September is a great time to try new things with so much coming into season, and as the kids go back to school, it’s the perfect opportunity to experiment with new ingredients as well as busying yourself in the garden. Read our tips for making the most out of aubergines, chives, potatoes and chillies, and check out some gardening tasks to start you off for autumn. Finally, celebrate the best of nature’s bounty with our list of seasonal calendar dates to look out for this month, from Sourdough September to British Food Fortnight and Seed Gathering Season.
Aubergines drink up flavour so work brilliantly in curries, bakes and warm salads with punchy dressings. This griddled aubergine salad with sultanas & pine nuts from writer and stylist Sarah Cook is beautifully simple, too. Or try our baked ratatouille & goat’s cheese.
Tip: Aubergines come from the tropics, so they’re best grown in a greenhouse, with lots of watering and a humid atmosphere. Wait until each fruit has developed its full colour, then cut the stem, about 2cm above the fruit.
With their fresh oniony flavour and subtle garlicky pepperiness, just a few snips of these grassy stems can completely transform dishes. Sprinkle them on scrambled eggs, over a simple tomato salad or on anything fish or seafood-based. They make a brilliant shortcut, too, if you don’t have time to fry an onion – simply sprinkle some chopped chives over at the end. Try them in noodle dishes, soups made from leftovers and dips like our creamy goat’s cheese with chives & pomegranate.
This is the perfect time to dig up maincrop potatoes. They take longer to mature than new potatoes and keep well in paper sacks. Check the crop is ready by removing a little soil first. On a dry day, carefully fork the spuds out, one plant at a time, then lay them on the soil for a couple of hours, so the skins are dry before eating or bagging. Dig up all your potatoes in autumn to keep your plot clean for future veg growing. Try our potato, bacon & gruyère toastie.
Tip: We use Tom Kerridge’s method for ensuring delightfully crisp roast potatoes; dry out your parboiled tatties on a wire rack, then roast them in hot oil making sure the tray isn’t too crowded. You don’t need to flour the potatoes, or shake the pan to rough them up.
If you crave chilli heat, it’s tempting to add it to every dish. We especially love combining citrus, coriander and chilli in salads, or drizzling a mix of finely diced red chilli, garlic oil and parsley over a bowl of peeled soft-boiled eggs with some Greek yogurt. Try using chillies in this beetroot & chilli salsa.
Tip: We enjoy a hit of chilli in biscuits or desserts as well as savoury dishes. Try drizzling baked chocolate biscuits with melted white and dark chocolate, then sprinkle with finely chopped stem ginger, a pinch of chilli flakes and a little sea salt.
Garden tasks for September
- Ripen pumpkins by standing them on bricks
- Sow spinach in fertile soil to overwinter for a spring harvest
- Dig up and pot a few herb plants to keep under cover for autumn and winter pickings
- Sow dill and parsley under cover for early harvests next year
- Cut out the old fruited canes of blackberries, then tie in the new ones
- Get ready to plant new fruit trees and bushes by preparing beds and choosing suitable varieties from a catalogue or online
For more seasonal gardening tips, see Gardeners’ World.
Seasonal food dates in September
1-30 September: Sourdough September
Learn how to make this staple bread with our white sourdough recipe.
1-30 September: Organic September
Read more about what organic means and whether it’s really worth buying organic.
20 September: World Paella Day
Stir up one of our sizzling paella recipes.
23 September – 23 October: Seed Gathering Season
See our seasonal calendar for more inspiration.
More seasonal recipes and information…
Which fruit and veg do you enjoy in September? 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.
The September issue of BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine is on sale now.