Autumn is a fantastic time for baking and cooking, as some of our best produce is in plentiful supply. With so many fresh fruit varieties and berries available, the options are endless for both sweet and savoury dishes. We've gathered 10 tips to add more autumn goodness to your day.
Whether you like turning autumnal apples into a morning drink with a little help from your juicer or you're looking for a way to pep up your salad, we've got plenty of easy, practical ideas for every day.
If you grow your own fruits in your garden then this little list will hopefully go some way to helping you figure out what to do with your glut when the weather starts turning. And if all else fails - freeze it! There's nothing better than a good stash of blackberries in your freezer to see you through winter. You can use them in place of ice cubes in cocktails and whizz them into a quick pudding for a last minute quick fix.
Here are the rest of our favourite ways to use up autumn fruits...
1. Get juicing for an antioxidant kick
Apples are perfect for juicing - find interesting varieties at your farmer's market and experiment to find your favourite. Need a big antioxidant boost? Add fresh ginger and carrots for a really strong start to your five a day. Some of our favourites for a slightly tart, refreshing juice are the old varieties of Cox's Orange Pippin and Egremont Russet.
2. Roast off some apples for sweet and savoury dishes
Roasted apples with fennel seeds and black pepper make a delicious side dish to a Sunday roast pork and are so easy to throw in the bottom of your pan. If you fancy something sweeter then try coring, then filling the apples with spices and sultanas and bake until tender for a healthier take on puddding. To go all out apples, sultanas and nuts also make for a wonderful warm strudel. This traditional pastry-based pud is delicious served up with cream or ice cream.
3. Make the most of stone fruits by turning them into compotes
Make the most of plums, which are coming to the end of their season, with a sweet or savoury homemade compote. Try adding star anise and a little balsamic for an accompaniment to roast duck, or turn it into a plum chutney. Sweet versions are fab with yogurt as a healthy breakfast. You could pack some into screw top jars at the start of the week to grab-and-go during the early morning rush to get out of the door.
4. Mix sweet peaches with salty cheeses
Peaches and nectarines are imported, of course, but super good at this time of year. Try them with salty foods as a light lunch or starter - feta, Parma ham and goats' cheese are all perfect partners. If your sweet tooth is aching, try our roasted peaches with hone and pecans for a delicious dessert that isn't packed with sugar.
5. Freeze berries for fresh crumble throughout the year
Foraged blackberries don't keep, unlike their cultivated cousins, so freeze them in usable portions for adding to smoothies and crumble. You can blitz them straight from frozen in a smoothie maker or blender which will make your morning drink cool and refreshing instantly. And if it's a warm pudding you're after then you can either scatter them straight into the bottom of your dish and give them an extra five minutes in the oven or defrost four a couple of hours before you make up your crumble or pie.
6. Add nuts for an extra health-kick
Add a little nutritional oomph to your crumble toppings by incorporating some oats and nuts. Pecans, almonds and hazelnuts work particularly well. Our peach and blackberry crumble gets it's kick from almonds and is absolutely delicious for it.
7. Turn damsons into gin for a winter treat
Try some homemade plum or damson gin in place of sloe. Pop the fruit in the freezer overnight to make the skins split when they thaw. To 500g fruit, add 400g sugar and 1 litre gin or vodka. Layer up the fruit and sugar in kilner jars, then top with the gin. Shake in kilner jars, then top with the gin. Shake occasionally, leaving in a cool dark place for 2-3 months before straining into sterilized bottles. This is perfect to then turn into Christmas cocktails and you're friends and family will be so impressed that you've tried making your very own spirits.
8. Spoil yourself with honey plums
Baked plums or peaches make a great dessert, and they're so quick too. Halve and stone them, drizzle with a little honey, some cinnamon and vanilla. Bake for 10 or so minutes in a 180C fan, gas 6 oven until soft. If you're missing your bbq come autumn you could also grill your stone fruits over the coals - it'll add another hit of flavour and make the taste of summer last just that little bit longer. Serve hot or cold with cream, custard or ice cream for a speedy last-minute dessert.
9. Let autumn fruit flourish in your Pavlova
It's not just the season of summer that should get the joys of a meringue dessert. An autumn Pavlova will always be a winner. Add sliced plums, peaches and blackberries to a cream infused with a little sloe gin for a really heady, seasonal flavour that friends and family will love. You can make this well ahead of when you need it, too, which makes it perfect for entertaining. A meringue will keep for days in an airtight container and then you can simply pile on the toppings at the last minute.
10. Give duck a berry boost
Blackberries are delicious added to red cabbage to serve with duck, venison or goose. their sweet and sour flavour cuts through rich meat so well to enhance the savoury flavours, making them taste them more delicious. You could also stir a few through your gravy for a fruity burst of flavour.
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