Fresh Autumn Produce
When the leaves begin to change and the air becomes crisp, the time for autumn cooking approaches. It’s also time to seek out your local farmers’ markets and peruse the beautiful assortment of ripe autumn produce.
Once at a local farmers market, all you need to do is look around at what’s available. The point of a farmers’ market is to connect the community to local growers, but the markets also provide their customers with a crash course on seasonal produce. Just by looking around, you’ll be able to see what produce is in season. However, a short list never hurt anyone!
- Apples are available year ‘round, but the peak growing season is during autumn. Heading to a local apple orchard is another great way to buy fresh local produce while enjoying a fun outing.
- Mushrooms are another year ‘round option that is best during the fall. Try to avoid mushrooms with soft spots or ones that are slightly damp.
- Winter squash can be stored from autumn until spring, and they come in all sorts of varieties. The most popular are acorn, butternut, and spaghetti.
- Sweet potatoes come in two different varieties. Pale skinned sweet potatoes are more like white baking potatoes, while the dark sweet potatoes provide the sweet taste that reminds me of my mom’s holiday sweet potato casserole.
- Pears are very versatile and make wonderful additions to any recipe. For example, add pears to a lunchtime sandwich, use them for a delicious light dessert, or incorporate them into a unique salad.
- Pumpkins have become an American fall favorite. Try using fresh pumpkin instead of canned in this year’s Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, and enjoy an enhanced pumpkin experience. Also important to remember when picking out pumpkins is to make your selection based upon your intended use for the pumpkin. Believe it or not, there are many different varieties of pumpkin. If searching for a jack ‘o lantern pumpkin, gently knock on the outer surface of the pumpkins and listen for one that sounds hollow. The lighter in weight the pumpkin is, the lower the density of the pumpkin. If searching for a pie pumpkin, look for a smaller one that weighs about 4-6 pounds. These smaller pumpkins have a dense flesh and smooth texture, indicating higher sugar content for a tastier pie.
- Figs are not always perfect in appearance, but do not judge a book by its cover. This imperfect fruit is sweet to the taste with a chewy texture when eaten fresh. Usually figs are dried to create a great dried fruit snack that can be kept year round. However, fresh fig can also be useful for cooking and creating exceptional desserts.