Hotpot with sage leaves on black table

What’s in season – October

We've teamed up with Gardeners’ World to help you grow, cook and eat the best of the season. See our recipe picks for carrots, beetroot and sweet potatoes.

There’s something really harmonious about the seasonal ingredients available in October. In fact, some of our favourites listed here would be wonderful all roasted together – carrot, beetroot and sweet potato, chopped into even-sized pieces, drizzled with oil, flavoured with a pinch of cinnamon, garlic, coriander seeds and a bay leaf or two tucked in.

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Roast until soft and starting to caramelise, then season and serve as a side dish to your roast, the base of a curry or with lentils and goat’s cheese in a warm salad.

We’ve picked recipes that are richer and warming this month, but couldn’t resist adding the beetroot spritz for fun. It’s an ideal Halloween party beverage but also perfect for lazy evenings if there’s still a bit of warm weather around.

Carrots


Many different colours and shapes of carrot are available to grow now, but this season the maincrop types come into their own. Varieties such as Chantenay and Autumn King tend to be large, conical and orange. Underground since late spring, they’re tough enough for grating, but still taste sweet. Prize from the soil with a fork, taking care to get the whole root out. Harvest as needed, but protect from frost and watch out for carrot root fly damage.


Try our carrot & cumin hummus with swirled harissa with flatbreads to serve. 

Beetroot


With its earthy sweetness beetroot is brilliantly versatile and can be used in savoury and sweet dishes, and also drinks. Beetroot gives this cocktail a spookily lurid colour. We created it to serve with our very own Good Food murder mystery game, which you can download for free.


Serve these spooky blood beetroot cocktails at your next Halloween party.

Tip: Summer sowings of beetroot will be ready to harvest in autumn – look for roots that are about 5cm wide and choose them from all the way along the row, so you are thinning the crop at the same time and making room for others to grow. 

Bay leaves

Illustration of a bay leaf

Bay leaves impart their wonderful, almost floral perfume particularly well in creamy dishes. For me, bread sauce is nothing without a bay leaf, but you can try adding them to risottos or gratins, too.


These creamy baked onions are the perfect accompaniment to a roast dinner. Or try our slow-cooked pork, cider & sage hotpot.

Tip: Pick clean and pest-free leaves or shoots from all round the plant whenever needed. Dry them if you prefer a subtle flavour – the fresh leaves pack a more flavourful punch. 

Sweet potato


These are wonderful used in combination with pumpkins and squash because they’re denser and therefore provide added richness. By substituting some sweet potato for ordinary butternut squash (like in this recipe) the result will be creamier, as if it had been made with, perhaps, an onion squash or kabocha squash.


Warm up with this sweet potato & butternut squash soup with lemon & garlic toast.

Tip: If you’re not going to eat your sweet potatoes straight after harvest, cure them by leaving in the sun for six days before storing in a cool, dry, but not refrigerated place. 

Garden tasks for October

  • Sow broad beans, carrots and peas but protect the seedlings with cloches when it’s cold.
  • Plant garlic cloves – a period of cold will help the plants to thrive later.
  • Cut asparagus stems down to the ground and mulch with well-rotted garden compost.
  • Harvest and store apples and pears in a cool, frost-free place, rejecting any that are damaged.
  • Tie grease bands around the trunks of fruit trees to protect them from winter moths.

For more seasonal gardening tips, see Gardeners’ World.

Seasonal food dates for October


7-13 October: Curry Week

Spice up your week with our squash, chickpea & coconut curry or this one-pot paneer curry pie.

19 October: International G&T day
Celebrate in style with our gin & tonic cake, gin & tonic pancakes and our best citrus gin review.

21 October: Apple Day
Try Diana Henry’s salad of roast carrots, apple & lentils with chilli & preserved lemons.

28 Oct-3 Nov: UK Sausage Week
Choose from four epic hot dogs in our Bonfire Night recipe collection

31 October: Halloween
See our Halloween collection for terrifying party ideas forteenagers, or for spooky drinks inspiration see our Halloween cocktail collection.

See our seasonal calendar for more inspiration.

More seasonal recipes and information…

Autumn recipes
Autumn vegetarian recipes
Healthy autumn recipes
Autumn vegan recipes
Autumn cake recipes
Autumn soup recipes

Which fruit and veg do you enjoy in October? Leave a comment below…


Emma Crawforth is a qualified horticulturist who trained at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and is the gardening editor for BBC Gardeners’ World. Miriam Nice is a published author and illustrator. She has written over 350 recipes for BBC Good Food.

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The October issue of BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine is on sale now.