Your Seasonal Produce Guide: Fall

As the dog days of summer wind down, we enter September in the South eager for cool, breezy nights and the crunch of autumn leaves beneath our boots. Though we’re sad to say farewell to our favorite summertime treats, like cucumbers and peaches, we’re excited to indulge in the seasonal produce fall brings. We take time for apple-picking, sampling the near-endless varieties sliced fresh, or prepared as apple crisp, apple cider, apple sauce and so much more.

We’ll visit pumpkin patches and select only the finest squashes; those that will look handsome carved as jack-o-lantern while also holding sweetness inside for future pies and seeds for roasting. Don’t forget your local farmers markets just yet - booths are still bursting with an abundance and variety of fruits and veggies you’re bound to ‘fall’ for.

Halloween Three Bean Chili with Pumpkin Merken and Sour Cream

Squash

As backwards as it sounds, both summer and winter squash can be found in Fall. The former is much more rare and ends much earlier - in September - while many varieties of winter squash can be harvested well into the cold season. Thick-skinned winter squashes may look as tough as can be, but they slow-roast and simmer away in a soup like a dream. As a bonus, you can roast their seeds for a fun, anytime snack! Here are just a few of our favorites:

Acorn squash- Named for its petite shape, this squash is mild and sweet, and has a hollow center perfect for stuffed dishes.

Butternut squash- The name says it all. It’s flesh is buttery and tender, and it has a sweet and nutty flavor. Butternut squash’s pale skin belies vibrant orange color within.

Pumpkin- Pumpkin patch visits, jack-o-lanterns with toothy grins, and pumpkin spice “everything!” are just a few common markers of the fall season. The flesh of this squash is sweet enough for pie, but takes on savory flavors in soups, casseroles, and sauces just as well as your butternut squash.

Salad Greens

Tender spicy greens and lettuces also like cooler weather, but tend to be ready for harvest a bit earlier than the hardier greens. As early as September, when the summer heat begins to die down, you can enjoy a fresh salad of sweet and spicy greens, which you may be surprised to find need only a dash of salt and a drizzle of oil for an amazing side.

Arugula- Arugula is tender, with a strong spicy bite. This vitamin-rich green is delicious in a salad, but substantial enough to enjoy slightly wilted.

Spinach- Spinach is a culinary favorite. It’s slightly grassy flavor lends balance to salads. Cooked, it’s a popular addition to pastas, quiches, soups and more. To “florentine” a dish, simply add spinach!

Lettuce- Tender, sweet and approachable to even the pickiest of eaters, the many varieties of lettuce come in bright green, yellow, red and purple hues. Its name comes from the latin root word “lac” which means milk and refers to the milky liquid that you’ll find dribbling down lettuce stems as you harvest fresh leaves.

Spicy mix- Spicy mix is a beloved lettuce blend from our local farmers. True to its name, this blend has some peppery heat; arugula is a common inclusion.

Hardy Greens

Many dark, leafy greens thrive in cool weather, and you’ll start seeing them appear in your markets at the turn of the season. “Trendy” greens like kale, or a traditional Southern favorite, collard greens, can work their way into many dishes and provide folate, Vitamin C, potassium and more! These hardy greens have a slightly tough texture and bitter taste. They’re great slowly braised in vinegars until tender, or thinly sliced and served raw with a sweet accompaniment, like peanut butter or sorghum. Popular cruciferous greens in Georgia include:

Collard Greens- Collard greens and black-eyed peas is a New Year’s classic. Collards are typically stewed down with pork, though vegetarians can use seasoned or smoked salts to achieve a similar flavor profile.

Kale- Kale isn’t just a fad; it’s been on the menu since the Middle Ages. Numerous varieties of kale grow well in the South, from classic green to dinosaur or lacinato kale.

Other Cruciferous Veggies

Cruciferous is king of the cold weather. The cruciferous, or brassica, family of vegetables includes many greens and root vegetables. These vegetables contain glucosinolates, which give spicy flavors and an occasionally pungent aroma. While we’ll mention a few cruciferous veggies elsewhere in this list, more well-known members of the family are:

Brussels sprouts- At first glance, brussels sprouts look like bite-size cabbages, but they have a distinct flavor. They get a bad reputation, but are quite delicious (just don’t overcook them!).

Cabbage- Cabbage’s large leaves make beautiful rolls. This leafy vegetable is very dense and tightly packed, so it’s a great choice for feeding a crowd.

Broccoli- Broccoli is known for its tasty florets that are delicious raw or cooked. With a little extra love and time, you’ll find that the stem of the broccoli is not only just as edible, but also very delicious!

Cauliflower- Broccoli’s close cousin, cauliflower has enjoyed a lot of recent popularity for having a flavor and texture that makes it versatile enough to become “rice”, “pizza crust”, and even “wings”. Low-carb eaters, rejoice!

Root Vegetables

Root vegetables tend to enjoy cooler weather, so in addition to being in season in the fall, you’ll often find them flourishing throughout other parts of the year! Be sure to get your fix before summer temperatures hit their peak in July and August, as they may be harder to find during those months.

Radish-Radishes are crisp and peppery, perfect for salads or hors d'oeuvres. Their colors can range from red to white to striped.

Turnip- Turnips are crunchy and mild, and play well with other vegetables (ever blended turnips in your mashed potatoes?). Turnip greens, the leafy tops, can be reserved to use in other dishes, giving you the most bang for your buck.

Carrot- Carrots are one of the ingredients in mirepoix- the French base for cooking. Their sweet, earthy flavor balances a number of dishes. Of course, raw carrots are a delicious snack!

Sweet Potato- Sweet potatoes are a Southern favorite. These potatoes have a higher natural sugar content than white potatoes, so they roast and caramelize beautifully. While you may be most familiar with the orange flesh, keep an eye out for purple and white varieties as well!

Rutabaga- Rutabaga originated as a cross between turnip and wild cabbage, and true to its heritage, tastes a bit like a sweet and spicy cross of those two vegetables. Toss them in a soup or casserole, roast them, or mash them just like potatoes!

Apples

The apple is so ubiquitous throughout history and throughout the world that it may as well be the mascot of the fruit realm. Diverse and incredibly versatile, apples are served as breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as eaten for dessert and snack-time. Popular methods of consumption include baked, sauced, juiced, or simply raw right off the core. With over 7,000 varieties of apples showcasing a vast range of flavors, colors, and textures, but here are a few that we look forward to this season:

Granny Smith- These apples are especially good for baked desserts because their tartness balances out the sweetness of sugar and heaviness of butter. That same tartness makes it great for salsa, too! They’ll appear later in the season( just in time for holiday pies)

Red Delicious- Possibly the most recognized of apple varieties, this apple is red, crisp and sweet. Enjoy it as is with a few tablespoons of peanut butter for a quick, wholesome snack.

September Wonder- One that you may not have heard of before, this variety makes the start of fall especially worth looking forward to. It’s very sweet, crunchy yet juicy, and so refreshing. We get ours from Mercier Orchards.

Anything Else?

Muscadines- Also called scuppernongs, this large, thick-skinned grape is native to North America and very popular in the South. It can be off-white to deep purple in color, and has a complex flavor that is less sweet with earthy notes, making it just as ideal for both savory sauces and table wine.

Pecans- Pecan trees are just about everywhere in Georgia, and from September through December you’ll find whole pecans in their woody shells scattered all over the ground below the trees’ canopy. If you don’t have a nutcracker handy, place one nut against another in the palm of your hand and squeeze hard - you should be able to break through the shell of one to get to the pecan inside, which is delicious right there, as is!

Oranges- In the United States, the growing season for navel oranges is between November and April, which is perfect timing for those of us fighting cold-weather bugs and allergies because oranges are packed with vitamin C (almost a full day’s worth in one medium-sized fruit!) to boost the immune system and provide antioxidant support.

Persimmons- There are several varieties of this bright, juicy fruit found in Georgia and throughout the east coast. They can be eaten fresh, cooked or dried.

Mushrooms-  The only fungi on this list, mushrooms have been used medicinally and in culinary preparations for thousands of years. They provide intense savory flavors to recipes, giving vegetarian meals an umami punch to make them more satiating. If you love mushrooms as much as we do, you’ll be pleased to know that they are available year-round!

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Because we collaborate with our local farmers who harvest and deliver their produce just days before it arrives on your doorstep, you'll find the only the most seasonal fresh ingredients in your meal kits! Enjoying a year-round variety of what the South has to offer is both delicious and exciting (and healthful, too!).

Interesting in what's growing the rest of the year? Check out our Seasonality Map, and our blog:

Your Seasonal Produce Guide: Winter

Your Seasonal Produce Guide: Spring

Your Seasonal Produce Guide: Summer

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