As we head into Fall, what’s in season in September says goodbye to sweet fruits and hello to heartier September produce – perfect for shorter, cooler days.
Leaving the summer behind, seasonal foods in September have spent the warm and sunny season growing and are now ready to harvest. Indeed, the early fall months are all about harvesting – bringing in the goodness that will keep our bodies happy and healthy through the colder months.
As the weather gets cooler, my kitchen gets busier as I preserve fruit, make jams and spreads, or pull together comforting soups and stews that become staples of the freezer. If you’re like me and preparing to pack the freezer, keep an eye out for these September seasonal foods.
What Produce Is in Season in September
September fruits in season are heartier and more durable. The berries of summer come out of season but are replaced by delicious fruit that works especially well in desserts.
Apples: Apple season is long – and September is one of the peak months for these versatile fruits. Though you’ll likely see every color and shape at the grocery store, a few varieties are at their best during this month. Look out for Russet, Gala, McIntosh, Pink Lady, Honey Crisp, Cortland, and Empire apples. Snack on them raw or use to make delicious autumnal desserts. I like fried apples and apple crisp during this time of the year.
Grapes: Peak harvesting season comes this month – for some, to make wine, and for others, a non-alcoholic option! Generally, grapes are harvested through the summer but are at their best during September. Whether you go for green, red, or black, the grapes should be firm to the touch, plump, and juicy. If you’re picking grapes and find them too soft, they’re likely overripe. Those may be better used for jams and jellies than for eating on their own.
Figs: This juicy Mediterranean fruit is a surprising source of fiber. It’s one of those wonderful September fruits that bridges the gap between sweet and savory. Whether you’re enjoying the plump and juicy fruit raw, cutting or sprinkling over salads, drying them, or cooking into jam, figs have a delicate, sweet flavor and a chewy texture – an excellent replacement for the sweet fruits of the summer. Enjoy them fast, though, as they’re only in season for the month of September and will leave the market shelves as quickly as they arrived.
Stone fruit: Some peaches and plums hang on into September. Nectarines, peaches, and plums are less sweet than during the summer. They are best are used for smoothies, iced teas, made into syrup, or canned for preserving. They also work great for desserts if you’re in a pinch. I like to use peaches for peach cobbler, crumbles, and cakes, or for one of those warmer-than-average days, ice cream.
Root vegetables are a staple of the Fall and an excellent hybrid between September fruits and vegetables. Easily cooked, they make for an exciting vegetarian main meal or as decoration around the house to celebrate the season.
Pumpkin: Is it a fruit or vegetable? It’s actually a fruit! If one piece of produce could epitomize the fall, it would be the pumpkin – whether carved and lit with candles or incorporated into the season’s favorite latte.
Pumpkin is a wonderfully versatile fruit and high in potassium and lends itself well to both savory dishes and desserts. Some of my favorite ways to use pumpkin are in creamy soups, burgers, as mash with other root vegetables and, of course, making pumpkin pie.
When it comes to vegetables, the September ones are darker, heartier, and richer.
Eggplants: Firm and plump, the eggplant carries into September produce from August and makes a great transition vegetable for cooking. You may have spent August grilling eggplants, but they do just as well in the oven or when used to make other dishes, like Baba Ganoush or Zaalouk. The ideal eggplant has a deep purple color and should be firm to the touch, with no soft spots or wrinkles in the skin.
Peppers: You’ll find sweet bell peppers in the grocery store all through the year, but they are truly at their best during this month. The colors are important – all bell peppers start life green, so they tend to be the most bitter, whereas yellow, orange, and red tend to be sweeter, with red being the sweetest and highest in Vitamin C. Like eggplant, peppers are a versatile ingredient for food in season in September – you can enjoy them raw dipped into hummus, scooped out, filled and roasted, or easily added to pasta for extra goodness.
Chili peppers: September might be getting colder, but ripe chili peppers will certainly bring the heat! Jalapeno, Serrano, Scotch Bonnet, and Birds Eye are in season in September, among other hotter varieties. Proceed with caution – some chili peppers can get eye-watering hot if your palate isn’t used to it. If you don’t want to use it raw, try making chili pepper sauce or red chili pepper flakes for cooking and adding spice to your meals.
Green Beans: Green bean plants explode over the last few weeks of August and bring a bountiful harvest in September. They’re also packed full of health benefits, being high in antioxidants, Vitamin K, and folate. Of all the September seasonal foods, green beans might have the most varieties and be one of the easiest to grow at home – popular ones include ordinary green beans, haricot vert (French beans), and romano beans, all of which are vibrant green and make excellent side dishes.
Tomatillos: Otherwise known as a Mexican husk tomato, tomatillos are a light green color and have a distinctively acidic flavor. Fleshy and soft, they’re not so different from an unripe common tomato. When cooked, they take on a slightly sweeter flavor, which is why the tomatillo is most commonly used in salsa verde, a Mexican dip that pairs tomatillo with serrano pepper, garlic, fresh herbs, and spices.
Some Recipes Using the Best of September Produce
Here are more of my favorite recipes to make with the fresh produce.
If you try any of these recipes for what to cook in September with the September 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!