AUTUMN MEANS FRESH PRODUCE, STRONG FLAVOURS, SLOW COOKING AND A FIRE PIT
IF you’re feeling the autumn blues, eat a persimmon. That doesn’t cheer you up? Try a fig, pomegranate or nashi pear. For MasterChef runnerup, turned cookery teacher and author, Callum Hann, being able to enjoy fresh autumn produce is cosy consolation for saying goodbye to beach weather and balmy barbecues.
“I really love autumn, it’s the season for some of the best produce around,” he says.
“You still have the freshness of summer ingredients, but you can start to use some stronger flavours and heavier cooking techniques.”
An advocate for the Pick a Local, Pick SA campaign, Hann is passionate about eating seasonally and locally. Here are his top tips for making the most of autumn.
Persimmons are the unsung hero of autumn, according to Hann. “When they’re really ripe, you can freeze them and eat them with a spoon like a sorbet,” he says. “If they’re a little firmer, they’re great sliced in salads.” Figs have had a late season this year, and are currently at their sweet, jammy best. Now is also the time to add pumpkin, beetroot and brussels sprouts to your menu.
CHECK THE STICKER
If you’re a conservative fruit eater, choosing in-season varieties can seriously ramp up the taste factor. “It’s not all about the fancy fruits,” Hann says. “You can get apples and pears year-round, but when you’ve got fresh varieties coming out, like Royal Gala and Golden Delicious, you’ll see that not all apples are made the same. There’s nothing like biting into a freshly picked, crisp, sweet apple apple. Nashi pears are also great right now.”
TAKE A TASTE TRIP
While tropical summer fruits and herbs lend themselves to fresh Thai flavours, slowly simmered Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern dishes are ideal during cooler months. “Try things like tagine, with vegetables and spices, served with yoghurt and a cous cous salad,” Hann suggests. “Ratatouille is beautiful at the start of autumn. We’ve been cooking down capsicum and zucchini and serving it on toasted panini with buffalo mozzarella – that, with a warm coffee in the morning is heaven.”
HOST A COSY DINNER PARTY
Lockdown took autumn entertaining off the menu last year, so being able to host a seasonal feast is something to celebrate. Hann suggests emb embracing i th the season with ith a fire pit, where guests can kick off the meal with a glass of wine and some simple bruschetta on firetoasted bread. “Slow-cooked meals and stews are great for entertaining and allow you to get ahead in the game,” he adds. “You can have it simmering away at 4pm, and not have to do much in the kitchen when your guests arrive.”
Add autumn fruits to your savoury dishes for a delicious balance of texture and flavour. “I love breaching the line of what is sweet and what is savoury,” Hann says. “Duck with fig is incredible. Pomegranate gives you crunchy, sweet-sour jewels of glory, whether you sprinkle it over salad, on rich, oily fish or pork.”