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Mid-September is the time for apples and grapes

Sat, 5 September, 2020

Berries are out! For another year, except the raspberry varieties that ripen in autumn. Or brambles, sure thing.

I have been buying blueberries happily all summer long, coming mainly from Kent, occasionally from Spain or Poland but the last batch I ordered (serves me right for shopping online only) to my horrified eyes bore Zimbabwe as country of origin on the label. So not only have I trampled my carbon footprint all over the place but I committed a crime against seasonality as well, as they are clearly finished in Europe now. The blueberries were weird too: very large but so firm they tasted like cherries. No wonder, not exactly an indigenous fruit to South Africa.

Let’s face it: mid-September is not the time for berries but for apples and grapes instead, and so gorgeous are the grapes I should have got my seasonalities right sooner. I like the Spanish pale red ones best and they usually are the best from less upmarket stores: the cheaper, the better. So set off for the market or Lidl to get your grapes.

If you think grapes don’t work in cakes, fair enough – but they work in bakes, like the grape focaccia or Tuscan schiacciata. You can throw them into salads – check out feta and walnut salad with grapes – and to meat dishes like roast lamb breast or pork chops.

If you have more grapes than you can eat, make your own raisins. Using a dehydrator or a drying function in your oven – or simply setting the fan oven to low, low, low, like 70-80C/176F - you can make your own raisins and I can promise you there are not many things more delicious than that. Mine usually don’t make it far off the dryer but if your willpower is stronger, keep them in airtight containers and add to cakes or these gorgeous breakfast challah buns.

Elsewhere look out for red mullet which seems to be cheaper this season due to restaurants not buying as much. Sprats are a great buy too, cheap, cheerful and full of that healthy omega stuff.

Barbecue season might be waking up again for a day or two so how about spicy chicken wings? Even if the barbie has been packed away, chicken wings are forever, likewise baked meatballs Korean barbecue style. Served with crispy caramelised cabbage perhaps?

Those and more so browse away, keep safe and cook well!