Flavors of Fall
Cook with fresh produce that are at their peak during fall, such as apples, carrots, pumpkin and squash.
The end of summer doesn’t mean the end of fresh produce. Many fruits and veggies are at their peak of flavor during the fall months. Use fall produce in culinary delights from apple pie and pumpkin pie, to carrot soup and squash casserole.
Select shiny, firm ones that are free of bruises.
- Ones used for apple pie should be firm enough to hold their shape when cooked. Many apples used for pies and for baking can be interchanged. Try Crispin, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Ida Red, Jonagold, Newtown Pippin, Paula Red and Rome for pies.
- Apples used for baking may shrink; reduce shrinkage by peeling a 1-inch strip of skin around the center. Try Cameo, Honeycrisp, Northern Spy, Pink Lady and Rome for baking.
Apples will continue to ripen at room temperature. Refrigerating helps keep them full of flavor and crunch.
Cut up or sliced apples turn brown when exposed to air. Avoid this by tossing in a mixture of 1 part citrus juice to 3 parts water.
Apples contain fiber, Vitamin C, potassium and phytonutrients. These substances may lower the risk for heart disease, cancer, asthma and diabetes.
Select firm and nicely shaped carrots with good color.
Remove carrot tops before storing and place the remainder in a perforated plastic bag. Don’t store carrots or other veggies with fruits in the refrigerator because fruits cause them to deteriorate faster. Carrots should keep well for 1 to 2 weeks.
Peel carrots and cut off the ends. Cut them into slices, strips, small chunks or shred them.
Carrots contain Vitamin A, potassium and fiber, and are a good source of beta-carotene.
The best cooking pumpkins are small pie pumpkins. They are heavy for their size and have a sweeter, deeper-orange flesh. Make sure pumpkins have no soft spots.
Store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 2 months. Peeled pumpkin should be covered and refrigerated no longer than 5 days. Cooked pumpkin can be frozen. Store seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent them from turning rancid.
Wash the pumpkin; remove the stem. Cut it in half lengthwise; remove the seeds and fibers. Roast the seeds separately. To boil the pumpkin, peel and cut into 1-inch cubes or slices.
Pumpkin contains strong antioxidants ,and is naturally low in fat and calories and high in dietary fiber.
Choosing Winter Squash
Squash should be heavy for their size and dull in appearance. They should be firm with no bruises or cuts. The flesh should be moist.
- Acorn squash are small, ribbed and acorn-shaped with smooth, dark green skin. The flesh has a mild, slightly sweet flavor.
- Buttercup squash are flat and round with a knot at the top of their dark green and gray-streaked shell. Their bright orange flesh has a smooth, dry texture.
- Butternut squash are long with a slender neck and bulb-shaped end. The smooth, tan-skinned squash have moist yellow-orange flesh with a subtle nutty flavor.
- Hubbard squash are large with tapered shell that is green or orange-colored and covered with small knobs. The flesh is yellow-orange with a more coarse texture and mild flavor.
- Spaghetti squash are large and oblong with pale yellow skin. When cooked, the flesh tastes mild and has a crunchy texture. It can also be scraped with a fork into strands similarly to pasta.
- Turban squash have a varying green and vivid orange color with a turban-shaped top. This variety is a good all-purpose squash with a mild flavor.
Storing Winter Squash
Because of their hard shells, squash may be stored up to 6 months in a cool, dry place.
Preparing Winter Squash
Cooking squash is easiest with the skin on. Wash squash, then use a knife to cut open. Remove the seeds and fibers with a spoon. To remove the skin before cooking, use a paring knife or vegetable peeler.
Winter squash are a good source of iron, riboflavin, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.