Cooler days and longer nights are quickly approaching, but you don’t need to wait any longer for harvest and cooking season. There are a few fruits and vegetables that are ready and waiting to be picked and cooked or baked. And while sweating over a hot stove is the last thing that anyone wants to do during the dog days of late summer, there are some recipes that require little to no heat. Read on for a taste of late summer and early fall food trends that can be enjoyed right now.
Who doesn’t love apple picking at a local farm? While the crowds are sure to gather in late September and early October, there are still varieties that are ready to be collected around Labor Day. And depending on where you’re located, you may be able to head to the farms right now!
Storage tips: Once apples have been picked, it’s important to store them appropriately. The best conditions are dark and cool, generally between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If left on the counter, keep apples away from windows.
Simple harvest recipe: Apples add a sweet crunch and hint of juice to salads, making them a nice substitute for croutons or dressing. Wash, peel, and slice apples, then toss them on top of a bed of spinach, onions, and carrot slivers. Add some blue cheese, walnuts, sea salt, and a little olive oil, and you’re ready to enjoy a delicious and healthy meal with fresh ingredients.
Also, try baking them for 15 to 20 minutes at 300 degrees F. (Sticking them with a fork will tell you if they are ready.) I prepare each apple by removing the core, cutting them in quarters, sprinkling cinnamon, and pouring a shot of Port wine. Enjoy as soon as they leave the oven.
The mid to late summer months are the best times for picking these powerhouse superfoods. Blueberries are easy to grow, surviving in many soil types and under full sun. Depending on where you live, the blueberry season may be at its tail end or in full swing.
Storage tips: Blueberries are another fruit that stores well in cool temperatures, and will do fine in the fridge. Keep them covered in a container, but don’t pack them in. (Storing them loosely will help prevent damage.) Only wash blueberries just before consuming, since moisture can make them spoil quicker.
Simple harvest recipe: These are a great ingredient and topping for smoothies. I like to mix a handful of blueberries with half a cup of coconut water, half of a chopped banana, and a couple spoonfuls of coconut-flavored yogurt. Depending on how sweet you like your smoothies, you may want to add a little honey.
If you want a warm treat on a cool night, incorporate a few blueberries to your favorite muffin recipe.
Another wonderful veggie that grows nearly year-round (especially in mild climates) is carrots. Like apples, they may also get us excited for the fall season. Carrots work wonderfully in soups, cakes, and stews.
Seeds can be planted in the spring, summer, and fall, and the only real obstacles are frosty, soil-hardening winters. They only take up to two months to grow and are ready to be picked once they reach a one- to two-inch thickness near the top.
Storage tips: Once they have been harvested and/or store bought, carrots are easy to keep. Simply place them in the fridge, immersed in clean water (they can last for a few weeks or longer). Larger batches can be frozen for up to six months.
Simple harvest recipe: Carrot soup is comforting while also being light on calories. (You can enjoy it without guilt, and head to the beach the next day.) In a pot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil with a medium-sized onion, chopped, and a bay leaf. After the onion has caramelized, pour 3 cups of water (I heat it first in an electric kettle), and submerge 3-5 carrots. Let the soup cook until the carrots are soft enough to pierce with a fork (after almost an hour). Once cooked, remove the soup from the burner, fish out the bay leaf, puree the soup with an immersion blender, and place it back on the burner for an additional 5-10 minutes.
For an extra kick of flavor, slice an inch of ginger and add it to the pot when you add the carrots.
Did you know that the potato is America’s favorite vegetable? Its versatility and mild flavor make it a wonderful ingredient for many dishes and recipes. And depending on where you live, it may be around harvest season!
While potatoes are growing, they form a leafy stalk that shows above ground. The vegetable is only ready to dig up when the leaves dry. Just be careful when digging for potatoes so you don’t bruise or puncture them.
Storage tips: Potatoes should be left in a dark, cool place like a cellar. Exposing them to warm and moist environments can lead to rotting.
Simple harvest recipe: After a summer of light breakfasts, you may be itching for something a little hearty. So, why not saute some home fries? Clean, peel, and cube 3-4 potatoes. In a pan, heat just enough olive oil or butter to coat the bottom and throw in chopped garlic. (The quantity will depend on your taste, and I enjoy more garlic.) Once the garlic begins to turn a light golden (be careful not to let it burn), add the potatoes and be sure that each cube has a chance to touch the pan bottom. Cook, stirring often. I also enjoy adding a small handful of dry oregano at the same time that the potatoes enter the pan.