Eating seasonally in fall is a mash-up of summer crops and cool weather favorites such as broccoli, pumpkins, apples, and persimmons.
The bright sun and crisp, cool air of fall signals the end of harvest season in many places. However, fresh and in-season vegetables and fruits still are to be found in gardens and farmer’s markets.
The cooler temperatures inspire more soup and stew-based meals and yet salads also seem appropriate, so it’s easy to find meal-planning inspiration! Eating seasonally in fall highlights the last of summer’s crops and the following cooler season vegetables and fruits.
Fall’s Featured Vegetables
Broccoli planted in mid-summer is ready to harvest and enjoy in Autumn salads and side dishes. My favorite way to enjoy broccoli is to harvest it fresh from the garden, lightly steam the florets, and enjoy them with a pat of butter and a little salt.
If you find yourself with an abundance of broccoli, consider preserving some for winter eating. A quick blanching will prepare the broccoli for storage in quart-sized bags in the freezer. In the winter months, pull out a bag to thaw the night before, and add the broccoli to a frittata in the morning.
In the winter months, I like to use cabbage in place of lettuce in a variety of salads and slaws. My favorite combines shredded cabbage, carrots, and beets with an Asian-inspired dressing of rice vinegar, sesame oil, and garlic. I sprinkle a few toasted sesame seeds over the top for an extra flavor punch!
Another way to enjoy October’s cabbage harvest is to preserve it as homemade Lacto-fermented sauerkraut. This is NOT your average sauerkraut-from-a-can!
Crisp and flavorful, your naturally fermented sauerkraut will keep for months in a cool location when packed into a crock or gallon glass jar and makes an excellent topping on sausages, a wonderful addition to sandwiches, and a perfect side dish. Try one of these three cabbage recipes for a real flavor punch.
Eating seasonally, doesn’t mean giving up salads in the fall. October is also a great month to enjoy a variety of fresh salad greens such as lettuce, arugula, and mesclun. The cool weather produces greens that are tender and sweet, and prior to the first hard frost, it’s still possible to find salad makings in the garden and market.
Toss a large green salad with a mustard-honey dressing and top it with sunflower seeds, chopped pears, and goat cheese for an amazing accompaniment to a bowl of soup. Or start your day with an egg over easy atop a bed of arugula!
Hardier greens such as kale also make a great salad. Chop the leaves in small pieces and add tomatoes, corn, and even rice or quinoa in the mix.
And finally, what would eating seasonally in October be without our favorite Autumn vegetable – the pumpkin! The pumpkin-spice-everything season has indeed begun, and with it, recipes for pies, smoothies, lattes, custards, muffins, and quick bread!
Take a trip to a nearby pumpkin patch, decorate your front porch for a bit, and when you’re ready to switch up the decor, bake those pumpkins and use their puree!
Fall’s Featured Fruits
Is there anything that heralds the arrival of fall more than a trip to the apple orchard? With a cup of warm cider in hand, a stroll under a row of mature apple trees is quintessentially a fall activity.
In our family, we try to pick a wide variety of apples, including a few storage varieties that will last through the winter (Arkansas Blacks and Winesaps are local favorites here in Missouri). With the sweeter eating varieties, we make the classics – apple pie, apple cider, and applesauce.
A collection of amazing apple recipes can be found in this post: The Abundant Apple. And if you feel like taking a culinary adventure, try turning some apples into apple sugar, apple cider vinegar, or even hard cider.
One of my favorite fruits is only available for a short window of time in early October: The American Persimmon. While you may have seen Japanese persimmons in the grocery store – round or oblong shiny orange fruits that look like they have a “hat” on top – native persimmons are smaller and perhaps a bit less sweet. The time to pick them is when they are so ripe that they almost turn to mush in your hands. Hence, it’s rare to find them in stores and markets.
If you’re lucky enough to find a mature American persimmon tree (they grow in many areas of the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest), run them through a food mill to extract the sweet, orange puree.
October is one of those rare months when you can find hot season crops such as sweet and hot peppers alongside cooler weather crops like broccoli, cabbage, and pumpkins.
Eating seasonally in fall is such a fun culinary adventure; I hope this collection of ideas helps you create meals that inspire!