Autumn turns this green and pleasant land into a hue of reds, oranges and golds. Crops are harvested, leaves fall and carpet the ground. Clocks go back an hour and apples, pears and root vegetables are available in abundance in the countdown to Christmas. Read on to explore Autumn comfort food.

When the weather transitions from mild to chilly, broths and casseroles are the perfect autumn comfort food. With or without meat, game or poultry, rich stews packed with vegetables and bursting with flavour are a sure-fire way to warm you through.

Making your own stock is easy enough, but takes time. Shop-bought stocks tend to be high in salt content. Keep your salt intake down and add depth and flavour to your dishes with herbs and spices.

Herbs are regular additions to hearty dishes. Pep up your pastry by adding herbs – thyme, sage, oregano, parsley, mixed with the flour indicated in your recipe. It works equally well with suet, for suet pastry pies or dumplings. Rosemary doesn’t just work with lamb – try coating beef in a coat of rosemary, fresh-cracked black pepper and garlic for a spectacular roast.

Garlic is a key tool to staying healthy in colder weather, and its benefits to heart health and immune system boosts is well documented. Garlic assumes slightly different flavours, depending how it is prepared and used. Roast garlic is subtle, easier to digest and comes with far fewer side effects than other cooking methods. Simply roast whole garlic heads (papery skin and the head of each clove removed), drizzled in olive oil and covered with foil until soft and lightly browned (about 30 minutes at 200C). When cool enough, slip the cloves from their skins and use according to taste.

Top tip

Eat parsley to help counter garlic breath!

Adding spices to drinks turns them into a tasty treat. Cider can be mulled, teas and coffees flavoured and puddings transformed with the addition of allspice, cloves, ginger or nutmeg.

Cinnamon really is a versatile spice. It’s best described as sweet and woody, and is well known for adding warmth to recipes, making it a great addition to comfort food. It goes particularly well with apples, in whatever form you present them: as a filling in pie, crumble and pancakes, or baked, braised or stewed. You can use cinnamon in savoury dishes too. Add a little more heat to your bolognaise with a pinch or two: it is wonderful added to fruit-stewed lamb. Add a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg to squash, swede or sweet potato mash.

Top tip

Try adding a cinnamon stick to caster or granulated sugar and seal the container – it’ll take two or three weeks to develop, but you’re left with cinnamon-infused sugar, perfect for hot drinks and recipes all-year long.

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