Autumn Produce Guide
Autumn Produce Guide Autumn is the time when we're really excited to get back into our kitchens and spend some time tinkering again: making long-simmered stews and sauces, braising, baking, and other forms of cooking that we deliberately avoid in hotter weather. Luckily, the cooler temperatures bring a multitude of seasonal goodies to...
Select unblemished fruit that is quite firm to the touch. Note that the Bartlett is the only variety that will change color when ripe, so purchase when green.
How To Store
Leave your pears on the counter for a few days to ripen at room temperature. Bartletts will turn yellow when ripe, while a slight softness on the stem end of other pears indicates readiness. At this point the pears can be refrigerated to slow the ripening process. Once ripe, use within five days.
How To Prepare
Wash pears well, taking extra care to clean the stem ends, even if you plan to peel them. Carefully cut and core them with a paring knife. The exposed flesh of pears, like that of apples, will quickly oxidize and turn brown; lemon juice can help prevent browning.
Recipe Idea - Baked Pears With Yogurt
This earthy, sweet root vegetable comes in red, pink, orange, yellow, and white varieties, as well as a range of sizes. Both the bulbous root and leafy stalk are edible, making it a versatile ingredient in dishes both raw and cooked. We like to keep roasted beets on hand for soups, purées, and wraps—just rinse each bulb, wrap individually in aluminum foil, and roast in a hot oven for an hour.How To Buy
Select beets that are firm, smooth, and blemish-free. If you're roasting them whole, choose beets that are all of a similar size. We like to buy beets with the leaves still attached; the greens are delicious sautéed or in salads, and they're also a good indicator of how long the beets have been in storage—look for bright green, perky leaves with no browning or wilting.
How To Store
Cut the bulbous roots from the stalk before storing; place the leaves and stalks in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper. The beet roots can be stored loose, also in the crisper. Do not wash either until you are ready to use them.
When working with beets you may want to wear gloves, as the color will stain your hands. If a recipe calls for cooked beets, we prefer roasting them to concentrate their flavor. Leave the skin on; it prevents the juices from bleeding out, and they slip right off after cooking. To remove grit from leaves, agitate them in a bowl of cold water, remove leaves, and repeat with fresh water if needed. Spin until thoroughly dried, or pat dry.
Recipe Idea - Beet Salad With Feta Cheese
When we think of greens, our minds often wander to those delicate salads of summer. But some greens, such as kale, collards, and mustard greens, are hardy enough to survive the colder temperatures of the fall and winter—and are in fact sweeter when grown in cool weather. Collard greens and kale are both essentially headless forms of cabbage that have a bouquet rather than a solid head. Both are wonderful raw in salads, but they reach a whole new level of flavor and sweetness when simmered for an hour (or hours), with or without seasoning meats like smoky ham hocks. While collards and kale have a slightly bitter, cabbage-like taste, mustard greens pack a pungent bite reminiscent of horseradish—a perfect spicy addition to fresh salads and delicious simmered, Japanese style, with sesame oil and rice wine.
A good, healthy green should be firm—meaning the leaves should spring back when you fold them—and deeply green. Avoid those that are wilted or pale or have yellow discoloration.
Wrap greens in damp paper towels, unwashed, and place in a loose paper bag. Store them in the crisper for up to six days.
When ready to cook them, remove center ribs and tough stems, and rinse very thoroughly, since dirt tends to get lodged in the leaves' deep crevices. Pat dry with paper towels.
Recipe Idea - Kale Salad With Parmesan and Chicken
The term 'winter squash' encompasses a staggering array of hard-skinned squash varieties that are best from early fall through winter. Their flesh is usually yellow to deep-orange, with a starchy consistency that turns creamy and sweet when cooked. Out of the hundreds of varieties, each has its own unique flavor and ideal uses; a few top our list for versatility and availability. Dark green- and orange-skinned acorn squash has a tender golden interior that makes a candy-sweet, creamy purée; butternut squash's sweet, easy-to-peel flesh lends itself brilliantly to pie filling; diminutive delicata, with its thin, edible skin, is wonderful sliced and sautéed in a little butter; and roasted sliced spaghetti squash has a light flavor and texture that's perfect topped with walnut-miso glaze.How To Buy
Choose very hard squash that does not give when pressed. Skin should be deeply colored, relatively dull in appearance, and should not be easily nicked or scraped off.How To Store
Thanks to its thick, hard skin, whole winter squash can be stored in a cool, dark place for several weeks. Cut, raw squash will keep, refrigerated, for a few days.
How To Prepare
If cooking whole, squash needs little more than a good scrub. For other preparations, remove the skin: Cut the bottom of the squash so it's level, then remove the outer layer from top to bottom with a sharp knife. Slice in half, scoop out the seeds, and cut into slices or cubes for cooking.
Recipe Idea - Mashed Squash