Using fall produce can help you make some truly delicious and nutritious home-cooked meals. Autumn fruits and vegetables tend to get outshined by the plethora of delicious berries, citrus and stone fruits and leafy greens that are popular during the peak of summer. However, there is plenty of yummy fall produce to choose from during the cooler months, and a fall harvest should not be dismissed.
As the temperature dips, fruits like apples, pears and some berries tend to get sweeter and ripen. What’s more, after a sunny summer growing season, many types of vegetables are at their peak ripeness as we head into fall, making fall produce some of the tastiest items on your grocery list.
Furthermore, as the season progresses and farmers become more eager to unload their harvest, it’s more likely that you will be able to score a massive haul at a decent price – especially at a farmer’s market.
This is all the more reason to head out to your local farmer’s market and take a second look at what farmers have to offer for fresh fall produce. Listed below are some fruits and vegetables that come into season during early fall, and some meal ideas about what to cook or make with this awesome selection of fall produce:
Fall Produce: The Fruits of Autumn
From apple pies to cranberry sauce from scratch, below are some of the fall fruits we love to cook and bake with:
Apples are at their sweetest and most crisp during the cooler months of September and October. Not only are apples delicious and very versatile when it comes to cooking and baking, but they’re also very nutritious. One apple contains only 95 calories, 0 grams of fat, 25 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of fiber. What’s more, apples are high in disease-fighting vitamin C. There are plenty of varieties of apples to choose from with different flavors and textures, so some types of apples might be better suited to certain recipes than others.
- Stock up on green Granny Smith apples to make a delicious apple pie
- Use Fuji apples, Golden Delicious and McIntosh apples to make homemade apple sauce to add to oatmeal, yogurt or granola. Simply simmer with a sprinkle of sugar and lemon juice until the apples are soft. Preserve a large batch by sealing it in jars or freeze in large ice cube trays
- Dehydrate sliced apples to make healthier homemade apple chips. You can use a dehydrator or simply bake in the oven.
- Cut up apples into tiny chunks to add to overnight oats or to make apple pie inspired chia seed pudding.
- Pair roasted apples with a tender pork loin for the ultimate autumn-inspired roast dinner.
Another member of the pome fruit family, pears are very similar to apples in terms of texture and nutrient content. However, pears are higher in vitamins B3 and K, and they contain more iron, calcium and zinc. The sweetness of pears compliments bolder flavors like umami nicely, so pears can be used for both sweet and savory dishes.
- Grilled pears, gooey Brie cheese and a simple chicken breast combine to make this toasty grilled cheese sandwich.
- Poached pears are a classic. Combine your favorite flavors (such as cinnamon, nutmeg and star anise) with some wine and a touch of sugar for a simple yet tasty dessert.
- This pear crumble can be enjoyed as breakfast on a chilly fall morning or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a late-night snack.
Notoriously bitter on their own, cranberries tend to only be enjoyed as an accompaniment for turkey on Thanksgiving. However, store-bought cranberry jelly tends to be very high in sugar and preservatives. Most folks don’t realize that cranberry jelly can be made at home, and with them coming into season right before the holiday, perhaps this year you might want to give it a try.
- Follow these directions for a simple homemade cranberry jelly.
- The A-type proanthocyanidins can help prevent bacteria from sticking to the wall of the bladder, which is why they are touted as an excellent preventative and cure for urinary tract infections. You can make your own sugar-free cranberry juice by simmering them until they pop, then straining them through a fine-mesh sieve. Add a splash of fresh orange juice to mellow out the flavor without the added sugar.
Blueberries have the longest season of any other berry, beginning in late July and extending into the middle of September. You can usually stock up on the season’s final harvest for a pretty good price and freeze them for smoothies, but some other recipe ideas include:
- Homemade blueberry jam. Use the blueberries on their own or combine them with other berries or stone fruits for nearly endless flavor combinations.
- Sprinkle them into your pancake batter for a sweet addition to classic buttermilk or buckwheat pancakes.
- Fill pie shells with blueberry compote and store them in your freezer for an impromptu dessert.
Green and red grapes are full of powerful antioxidants, especially in the seeds and skin. You might want to skip the seeds, but take advantage of autumn’s bountiful grape harvest with these recipes:
- Agrodolce is Italy’s version of sweet and sour. Follow this recipe and pair broiled salmon with simmered grapes and red onions.
- Balance out the flavor of wild rice by adding some roasted sweet grapes and walnuts for your next side dish.
- Mix some extra tart concord grapes in with your cornmeal batter to make a cornmeal cake that works as both a side to a Smokey pot of chili and on its own as a cornmeal cake.
You may have seen it at your local produce market, but few people actually know what to do with quince. It’s tough and sour when eaten raw, but produces a delightfully sweet and unique flavor once cooked.
- Jams, jellies, compotes and marmalade are what quince is best known for due to its high levels of pectin.
- Combine chopped quince with apple juice concentrate to make a puree that sweetens your morning oatmeal.
It’s probably safe to say that anyone who has ever tended to a vegetable garden looks forward to their fall harvest. Many vegetables are at their peak in the fall and, come harvest time, vegetable growers finally get to taste the fall produce they’ve been watching grow from seeds all summer long. Here are some of autumn’s most bountiful crops:
Root Vegetables: Some of the Best Fall Produce
Unlike stem vegetables, the edible part of root vegetables grows underground, and many are at their peak freshness in the fall and taste great roasted in the oven, or added to stews.
- Give yourself an added layer of protection during cold and flu season by juicing carrots along with oranges and a large knob of ginger.
- Add this spicy and sweet carrot relish to sandwiches and burgers for an alternative to sweet pickle relish.
- Glaze carrots with a little bit of honey and roast them to pair with a pork roast dinner.
Parsnips tend to get sweet the longer they are left in the ground, so if you’re growing them in your vegetable garden, try and leave them for as long as possible. Once pulled, use parsnips to:
- Mix pureed parsnips with your mashed potatoes for a side with fewer carbohydrates.
- Coat parsnips with olive oil and honey and serve alongside grilled steak or pork chops.
- Slice lengthways, toss in your favorite seasoning and bake healthier parsnips fries.
The deep purple color of beets is indicative of their high amount of antioxidants. Beets are at their sweetest and most delicious during the fall. Once harvested, you can:
- Slice them thinly with a mandolin and bake with olive oil and a light sprinkling of sea salt for delicious, heart-healthy beet chips. This can be done with all root vegetables.
- Roast and pair with salmon flavoured with mustard and dillweed. Sprinkle some crumbled goat cheese over top, as the sweetness of the beets will pair nicely with its sharp flavor.
Squashes, or gourds, can take quite some time to come to fruition due to their large size, but they’re a budget cook’s favorite food since you can make many meals out of just one squash.
- Obviously, pumpkin pie comes to mind as a meal idea with the use of pumpkin, but it shouldn’t be the canned pumpkin puree you find in the grocery store that is loaded with added sugar. You can make your own easily enough. You will want to look for pumpkins labeled as sugar or baking pumpkins to recreate this recipe.
Butternut Squash and Acorn Squash
- Similar in texture and flavor, both butternut and acorn squashes make an excellent, velvety pot of soup. Drizzle creme fraiche or an herb-infused olive oil overtop or sprinkle in some smoked paprika.
- If you’re avoiding dairy but miss the classic comfort foods, then this butternut squash mac n’ cheese recipe is for you.
- You can use either butternut or acorn squash for this fall take on risotto.
- Cut a butternut squash into chunks, add some chopped red pepper, toss in olive oil, salt and pepper, sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and roast in the oven for a delicious vegetarian dinner.
- Named for its stringy texture, spaghetti squash is an excellent low-carb alternative to spaghetti Bolognese, fettuccine, or any pasta dish. Slice the squash in half, bake skin side up and then shred the insides with a fork.
Fall Produce ‘Greens’ We Love
Just because summer is on its way out doesn’t mean that you have to forgo your greens. Autumn’s assortment of green vegetables is both delicious and nutritious.
Leeks are aromatic vegetables that belong to the same family as garlic, onions, chives and shallots.
- Flavor your roast chicken by laying it on a bed of leeks sliced lengthways. Use the drippings from the chicken to create a gravy flavored with leeks.
- Dice leeks and sautee in bacon fat, then throw into a pot of creamy potato and bacon soup.
- Make savory potato pancakes. Add leeks and herbs like parsley or dill shredded boiled potatoes. Mix together with a drizzle of olive oil and either fry in a pan or add a scoop to the center of a waffle press.
The Bottom Line on Cooking with Fall Produce
We’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to the many delicious fruits and vegetables available during the fall, but the types of fall produce available in your region may vary based on the weather where you live. Take a stroll through the produce aisle to get a better idea of what’s available to you.
Furthermore, to get a better idea of what kinds of nutrients your body might need more of, consider going over the results of a DNA test from CircleDNA to read about some of your genetic dietary needs. This DNA test can tell you more about your body’s unique composition and what kinds of foods you should perhaps be avoiding or eating more of, based on your genetic makeup.