October Produce Guide
Hello October and welcome to month 10 of our Monthly Seasonal Produce Guides!
October is the first full month of fall, and with it all things pumpkin. At the markets you’ll see winter squash in every variety starting about now. Many pumpkins are sold for decoration or carving, so if you are looking for the best pumpkins to cook and eat, look for sugar pumpkins and kabocha. You’ll also find acorn squash, butternut, and spaghetti squash, as well as thin-skinned delicata squash.
For fruit, in early October we can still find figs and grapes. Apples and pears are peaking right now. Have you gone apple picking yet? Store apples and pears in the fridge if you want them to last. They love cold storage and can keep for months.
Chilly fall weather brings out root vegetables like parsnips, celery root, and beets, which we will be enjoying throughout the cold season. You’ll find tubers too, like fingerling potatoes, ginger, and jerusalem artichokes.
This month’s bonus fruit is quince. While hard to find at a regular grocery store, look for it at farm stands or ask a neighbor with a tree. A hundred years ago practically every home had a quince tree for the quince’s pectin for making jam. Cook quince up into tarts or poach them as a side to pork or chicken.
What’s in Season in October?
- Pears — Use crisp and firm Bosc pears for poaching or making a tart, and Bartletts for making pear butter. Eat a crunchy Asian pear as you would an apple.
- Apples — Caramel apples make a wonderful Halloween treat. Looking for a non-fussy dessert? Make an apple cobbler!
- Figs — So hard to resist when they are in season, right? Who needs a fig newton when you can plop a sweet mission fig in your mouth?
- Quince — A little harder to find, and only in season a short time, quince look like a cross between a golden delicious apple and a Bartlett pear. They have a heady, floral aroma, and when cooked, turn the most gorgeous rosy hue.
- Pumpkin, Kabocha, and Butternut Squash — Look for sugar pumpkins, not carving pumpkins if you intend to cook pumpkin. Try out a Kabocha or Kuri winter squash for their thick flesh and deep rich flavor, great for soups!
- Spaghetti Squash and Delicata Squash — Sub pasta with roasted spaghetti squash for low carb meals. No need to peel the delicate skin of delicata squash, just scoop out the seeds, slice, and roast. Try it with chimichurri!
- Parsnips, Celery Root, Rutabagas, Beets — Roasted root vegetables are just the thing on a chilly fall day. Purée cooked parsnips or mash celery root and use in place of mashed potatoes.
- Fingerling Potatoes — This variety of potato is small when fully mature, unlike baby or new potatoes that are just young potatoes. The peels are thin and delicate so they don’t need to be removed. They cook up firm, so are great for roasting and potato salads.
- Swiss Chard — Sturdier than spinach, more tender than kale, Swiss chard cooks up quickly when sautéed with a little olive oil and garlic. Have beet greens? Use them interchangeably with chard.
- Ginger — You can always find ginger at the market, but fall is the season for it in temperate zones. If you are growing ginger, pull it out before the first freeze when the leaves start dying. If you find a bunch for sale at a good price, buy it and freeze it. Ginger freezes well. When cold season starts, add it to honey lemon tea!
- Jerusalem Artichokes — Fall is the season for Jerusalem Artichokes, also known as Sunchokes. Slice them raw into salads, or cook them into soup. Tastes a lot like artichokes.
Scroll down for more recipe ideas. What are your favorite dishes to make with early fall fruits and vegetables?