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The best fruits and veggies to invest in this fall. 

Gillie Houston
October 01, 2018

While summer tends to be the flashiest season when it comes to produce, fall offers its own cornucopia of delicious fruits and vegetables that hit their prime once the colder weather moves in. Whether you’re seeking the most flavorful fruits to fill your seasonal pies, or figuring out your go-to roasted vegetables for the coming months, use this guide as a roadmap for your fall farmers market and grocery trips, to guarantee you’re grabbing the absolute best fruits and vegetables that autumn has to offer. 

Vegetables

Brussels Sprouts
Though this earthy vegetable may have a bad reputation among picky eaters for its bitter taste, when prepared right it can win over even the most hesitant of produce eaters. With a peak harvest season that starts in September and continues through February, Brussels are the ultimate fall and winter vegetable. Dress them in olive oil and roast them to caramelized perfection, or work them into a more complex recipe like Farro Salad with Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, and Berries, Caesar Brussels Sprouts Salad with Almonds, or Roasted Rosemary Chicken Quarters with Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts. For more info on buying and storing your Brussels, check out our guide.  

Pumpkins
Between Halloween Jack-o-Lanterns and Thanksgiving pies, this squash variety has become arguably the most iconic fall vegetable… and for good reason. In addition to being incredibly versatile, pumpkin is also filled with omega-3 fatty acids and beta-carotenes, which boost the immune system and aid in eye and skin health. Opt for a savory take on the vegetable like Pumpkin Ravioli with Pumpkin Seed Pesto, Pumpkin Leek Soup, and Whole Stuffed Roasted Pumpkin—or switch up your pumpkin dessert strategy with some Pumpkin Rice Pudding. And don’t forget to take advantage of every part of the vegetable by toasting the seeds for optimal fall snacking. 

Beets
These rich, vibrant vegetables hit their prime in the fall, when they’ve had plenty of time to develop complex, earthy flavors that can be somewhat lacking in summer harvested beets. While olive oil-coated beets roasted whole in tin foil are a great time saver, kick your beet game up a notch with the help of Beet Pasta with Beet Greens and Goat Cheese, Poached Salmon Salad with Beets, or party-friendly Beet Yogurt Dip. While you’re at it, don’t be so quick to toss the leaves, as the greens at the top are packed with nutrients; utilize them in a flavorful recipe like Beet Greens with Oregano and Feta. If you’re planning to store beets throughout the coming months, check out this guide to proper storage.  

Fennel
The peak season for this flavorful herb begins in the fall and continues through early spring, giving you plenty of time to introduce this aromatic ingredient into your cooking routine. Use it to spruce up your proteins with recipes like Fennel-Rubbed Pork with Shallot-Pomegranate Reduction and Chicken with Italian Sweet-Sour Fennel, or showcase it in unique baked goods like Orange Fennel Focaccia and Sausage, Fennel, and Ricotta Pizza.

Leafy Greens
While some more delicate greens can’t take the stress of cold weather, hearty greens like kale, mustard greens, and collards are strong enough to withstand the environmental pressures of fall—and in fact peak during the colder months. Get your fix of these antioxidant-rich ingredients with hearty recipes like Sausage and Kale Pasta, Seven-Green Kale Salad with Buttermilk Dressing, Spiced Chicken with Sautéed Collards and Peppers, and Sautéed Mustard Greens with Garlic and Lemon.

Carrots
These bright, crunchy vegetables hit their prime in September, October, and November, and can be used in fiber-rich carrot dishes immediately or stowed away for the coming winter months. While a Classic Carrot Cake is always a good idea, switch up your dinner plans with the help of unique dishes like Sweet Carrot Soup and Roasted Carrot-Ginger Dip. No matter what you make, your body is sure to thank you, as carrots are packed with antioxidants, potassium, and vitamins. To learn how to avoid wilting during your winter carrot storage, check out our guide.  

Cabbage
This leafy vegetable, which is chock-full of Vitamin C and A, comes into its prime in the pre-winter months. Whether you ferment it, create a salad with it, or work it into a dish, cabbage is far more versatile than many give it credit for. Create some comforting, cold weather-ready recipes like Scallops with Bacon, Cabbage, and Apple, Grilled Cabbage Salad, and Asian Turkey Cabbage Cups. Or flex your fermentation skills with an Easy Kimchi recipe.  

Squash
Squash have become the quintessential transition vegetable from summer to winter, as summer squash slowly fade out of season, and winter squash begin to peak throughout the fall. Butternut, delicata, and chayote all begin their prime seasons in the fall, and are the perfect addition for a number of hearty recipes you’ll want to make over and over, like Butternut Squash and Kale Lasagna, Butternut Squash Risotto, Nut-Stuffed Delicata Squash, and Chayote Salad.

Sweet Potatoes
Though these resilient root vegetables can be found year-round in grocery stores, their peak season begins in the autumn, just in time to be worked into comforting cold-weather dishes. In addition to being delicious, these colorful potatoes are packed with vitamin C, fiber, and beta carotene, so you can feel great about eating them in excess for the next few months. Make a sweet potato-inspired brunch dish like Sweet Potato Crust Quiche, a perfect side for just about any main like Spicy Hasselback Sweet Potatoes, or a classic sweet treat like Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole. Check out this guide to storing sweet potatoes so they don’t shrivel up and you can continue to enjoy them all winter long.

Turnips
aThese nutrient-packed root vegetables may be overshadowed by their potato cousins, but with tons of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, eating more turnips just may be the best wellness decision you’ll make all year. Even if you’ve never cooked with turnips before, you can get your start with simple savory recipes like Turnip Gratin, Moroccan Turnip and Chickpea Braise, and Garlicky Turnip Fries. In order to be as waste-free as possible at home, check out this video guide for cooking turnip greens, rather than tossing them in the trash.

Mushrooms
These funky fungi can be found on damp forest floors year-round, but most mushrooms experience their best and most plentiful season in fall. Since mushrooms are packed with B vitamins, and help to boost the immune system, they’re a great ingredient to work into your diet when flu and cold season hits. Some of our favorite mushroom-filled dishes that are guaranteed to satisfy your dinner guests include Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff, Four Mushroom Pesto Pizza, and Mushroom and Provolone Patty Melts. 

Potatoes
These dietary staples are a hallmark of fall, both for their hearty, comforting quality and ability to withstand the elements. While we’re all for a simple baked potato alongside any meaty dish, switch it up a bit with Parmesan and Herb Roasted Potatoes, BBQ Beef-Stuffed Potatoes, and Speedy Shepherd’s Pie. Or, add a new menu item to your brunch rotation: Crispy Potato Cakes with Smoked Salmon.

WATCH: How to Make Roasted Vegetable Baked Ziti

Fruits

Apples
These antioxidant-filled fruits are the HPIC—Head Produce In Charge—of the fall season. Perfect for eating straight off the tree or working into a warm, comforting recipe, there’s a reason many spend their fall weekends at orchards picking them straight from the trees. And with more than 2,500 types of apples grown in the USA, the good news is you’ll have plenty to choose from. While sweet apple recipes like Apple Cider Fritters or Traditional Apple Pie are always a good idea, we’d also highly recommend working them into your savory dishes with recipes like Weeknight Pork Chops and Apples and Chicken Thighs with Roasted Apples and Garlic.

Grapes
Though grapes have a long harvest season, beginning in late spring, September and October mark the peak point of the year for these juicy fruits, meaning it’s the optimum time to eat them raw or work them into your cooking. Add grapes to your salads with lighter recipes like Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad and Field Greens with Gorgonzola and Grapes, or take the indulgent route with dishes like Campanelle with Roasted Grapes and Feta, Rosemary Focaccia with Stewed Grapes and Olives, and Roasted Grape and Mascarpone Cheese Pie.

Pomegranates
This tangy superfruit, which has made a trendy name for itself in recent years, is a flavorful fall treat that acts as a powerful antioxidant source. With a peak harvest that begins in October, you can start enjoying this unique fruit in recipes like Pork with Pomegranate Pan Sauce and Spinach and Pomegranate Salad with Pears and Hazelnuts, or in something a little sweeter like Pomegranate Pound Cake. For those totally unfamiliar with prepping the fruit, here’s a beginners guide for How to Seed a Pomegranate.

Persimmons
While these vibrant fruits aren’t as commonly spotted in American supermarkets as most of their fall counterparts, these golden fruits are rich in fiber, minerals, and antioxidants, and are perfect for fall cooking. It’s important to note there are two varieties of persimmon: the fuyu, which is sweet and slightly donut-shaped, and the hachiya, which can be sour if not eaten when very ripe. Whichever persimmon you choose, work the ripened fruits into recipes like Persimmon and Fennel Salad, Crisp Persimmon with Ricotta, Honey, Pecans, and Mint, and Sweet Persimmon and Toasted Walnut Bread before the season comes to an end.

Cranberries
While fresh cranberries are a rarity—only about five percent of the cranberry crop per year is sold whole, while the rest are preserved in cans, juiced, or dried—these tart fruits, which hit their peak in October, are worth the hunt. While some only encounter cranberries once a year on the Thanksgiving table, these fruits work well in a variety of sweet and savory dishes, from White Chocolate Cheesecake with Cranberry Currant Compote, to a Turkey Sandwich with Spicy Cranberry Spread. For a taste of the fruit in its most essential form, give this Rustic Cranberry Tart a try.

Pears
Though peak pear seasons can vary from variety to variety, fall is the best time of year to get your fix of many kinds of this luscious fiber-filled fruit, including Bartlett, Bosc, and Comice pears. While pears certainly work great in simple, comforting desserts like Warm Pear with Cinnamon Ricotta and Pear Galette, they also make a fantastic mildly sweet addition to savory dishes like Peppered Pork and Pears, and Bacon, Pear, and Gorgonzola Pizza.

Once you’ve stocked up on all of the best produce fall has to offer, check out Our 10 Favorite Must-Make Fall Recipes. 

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