Harvest Season is Here
It’s harvest season–the perfect time to enjoy fresh produce from your grocery store or local farmer’s market. But, unless you’re a farmer or a seasoned chef, you may not know how to pick the ripest, most delicious fruits and veggies. You may also find it tricky to differentiate between varieties. Could you spot the most succulent squash or pick the best Brussels sprouts from the bunch? Learn how to spot prime produce so you can prepare the most delicious harvest-time meals for your family.
This tasty squash provides an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and a significant source of fiber, potassium, and magnesium. With a rich buttery flavor, the butternut squash offers a little guilt-free decadence – it’s low in calories and has no fat at all. You just have to make sure you pick the best ones!
Butternut squash should be a light yellow-orange color, like pale caramel. The best squash will be heavier to hold than they appear. Avoid squash that have shiny skin, since this is a sign that they were picked too early. Instead, choose squash that have dull or matt skin, with no cracks or soft spots.
Corn-on-the-cob provides a good source of the B vitamins thiamin and B6, as well as the minerals phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium. Better yet - it’s delicious. Do you know how to choose the sweetest, tastiest corn for your family?
Start by looking for cobs with dark green husks. If the husk seems dry, it means the corn has been sitting around too long.The corn-silk tassel should be a pale, golden color; check it for signs of rot to ensure the corn is fresh. Next, peel back the husk slightly to reveal the corn kernels. It’s okay if the kernels at the very tip are underdeveloped, but the kernels on the rest of the cob should be deep yellow, plump, and tightly packed. This corn will be sweet and moist–perfect for boiling, roasting, or throwing on the grill.
Succulent, sweet, and offering an excellent source of vitamins A and C, cantaloupe is an ideal fruit to eat for breakfast, as a lunchtime snack, or for a post-dinner dessert. As an added bonus, cantaloupe is fat-free and low in calories.
To choose the best cantaloupe, look for ones that are on the darker side, with even coloring.The juiciest cantaloupes will weigh more than their size seems to suggest. Be careful to check the fruit for soft spots, bruises, and cracks in the skin.
Brussels sprouts are a flavorful veggie, chockfull of vitamins C and K, and high in folate and manganese. Because of their strong taste, Brussels sprouts are sometimes pushed aside, especially when boiled. But don’t give up on this high-fiber side dish! When roasted, sautéed, or caramelized, Brussels sprouts take on a sweet, nutty flavor that even your kids may like.
When selecting Brussels sprouts, color is a good indicator of freshness. Look for sprouts that are dark green, with no yellow or black spots. Yellowing is a sign of age, while black spots are the result of fungus. Choose sprouts that are hard, with tightly compact leaves; soft or puffy sprouts are often tasteless.
Delicata squash are among the prettiest autumn vegetables, with yellow skin and vibrant green stripes. They also hold their shape well when cooked, making them an ideal squash to use in recipes for stuffed squash. On top of making your dinner table look prettier, delicata squash also provide an excellent source of vitamin A.
Look for delicata squash that have an even, creamy yellow color. Make sure to avoid unripe squash, which have light green coloring. Be careful to avoid squash with wrinkled skin, cracks, or soft spots. The best squash will feel heavy for their size – this means they are full of the good stuff!
Pumpkins: Cinderella and Sugar Pie
When you think of pumpkins, you’re mind likely turns to the stunning jack-o-lanterns your kids carve at Halloween. While it is possible to use the filling from jack-o-lanterns for cooking, you will get better results if you choose a cooking or baking pumpkin. All orange pumpkin varieties are loaded with vitamin A, along with a number of other vitamins and minerals.
For cooking up savory fare, like roast pumpkin or pumpkin puree, choose the iconic Cinderella pumpkin. With its large shape and bright orange color, it looks just like the pumpkin that became Cinderella’s ride to the ball. For baking pies, opt for the smaller sugar pie pumpkin. Sugar pie pumpkins have thinner skin and sweeter flesh. Make sure to choose a pumpkin that seems heavy for its size, and has no cracks, soft spots, or bruises.
Green and Yellow Beans
Green and yellow beans make a beautiful fall side dish, offering a significant source of vitamins C, K, and folate, as well as the mineral manganese. What’s more, this high-fiber veggie is perfect for parents in a hurry. You can boil or sauté beans and have a nutritious addition to your family meal in less than ten minutes.
To choose the tastiest, freshest green and yellow beans, always opt for loose individual beans over prepackaged varieties. Both green and yellow beans should have a rich color, so vibrant that they appear almost shiny. Stay away from beans that are dull and limp, and avoid beans that look like gnarled knuckles. Instead, the pods should be firm and smooth, so that you can just barely see the shape of the beans inside.
According to Greek myth, we have fall and winter seasons because a goddess named Persephone ate a number of pomegranate seeds. Perhaps Persephone couldn’t resist the sweet, tangy taste of fresh pomegranate. Or, maybe she knew that pomegranates are packed with nutrients, including vitamins C, K, and folate, as well as the minerals copper, potassium, and manganese.
It’s easy to find the perfect pomegranate to add to your family’s fruit bowl. Just choose pomegranates that are a dark reddish color, with few marks and bruises. The best pomegranates feel heavier to hold than they look. The simplest way to prepare this fruit is to cut it into pieces and enjoy the seeds inside.
A Cornucopia of Choices
Harvest-time brings a cornucopia of delicious, healthy food options. Make the most of the season by choosing prime fruits and veggies to enrich your family’s diet. Better yet, learn a new recipe for one of your all-time favourite harvest veggies, or consider trying a type of squash or pumpkin that you’ve never had before. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is key to maintaining good health. By indulging in all the tastes and flavors of the season, you can support your family’s wellbeing, while also creating meals that they’ll love.