October Traditions, Recipes, Folklore and More

From seasonal produce to historical legends, what can we expect, eat and anticipate in October.

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”- Oh Autumn, how great thou art! Leaves golden, red, yellow, copper and orange, paint the trees that stand like beacons heralding in our barren months of Winter. Before the cold and deep, dark depths of Winter is drawn over our lives like a heavy, velvet curtain, Autumn shines its burnished hues and glimmering ochre sparks. The air is crisper but filled with the scent of woodsmoke, falling leaves and apples sweetly rotting and fermenting on the ground. At Dorset Adventure Park all is quiet and all is still. The burnished flash of pheasants gleam through the sky and settle amongst the woods and hedgerow of the dorset water park. Streaks of bronzed deer bolt across the fields, forest and between the settled, sheltered lakes. A hunter’s moon sets Corfe Castle aglow with its russet hues, as it gazes out across the water park. That burning red russet of the blood moon makes the ancient castle bleed once more, every October, with or without its history in the Civil War. The Dorset Adventure Park mud trail waits wet, freezing and much less appealing than on the hot or humid days of summer. The tourists have packed up their suitcases and their footsteps no longer trail through the Swanage sands. The land is left for those who live upon it. Where we would once all gather together to collect and celebrate the harvest of barley, wheat and corn of fish and of fruit, we now taste new traditions. Yet, we can still sample and enjoy what October has to offer. Rediscover recipes and remedies with October’s seasonal ingredients. 

Which Fruit is in season?

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Quince
  • Autumn-fruiting raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Figs
  • Grapes

Remember the Harvest Festivals of your primary or Sunday school days? Well there is a reason why they were almost always celebrated and the occasion marked with apple pies and blackberry and apple crumbles. These very British tastes of autumn reflect the fruits of the season. It is the taste of tradition and of nostalgia. 

Early Autumn is the perfect apple picking season and as such, is also the season for making and sampling cider. 

Here are the links to recipes for Delia Smith’s Caramelised Apple Flan and CountryFile Magazine’s guide to homemade cider

What vegetables are in season?

  • Beetroot
  • Cabbage
  • Calabrese (often called broccoli in the shops)
  • Celeriac
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Chard
  • Chillies
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi (otherwise known as the german turnip)
  • Leeks
  • Marrow
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions and shallots
  • Pak choi
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes (maincrop)
  • Rocket
  • Spinach
  • Swede and turnip
  • Winter squash and pumpkins

Although most often visited during the summer months, Purbeck is a beautiful place in the Autumn. Heathlands are filled with heather that blooms throughout the season, turning the scenery into a constant glow of an amethyst twilight. As dusk settles and tucks us in for the night, a lot of us will be enjoying hearty stews and root vegetable soups. These traditionally autumnal meals aren’t just eaten because they are warming and comforting against the chill but heavily feature the seasonal vegetables that are ready to eat during October and autumn. Now we live in a world of 24 hour supermarkets and of global trade, which provides us with every product being available any day of the year, whatever the month or season. We can still make the most of what is on our doorstep and enjoy a delicious bowl of stew washed down with a glass of crisp cider or warmed with spices. 

Click here to discover Delia Smith’s recipe for ‘Old-fashioned Shin of Beef Stew’. Pair the dry cider used in Delia’s recipe with a recipe for mulled cider from BBC Good Food Guide.

What is a Hunter’s Moon?

‘The Hunter’s Moon is the first full moon after the Harvest moon and is a super-lunar event that falls between October and November.’ Otherwise known as ‘The Blood Moon’ due to the remarkable red and orange glow cast because this moon hangs lower in the sky and appears during one of the shortest gaps between the sunsetting and the moon rising. ‘The Anglo-Saxons called October “Winterfylleth” — it means “fullness of winter”. The reason they called it that? It’s because October has the first full moon of the winter season.’ Traditionally this provided a unique phenomenon that allowed extra light for hunting and stocking up stores before the harshness or Winter set in once more. 

What Seasonal Remedies Are There?

The bashful, tangled, prickle of the climbing dog rose not only blooms pretty pink flowers that decorate early Summer hedgerows but produces the promise of Autumn rosehips. These sweet rosehips can often be foraged from the end of September through to December. 

Rosehips are gathered and turned into rosehip syrup, a traditional remedy that celebrates the amount of vitamin C found in rosehips. Click here for the River Cottage Rosehip Remedy

The Calendula plant is also the birth flower for those born during the month of October. This herbaceous perennial flower: ‘can be used as many herbal medicinal remedies for headaches, toothaches, stomachaches, fever reducers and menstrual cramps. It can reduce swelling in insect bites, sprains, jaundice, sore eyes, wounds and other skin irritations when the calendula is made into an ointment.’ What is more, ‘pharmacological studies have suggested that Calendula extracts may have anti-viral, anti-genotoxic, and anti-inflammatory properties’. These bright golden-orange edible flowers can also be used to brighten up salads (a traditionally winter dish!). 

Discover a remedy for Calendula Cream  to soothe Winter-chapped skin, by following the link.

Whichever plants you choose to pick or remedies and recipes you try,  we look forward to seeing you when the seasons swing to Summer once more. Until then, look out for the Hunter’s Moon on Sunday the 9th of October. 

Words by Olivia Lowry

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