The weather’s cool and crisp, the colors have changed to a gorgeous red and gold – and October seasonal produce is all about hearty ingredients to warm you up from the inside.
Fall time is a time to be cozy, a time to be warm. And that sentiment shouldn’t just apply to our throw blankets and sweaters. October seasonal food focuses on that unique fuzzy feeling that short days and long nights bring, with recipes that focus on hearty, filling dishes that make the best of saved produce from the spring and summer, as well as the highlights of the season.
What Produce Is in Season in October
The best fruit in October may not be as plentiful as in previous months. But some fall staples finally get their season after a summer of growth. Here’s what fruits are in season in October.
Apple: A staple best used for desserts, sauces, and autumnal drinks, apples are perhaps the most versatile of fruits in season in October. Picking season for apples happens throughout September, so the organic, hand-picked options will be plentiful this month. Look out for Zari, Cox, Pippin, Russet, Rubens, and McIntosh. These are particularly good during this season, though most varieties are at their best in October. Look for a firm exterior with no bruises or bumps and a variety of colors on the skin – green, red, orange, and yellow.
Pears: Pears are perhaps the best fruits in season in October for Vitamin C and fiber. Like apples, these cone-shaped fruits are hugely versatile in both sweet and savory dishes and come in plenty of varieties. Pears generally come in a shade of green or even yellow and should be firm to the touch when picked. You can use this October fruit to fill out desserts if you’re low on apples – they add a wonderfully unique flavor. Or you can serve slices alongside cheese as part of a charcuterie board.
An autumnal staple of October fruit and vegetables, more squash varieties come into season this month. Just in time for the spookiest time of the year!
Butternut squash: With their unique shape and vibrant orange flesh, butternut squash is the most common of the winter squashes. It’s the fully evolved version of summer squash, having had time to mature into a hearty carb that makes a great vegetarian alternative to main courses. A good butternut squash should be firm to the touch and have a delicate orange color on the outside. It may be tough to cut initially, so use a sharp knife and a bit of elbow grease. It’s great in warming October recipes like ginger and squash soup, vegan mac and cheese, and a showstopping stuffed butternut squash.
Kabocha squash: Otherwise known as “Japanese pumpkin” in some parts of the world, kabocha squash is squat, round, and has a beautiful deep green exterior and vibrant yellow insides. Like its butternut cousin, this variety of squash is at its best during October and is rich in dietary fibers. Some like to enjoy kabocha squash simply roasted in the oven and sprinkled with cinnamon. But you can also swap it out for acorn squash and roast it or make crispy fried squash for dipping.
Pumpkin: The King of October Vegetables (that might actually be fruit), pumpkins come into season just in time for Halloween and Thanksgiving. With a bright orange exterior, this durable staple of October produce (and pumpkin spice latte season) is also one of its most versatile. The best pumpkins should sound hollow when tapped and be firm to the touch, with a vibrant green stalk. And if you’ve got leftovers after carving, use them to make pumpkin hummus, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, or a veggie-friendly pumpkin and beans burger.
Cruciferous vegetables are largely left to summer, but one hearty, leafy green keeps going into the colder months.
Swiss chard: With a slightly bitter flavor and leafy greens, Swiss chard approaches the end of its season in October. Think of it as spinach but with a stronger, more complex flavor. Swiss chard should have a firm stalk and strong green leaves without any brown patches on it. You can also find rainbow chard available around this time of year. Use it as you would any dark leafy green in salads and sandwiches. Or try sautéing your chard or using the leaves to make Swiss chard rolls or lentil soup.
Having spent the spring and summer deep underground to mature, root vegetables are harvested just in time for a winter season calling for hearty, nutritious recipes.
Celeriac: Otherwise known as celery root, celeriac is best when cooked and transformed into different dishes. In fact, it makes a surprisingly good vegetarian dish if you’re looking to reduce your meat intake. With its off-white color and slightly odd texture, the best celeriac should be heavy in your hands and not have any discoloring on the skin. Friest, remove the skin and stalk. Then transform it into soups, use it as an alternative to mashed potato, or pair it with other root vegetables to make stews and casseroles.
Ginger: There’s a reason this little root is so celebrated by health fanatics – and it’s because it’s so good for you! Used for centuries in holistic medicine, ginger is a great tool to fight common colds. It has been shown to improve digestion and support a healthy gut. Whether you buy it raw or already prepped, try using it to make ginger shots, marmalade, ginger ale, tea, soup, or syrup.
Parsnips: Most enjoyed roasted in a little oil, parsnips make great plate companions with potatoes. Naturally sweet in flavor, the parsnip is generally slightly yellow or white in color. It should be firm with a little stalk at the top. It is a great source of Vitamin C, K, antioxidants, and fiber. You can use a parsnip as you would a potato – mash, roast, or fry it, or use it to make vegetable stock or add to a vegetarian Wellington.
Some Recipes Using the Best of October Produce
Here are some more of my favorite recipes to make with the fresh produce.
More seasonal produce guides
If you try any of these recipes for what to cook in October with the October seasonal produce, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!