There’s nothing like the taste of fresh produce when it’s perfectly in season — an apple pulled straight from the tree or greens pulled right from the garden. Knowing what is at its peak during the month of October can help you make your shopping list and plan your meals accordingly.
Thankfully, October is full of all sorts of fruits and vegetables worth savoring. From delicate figs, to hearty squash, there are all kinds of fun flavors to explore. So take this list to your local market and get shopping!
Of course you know apples are in season — they’re everywhere! But certain types of apples peak throughout the month. Apples stay good for a while, so all varieties are still considered fresh, but for a just-picked variety, go with Fuji, Suncrisp, Pink Lady, Rome, Cameo, Sundance, Blushing Gold, Melrose, or Enterprise.
These deep crimson beauties are one of the most nutritious root vegetables you can buy. They’re perfect for juicing, salads, making veggie chips, and hummus. Try them roasted, which caramelizes the beet’s natural sweetness and adds some unexpected nuttiness.
A global marketplace means that we’re so used to seeing certain foods in the grocery store year-round, that we forget (or never really knew) when they’re actually in season. Broccoli — case in point. The cold-weather crop has its best harvest in the fall, when heads are largest. Add broccoli to your pastas, steam it, roast it, or try it in a savory broccoli bisque soup.
Blackberries are harvested from August through mid-October, but if you avoid the dark purple fruit because it’s too tart, pick up a just-picked pack this month. The berries become sweet and less tangy the longer they stay on the bush.
Cranberries bring us memories of Thanksgiving and that delicious red sauce atop our turkey, but actually October is peak harvest month. Usually by early November, the harvest has ended. Fresh cranberries should be bright red and firm. Pale pink means they were under-ripe when harvested. But don’t just enjoy these berries crushed, try them in smoothies, cookies, appetizers and more.
No longer known exclusively as a cookie filling, figs have developed a fan club all their own in recent years. Figs produce two crops per season. The first arrives in July, and the second depends on the weather, but typically they will ripen in late September or October. Enjoy them all on their own or with a drizzle of honey.
Of course pumpkins! It’s the national symbol for Halloween and all things fall — think pumpkin spice everything! Pumpkins are edible, but many people opt for pumpkin puree in their fall recipes. This year, try something new and roast it in a soup or make a pie from scratch.
8. WINTER SQUASH
Despite its name, winter squash is actually harvested in the fall. This includes butternut, acorn, spaghetti, and turban squashes — to name a few. Most squashes can be substituted for each other in recipes, except for spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash makes for a great, healthy noodle alternative in the fall months.
Peppers are a warm weather vegetable, but they’re perfect to pick this month. They’ve been in season since about mid-July, but nearly all varieties will be harvested in the northern United States by the end of this month. They’re another favorite we’re used to see all year long in stores, but try them fresh and local and see the delicious difference for yourself.
Pears are among the most popular fruits in the world. In the United States, they’re every bit the fall fruit that apples are — in fact, the two fruits are in the same family, the rose family. Poached pears are always popular, but try them in jam or as part of a pairing with wine and cheese.
Cauliflower has gained a following in recent years for its ability to mask itself as a carbohydrate. Cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower “tater tots”, and mashed cauliflower, have all taken cauliflower from the ranks of lowly, tasteless vegetable, to a darling of the “eat clean” movement. It’s at its peak now through November, so try it this month on its own, or by using it as a nutritious substitute to other empty-calorie carb-heavy recipes.
12. BRUSSEL SPROUTS
If the word “Brussel sprouts” still brings back nightmares from when you were a kid, you should give them another shot. There are tons of great recipes that bake them with bacon, shave them into salads, and roast them in side dishes. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. Plus, they’re at their best in October, so you can be sure they’ll be super fresh.
Cabbage is at its peak during the month of October. Look for heads that look heavy for their size, without any brown or wilting leaves. Add shaved cabbage to sandwiches, salads, slaws, or anywhere you want a crispy crunch.
Meghan Rodgers is the Everybody Craves editor. Reach her at (412) 380-8506 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See other stories, videos, blogs, recipes and more at EverybodyCraves.com.