Fall fruits and vegetables are hitting their peak in the garden and are abundant at local farmers markets and grocery stores. Here’s the scoop on how to choose them, some ideas for delicious meals to make with them and reasons why they are good for more than just your taste buds.
Ohio Harvest Season
Mid-August through mid-November
Winter squash come in an array of colors, shapes and sizes. Hard skin and seeds distinguish them from their soft skinned cousins, the summer squash. Choose squash that seem heavy, as they contain more edible flesh. All winter squash must be cooked. They can be steamed, baked or boiled. It’s best to cut them in half, remove the seeds and bake them.
Deeply fluted lengthwise.
Mild, fine textured, pale orange yellow flesh.
Weighs 1 to 3 pounds.
Perfect for stuffing.
Butternut: Cylindrical top rests on bulblike bottom. Smooth, thin, pinkish tan rind covers sweet, orange flesh. Weighs 2 to 5 pounds. Great for roasting or for soups.
Spaghetti: Watermelon-shaped with yellow or orange skin. Weighs 1 to 10 pounds. Commonly roasted and then easily separates with fork into spaghetti-like strands.
Health Benefits: No single food provides a greater percentage of antioxidant rich carotenoids than winter squash to help your body fight off disease. Winter squash provide a good source of vitamins A and C and a significant source of potassium.
Some regions of Northeast Ohio are prime for grape growing, both for wine making and eating. Look for firm grapes that are plump and fragrant. Store unwashed grapes in a bag in the crisper of your refrigerator. Grapes are delicious as a quick snack and concord grapes are well known for making jellies.
Some Local Varieties Concord: Deep blue to purple or almost black with a dusty bloom. Round grapes encased in thick skin that slips off when eaten. Medium sweetness with slightly tart finish.
Grapes contain powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols, which may slow or prevent many types of cancer. Phytonutrients found in grapes are now believed to play a role in longevity. Strong anti-inflammatory benefits. Good source of vitamins C and K.
Apple Association, there are more than 100 apple varieties grown commercially in America. Some you know and love, and others are unfamiliar. This fall, be adventurous and try some of these unique varieties from your local orchard. Apples are satisfying eaten raw right from the tree or are delicious baked into a special sweet treat. They should always be refrigerated for storage.
Some Local Varieties
September: Burgundy, Jonamac, Gala, Elstar, Ozark Gold, Honeycrisp, McIntosh, Macoun, Cortland
October: Jonathan, Empire, Jonagold, Melrose, Red & Yellow Delicious, Ida Red, Holiday, Mutsu Crispin, Winesap, Blushing Golden, Rome, Fuji, Gold Rush
* Packed with antioxidants, apples play an
essential role in reducing risks of disease.
* Apples can help lower bad cholesterol
levels and blood pressure.
* They are among the best sources of soluble
fiber and help you feel full longer.
Sweet corn has gotten a bad rap in recent years, but corn is a vegetable that delivers many beneficial nutrients. And contrary to popular belief, most sweet corn available at your grocery store or farm market, especially in the fall, is not GMO. Field corn, which is harvested later than sweet corn and is processed into oil and high-fructose corn syrup, is the corn that typically is genetically modified. The key to the freshest tasting corn is to buy any variety with the husks still intact. Look for plump kernels and green husks. Refrigerate it in a plastic bag or crisper drawer for up to seven days, but for the freshest taste eat as soon as possible, as the corn’s sugar begins to convert to starch as soon as it is harvested. Corn is delicious boiled for 5 to 7 minutes or roasted on the grill. No butter, salt or pepper are required.
Plump bright yellow kernels, tightly packed
on cob. Juicy, tender
and very sweet.
White: Creamy white kernels that are often slightly smaller than the yellow variety. Very
tender and very sweet.
* Corn contains certain B vitamins and vitamin C, as well as magnesium and potassium.
* Yellow corn is a good source of two antioxidants, zeaxanthin and lutein, which are good for eye health.
* One cup of corn provides about 4 grams of protein.