This fall produce guide will help you select the best fruits and vegetables for the table. You’ll find tips for how to pick ripe, flavorful produce, flavor pairings, and relevant recipes so you can benefit from eating seasonally.
Available autumn through winter, broccoli’s botanical relatives include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, and kohlrabi. To prepare broccoli, try it boiled, deep-fried, sauteed, steamed, or stir-fried.
How to Select Broccoli
Choose broccoli with tight, firm florets and a deep green color. Avoid broccoli with brown or shriveled stems or florets that have flowered or turned yellow.
Available autumn through winter, Brussels sprouts are best enjoyed boiled, braised, sauteed, simmered, steamed, stewed, and stir fried. They have a bitter taste and are botanical relatives with broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, and kohlrabi.
How to Select Brussels Sprouts
Look for Brussels sprouts that are firm and heavy for their size, with tight leaves. Avoid Brussels sprouts that have turned yellow, a sign of age, or that have black spots, which indicates fungus.
Carrots are particularly cold hardy, available from autumn to spring; they are botanically related to celery, chervil, dill, fennel, parsley, and parsnips. While carrots can be served raw, the best cooking techniques for preparing carrots include boiling, braising, grilling, roasting, sauteing, simmering, steaming, and stir-frying.
How to Select Carrots
Look for firm carrots with bright orange color and smooth skin. Avoid carrots that are limp or black near the stem; they aren’t fresh. Choose medium size carrots that taper at the end as thicker ones may be tough. Generally, early carrots are more tender but less sweet than larger, mature carrots. Clip greens as soon as you get home to avoid moisture loss and store the greens and carrots separately (tip: the greens can be used to make pesto). Store carrots in a perforated bag in a vegetable drawer in the refrigerator.
Cauliflower is available between autumn and winter. Its taste is somewhat astringent. In the same botanical family as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, kale and kohlrabi. Cauliflower can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Try it boiled, braised, deep-fried, gratin, pureed, raw, roasted, sauteed, simmered, and steamed.
How to Select cauliflower
Look for tight heads of cauliflower with no gaps about 6 to 12 inches in diameter. Fresh cauliflower will keep up to 1 week in the refrigerator if wrapped and can be stored longer frozen, fermented, or canned.
Leeks are available from autumn to spring. They have a sweet taste and are botanical relatives to chives, garlic, onions, and shallots. Cooking techniques to try with leeks include boiling, braising, frying, grilling, roasting, and steaming. Leeks are best used in the beginning of the cooking process.
How to Select leeks
Look for leeks that have as much of the edible white and light green parts. Select smaller leeks for the best taste. Avoid leek stalks that are withered or have yellow tops.
Pears are sweet bell-shaped fruits that can be enjoyed crisp or soft. Pears can be divided into 2 broad categories: Asian and European varieties. In season between autumn and winter. Techniques to try with pears include baking, deep-frying (e.g. as chips), grilled, poached, raw, roasted, sauteed, and stewed.
How to Select Pears
Choose firm pears with the stem intact. If the belly of the pear is soft, it is likely over-ripe, but would still be good in smoothies or sauces. Use your thumb to press the neck of the pear, if it yields slightly, it is ripe.
Pumpkin is available in autumn and has a sweet taste. It’s best enjoyed baked, braised, grilled, pureed, or roasted.
How to Select pumpkin
Just like watermelons, the best pumpkins have a deep hollow sound when tapped. Place your ear up against the side of the pumpkin and knock on the side; if you hear an echoing hollow sound, it’s a good one.