The arrival of cooler temperatures means saying goodbye, for a time, to some of our favorite summer offerings. Gone are the days of sweet watermelon, juicy peaches and ripe tomatoes as space is made for apples, pumpkins and collard greens. While many of these items can be purchased at your local grocery store year round, catching fruits and vegetables at their seasonal peaks means you're getting the absolute best traits and nutritional value they have to offer.
One of the best ways to ensure you're getting the highest in-season quality produce is to shop locally. For most of us that means heading over to the nearest farmers market.
Farmers markets are a great place to not only get to know your community but also to speak with the farmers actually growing the food available for purchase. They are an amazing resource for both recipes as well as tips on what ingredients should be filling your fridge.
If you're planning on heading to a farmers market within the next few weeks, this guide will help you zero in on what's in season.
Pears are in season several times a year; however, during the fall, look for varieties such as Anjou, Bosc and Asian pears.
Persimmons are a bright, fleshy fruit that can easily be found in the South, especially Georgia, beginning in October and lasting through the frost of February. Persimmons are also popular in many Southeast Asian cultures and can be enjoyed fresh, dried, made into jam, or even in some savory dishes.
Apples are finally in season, and with over 2,500 different varieties in the U.S. alone, now is the perfect time to try out as many as possible. From Golden Delicious to the lesser known Braeburn, apples are plentiful, delicious and just in time for this seasons pie's, cakes and tarts.
You may have already seen these oversized grapes out in the produce section of some specialty stores. Muscadines are less sweet than your average grape, making them ideal for the base of one of the South's favorite homegrown table wines. In your own kitchen, they are great additions to gamey meats such as lamb and duck.
Who doesn't love figs? Whether as part of an elaborate meat and cheese board, as a jam or in a hearty harvest salad, figs are a welcome addition to fall offerings. They're only available until just before Thanksgiving so if you see any at the market, make sure you snag a few baskets.
Thanks to some fairly innovative chefs, radishes are no longer just cold salad garnishes. Have you ever had them sauteed in butter? They maintain a bit of their brunch but are absolutely delicious seasoned simply with salt and pepper.
Pumpkins are perhaps the most popular squash available during fall. From jack-o-lanterns to from-scratch pie, this versatile squash really can do it all.
This hearty squash has made its way into many hearts (and stomachs) all across the country. Put it in soups, stews, or roast it along side root vegetables or even pork chops.
With their sweet earthy flavors, beets are a versatile, nutrient-packed vegetable to eat all season long. They come in burgundy red, golden yellow and candy stripe colors, but don't worry, you can use any color in all of your favorite recipes.
Can Thanksgiving even happen without sweet potatoes? Probably not. Whether you like yours roasted with marshmallows or braised in a pot roast, these naturally sweet root vegetables are a must-have all season long.
For the longest time, the only salad greens stocked in American grocery stores were leaf lettuce and spinach, until arugula burst on to the scene and changed everything. Of course it always existed, but its relatively new popularity is a welcome change. Arugula can be eaten raw in salads but is hearty enough for some heat and adds a peppery element to almost any dish it's used in.
Brassica oleracea is the plant family of some of our favorite hearty greens such as broccoli, cabbage, collard greens and kale. In the South at least, we love our hearty greens served hot in a rich broth flavored with either bacon, smoked neck bones (usually pork) or smoked turkey legs.
Photo (pears): Shumilov Ludmila/Unsplash
Photo (radishes): Caroline Attwood/Unsplash
Photo (collards): Fancycrave/Unsplash