Serve Seasonal Foods For A Change Of TasteNov 3rd, 2011 | By Submitted | Category: Editorials
By Diann Douglas
Each season brings a different variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to our tables. Fall is no exception; the rich colors of autumn foods add texture and appeal to meals as well as nutrients needed for health. If you are in the habit of eating the same foods, take a look around and add seasonal fruits and vegetables to your fall menu. Here are a few suggestions.
Pumpkin – It wouldn’t be fall without pumpkins. A member of the squash family, these bold colored vegetables can only mean Halloween has arrived and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. A great source of vitamin A, they can be prepared in for a variety of dishes. Try combining pumpkin with potatoes or add to your favorite casserole. You can also substitute pumpkin in recipes calling for winter squash or sweet potatoes. For a different taste, use pumpkin as an ingredient when making muffins, sweet breads, waffles or pancakes. These foods freeze well and can be warmed in the microwave or toaster oven for a breakfast on the run.
Pumpkin is highly perishable and must be cooked the same day it is cut open. To cook fresh pumpkin: cut a pumpkin in half vertically, discarding the seeds and stringy pulp. Place pumpkin sliced side down in a large baking side, add water so there is ½” and bake 350 for one hour. The pulp should be chilled immediately. Use the pulp within 36 hours or store in the freezer. Pumpkin puree can be frozen or canned for future use. Call the Extension office and we will mail you preservation directions.
Sweet potatoes – A good source of vitamin C, ½ cup also contains more than a day’s supply of vitamin A. To keep moisture in, bake them wrapped in foil. Try eating sweet potatoes without sugar or butter; you’ll discover a wonderful flavor. For a different flavor, cook sweet potatoes in orange juice, add cinnamon and mash.
Butternut squash – A winter squash, many cooks avoid using this vegetable because most cooking recommendations required that you bake it in the oven. It can be prepared in the microwave and will be ready to serve in less than 15 minutes. It makes a great soup and can be substituted for sweet potatoes in any recipe. Bake butternut squash and apples with cinnamon and brown sugar for a side dish to ham or poultry.
Pears – They begin to appear in September and are available through December.
Popular varieties include, Bosc and Red. They can be eaten raw for a snack or added to salads for an interesting texture and flavor. Pears can be baked in pies or cobblers for a dessert. If you are fortunate to have a pear tree in the back yard, you may consider preserving some for use throughout the year or make jams or jellies.
Apples – Although apples are available year round, there is nothing like a fresh picked apple. I’ve talked about them before, but they are worth talking about again. You may want to take a weekend trip and travel northward to find an apple orchard, it is always well worth the venture. Baked, stewed or eaten whole, apples are a fall staple. Of course, it would not be fall without candied or caramel apples. To save time, make a caramel sauce to dip apple wedges in as a snack or when company is over.
Next trip to the grocery or road side stand, take time to look at the produce and see the variety of fall fruit and vegetables. Make a point to bring home something new to prepare for your family. There is no better time than your next meal to enjoy different foods that come with the change of season.
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