September is National Organic Month hosted by the Soil Association. The Organic September campaign promotes organic food and educates those interested about suitable farming practices.
Organically farmed foods benefit native wildlife (including pollinating insects), build healthier soils and help to combat climate change. They are also better for human health than foods produced using intensive farming methods. We have put together a handy list of delicious organic produce that is in season throughout September. We have also included a few tantalising recipe ideas to show how delicious locally-sourced, organic ingredients can be!
September, and autumn in general, is a great time to make the most of British apples. Head to your local farm shop to discover the huge variety of apples available at this time of year, from Golden Delicious to Discovery! Pair them with vibrant blackberries, also in season at the moment, in a scrumptious apple and blackberry crumble for a warming dessert as the weather starts to cool off.
Apricots, plums and nectarines are also ready to be picked in September. These stone fruits can be added to both sweet and savoury dishes. Simply griddle the fresh fruit and add natural yoghurt and local honey for a light and fresh dessert, or for a savoury take, roast apricots with chicken or pork.
Tuck in to British figs alongside prosciutto, goats cheese, walnuts and honey to make the most of their delicately sweet flavour. For a fresh and easy side dish, create a vibrant tomato salad by combining tomatoes of all shapes, sizes and colours with basil and balsamic vinegar.
Globe artichokes are a tasty September treat. Stuff them, roast them or eat them the traditional way, by breaking off each leaf and eating the soft fleshy base, doused in butter, mayonnaise or Hollandaise sauce. When choosing your artichoke, look for those with firm heads without any brown patches to get the best.
To make the most of the brilliant vegetables on offer at this time of year, roast a selection of root veg in olive oil, salt and pepper to create a colourful side dish. Carrots, parsnips, potatoes and beetroot are all available at the moment. They are even more delicious when drizzled with honey before the last five minutes in the oven.
Squashes and pumpkins are also starting to become available now. Add them, cubed, to a cheesy risotto to bring sweetness, make hearty soups flavoured with Indian spices or fake a trip to the USA by creating pumpkin-flavoured desserts.
This time of year is the beginning of the shooting season for wild duck, goose and other gamebirds. Take inspiration from around the world by pairing your duck with a boozy orange sauce like the French. Or try Asian flavours by stir frying strips of meat with hoisin or plum sauce. For other birds like grouse, partridge, woodcock and pheasant, try combining different meats into a game pie, or simply roast the birds for a more unusual Sunday dinner.
Venison is also readily available at this time of year and can be a substitute for beef in many recipes. Ask for leg, rump or loin steaks if you want to flash-fry or griddle the meat. Venison steaks are delicious paired with a fresh salad or cabbage slaw. For a more hearty meal, cuts from the shoulder, neck, flank or shank are wonderful cooked slowly into stews with some of the beautiful vegetables that are in season this month. For something completely different, you could even pimp your breakfast with venison sausages!
Even as the weather cools, September still presents a brilliant opportunity to head to the coast to get first dibs on the seafood arriving on the local fishing boats. Native oysters, for example, spawn from May to August and law states they cannot be harvested over this period. Months with the letter ‘r’ (September to April) are therefore the best time to eat native oysters in the UK. The East coast grows particularly good specimens.
Other shellfish, like clams and mussels, are also great this time of year. If you are more of a fish lover, opt for sustainable species like UK caught hake or plaice.
If you want to truly get back to basics, these ingredients can be foraged from the great British countryside. Look for bilberries, elderberries and blackberries growing on bushes. They can all be used to create delicious jams, cordials or sweet bakes.
Keep an eye out for wild sloe berries and damsons. Both can be infused into gin for a delicious tipple, or turned into jams that go great with cheese!
If you are feeling adventurous, rock samphire can be found growing on coastal cliffs and sea walls until October. A number of mushrooms are available too, ceps, chanterelles, field and puffball varieties can all be foraged throughout September. It is safest to buy wild mushrooms from a farm shop as many varieties look alike and some are poisonous.
If you are feeling inspired to make the most of some organic ingredients this month, head to the Soil Association website, where there is information about growing your own produce, where to buy organic and other ways you can get involved in #OrganicSeptember.
→ We’ve written previously about some of the best nutrients for health and well-being.
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