Just because summer has come to end doesn’t mean that your local farmers market won’t still be teeming with delicious and nutritious fare for your table. Now that autumn is officially here, you’ll definitely see a shift in the type of available produce as well as a noticeable abundance — and you’ll find out why they call the first moon that rises closest to the date of the autumn equinox the “Harvest Moon.” Here’s just some of of the treasures you’ll find at your local farmers market in the fall.
Buy fresh garlic and store what you don’t use right away in a dark, cool, and dry location. Mince it up and mix it your favorite cooking oil and store in the refrigerator so that you’ve always got some on hand. You can also plant the cloves in your garden if you find a variety you love. If you don’t have a garden, a sunny windowsill will do, and as an added bonus, you can chop up the greens and use them like chives. Fresh garlic should be plump, firm to the touch, and devoid of soft spots. Avoid garlic that feels too light — the insides may have dried to the point where they’re nothing but dust.
A cross between cabbage and turnips, rutabagas are chock full of nutritional goodness. It contains abundant amounts of vitamins C, E, and K as well as phosphorus, potassium, and manganese. You can use the leafy, above-ground parts in salads, sandwiches, or stir them into morning egg dishes, while the root portions can be steamed, mashed, or roasted. Ripe rutabagas will sport a purple tinge on the skin.
Pumpkin is swimming in immune system boosters such as vitamins A, C, and E as well as serious antioxidants like beta-carotene. It’s got heart-healthy potassium, lots of fiber, and is naturally low in calories and fat. Besides using pumpkin puree in pies and muffins, make soup, smoothies, pancakes, and bread, and roast the seeds for nutrient-dense snacking. Store whole pumpkins in a cool, dark place for up to two months. Ripe pumpkins have hard skins — you can test them by trying to puncture the outside of the pumpkin with a fingernail. If it resists, the pumpkin is good to go.
Autumn is an ideal time to purchase potted herbs for your windowsill. They’ll last through the winter if given a sunny spot indoors, and you’ll always have easy access to fresh herbs for your meals and beverages. Look for potted herbs that aren’t leggy and have no visual signs of disease such as black or brown spots on the foliage.
Other seasonal goodies you’ll find at your local farmers market in fall include Brussels sprouts, green beans, blackberries, sunflowers, persimmons, broccoli, kale, apples, pears, grapes, beets, and cauliflower. Along with fresh vegetables and fruits, don’t forget to keep an eye out for handcrafted seasonal delicacies such as small-batch apple or pear cider, preserves, and specialty syrups.