When the air turns cool and the trees blaze with color, it's time to fill up your basket and taste the autumn harvest.
Autumn's bumper crop of fruits and vegetables offers a range of intense flavors and substantial textures. Grocery stores and
farmers' markets are full of apples, figs, pears, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and winter squash. Here we'll give you tips and
recipes for each of these favorite fall fruits and veggies.
There are thousands of varieties of apples, ranging from tender to crisp and sweet to tart. Apples are available year-round,
but they're best from September to November.
To select, look for firm, vibrantly colored apples with no bruises. They should smell fresh, not musty. Skins should be tight and smooth.
• Savory Baked Apples
• Pork Chops with Roasted Apples and Onions
• Baked Apples
• Thin French Apple Tart
• Chicken Thighs with Roasted Apples and Garlic
See More: Our Best Apples Recipes
A quince is a hard, round or pear-shaped fruit that looks and tastes like a cross between an apple and pear. But, unlike the
apples and pears they resemble, quinces are inedible raw. With cooking, quinces develop a slightly grainy texture similar
to a firm pear and a lovely rosy amber color.
Because their season is fleeting—from October to December—you should get quinces while you can. Look for them in large supermarkets, farmers' markets, and specialty or ethnic stores. They'll fill an entire room with their enticing scent.
• Quince Tart with Pine Nut Caramel Glaze
• Caramelized Quinces
• Quince-Lemon Marmalade
• Polenta with Port-Poached Quince and Blue Cheese
• Five-Spice Duck Breasts with Caramelized Quince
See More: In Season: Quince
While most mushrooms are available year-round, many are at their peak 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. It's a good idea to hand-select mushrooms; choose those of equal size if they are to be cooked whole, so they'll cook evenly.
• Mushroom Lentil Burgers
• Sautéed Butter-Thyme Mushrooms
• Mushroom Lasagna
• Mushroom-Brown Rice Risotto
• Farro, Caramelized Onion, and Wild Mushroom Stuffing
See More: In Season: Mushrooms
Winter squash are picked in the autumn and stored until spring. Some popular varieties are acorn, butternut, and spaghetti.
To select, 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.
• Butternut Squash and Leek Gratins
• Honey and Herb-Roasted Root Vegetables
• Quick Fall Minestrone
• Roasted Garlic and Butternut Squash Cassoulet
• Indian-Spiced Roasted Squash Soup
See More: Winter Squash Recipes
These petite onions look like large cloves of garlic covered with papery bronze skin. Shallots differ from onions in that
many varieties produce a cluster of several bulbs to a plant; they also have finer layers and less water. Because of this
low water content, their flavor is more concentrated than that of onions.
Available year-round, shallots should be firm and heavy for their size. Store them in a cool, dry place up to one month.
• Three-Bean Salad
• Balsamic and Shallot Chicken Breasts
• Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallot Soup
• Mixed Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin with Shallot-Port Reduction
• Braised Turkey Roulade with Pancetta, Shallots, and Porcini Gravy
See More: How to Mince Shallots
Sage's long, narrow leaves have a distinctly fuzzy texture and a musty flavor redolent of eucalyptus, cedar, lemon, and mint.
There are some other varieties of sage that boast a slightly different flavor: purple, pineapple, peach, and honeydew melon.
Sage is available either fresh or in three dried forms: ground, coarsely crumbled, or rubbed (finely chopped). To store fresh sage leaves, simply wrap them in a damp paper towel, and place them in a plastic bag. Store them in the refrigerator, where they should keep fresh for several days.
• Cider and Sage Pork
• Mozzarella Omelet with Sage and Red Chile Flakes
• Sautéed Carrots with Sage
• Parmesan-Sage Roast Turkey with Sage Gravy
• White Bean Dip with Rosemary and Sage
The two most common types of sweet potatoes are pale-skinned and dark-skinned. The pale sweet potato has a thin, light yellow
skin and a pale yellow flesh. After it's cooked, it has a dry, crumbly texture, much like that of a white baked potato, and
its flavor is not sweet. The darker variety has a thicker skin and a bright orange flesh that's very sweet and moist when
To select, look for small to medium-sized tubers with few bruises and smooth skin.
• Sweet Potato Chile Mac
• Butter-Pecan Mashed Sweet Potatoes
• Twice-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle
• Lasagna with Fall Vegetables, Gruyère and Sage Béchamel
• Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole
See More: Our Best Sweet Potato Recipes
Pears are sweet and spicy, with a subtle, intoxicating perfume. And although a pear is usually thought of as a fruit to be
eaten in its natural state, it's actually as versatile as the apple, especially during its peak season.
To select, test for ripeness by applying light thumb pressure near the pear's stem. If it is ripe, there will be a slight give.
• Poached Pears
• Frangipane Pear Tarts
• Stilton-Stuffed Baked Pears
• Pear Pie with Streusel Topping and Caramel Sauce
• Leg of Lamb with Roasted Pear and Pine Nut Relish
See More: What to Eat Right Now: Pears
A staple for autumn festivities, the pumpkin makes its way into a multitude of dishes this time of year. Enjoy this versatile
squash while it's fresh—the flavor is vastly superior to canned.
To select, look for pumpkins that are small, about 5 to 8 pounds, with tough skin. They are prized for their concentrated flavor and sweetness.
• Spiced Pumpkin Biscuits
• Pumpkin Pound Cake with Buttermilk Glaze
• Pumpkin and Yellow Pepper Soup with Smoked Paprika
• Pumpkin Ravioli with Gorgonzola Sauce
• Pumpkin-Honey Beer Quick Bread
See More: 10 Things to Know About Pumpkins
Members of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts range from 1 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Look for small, firm sprouts with
compact, bright-green heads—the smaller the head, the sweeter the taste. Avoid soft, wilted, puffy, or dull-colored heads,
as well as those with loose or yellowish leaves. Choose sprouts of similar size so they'll cook evenly.
• Brussels Sprouts Gratin
• Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Garlic, and Shallots
• Brussels Sprouts with Currants and Pine Nuts
• Brussels Sprouts with Honey-Glazed Pearl Onions and Capocollo
• Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and Mustard Sauce
See More: In Season: Brussels Sprouts
This member of the cabbage family has a fairly round head of tightly packed white florets that are partially covered at the
stem end with large, waxy, pale green leaves. Besides the white variety, you'll occassionally find a purple or greenish variety.
Choose a sturdy cauliflower that is compact; you want leaves that are crisp and green without signs of yellowing. The size of the head does not affect the quality.
• Baked Italian-Style Cauliflower
• Gratin of Cauliflower with Gruyère
• Roasted Cauliflower Fettuccine
• Cauliflower "Caviar" with Frizzled Prosciutto
• Crispy Topped Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower Gratin
You might have noticed that figs made an appearance on our Summer Produce Guide. That's because figs have two seasons: a quick, early summer season and then a main crop starting near the end of summer
that continues through the fall.
To select, don't judge by looks alone. A shrunken and wrinkled fig may actually be a better choice than one that looks pristine. Small cracks won't affect the flavor. Also, ripe figs should be heavy for their size.
• Pork with Figs and Farro
• Caramelized Fresh Figs with Sweet Cream
• Granola with Honey-Scented Yogurt and Baked Figs
• Warm Salad of Grilled Figs, Grapes, and Bitter Greens
• Fresh Fig Focaccia
See More: Fantastic Fig Recipes