Every season offers its unique bounty. The nostalgic and traditional foods of fall are based on fresh fruits and vegetables that reach their peak flavor during autumn. Many favorite fall ingredients are available frozen or canned throughout the year, but nothing can top produce that’s harvested and eaten fresh from the vine, root, or tree as nature intended.
No autumn would be complete without the crisp, bright flavor of apples. Many varieties grown in the U.S. are harvested in the fall. The selection can be overwhelming to choose from, but it’s easier when you narrow the field by intended use.
For example, the Cosmic Crisp, Enterprise, and Honeycrisp varieties are all excellent for baking and are also a great choice for eating out of hand.
People who enjoy tart apples for baking or snacking will like Braeburn, Jonagold, and the classic Granny Smith. All three varieties are at their peak in mid-autumn.
If tart apples aren’t your thing, the sweet, crunchy Envy, the full-bodied Ambrosia, and the widely popular Fuji are certain winners. Use Fuji apples for making caramel apples that no one can resist.
Fresh figs are an often-overlooked fall delicacy. It’s understandable. The somewhat unappealing outside of a fig gives no hint of the sweet, jammy, honey-like fruit waiting on the inside. Commonly referred to as fruits, figs are actually the bully base of the plant’s flower. The small seeds inside a fig are the florets of the flower.
By any classification, figs are a perfect addition to any fall charcuterie board. They are delicious when eaten fresh as a snack or served with cheese as a light dessert.
Earthy, slightly sweet beets are a staple in fall cuisine. Whether they are known as beets, table beets, or beetroot, there are numerous varieties of the species Beta vulgaris ready to enliven an autumnal spread. From beet hummus to pickled beets to a luscious roasted beet and goat cheese salad, this humble root vegetable is rich in folate and betaine and may help support heart health.
Brussels sprouts may still be second to green beans when it comes to the most popular Thanksgiving vegetable, but unlike green beans, Brussels sprouts are actually in season during the fall. Long gone are the mushy, boiled, sulfurous-tasting sprouts of the past.
Today’s home cooks and professional chefs are celebrating the tender, slightly buttery flavor of Brussels sprouts by serving them raw, roasted, quickly sauteed, or tossed with bacon and cheese. What’s not to love about that?
Fall is the time to experiment with new and interesting pumpkin varieties as more stores have begun stocking pumpkins other than the Connecticut field pumpkin — the most common jack-o-lantern staple.
A few pumpkins perfect for the dining table include Casper, Cinderella, Musque de Provence, and Pepitas. Pumpkins can be used in any recipe featuring squash, including sweet and savory offerings.
Whether homemade or slid neatly from a can, cranberry sauce is a must on every Thanksgiving table. But the tart and tiny cranberry is packed with flavor and deserves to be enjoyed throughout the fall season.
From cranberry curd on scones to cranberries roasted with sweet potatoes, there’s a sweet or savory recipe that will have everyone wishing fresh cranberries were available all year long.
Celebrate the Colors and Flavors of Fall
Perhaps one of the best things about fall fruits and vegetables is all the beautiful colors they bring to the table. It’s no coincidence that everyone’s favorite autumn produce reflects the colors of the season. It comes in blazing reds, cheerful orange, and shades of golden-yellow befitting an autumn sunset. Fall bounty is a true feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.
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