September is a bountiful month of fresh seasonal produce, often resulting in a glut of deliciousness! Summer crops such as salads, tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers and runner beans are still highly productive…with an abundance of autumn crops such as orchard fruits, berries, squash and leeks ready for harvesting.
Here’s a selection of what to buy at the market, or pick from your kitchen garden or allotment this month –
Apples, blackberries, blueberries, damsons, plums, figs, grapes, peaches, pears, raspberries, aubergines, cabbage, beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprouts, celeriac, celery, chillies, chicory, courgettes, cucumbers, fennel, globe artichokes, green beans, kohlrabi, lettuce and other salad leaves, leeks, marrows, okra, pak choi, parsnips, peppers, pumpkins /squashes, radishes, potatoes, spinach, spring onions, swedes, sweetcorn, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, basil, chives, coriander, dill, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme…
Why eat seasonal food?... it’s fresher, tends to be tastier, packs a more nutritional punch, reconnects you with Nature’s growing cycle, good for the planet as in fewer food miles, more cost effective and you are supporting the local economy.
With this in mind, ‘let’s eat the season’ with a few interesting foodie facts on some of our favourites…
Plums belong to the same family as peaches, cherries and apricots, botanically classified as part of the Rosaceae family. Plums are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are particularly high in vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and dietary fibre. These nutrients contribute to various health benefits, including improved digestion, stabilizing blood sugar levels and supporting immune function. Plums are often referred to as “nature’s remedy” for constipation, with their gentle laxative effect due to their high fibre content. The deep colour of plums is a sign of their high antioxidant content, thus helping protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation. In some cultures, plums are considered a symbol of good luck, abundance, and fertility.
Blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant contents of any food. This berry contains anthocyanins, a powerful phytonutrient that has shown to protect the brain from stress and may reduce the effect of age-related conditions. Blackberries are also high in fibre and Vitamins C, E and K. Whether eaten straight from the plant, baked into cakes, stewed into jam or fermented as wine, blackberries offer a sweet and delicious taste of late summer.
I came across Blackberry Syrup, an old-fashioned remedy for coughs and colds-
280ml white wine vinegar
Place the blackberries in a bowl (glass or china preferably, to avoid staining) and pour the vinegar over. Leave to stand for at least 24 hours, stirring and pressing the berries regularly. Strain the mixture through muslin, squeezing out as much juice as you can, into a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Add the sugar, stirring constantly to ensure it all dissolves, and then add the honey, continuing to stir well. Bring to a hard boil for 5 minutes before leaving to cool. Store in a bottle or in ice-cube trays in the freezer. Add 1-2 tablespoons to a glass of hot water before bed.
Beetroot is a powerful antioxidant which helps reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as supporting gut health, liver function, brain health, blood sugar regulation, lowering blood pressure and potentially having anti-cancer properties. Studies have shown beetroot juice to have a greater antioxidant capacity than most other fruit and vegetable juices (only pure pomegranate came higher). Beetroots contain high levels of nitrates, which, when eaten, are converted to nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide relaxes our veins and arteries, allowing blood to flow freely and so reduces blood pressure. Researchers, funded by the British Heart Foundation, found that drinking just 250ml of beetroot juice every day significantly lowered blood pressure over the four-week duration of the study. In addition, this folate-rich vegetable is regularly used to boost athletic endurance and support muscle recovery. For example, athletes drinking beetroot juice up to a couple of hours before training can run set distances in shorter times and train for longer before tiring. Additionally, athletes drinking 250ml of beetroot juice after intense training recovered much faster . All this is thanks to the nitrates in beetroot causing our blood flow to improve, meaning oxygen and nutrients can be delivered to muscles more efficiently during exercise. Loaded with lots of beneficial vitamins and minerals, this earthy-tasting vegetable has an excellent nutritional profile. Both the leaves and the roots are exceptionally high in folate. Needed to support our cells' growth and repair, folate also plays a crucial role in our immune and nerve function. Just one raw medium beetroot will provide 44% of the recommended daily intake. That same beetroot will also provide us with 12% of the recommended daily intake of manganese. This mineral plays a critical role in bone formation and supports antioxidant activity in the body. Beetroot also contributes to our daily potassium, magnesium, copper, iron, vitamin C and zinc intake. A truly versatile root veg, beetroot can be juiced, steamed, roasted, grated raw into salads, pickled, fermented or blended.
Please Note beetroots and beetroot leaves, which can be cooked like spinach, are high in oxalates, a naturally occurring compound. High levels of oxalates can trigger kidney stone formation in susceptible people, so they might be best avoided if there’s a history of this condition. Oxalates can also be a problem for people with digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome and malabsorption issues such as coeliac disease and Crohn's.
And lastly, beetroot can make your pee turn red! Officially known as beeturia, this harmless condition only affects about 15% of the population.
Courgettes a.k.a zucchinis, are part of the squash family. They are a good source of protein, vitamin A, thiamin, niacin, phosphorus and copper, and a very good source of dietary fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, potassium and manganese.
The health benefits of courgettes include improved digestion, anti-aging effects, lowers blood sugar levels, supports healthy circulation and a healthy heart, improves eye health, boosts energy, benefits for weight loss, improves thyroid and adrenal functions, protects against oxidation and inflammation. Its flowers can be eaten stuffed and are a delicacy when deep fried. Courgettes contains more potassium than bananas!
Chilli peppers - contrary to popular belief chilli pepper seeds are not the spiciest part of the pepper. The “hottest” part of the pepper is actually the part of the pepper where the seeds are located next to the pepper's white membrane. Capsaicin, is the active ingredient in chillies that causes the heat. Chilli pepper is a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Copper and Manganese and a good source of Dietary Fiber, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus.
The health benefits of chilli peppers include improving cognitive function, contributing to red blood cell formation, reducing blood pressure and preventing cardiovascular disease, anti-inflammatory properties, acting as natural pain reliever, clearing nasal congestion, soothing intestinal diseases and disorders, boosting immunity and maintaining healthy eyes.