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What to put on your plate in October

What's in season in France this month?

Quince, fig, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, peach, pear, apple, plum, damson and grape. Plus walnuts and chestnuts.

Focus on: the damson (quetsche in French) is a variety of elongated plums whose flesh is firm and less sweet than mirabelles or Reine-Claudes. Arriving in France under Louis XIV, it has become best acclim

atised to the silico-clay soils of Alsace where it is still harvested.

Buyer’s tips: check the origin of the damson you buy - those from Alsace are of superior quality. Like other plums, the damson must be spotless, not too hard, nor too soft.

Fish, shellfish and crustaceans
Anchovy, squid, conger, scallop, grey sea bream, haddock, red gurnard, herring, oyster, mackerel, whiting, mussels, red mullet and sardine.

Focus on: Squid (le calmar in French)
This cephalopod mollusc, cousin of the cuttlefish, bears different names according to its region of origin: encornet, chipiron in the Basque Country or supion in the Midi. There are over 300 species - Northern red squid, giant squid, Argentinian red squid, etc. The species most commonly consumed is common squid caught in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

Buyer’s tips: squid can be bought fresh or frozen in the form of white flesh, rings, heads and tentacles. It should be eaten quickly after purchase. Almost everything is eaten in a squid. It should be gutted and washed several times with clear water and then dried before cooking.

Oyster mushroom, cepes (porcini mushrooms), trompette de mort, sheep’s foot.

Carrot, celery, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprout, squash, courgette, cress, endive, spinach, fennel, green bean, lettuce, corn, turnip, onion, leek, potato, pumpkin, radish, salad.

Focus on: Brussels sprouts (le chou de Bruxelles in French). This leafy vegetable, from the brassicaceae family, is grown and marketed from October to February and France is the fourth largest producer of Brussels sprouts in Europe. 70% of production is carried out in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Loire Valley and Paris region regions.

Buyer’s tips: Brussels sprouts should be of a beautiful tender green, ranging from white to more pronounced green. The base must be very white and not dry. They will keep for 4 to 5 days in the fridge’s crisper and freeze well once cleaned.

Herbs to harvest in October
Chives, coriander, lavender, oregano, parsley, sage.

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