Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Autumn is coming - Cobnuts and Corn

Plums, new season's apples and glorious cobnuts

English Blueberries

There's no getting away from it; there is a change in the air, a chill which is different from a cold summer's day, the night's are drawing in rapidly.  But boy is the market an inspiring place right now.  The sight of the new season's apples, plums, corn cobs and squash is the most exciting appearance in the theatre of the market.  We have been spoilt through the summer for colour and variety, but autumn's variety has more statesmanship. Somehow it seems to be more senior, holding more respect.  I hear accusations of madness here; although I think it makes perfect sense.

Amongst Autumn's line up I  would rate the glorious return of cobnuts in my top 10 favourite seasonal moments.  Never mind the glorious 12th.  Although grouse will be the subject of a forthcoming post.

The cobnut is one of our very few regional and season specialities.  For us in the South East there are not many offerings which fall into this category.  Cobnuts are a first cousin of the hazelnut.  They grow in clusters of  6 nuts covered in a husk, looking like a star.  Early in the season they are green and very wet, fresh with a slight coconut flavour; as the short season progresses they become golden and drier with a nuttier flavour.

A favourite seasonal offering is to shell and roast the nuts then grind them and add to vegetable puree, such as pumpkin or roasted carrot.  To this puree, plonk some protein offering, like chicken or sea bream, mind you some flash fried duck, or duck confit for that matter, and the more I think of it, just about anything really.  The point is that the cobnut puree is sharing the leading role here, not supporting.

The other option here is to use them in a meringue, but that's bordering on showing off.  I'm not against that at all when it comes to cobnuts.  The real challenge in using cobnuts is to crack all of them ready for roasting or adding to what you like.  It is nigh on impossible to resist eating 2 and saving 1.  I suggest doing  the job when completely full.

Whilst they are so fresh and green enjoy them just for being themselves.  Although I do keep meaning to put them into a salad, they just never quite get there.

So having waxed lyrical about one of my top ten ingredients I will drag myself away and reflect on the English blueberry.   I bought some blueberries from the farmers market and made the humblest offering of blueberry jam.  Blueberry and cinnamon to be precise.  Couldn't have been easier.  It ends up costing about £4 a jar!!  But what price for that amount of joy in your jam?

At the risk of too much autumnal excitment I will break off here and put this post down to an exuberant celebration of the autumn feast on the eve of it's arrival.  

In the next few days I'm going to post some cobnut recipes and also the delightful blueberry and cinnamon jam.  

This is a great antidote to the melancolny of autumn's appearance, just not quite ready to give up the summer and the lament of the disappearing light, the joy of autumn's bounty is a compensation indeed.


  1. What a lovely post. I love the Autumn. I am watching my lovely bright red crab apples just starting to colour. These will be jelly fairly soon.I love the golds and reds creeping into the trees and shrubs,brambles in the hedgerows, the lengthening shadows. A perfect season.
    Blow the cost of your jam. It's one of Autumn's finest hobbies :)

  2. What a fabulous post. Autumn is my favourite season. I can't wait to start the comfort food style cooking again.


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