Autumnal shifts in Turkey come in subtly but regardless of where you live in Turkey, you will surely notice the new harvests making their way to the markets and menu changes at your favorite restaurant when September begins.
Drying herbs, peppers, eggplants and tomatoes and pickling and preserving the last of the summer bounty will be at the top of the serious Turkish chef’s fall chores. Farmers are still bringing fresh produce from the fields and much to the consumer’s delight fall is the season of pomegranates, pumpkins and quince. Pears, apples, figs, citrus and melons also replace the summer stone fruits on the stands. A popular dessert during this time is pumpkin or quince cooked and served with kaymak, the local clotted cream.
Root vegetables like carrots and beets are also in season. Onions, leeks, and celeric root are also good buys now. All of these vegetables are made into mezes or olive-oil-based dishes. Unusually large cabbages are often found chopped into family sized pieces at the local markets and home cooks often take them home to make tasty stuffed cabbage leaves.
With four seas surrounding Turkey, there is an abundance of seafood. September marks the start of the fishing season. Make friends with your local fish monger who will direct you to the freshest options and then clean it to your specifications. With the wealth of fish available, local favorites are the Black Sea anchovies, usually fried in a corn meal coating or prepared with a special rice, grilled sea bream and sea bass, and the lufer-the local blue fish.
September also marks the grape harvest for wines. Turkey is home to many native varietals and vineyards can be found through the country from Thrace to Central Anatolia. Many small producers here are becoming masters at their craft and Turkish wines are experiencing a surge in popularity and quality. Once the grape harvest is finished, October is the time for olive picking. These will end up at your breakfast table or pressed into olive oil. While some favorite seasonal foods may disappear from your diet come Autumn, there is no dearth in delicious replacements with the rich fall bounty that comes rolling in when the weather cools down.