Fall is all about transitions. Long days grow short. Warm nights turn cool. Nature’s deep shades of green become yellow, red, orange, and brown. Fall cuisine represents the transition from the fresh flavors of summer to the hearty, warm fare of winter. But while the sun may be moving toward its lowest point in the sky for the year, fall represents a high point for cooks and eaters.
The large selection of seasonal ingredients available in most places make possible an endless variety of fun fall recipes, such as roasted root vegetables and apple nut muffins. The exact time when warm weather foods end and cool weather foods begin varies from one region to another and from one year to the next. To identify the moment fall begins, I simply consult my “basil barometer.” When the first frost wipes out my basil (whatever part of it hasn’t been transformed into pesto), I know a new season is upon us.
It’s always a little sad to say goodbye to summer, but I take comfort in knowing the cooler temperatures are sweetening my broccoli and sharpening my appetite for delectable dishes, such as the five at the end of this article.
What’s in Season?
The following foods should be in season and available in most of the country during fall.
Herbs: borage, chives, cilantro, dill, garlic, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme
Salad Greens: arugula, beet greens, corn salad (mâche), lettuce, mizuna, spinach, tatsoi
Cooking Greens: bok choy, collard greens, kale, mustard, Swiss chard, turnip greens
Garden Veggies: artichokes, beans (snap and dry), beets, Belgian endive, broccoli, broccoli raab, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chicory, Chinese cabbage, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, kohlrabi, leeks, okra, onions, parsnips, peas, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, tomatillos, winter squash, yams, zucchini
Fruits: apples, cranberries, figs, grapes
Wild Edibles: beach peas, burdock, cat brier, lamb’s quarters, purslane, red clover, wild berries, yellow dock
Animal Products: eggs, milk and meat from pastured animals; deer, elk, moose, pheasant, turkey
Fish: bass, bluegill, crappie, trout, walleye
Nuts and Seeds: almonds, butternuts, hazelnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, walnuts
Mushrooms: bearded tooth, bolete, chanterelle, coral, fairy ring (Scotch bonnet), lobster, maitake (hen of the woods), matsutake, oyster (mousseron), porcini, puffball, shaggy mane, shiitake, sulfur shelf
Roger Doiron is a Maine-based food and garden writer and director of the nonprofit group Kitchen Gardeners International.