The temperatures have dropped and autumn has made its appearance in Switzerland. While many people are sad to see summer go, food writer Franziska Wick from Little Zurich Kitchen couldn't be more excited about the arrival of her favourite season. Here are her ideas about how to make the most of Swiss autumn food.
To get into autumn mood, go for a wander through your local farmers market once a month and see how the produce is changing from summer to autumn fruit and vegetables.
Once apple season has started, buy some apple varieties that are only available in autumn, such as Gravensteiner or spot the first unpasteurized, unfiltered apple juice of the season. Get some parsnips and if you don't like them in soups and stews, make this delicious parsnip and maple syrup cake
Beetroot, another autumn and winter vegetable, is great as salad, raw or cooked, and it goes well in a smoothie with oranges or apples. Savoy cabbage calls for hot and comforting soups on cold and foggy autumn nights and once quinces appear at the markets you know that autumn is nearing its end and the cold winter months are just around the corner. Quince can't be eaten raw but they make delicious quince jelly which we Swiss use as a spread on a buttered slice of bread.
Photo: Marcus Gyger/Swiss Tourism
Another sign that autumn is here is when the ice cream stalls make way for the roasted chestnut stalls. Most chestnut trees that can be found in Switzerland are of the inedible horse chestnut variety (apart from in Ticino), so the chestnuts you collect yourself are most probably only good for crafting, not for eating, but you can buy edible chestnuts from Italy at the markets and in supermarkets and roast them yourself in the oven, or you can get a freshly roasted bag of chestnuts from a stall in your town, preferably at sunset when the temperatures drop and those warm chestnuts make both your cold hands and your soul happy.
To make it even more autumn-like, enjoy a glass of Sauser/vin nouveau with your roasted chestnuts. Sauser is a very young wine, with the fermentation process just started when the liquid is being bottled in November, making it a bubbly drink which is only slightly alcoholic. Get a non-pasteurized one from the market (expensive) or a supermarket (a lot cheaper) but make sure you don't miss the short unpasteurized Sauser season which only lasts a few weeks!
To celebrate Swiss autumn at home, bake a traditional Swiss plum tart
or apple tart or cook a batch of red cabbage
with caramelized chestnuts and homemade Spätzli
with some meat or sausage if you like. It's also the time that the Swiss celebrate the start of the Suppeziit (soup season); here are nine traditional Swiss soups
to try this autumn.
Photo: Robert Boesch/Swiss Tourism
Autumn is also a glorious time to spend your weekends in the great outdoors, with the trees turning yellow and red and the soft light of the autumn sun. Pack some sausages, potatoes, salads and drinks and head to the forest for a campfire lunch with your family or friends. Let the heat of the fire warm up your skin and if you have children, collect a bagful of beautiful leaves, sticks and nuts and use them for autumn crafts on a rainy afternoon.
It's also the time when the beechnuts are ripe, they're edible and delicious – it's said you shouldn't eat too many of them uncooked, but my family usually eat quite a bit of them and never have had an issue. You can find them lying on the ground around the beech trees in forests and parks.
Another Swiss autumn must do is visiting an autumn funfair or harvest/wine festival. They're happening all over Switzerland and are a great time to enjoy some Swiss funfair food such as fried apple fritters
with vanilla custard, roasted and sugar coated almonds
, raclette, garlic bread, Magenbrot cookies and more.
For the carnivores, autumn is also the time for eating game and the Metzgete, a feast at which the meat from freshly slaughtered animals is eaten.
For me personally, it's not mainly the autumn foods itself that make this season so appealing, but the fact that that most autumn food and drink is only available for a very limited time. This makes me enjoy them to the fullest and it helps me being mindful and live the moment, something so valuable in our busy, often much too busy, world.