While other months may be able to stake claim to being most bountiful October is probably one of the most interesting months during which to eat local. Many places, even in the cold northern regions, still have the tail-end of summer harvests trickling in as the short-season, cool-weather crops we saw at the beginning of spring make their reemergence and the long-season, fall-specific crops make their debut. It makes for a combination of flavors and textures that cannot be accomplished during any other time of year; meals based on cool weather staples — many green and leafy — spiked with the fading flavors of summer and complimented by the hearty, warming hints of autumn and the impending winter.
As you venture to your local farmer’s market and on-farm stands this month take both plenty of reusable produce bags — small, lightweight — and larger, heavy duty reusable sacks to cart back your finds; they’ll range from tender baby spinach leaves to heavy, heirloom squashes. Here’s a short list of what you should be on the lookout for:
Winter Squashes & Pumpkins
- Pie Pumpkins
- Cinderella Pumpkins – like that pictured above, actually a scrumptious variety of squash.
As a bonus, hard-skinned squashes and pumpkins store well under even adverse conditions, making them prime candidates for edible decor. Stack a few of your favorite small varieties atop a cake stand for a center piece, allow larger varieties to adorn front walkways and porch steps until they make their way to the dinner table.
Late Summer’s Leftovers
- Peppers – hot, sweet, mild and bell.
- Beans – bush and pole
- Summer Squashes
Of course I would be remiss to leave out the star of last week’s column, apples, like those pictured above. And, since I couldn’t possibly include every in-season item in any one column, do be sure to check out previous installments of What’s In Season Now for more ideas.
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All Produce featured in this week’s column was photographed by the author and sourced from local, Michigan farms. To find farms and farmer’s markets near you check out Local Harvest.