With the first day of autumn officially behind us, gone are the days of ripe summer peaches, fresh summer strawberries, and straight-from-the-vine summer tomatoes. Its that time of year again to start embracing the season of fall, and to begin cooking with all of the beautiful produce that comes with autumn harvests.
Given that most grocery stores stock produce all year-round, it can be difficult to know what produce is actually in season at different times of year. However, there’s something to be said for eating a piece of fruit, or a plate of vegetables that is perfectly at its peak, versus buying something that doesn’t taste quite right. Eating in season is an experience so delightful that its worth the extra research to figure out what produce is currently at its best, and it’s sure to enhance the flavor of whatever you cook. So, to guide you through your fall produce shopping, here is a list of some foods that are at their peak in autumn, and some ideas on how to incorporate them into your cooking.
Grapes: Surprisingly, grapes are at their peak-growing season throughout the fall. When the weather gets cooler, instead of choosing an out of season summer fruit, opt for a bunch of juicy purple grapes. This versatile fruit can be used in a variety of ways, from the centerpiece on a cheese tray, to a delicious chicken and grape salad.
Apples: Fall is apple season! Apples are picked from late summer through fall, and eating a fresh apple this time of year will be so delicious that its sure to remind you of autumn weekends spent apple picking and eating them straight off the trees when you were younger. To incorporate apples into your cooking, try baked apples with oats, butter, brown sugar and cinnamon for a simple fall dessert.
Pears: Pears are one of the few fruits that are at their ripest during the cool temperatures of fall. Always sweet and delicious, pick up a few pears in the coming months and bake them into a simple pear crisp for dessert. Best served warm over vanilla ice cream!
Brussels Sprouts: While most people have strong feelings about Brussels sprouts (either you love them or hate them), they can be a great hearty side dish to any fall meal. They are at their peak in the cooler months, so take advantage and incorporate Brussels sprouts into your cooking this fall. Try tossing them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasting them in the oven until they are golden and crispy.
Butternut Squash: Butternut Squash is a consistent fall favorite. Hearty and full of flavor, they are in season from early fall through winter. Add this great vegetable to your fall cooking by making a classic butternut squash soup to warm up on a cool day.
Greens- Swiss Chard & Kale: While greens are great to eat any time of year due to the nutritional benefits, they are the least bitter during the cooler months of fall. Cook them when they are at their peak, by incorporating them into a hearty soup or stew, such as lentil soup with Swiss chard and sausage. Not up for the work of cooking greens? Try making easy and delicious kale chips.
Sweet Potatoes: As a traditional autumn vegetable, sweet potatoes are at their sweetest in the fall and winter. Their bold orange color and creamy texture when cooked, makes sweet potatoes hearty and warming additions to any meal. Try cooking them this fall by taking a twist on the usual baked sweet potato, and instead make baked sweet potato French fries.