Guides/ Tips & Hints

A Guide to Fall Produce

A Guide To Fall Produce

A Guide To Fall Produce
Apples and pumpkins get all the love and attention every fall, but what about beets? And turnips? Won’t someone please think about the turnips?! If you’re not sure what’s in season during fall, this guide is for you–not only does it list what’s in season, it also contains buying and storage tips, cooking suggestions, and recipe ideas. It’s everything you need to conquer fall cooking! And if you still need more ideas, click on over to my list of fall-inspired recipes from Oh My Veggies.

Apples

Peak Season: September-October
Buying Tips: Apples should be firm, without blemishes or bruises.
Storage: Store apples in a cool place or in your refrigerator. Because apples release gases that can cause other produce to overripen, they should be kept in a separate drawer in the fridge.
Preparation & Cooking: The skin is the healthiest part of the apple, so keep them unpeeled when possible for the maximum benefit. Apples can be made into sauces, diced and added to salads, and baked into sweet treats like pies, muffins, and tarts. Different apples are better suited for different uses, so try to get the specific type of apple that your recipe calls for. Apples start browning as soon as you cut into them, so make sure not to cut them until you’re absolutely ready to use them!
Recipe Ideas: Healthy Apple Cobbler Muffins from Two Healthy Kitchens, Apple Pie Quinoa Breakfast Bowl from The Vegan Chickpea, Cheddar & Apple Winter Salad from Bake Your Day

Beets

Peak Season: Fall-spring
Buying Tips: Beets should be firm and round, not wilted or soft.
Storage: If your beets still have the leaves attached, cut them off and store them separately. Both the beet root and the leaves should be stored in the refrigerator; the roots will last for up to 3 weeks.
Preparation & Cooking: Keep the skin on when cooking beets (after you scrub the dirt off!). This helps the beets retain their flavor. You can peel the skin off after they’re cooked and cooled. Beet juice will stain, so make sure to protect your cutting board and other surfaces with wax paper. Beet leaves are also edible and can be prepared like other greens.
Recipe Ideas: Quinoa and Roasted Beet Salad from Ingredients, Inc., Candy Cane Beet Crisps from Beard & Bonnet, Roasted Beet and Lacinato Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette from Food For My Family

Broccoli

Peak Season: October-March
Buying Tips: Look for broccoli crowns with compact buds–they shouldn’t be loose or have any yellow flowers on them.
Storage: Broccoli should last approximately 3 days in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Preparation & Cooking: Broccoli can be steamed, roasted, or just eaten raw. It’s also great when pureed with potatoes!
Recipe Ideas: Roasted Cauliflower, Broccoli, & Sun-Dried Tomato Salad with Chickpeas from Dishing Up the Dirt, Garlicky Broccoli Flatbread from Rikki Snyder, Fire Roasted Pepper, Zucchini, Broccoli and Mixed Olive Frittata from Greek Vegetarian

Brussels Sprouts

Peak Season: October-December
Buying Tips: Avoid Brussels sprouts with loose leaves or slimy brown spots. They should be firm and green.
Storage: Brussels sprouts can last several days if they’re kept refrigerated in an open container. If you buy them on the stalk, you can remove them before refrigerating.
Preparation & Cooking: Brussels sprouts taste best roasted, but you can also steam them or slice and saute them. Slice off the surface of the stem end and peel off any wilted leaves before preparing them.
Recipe Ideas: Quinoa with Roasted Brussels and Pomegranate Dressing from Girl Makes Food, Roasted Brussels Sprout Chips from Jeanette’s Healthy Living, Brussels Sprout Curry with Pumpkin and Pomegranate from Angie’s Recipes

Cabbage

Peak Season: November-April
Buying Tips: Heads of cabbage should be firm. A few blemishes on the outside are okay since you can throw those leaves away.
Storage: Keep whole cabbage refrigerated in a plastic bag for about 1-2 weeks. Sliced or shredded cabbage lasts several days.
Preparation & Cooking: Remove the hard outer leaves and cut out the white core before preparing. Cabbage can be eaten raw, shredded, steamed, boiled, and stir-fried. Cabbage leaves are great for stuffing too!
Recipe Ideas: Crunchy Asian Chopped Cabbage Salad with Peanut Dressing from The Spicy RD, Curried Cabbage from New South Food Company, Raw Kale, Cabbage and Carrot Chopped Salad with Maple Sesame Vinaigrette from Gourmande in the Kitchen

Carrots

Peak Season: Late fall-early spring
Buying Tips: Carrots should be firm and brightly colored.
Storage: Carrots can last for weeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Preparation & Cooking: Carrots are quite versatile and can be used in both savory and sweet recipes. I like mine roasted with a little maple syrup and cayenne pepper. They’re also great in soups and salads and, of course, in carrot cake too.
Recipe Ideas: Carrot Cake Raw Bars from The Balanced Platter, Marinated Carrot + Halloumi Salad from The Fig Tree, Steel-Cut Carrot Cake Oatmeal from Kitchen Treaty

Cauliflower

Peak Season: September-June
Buying Tips: Look for compact, firm florets.
Storage: Cauliflower can last about a week if kept refrigerated in a plastic bag.
Preparation & Cooking: Cauliflower is commonly broken into florets and roasted, steamed, or served raw in a salad, but it can also be mashed, pureed, or even made into a pizza crust or rice using a food processor or grater.
Recipe Ideas: Crispy Orange Cauliflower from Vegan Richa, Tandoori Cauliflower Pizza from Kiran Tarun, Cajun Roasted Cauliflower Steaks from Food Doodles

Cranberries

Peak Season: October-December
Buying Tips: Cranberries should be plump and firm, with a deep red color.
Storage: Cranberries should keep in the refrigerator for about a month, or they can be frozen for about a year.
Preparation & Cooking: Pick through your cranberries before using them, discard any mushy or discolored berries, and rinse the rest. Cranberries are very tart, so sweeter fruits or sugar are typically added to balance out the tartness. In addition to cranberry sauce, you can use dried cranberries in baked goods and even some savory dishes too–I love adding a few tablespoons of dried cranberries to roasted Brussels sprouts, for example.
Recipe Ideas: Chipotle Cranberry Sauce from Following In My Shoes, Cheddar Herb Cranberry Muffins from The Messy Baker, Roasted Sweet Potato & Chickpea Salad with Warm Cranberry Chutney Dressing from Vanilla & Spice

Kale

Peak Season: December-February
Buying Tips: Look for leaves that are green, not yellowish, and avoid kale that is wilted or that has insect damage.
Storage: Get rid of any excess water, then keep the kale in a loose plastic bag in the refrigerater for up to several days.
Preparation & Cooking: When ready to use, remove the stems and tough ribs, and slice, shred, or tear the leaves. Kale is often cooked because it’s so bitter when raw, but you can massage the sliced leaves for a few minutes to tenderize it and reduce the bitterness.
Recipe Ideas: Sweet Potato Kale Bites from Running to the Kitchen, Sesame Noodles with Edamame and Kale from Aggie’s Kitchen, Kale Hemp Tabbouleh from Nutrition Stripped

Leeks

Peak Season: September-April
Buying Tips: Leeks should be firm, not soft or wilted. The top should be bright green; since the tops are discarded, superficial blemishes are okay.
Storage: Leeks can last for a week or more in a loose plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Preparation & Cooking: You’ll only need the white and light green parts of the “neck” of the leek, so slice off and discard the top and the white root end. Dirt commonly collects between the leaves, so it’s super important to thoroughly clean your leeks before preparing them. One method is to slice the leek as directed, then place the slices in a large, deep bowl or other container filled with cold water. Separate the slices into individual pieces with your hands, then swish them around to loosen any dirt and grit. The grit will sink, so you can remove the clean leeks by skimming the surface with a slotted spoon. You may need to repeat this a few times with fresh cold water each time until all dirt is removed.
Recipe Ideas: Leek, Potato and Rosemary Pizza from London Bakes, Apple, Butternut Squash and Leek Gratin from Kitchen Treaty, Swiss Chard Leek Quiche from MJ’s Kitchen

Pears

Peak Season: Late fall-winter
Buying Tips: Pears should be firm, but not hard–too hard, and the pears won’t be ripe, but too soft and they’ll be mushy.
Storage: Pears can be stored in a paper bag at room temperature for a few days, or until ripe. Once they start to ripen, you can put them in a plastic bag in the fridge to slow down the process.
Preparation & Cooking: Pears are delicious poached, tossed in a salad, or made into a dessert, and they also pair very well with cheese. Pears will start to discolor once you cut them, so don’t cut them until you’re absolutely ready to use them. To avoid discoloration, you can toss sliced pears with diluted lemon juice.
Recipe Ideas: Pear, Blue Cheese, & Caramelized Onion Panini from Once Upon a Cutting Board, Granola-Crusted Pear and Almond Butter Panini from Panini Happy, Fluffy Sweet Potato and Pear Pancakes from Ricki Heller

Pomegranate

Peak Season: September-January
Buying Tips: Look for deep red pomegranates that feel heavy for their size. They should have unbroken skin and no mold on the crown.
Storage: Pomegranates can be left on the counter for up to a month–you don’t need to put them in the fridge.
Preparation & Cooking: Only the seeds are eaten from the pomegranate; the rest should be discarded. My favorite way to get the seeds out is to use a pomegranate deseeder, but if you don’t have one, you can cut the pomegranate in half, immerse it in a big bowl of water, and pull the seeds from the rest of the fruit, as seen in this tutorial from A Spicy Perspective.
Recipe Ideas: Quinoa with Acorn Squash and Pomegranate from A Thought For Food, Healthified Double Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Cookies from Mom Foodie, Pomegranate & Pear Salad from Katie at the Kitchen Door

Pumpkin

Peak Season: October-February
Buying Tips: The exterior should be unblemished and tough and the squash should feel heavy for its size.
Storage: Pumpkins can be kept for about a month in a cool, dry location. Once cut, you can wrap any extra slices tightly in plastic and keep them in the fridge for several days.
Preparation & Cooking: Yes, pumpkin makes a mean pie. But pumpkin can also be diced and added to soups, salads, or casseroles, or made into breads, custards, cakes, and other non-pie desserts. You can also rinse the seeds and roast them for a tasty snack. Make sure to wash the outside of the pumpkin before you cut into it.
Recipe Ideas: Whole Grain Pumpkin Pancakes from Texanerin Baking, Pumpkin Polenta with Browned Butter & Sage from So Let’s Hang Out, Pumpkin Fritters with Rosemary and Cheese from What About Second Breakfast?

Sweet Potatoes

Peak Season: November-December
Buying Tips: Sweet potatoes should be firm and the skin should be free of cuts, mold, and decay.
Storage: Sweet potatoes should be stored in a dark cool location, but not refrigerated.
Preparation & Cooking: Sweet potatoes have a multitude of uses in both sweet and savory dishes, especially casseroles, soups and pies, and you can also make fries and chips with them. Wash and scrub the outside of the potato before you bake or cut it. I usually remove the skin before eating sweet potatoes, but it can be eaten.
Recipe Ideas: Roasted Sweet Potato, Kale & Sage Skillet Quinoa from With Food + Love, Sweet Potato Latkes with Spiced Thyme Applesauce from Henry Happened, Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Cakes from Grab A Plate

Turnips

Peak Season: September-April
Buying Tips: Look for turnips that are small, round, and firm.
Storage: Turnips can last about two weeks in a cool location, or keep them refrigerated in a tightly closed plastic bag for a week.
Preparation & Cooking: Turnips can be used as a lower carb replacement for potatoes in some recipes. When pureed, it makes a delicious, creamy soup. The leaves can also be cooked and are full of nutrients.
Recipe Ideas: Braised Bok Choy + Harukai Turnips from A Thought For Food, Turnip and Feta Fritters from Greek Vegetarian, Creamy Turnip Soup with Croutons & Fried Sage Leaves from In Jennie’s Kitchen

Winter Squash

Peak Season: October-December
Buying Tips: The exterior should be unblemished and tough and the squash should feel heavy for its size.
Storage: Winter squashes will typically last several weeks in a cool, dark place. Don’t refrigerate winter squash unless it’s been cut.
Preparation & Cooking: Many winter squashes have a tough outer layer that needs to be removed. For others, like acorn, you can leave the outer layer on and roast the squash to soften the peel and make it edible. Wash the outside of any winter squash until it’s clean before cutting into it. Different types of squashes have different uses. The insides of spaghetti squash are long and stringy and can be used like pasta noodles. Acorn squashes are often baked and stuffed. Butternut squash is great cubed and roasted, or made into soup or fries.
Recipe Ideas: Butternut Squash and Chickpea Chili from The Roasted Root, Spaghetti Squash Noodles with Thai Peanut Sauce from Family Fresh Cooking, Curried Delicata Squash Fries with Spicy Ketchup from Gen Y Foodie

I have other produce guides too! If you liked this post, check out my Guide to Summer Produce and Guide to Spring Produce.

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43 Comments

  • Reply
    Abby @ The Frosted Vegan
    October 30, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Ok turnips have always been a veggie that I want to try, but scared me a little. Sooo thanks to you I can totally go for it!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 30, 2013 at 8:07 pm

      They are pretty good! I made a fall minestrone soup for my cookbook and used turnips in it instead of potatoes. They’re a little less starchy than potatoes, but other than that, there’s not much difference in flavor or texture.

  • Reply
    christina
    October 30, 2013 at 11:23 am

    You are the Martha Stewart of the blog world when it comes to food, I swear. Except you’re nicer and prettier, ha!! This is such a good roundup, thank you!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 30, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      HA! Well, I’ll take that as high praise because I kind of love Martha Stewart. I’ll just choose to pretend that she doesn’t hate bloggers. 😉

  • Reply
    janae @ bring joy
    October 30, 2013 at 11:25 am

    So helpful–I’ll be sharing this with my readers on my next MM post.

    (& I agree with christina!)

  • Reply
    Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate
    October 30, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Love this guide, especially all of the recipe ideas attached!

  • Reply
    Katy
    October 30, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    This is a great guide and really super helpful. Eating in season is so important, so much more environmentally friendly and less expensive but it’s hard to know what’s in season and what’s not. Pinned!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 30, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      Thanks for the pin! There are some things I eat even when they’re not in season (like cauliflower and greens!), but most of the produce I buy is seasonal. It sounds corny, but it helps me feel in touch with nature too.

  • Reply
    Astaire
    October 30, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Awesome info. Thanks!! Since I’ve begun cooking seasonally, I know basically what’s in season but have always wondered about the details; like exactly which months foods are at their peak! Thanks again! Your blog is awesome!!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 30, 2013 at 8:00 pm

      Thank you! The months do vary slightly based on where you live. So if you’re eating local too, you might have to make some adjustments. 🙂

  • Reply
    Anele @ Success Along the Weigh
    October 30, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    A few years ago I did this awesome roasted root veggies so I could try turnips and parsnips for the first time. SOOOO good! I still haven’t given beets a fair shot though…gotta get over myself on that one!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 30, 2013 at 7:58 pm

      I finally tried beets this year. I won’t lie, they’re not my favorite thing to eat, but if they’re roasted, they’re pretty okay. 😉

  • Reply
    Kelly @ A Girl Worth Saving
    October 30, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Kiersten, this is awesome! I might have to steal this idea, lol.

  • Reply
    Averie @ Averie Cooks
    October 30, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    What a great guide and resource for people. Thanks for taking the time to create it!

  • Reply
    Leigh
    October 30, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Great post! Excited to go through your list.

  • Reply
    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking
    October 30, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    This is such a well laid out guide, Kiersten! And darnit, I always forget about pears this time of year. Time to bake up something delicious with a batch!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 30, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      I always forget about pears too. I wish I didn’t, because I love them!

  • Reply
    Emma
    October 30, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Such a useful resource Kiersten- storage and preparation tips and recipes!
    I went shopping today and picked up beets, kale, apples, sweet potatoes and carrots- lots from the list!

  • Reply
    Alexis @ Hummusapien
    October 30, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    I love your produce guides! I haven’t had beets in waaaaay too long. Must change that!

  • Reply
    Julia
    October 30, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Love this! Thanks for including my chili, lady!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 30, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      I need to make that recipe soon! 🙂

  • Reply
    Puja @ Indiaphile.info
    October 30, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Love this guide! What a great idea! 🙂

  • Reply
    EA-The Spicy RD
    October 30, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    LOVE your fall produce guide and so many delicious ideas! Thanks so much for sharing my Crunchy Asian Chopped Salad-a definite favorite of mine 🙂 And, I will eat every veggie in your guide, EXCEPT those turnips. Hmm…but maybe if I put A LOT of feta in those turnip and feta fritters, I just might change my mind 🙂

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 30, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      That salad is a favorite of mine too! 🙂 I always thought I didn’t like turnips, but then I realized it was parsnips that I hate. Blech!

  • Reply
    Cassie
    October 30, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Love this… I’m trying to eat more seasonally and this is a huge help!

  • Reply
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com
    October 31, 2013 at 2:24 am

    So many great recipes for each produce. Thanks for sharing, my friend 🙂

  • Reply
    Shelley and Gretchen @ Two Healthy Kitchens
    October 31, 2013 at 7:17 am

    Such an amazing guide – so much wonderful information, plus great recipe ideas to put that info to use. Looooove it! Oh – and about those turnips?!?! We want you to know that we ARE thinking of them!!! In fact, we specifically thought about them (and you!) yesterday while photographing mounds of fresh veggies at our local market – we’re on it! And btw – thanks a million for including our Healthy Apple Cobbler Muffins! We hope your readers love them as much as we do! 😀

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 2, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      Woo hoo! I’m glad to see turnips getting some love. And I love that muffin recipe–it sounds so good! And bonus, it’s healthy!

  • Reply
    Suzanne @ hello, veggy!
    October 31, 2013 at 10:04 am

    This is awesome and so helpful! Thanks, Kiersten!

  • Reply
    Alissa N (GirlMakesFood)
    October 31, 2013 at 10:19 am

    I totally love when you do guides like this, they are amazing. And your photos always make me love veggies even more!! Thank you so much for the link, you are the awesomest!! 🙂

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 2, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      You’re welcome! 😀

  • Reply
    Genevieve
    October 31, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Wow, so many recipe ideas to go through! Thanks for linking to one of mine 🙂

  • Reply
    Cory
    November 1, 2013 at 2:57 am

    Could you make a stuffed cabbage recipe, pleeeaaase 🙂 ?

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 2, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      I have one in my cookbook! Maybe once it’s released, I will post it here too. 🙂

  • Reply
    Shirley
    November 1, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks for the link! I’ve never gotten around to trying turnips, but I should. I tried boiled parsnip once and was not a fan. I’d be curious to try turnip greens too.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      Oh man, I hate parsnip. I really want to like it–I want to like ALL veggies–but I just can’t. Blech.

  • Reply
    Ash-foodfashionparty
    November 1, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    That’s a great list of produce. It is really nice to use what’s in season, they are cheaper and delicious. thanks for some great ideas.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 2, 2013 at 8:07 pm

      Yes, it definitely is cheaper to eat seasonally!

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