Autumn is perhaps our busiest season around the Kitchen Gardens – but while there is much to be done as we bring in the harvest and prepare for winter, there is something immensely fulfilling about this time of year. The word ‘harvest’ comes from the Old English word hærfest meaning ‘autumn’, aptly the season for gathering the food of the land.
October is a month ripe with heartier root veggies and squashes, sweet autumn raspberries (perfect for puds), and apples from our orchards which are delicious eaten fresh but our chefs will also preserve them to be used throughout the winter!
We sowed the seeds for winter squash back in April – they are veg that takes their time to grow but are well worth the wait!
Ollie our Head Kitchen Garden for THE PIGs said, ‘I always find it exciting visiting the squash patch and discovering the big bright fruits hidden amongst the vines.’ Winter squash is one of our favourites at THE PIG because it is such a versatile vegetable that can easily be worked into soups, stews, gratins and tarts and mixed with grains and salads or on its own as a simple side dish. For tips on how to grow your own winter squash for next year click here.
As well as squash we will also harvest a colourful range of root crops including beetroots, carrots, and parsnips.
Low in fat, full of vitamins and minerals and packed with powerful antioxidants, beetroots are a great root crop to grow as they make the perfect addition to most meals. The earthy and sweet beetroot flavour makes a great base for lots of our autumnal dishes - we are currently harvesting Boldor beetroots which are golden in colour and have a sweeter flavour than most red varieties. Get a taste of our Boldor beetroots in a linguini dish served with goats’ cheese and tarragon at THE PIG-near Bath.
Why not try our our Beetroot and Blue Vinny salad at home – a light and fresh dish for a sunny autumnal day!
Of course, carrots and parsnips come into their own at this time of year as we look forward to tucking into them with festive feasts! Across THE PIG group we grow around 40 varieties of carrots and have done since we opened our doors back in 2011. Some of the varieties we grow across the group are Autumn King, Purple Sun, Sweet Candle, Red Samurai and Early Nantes. Carrots are packed with vitamin A and are a good source of antioxidants, and parsnips are full of fibre, vitamin C and K.
Speaking of Christmas, our Brussel sprouts and Kalettes start to come into season later in the autumn. Kalettes, a member of the brassica family and are a hybrid combination of kale and Brussels sprouts that have a mild and nutty flavour - read more in Colin’s guide to Kalettes.
We also have some autumn raspberries harvesting early this month, they start to come out late summer/ early autumn in August and September, they are so beautiful in their rich red and gold colours. We grow lots of varieties of autumn raspberries – in the fruit cages at THE PIG-at Harlyn Bay we have two autumn varieties Joan J and All Gold that will be used in the puds served up this October. Our raspberries can be on our menus for months once they have been preserved.
Salad Onions are also being harvested, we have a mix of Ramrod and Reddy salad onions which are being tempura deep fried and served with a lemon verbena and onion top dressing – delicious!
Lastly, we are excited to be producing mushrooms in our mushroom houses this month! We have not been producing mushrooms since March, during lockdown we made the tough decision to stop mushroom production due to the costs involved. Our teams are very excited to get back to the mushroom houses and start producing mushrooms again – you can try THE PIG’s classic Oyster mushrooms on toast, a real comforter!
October is all about apples and we have our own orchards, at THE PIG-near Bath there are 20 orchard trees. At our latest opening THE PIG-at Harlyn Bay we have a mix of apple trees including Cox’s, Newton Wonder, Orange Pippin, Exquisite and Ellison’s Orange and Prince Albert.
At THE PIG in Brockenhurst we had a bumper harvest this year of nearly 750kg of apples including a very productive year from the Laxton Superb – a late-season firm textured dessert apple that our pastry chefs will use for a caramelised apple tart!
Tuck into some our delicious Kitchen Garden harvest, book a table here!