There’s so much to love about autumn: cooler weather, fun outdoor activities, cozy clothing and, of course, amazing seasonal foods! Come September, you’ll probably start seeing fall produce such as squash, apples, eggplants and more pop up at your local farmers market. While you can get a lot of these ingredients year-round, they’re much more fresh and flavorful when they’re in season.
Here’s some of our favorite fall produce and what you can cook with these delicious ingredients.
From McIntosh and Macouns to Ida Reds and Cortlands, there are dozens of apple varieties, and their flavors range from extremely tart to super sweet. The majority of apples are at their peak in September and October, so get your basket ready and head to a local orchard. (Psst! Here’s why you should never, ever shake an apple tree.)
Eggplants are mellow, spongy vegetables known for their glossy purple skin. They’re in season from late summer through fall, so you’ll see farm-fresh eggplants starting in late July or August.
This popular variety of orange squash isn’t just for carving! Pumpkins can be transformed into an array of baked goods, from pies to bread and muffins, and they’re great to cook with, too, thanks to their subtly sweet, nutty flavor. If you use fresh rather than canned, be sure to cook with sugar pumpkins, as carving pumpkins aren’t bred for eating.
Whether you’re partial to yellow, white or bicolored corn, you probably wait all year to get your hands on this sweet autumn vegetable, which comes wrapped in several layers of husks.
What to make: In addition to the classic preparation of corn on the cob, you can serve up corn as a main dish—try these Corn ‘n’ Squash Quesadillas—or in a corn chowder or relish.
There’s so much to love about butternut squash. It has a tan outer skin, bright orange flesh, pumpkinlike seeds, and a lovely sweet, nutty flavor.
What to make: You can roast or mash butternut squash as a delectable side dish, or make it the star of your meal in a spicy Butternut Goulash.
Here’s another festive orange vegetable to indulge in during fall. Sweet potatoes, whose peak season starts in October, look similar to normal spuds on the outside, but they’re bright orange (or copper-tan) inside, with a sweet, starchy taste.
If you’re not familiar with this leafy green, Swiss chard is a nutrient-rich vegetable similar to spinach, and may have colorful red, orange or yellow stems.
What to make: Try Swiss chard as a side dish with this delicious Swiss Chard with Onions & Garlic recipe. It will quickly become a new family favorite.
Fresh figs are a luxury—their sweet honeyed flavor and soft texture can’t be matched by any other fruit! This incredibly sweet fruit is available mostly in the fall, making it the perfect autumn dessert.
The sweet, juicy red seeds of a pomegranate are undeniably delicious, but this fruit can be a bit intimidating to peel. Once you learn how to open a pomegranate and separate the seeds from the membrane, though, you won’t be able to get enough of its nutrient-rich goodness.
Acorn squash might not get the same publicity as pumpkins, but they’re every bit as delicious. Usually available starting in October, they have a green skin with distinct ridges, and sweet yellow-orange flesh.
What to make: Take acorn squash for a spin this year with Couscous & Sausage-Stuffed Acorn Squash.
Finally, no fall produce roundup would be complete without cranberries, which are typically harvested starting in mid-September. These red berries are pretty sour if you eat them fresh, but they make an amazing ingredient in holiday desserts and side dishes.
With all the different fall produce available in autumn, there’s no excuse to eat the same old weeknight meals. Try out a new recipe or two using fresh local produce. Who knows? You may discover a new family favorite!