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7 Fall Vegetables and Fruits We Love Right Now

fall produce

I know that I'm not alone in saying that my favorite season for produce is absolutely fall. Autumn produce is not only colorful, it's full of flavors and smells that evoke an incredible amount of sensory memory -- days of apple picking or choosing pumpkins at the pumpkin patch. And of course, with all those different colors, fall vegetables and fruits are jam-packed with nutrients, vitamins and minerals that make them a pleasure to prepare and serve to your friends and family.

In honor of the beginning of the season, we're highlighting 7 of our favorite fall vegetables and fruits, with guides for buying, preparing and enjoying the bounty of the season's harvest.

sweet potato

Sweet potato image via Shutterstock

1. Sweet Potatoes

What could be more autumnal than sweet potatoes? They pair perfectly with autumn spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in both sweet and savory dishes. Not to mention, they're full of fiber and vitamins, especially beta carotene, making them an ideal ingredient for any fall meal.

How to Choose

Choose sweet potatoes that are on the smaller side, which have a creamier texture, as opposed to the larger ones, which tend to be starchy. They should be firm, even in texture and deeply colored, an indication of the potato's beta carotene content.

How to Use

Whether you choose a sweet or savory recipe, be sure to use your sweet potatoes within two weeks of purchase, or else their sugar content can cause them to start to spoil. Here are a few of our favorite recipes to get you started:

winter squash

Winter squash image via Shutterstock

2. Winter Squash

Winter squash's name may make it seem like we need to wait a few more months to enjoy it, but you can actually start right now. Pumpkin and butternut may be the two most famous members of this family, but don't neglect other winter squash varieties that may be lesser known but are no less delicious.

How to Choose

Choose winter squash that are heavy for their size. They should be rich in color and not have too many pale spots on the skin. The stem should be dry and completely intact. And while shinier squash may be prettier, a dull surface is actually a good sign: it means that you've found one that was picked at maturity and not too early.

How to Use

Most winter squash need to be peeled and seeded before using, though some, like red kuri squash, can be eaten, skin and all, when young in the fall (and only when organic, of course!). Like sweet potatoes, the naturally sweet winter squash can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.


Fresh apples image via Shutterstock

3. Apples

Fall apple picking is a fond memory for many, and it's no surprise -- apples are one of the key elements of the autumn produce cornucopia. They're juicy and sweet, and they're packed full of vitamin C and fiber.

How to Choose

Choose firm, even-toned apples that have a pleasant aroma. Due to the large variety of apples, color is not a great indicator of ripeness, though you should be familiar with the variety you are purchasing and make sure that it adheres to the color expected of the variety.

How to Use

Apples are an extremely versatile food; they can be eaten out of hand, raw, sliced into salads, or cooked and served in both sweet and savory recipes. Whatever the way you choose to use them, be sure you store your apples properly. Here are just a few of our favorite recipe ideas:


Persimmon image via Shutterstock

4. Persimmons

Persimmons may not be as familiar a fall fruit as apples, but they're just as tasty and healthful. There are two main types of persimmon, custardy persimmons like hachiya and astringent varieties like fuyu. Within those two main categories are many different individual varieties.

How to Choose

Choosing persimmons depends largely on the variety you are purchasing. A sweet persimmon will resemble an apple in texture when ripe, whereas an astringent persimmon will be soft and may even have dark or black skin. This guide to choosing persimmons is quite useful, depending on which variety you are purchasing.

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How to Use

Use sweet persimmons raw or cooked, sliced into salads or baked into tarts. Astringent persimmons are perfect in pudding-like desserts. Here are some recipes to give you a few ideas:


Beets image via Shutterstock

5. Beets

Beets have been touted a superfood by many, known for their healing powers and amazing combination of nutrients. When they're in season, beets are brightly colored, earthy, and slightly sweet. Many choose to pickle beets when they're in season in order to enjoy them all winter long.

How to Choose

Choose beets that are heavy for their size and have smooth, even, blemish-free skin. Choose beets with their tops still on whenever possible -- the greens are a great indicator of freshness, though they should be removed before storing.

How to Use

Beets can be prepared in a number of ways. Traditional recipes often call for pickling, boiling and steaming them, though many contemporary recipes rely on roasting them to bring out their natural sweetness. Beets should be peeled either before or after cooking. Beets can also be sliced and served raw in salads. Consider combining several varieties like candy-striped chioggia, yellow or long crapaudine beets for a great pop of color on the plate. Here are some recipes to give you a few ideas.


Wild mushroom image via Shutterstock

6. Mushrooms

While you can find mushrooms all year round, fall is technically mushroom season and is the best time to track down your favorite wild varieties. These can vary depending on the region where you live, but they may include chanterelles, hen of the woods or lobster mushrooms.

How to Choose

When choosing mushrooms, you're walking a fine line between dry and slimy. You want mushrooms that are still a bit damp to the touch without being wet, with stems that are still quite fresh and not too woody.

How to Use

Mushrooms can be served raw or cooked. To prepare them, trim off any dry or woody portions and brush them clean with a towel. Try to avoid submerging mushrooms in water or risk them becoming soggy; you can rinse them if needed as long as you pat them dry. Here are a few of our favorite mushroom recipes:


Pomegranate image via Shutterstock

7. Pomegranate

Pomegranates, with their bright pink or red arils, are at their peak in fall. This fruit is unique in that the "seeds" are the portion that is eaten, while the white pith surrounding them is thrown away. Pomegranates' antioxidant properties have made them a popular superfood, and their sweet, slightly acidic flavor makes them a welcome ingredient in fall recipes.

How to Choose

Choose pomegranates that are heavy for their size with unblemished skin. Don't worry too much about how dark the skin is, as this isn't necessarily an indication of ripeness, but you do want a deep color, be it pink, red or mauve.

How to Use

Remove pomegranate arils from the fruit by cutting it in half or in quarters and removing them in sections. Many people have special techniques for removing pomegranate arils, including Jamie Oliver, who prefers a "bashing" technique, and Elise of Simply Recipes who makes use of a bowl of water to help separate the arils from the membranes. Once the arils are removed, you can use them in all sorts of different recipes:

Related on Organic Authority

Beyond Butternut: 3 Heirloom Winter Squash Varieties

Cultivating or Foraging Mushrooms: Everything You Need to Know About Our Favorite Fun Guy

7 Seasonal Superfood Recipes to Cook During Fall and Winter

Fall produce image via Shutterstock

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