It’s still late autumn as I write this, although the crisp nights are signalling winter is just around the corner.

I never bemoan the change to the cooler season. For the avid gardener and cook, it heralds different chores and inevitably a completely different source of inspiration.

What may concern us with colder weather is the increased prevalence of colds and flu. This year it’s likely to be especially so, as our efforts to ‘flatten the curve’ over the past two years have had us washing our hands and social distancing much more often. As a result, we had no flu cases to speak of and our immune systems just haven’t had the workout they would normally have over a winter of socialising or playing.

The trick will be to support and build our immunity as much as possible this year, give it a real BOOST. Vitamin and mineral supplements are often recommended. But of course, it’s the nutritional value of what we choose to eat that is most critical. ‘Good food matters’ is a useful mantra to keep in mind when you’re planning what you are going to eat. Local, seasonal and as fresh as possible is a good start.

In our beautiful region, although there are no frosts yet, we’ve harvested all of our (nine varieties of) pumpkins at our Dairy Flat farm, just in case. After all, it’s possible to lose the lot with just one frost.

Hoophouses are still yielding late autumn tomatoes, eggplant and every imaginable variety of peppers. We’re also harvesting beans. In the vegetable beds there are masses of greens, that include the lemony taste of sorrel and the biting heat of various mustard leaves.

And of course, there are all the roots and tubers. Beautiful baby carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, turnips and the super interesting and highly adaptable Hamburg parsley, are all abundant. Brassicas are coming on and we have our first harvest of the season of beautiful baby leeks and salsify.

Orchard apples and pears are still being picked. But the fruit of the moment is undoubtedly quince. A quick forage around some old plantings down country lanes recently also unearthed several trees still laden with damson plums. They were often originally grown as hedge rows, so do keep a look out. Herbs and ‘forgotten weeds’ that are still around and in flower, include beautiful aromatic blue flowered rosemary and the super useful orange calendula. Even our lemon verbena is still hanging on.

Alla WolfTasker Health Produce 3 e1653975065266 uai
Dairy Flat Farm Produce. Photo by Marnie Hawson.

And really that’s just scratching the surface. Yet we inevitably think of the colder months as being lean and limited as far as fresh, highly nutritious choices are concerned.

And that’s the thing – every single one of the foods mentioned above have their own amazing list of nutritional benefits, from antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, to a raft of essential vitamins and minerals.

They are also all local and in season. Get out and about in the farmers’ markets of the region and take home a good array. Daylesford’s Sunday market at the railway station has several organic produce stalls. Pick up some beautiful – also very good for you – local honey while you are there.

We are regularly told that adding diversity to our diets improves the nutritional worth of what we consume. Build variety in your cooking. Try some of the lesser-known tubers mentioned above with your next local Brooklands‘ free range whey fed pork roast. Or just roast them on their own, adding wedges of onions and whole heads of garlic. Present them at the table drizzled with hommus and a pesto made from the green carrot tops, nuts and a good local olive oil. Add a side salad of winter leaves, some really good bread from our Dairy Flat Farm Bakers or from Two Fold (both at the market). Add in some essential good company (boy did we discover how much we missed that) and you’re well on the way to a truly healthy experience.

Here’s to a winter of wellness for all of us.

Go Strong,

Alla WolfTasker Health Produce 4 e1653975117514 uai
Alla Wolf-Tasker AM. Photo by Marnie Hawson

About the author

Alla Wolf Tasker
Alla Wolf-Tasker AM, Lake House
Website | More Articles

Alla Wolf-Tasker AM’s story is the stuff of legend. With over 30 years in the region, she has transformed a downtrodden country plot of land into a thriving culinary restaurant, and consequently a food-producing community. Lake House is recognised around the world as one of this country’s great restaurants, and it continues to win numerous accolades within Australia and overseas.