As we step into October, we welcome the earthy flavors of fall. From crisp sweet apples, to rich winter squash, the foods of fall are here. To warm up on a cool fall evening, enjoy delicious pork tenderloin topped with baked apples, or a bowl of homemade butternut squash soup. Fall comfort foods like pot roast and baked chicken are also well matched with the season's fresh produce.
Beets are grown year round, but June through October are the peak months. At the start of the season you can find young beets with small tender roots that are suitable for cooking whole. Fresh beets in season are usually sold with the top on. This greens are just as edible and delicious as the sweet beetroot!
Broccoli is one of the most healthful foods you can eat. It is packed with a rich supply of important vitamins and nutrients and it contains the phytochemical sulforaphane, which helps reduce the risk of cancer. Fresh, in season broccoli should have a crisp texture and clean, refreshing flavor. It is delicious lightly steamed and sprinkled with lemon pepper.
Brussels sprouts pack plenty of nutritional value into a small package. They contain the cancer-fighting qualities of other cruciferous vegetables, along with good amounts of folate (folic acid), potassium, vitamin K, and a small amount of beta-carotene. A delicious addition to fall stews and pot roasts.
Only about 10 percent of the commercial crop is sold fresh, and the rest are frozen or canned. This is the time of year to enjoy fresh cranberries. Fresh cranberries do freeze very well, so buy an extra bag or two early in the season for use later on when they are not as plentiful in stores.
Fennel may look like a plump bunch of celery, but its flavor certainly sets it apart. Fennel has a mild sweet flavor akin to licorice or anise. Fennel is a delicious and refreshing snack eaten raw, and roasted it makes a lovely side dish to many meat entrees. It is also a great addition to fall stews.
Melons are usually considered to be a summer fruit, but many varieties are in season well into November. Cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon are the three best- known melons, but this is the perfect time of year to try exotic varieties like the Crenshaw, Juan Canary, Casaba, Persian, or Santa Claus Melon.
The third most popular fruit grown in the Unites States (right behind apples and oranges), the peach is really an All-American summertime favorite. The best peaches show a warm background color of yellow or cream, and have a rich, ripe aroma.
While you are enjoying your crisp fall apples, don't forget that it is pear season too! You won't want to miss the melting texture and syrupy sweet juice of perfect ripe pears! Pears are great for breakfast, lunches and after school snacks. You may even want to try one for dessert.
There are about 30 different varieties that will be available at the supermarket at different times during the summer and early fall. Ranging in color from black to pale yellow, and from sweet to tart in flavor, you'll only find each of these special varieties for a short period of time, so when you see a new one, be sure to take the opportunity to try it.
Not just for Jack-O-Lanterns, pumpkins provide some fine eating, as well as plenty of good nutrition. Pumpkins are rich in fiber, potassium, riboflavin, and vitamins C and E, and they are particularly rich in carotenoid pigments such as alpha-carotene, beta carotene, and lutein. Look for smaller varieties that are sold specifically for cooking.
While the vibrant colors of fall foliage is the ultimate symbol of the changing seasons, the arrival of unique and colorful hard squashes is a close second! Hard squashes come in a rainbow of earthy colors, and more shapes, sizes, tastes, and textures than you can count.