SEA­SONAL SUPPERS

The Irish Times Magazine - - FOOD- FILE - JP McMA­HON

We bade farewell to au­tumn this week.“Sea­son of mists and mel­low fruit­ful­ness,” wrote the English poet John Keats in his paean to au­tumn in 1819.

Keats wrote won­der­fully of how the fruits of au­tumn grow and sub­se­quently de­cline over the course of the sea­son. Now it’s at an end, it’s time to use up what is left of au­tumn’s bounty.

Driv­ing to Cork, I travel through roads lined with fall­ing leaves of all colours.

But what of the fruits? Where are they all hid­den?

We may be used to ap­ples from the su­per­mar­ket, but how many of us get a chance to climb up a tree? Or pick wild plums from an old or­chard.

Prob­a­bly never, but keep an eye up­wards in case you hap­pen across some late treats.

Soft fruits, such as plums, peaches and apri­cots don’t fare par­tic­u­larly well in Ire­land. Though that has not stopped us us­ing them. Global trade is not a new phe­nom­e­non. It is just more wide­spread than it once was. Apri­cots have been en­joyed in Ire­land for hun­dreds of years and have been suc­cess­fully grown in the south, though un­der the pro­tec­tion of walled gar­dens or con­ser­va­to­ries. Stewed, dried and pick­led are some of the ways we have en­joyed these for­eign fruits over the cen­turies.

Sweet pick­led peaches were pop­u­lar in the 17th and 18th cen­turies in sev­eral ‘ Big Houses’. We must re­mem­ber be­fore the fridge and freezer, all fruits needed salt, vine­gar or sugar to be pre­served.

This time of year, I like to make an apri­cot chut­ney to pos­si­bly pair with pork, or grill them to serve with some au­tumn lamb.

Be­cause apri­cots have a sweet- and- sour qual­ity, they marry well with both savoury and sweet food stuffs.

Apri­cot jam with choco­late, as makes up the fa­mous Sacher­torte from Vi­enna, is an ex­cel­lent com­bi­na­tion for dark­en­ing evenings.

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