Just because the warm summer days are coming to the end doesn’t mean the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables are also ending. When the air turns cool and the trees turn to shades of red and orange, it is time to start filling our baskets with the taste of Fall.
Fall crops offer a range of robust flavors and textures. Your local grocery stores and farmers’ markets are full of apples, figs, pears, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and winter squash. As the season changes to cooler weather why not take the opportunity to try some new and exciting recipes featuring Fall produce.
There are thousands of varieties of apples, ranging from tender to crisp and sweet to tart. Although apples are available year around they’re best from September to November. When selecting apples look for firm, vibrantly colored apples with no bruises. They should smell fresh, nut musty. Skins should be tight and smooth.
While most mushrooms are available year-round, many are at their peak freshness in fall and winter. To select look for firm, evenly colored mushrooms. Avoid mushrooms that are broken, damaged, or have soft spots, as well as those that seem damp or smell of mildew.
Winter Squash are picked in the Autumn and are stored until spring. Some popular varieties are acorn, butternut, and spaghetti. The tastiest winter squashes will be solid and heavy with stems that are full, firm, and have a corky feel. The skin of the squash should be deeply colored with a matte finish. Avoid squash with cracks, soft spots, and moldy areas.
There are two common types of sweet potatoes-pale-skinned and dark-skinned. The pale sweet potato has a thin, light yellow skin and a pale yellow flesh. After it is cooked, it has a dry, crumbly texture, like a white baked potato, and its flavor is not sweet. The darker variety has a thicker skin and a bright orange flesh that is very sweet and moist when cooked. When selecting a sweet potato look for small to medium-sized with few bruises and smooth skin.
Pears are sweet and spicy, with a subtle aroma. Although a pear is usually thought of as a fruit to be eaten in its natural state, it can be just as versatile as the apple, especially during its peak season. When selecting pears test for ripeness by applying light thumb pressure near the pear’s stem. If it is ripe, there will be a slight give.
The list of Fall fruits and veggies is endless, this is only a few of my favorites. This Autumn I encourage to try a new recipes with one of these delectable items.