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Video: September: seasonal fruit and vegetables
2023 Author: Cody Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 19:13
Usually September is synonymous with restart: return from vacation, school, work. This year boh. Or rather, it depends. From our behavior and the progress of the pandemic. We hope well, and we cling to one of the few certainties that have remained affected by our events: the seasonal fruit and vegetables which has the biological clock as its only belief. What do we find this month? From the trees we pick bunches of grapes, figs, pears and plums; melons, peppers and aubergines resist in the garden, while the great season of cabbage, broccoli, pumpkin and celeriac begins, which will accompany us throughout the winter. And among the thorns of the cacti, the prickly pears, typical of Mediterranean gardens, peep out.
Also seasonal fish they go their own way (possibly direct to our plate): among the smallest specimens we find baby octopus to be done stewed or steamed in octopus and potato salad, mullet excellent alla livornese, and anchovies no more secrets with all the tips on how to cook them fresh. There are bigger sizes alalunga or albacore tuna, abundant in the waters around the island of Elba, sea bass which in salt is a classic but surprising in the sea gricia, and finally mahi mahi and turbot to slap in the oven with lots of potatoes and a veil of tomato.
From fishmongers to fruit and vegetables, we are ready to take out the September shopping list, really hoping that it will be useful in the schiscette of students and workers.
We all associate figs with the first month of autumn, so much so that we call cookies filled with their sweet jam September. However, things are a little more complicated than that: there are in fact early figs (the so-called early summer florons) and late figs or cimaruoli, top buds that ripen in late autumn. Those that sprout in this period are simply called figs, in name and in fact: they are distinguished from other varieties by aroma, succulence and sweetness. And in theory it is precisely these that we are dealing with when we talk about seasonal fruit in September.
In theory, because the fig would more correctly be a false fruit, or a fleshy infructescence which in turn encloses the ovaries of an inflorescence. And the oddities do not end there: from the sexuality of the plant (only the female gives edible fruit, and don't think badly), to the specific symbiosis with the pollinating insect, a species of wasp whose eggs we theoretically eat (bon appetite!), the fig is, how to say, a little confused. Despite this, it still remains one of the sexiest (fake) fruits ever.
September is the proverbial month for grapes, at least the one that is the protagonist of the harvest and destined to turn into wine. In this case we are talking about known varieties that arouse emotion and poetic inspiration just to hear them mentioned. The table grapes, on the other hand, are not queued up, at most they become material for easy Sunday kleptomaniacs who never miss an opportunity for "free" tastings at the supermarket. Instead, it is good to remember that table grapes also have their own dignity: throughout Italy we have very sweet and precious cultivars, in some cases even rare as the Slow Food Presidia Montonico Abruzzese and Pizzutello di Tivoli.
Then there are the most common Italy, Regina, Apulia Rose and Michele Palieri, so sugary that they make a dessert on their own: this is why it is good to pick the berries in moderation, especially if you suffer from diabetes. If possible, choose red berried varieties, whose skin is particularly rich in tannins and polyphenols. Above all, the resveratrol, an antioxidant phenol that plays an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular and cancer diseases. In short, the same thing as wine applies to grapes: no to excesses, but a portion (or a glass) a day is highly recommended.
We started talking about pears last month. You can find them at the supermarket all year round, of course, but you will have noticed that the varieties change according to the season. In September the Kaiser, of French origin with rust-colored skin and elongated shape, perfect for a spicy dessert of pears in red wine; the Spadona, an ancient Italian juicy and sugary variety; the Abbot Fétel, French pears with white pulp and large pieces; and the Dean of the Comitium, with a rounded shape and compact pulp, ideal for keeping the chocolate and pear cake cooking in the oven.
The purple at the September market is (almost) all thanks to the plums, which are increasingly large and rich in benefits for our body. Plums, which we refer to as "plums" when dried, are rich in fiber and vitamin A: translated means well-being for intestinal transit, skin, hair and nails. Among the mineral salts we find potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus, real natural "supplements" that give a nice energy boost to the body tired from heat, sweat and sport. Last but not least, an exquisite taste well balanced between sugary and acidic that makes them versatile in the kitchen even in savory preparations such as roast with caramelized plums.
The prickly pear is the fleshy berry of cactus flowers, a delight to be conquered by making your way through sharp thorns. All you need is a pair of gloves, a knife and a fork to gut the sweet yellow, red or white pulp. The varieties, widespread throughout the Mediterranean basin, ripen from August to December and are particularly popular in Sicily where we find two PDOs: Ficodindia dell’Etna and Ficodindia di San Cono.
However, there is another small island that is getting noticed for the quality of its cacti: it is Ponza, a small pearl of the archipelago of the same name south of Rome. The prickly pear parmigiana of Ponza is the typical recipe that replaces the shovels, or the "branches" of the prickly pear, to the eggplant and which this year has become a Traditional Agri-food Product, placing itself alongside local specialties such as sea tripe and fish roe. Whether it is a fruit or a stem, nothing is thrown away from the prickly pear (apart, of course, the thorns).
When we talked about melon varieties, we specified the one seasonal versatility: there are in fact summer species, with warm colors and juicy and sugary pulp, and winter, whose pulp tends to white or green with neutral flavors, less sweet but more thirst-quenching. September in this sense is a month of transition, in which we still find the orange Cantaloupe and Retato but also the yellow, the Piel de Sapo or Sardinian melon, with green skin and white pulp, and the Porceddu di Alcamo, Slow Food Presidium of Trapani.. To avoid mistakes, stop the time with melon jam, in order to preserve the flavor of your favorite variety in all seasons.
Great news: September marks the return of the pumpkin in a big way. Plant of American origin spread all over the world, there are hundreds of varieties of pumpkins with the most disparate shapes. The family is that of Cucurbits, divided in turn into Cucurbita pepo (to understand, the courgette), C. maxima (yellow or sweet pumpkin), C. moschata (with a twisted and elongated shape), C. ficifolia (Siamese pumpkin) and C. argyrosperma (ayote Mexican).
In short, there is an embarrassment of choice. Each pumpkin has specific characteristics depending on the sweetness and consistency of the pulp and, consequently, on the destination recipe: spaghetti squash, for example, becomes a substitute for pasta thanks to its stringy fibers; the very sweet Mantuan is a must in the filling of tortelli; the less consistent Neapolitan lends itself to soups and jams; finally, the firmer violin is perfect for pumpkin cutlets, a vegetarian alternative to the classic chicken or veal. The repertoire continues to the next episode, with the exploit of October in which the pumpkin truly becomes the queen of the table and folklore linked to Halloween.
Celery is a bit like Doctor Jekyll & Mister Hyde. We are used to seeing its light and herbaceous side, a green tuft available all year round for sautéed, soups and dips. And then, starting from September, we notice its dark side hidden underground: celeriac, a little reassuring vegetable with a clumsy and lumpy appearance. Yet, despite appearances, it possesses countless properties and benefits for the body. Diuretic, purifying, remineralizing and low-calorie, celeriac is characterized by a delicate taste suitable for various preparations: from classic velvety (to try the combination with apple), to "cutlets" to be consumed as a side dish or second vegan. To find out more about celeriac, here's how to use it in the kitchen.
Throughout the summer and until late autumn, pepper is a permanent presence in the kitchen capable of declining into many different recipes. If in July we appreciated it raw or blended in a very fresh gazpacho, in September we would like to enjoy it stuffed or as an accompaniment to bagna cauda, the hot Piedmontese sauce made with garlic, oil and anchovies. The recipe book changes according to the weather and the types of pepper: from July to November we find the Slow Food Presidia Carmagnola horn of ox, Capriglio del Monferrato heart-shaped, small and very sweet Neapolitan Papaccella and the upturned pepper of Polizzi Generosa, delicious simply roasted.
September officially marks the (literal) entry into the field of the Brassicaceae, the large and varied family of cabbages. From kohlrabi to the Hood, until the broccoli, all the varieties share the presence of sulfur compounds responsible for the intense smell and the bitter and pungent taste. The isothiocyanates, this is the scientific name, will also have little appeal on the palate and nose: yet it has been shown that the benefits on the body are manifold, especially in the prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer. It would therefore be appropriate, dear fussy eaters, to try a little, also because there are so many recipes based on Cavoli & Co that are absolutely delicious. Take the pasta with broccoli arriminati, a Sicilian specialty recently celebrated by the New York Times; or oriental cabbage for a delicious aperitif; or all the fillings and rolls and salads that you can enrich with these vegetables. Come on, a little creativity and if you need a pinch of courage: very little will be enough to make you conquered by the Brassicaceae.
We would never get tired of zucchini, and luckily they keep us company even in September. The family is the same as the pumpkins (C. pepo), with the difference that here we find much more water and mineral salts, including potassium, calcium and phosphorus. Like pumpkin, the ways to cook them are almost infinite: simple in the zucchini au gratin, traditional in the scapece, delicious in the flan. Even sweets in the mixture of muffins and zucchini bread, a variation on the theme of the pumpkin spiced donut also called pumpkin bread. At any meal and for any occasion, you know which ingredient to count on.
The glorious eggplant season is slowly heading towards winter rest. The typically oblong vegetable is still briefly the undisputed protagonist of the cuisine of the whole Peninsula, from the celebrated parmigiana main dish of Naples, to Sicilian-style eggplant rolls seasoned with lots of cheese and tomato. Take advantage now friends, that in the following months only the memory of these delicious summer dishes will remain. Then of course, at the supermarket you can always stock up on aubergines made in series, without time or flavor. Is it really worth it? We always recommend the seasonal and above all local option: to find your way around, here is a small guide to the types of aubergines according to shape, color and origin.
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