lanzardo)
- bass or sea bass
- bluefin and albacore tuna
- zanchetta (similar to sole)
THE TIP: There are likely to be varieties of fish in this list that you have never heard of. Guess what it can mean? They are less known, therefore less fished, therefore — that’s right, less exploited in our seas. Try to buy at least one new one, getting advice from search engines on how to prepare it!
Evergreen: an important reflection
News often pops up about some amazing new superfood with mind-blowing properties. In the face of such news there is only one thing to do: kick up your heels and walk away with long, well-spaced strides. The world of nutrition today agrees that no food should be seen as miraculous.
Abalanced diet based on fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates, and legumes is and remains the best way to stay healthy and prevent diseases resulting from poor nutrition. And exercise, yes, we don’t get away with it. That’s all for today, but we’ll meet back here in January for our winter seasonality appointment!