Fall Produce Guide

When the air turns cool and the trees blaze with color, it's time to fill up your basket and taste the autumn harvest.

Healthy Fall Produce

Photo: Randy Mayor

Healthy Fall Produce

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.


Fall Apples Guide

Photo: Gentl & Hyers


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

Fall Quince Guide

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner


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

Fall Mushrooms Guide

Photo: Randy Mayor


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

Fall Winter Squash Guide

Photo: Oxmoor House

Winter Squash

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

Fall Shallots Guide

Photo: Oxmoor House


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

Fall Sage Guide

Photo: Oxmoor House


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

Fall Sweet Potato Guide

Sweet Potatoes

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 cooked.

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

Fall Pears Guide

Photo: Oxmoor House


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

Fall Pumpkins Guide

Photo: Oxmoor House


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

Fall Brussels Sprouts Guide

Photo: Oxmoor House

Brussels Sprouts

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

Fall Cauliflower Guide

Photo: Oxmoor House


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

Fall Fig Guide

Photo: Oxmoor House


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

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