Produce generally tastes better when you buy it in season. Though the summer harvest may seem like the best time for fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of tasty things grow in colder weather and tropical climates. Look for the fruits and vegetables that are in season in November to add a burst of color and flavor to your fall menu.
Fruits in Season in November
- Apples: Upward of 2,500 varieties of apples grow in the United States, and their flavors range from tart to tangy to sweet. Although picking season is often early fall, most types are still fresh and available in November. Try Macoun, Red Delicious, or a Gala, or opt for a green Granny Smith or Pippin. Use them for a sweet and savory combination as an accompaniment to pork. Or chop fresh apples and add them to oatmeal or yogurt to start your day with a healthy dose of fiber, vitamin B-6, and vitamin C.
- Cranberries: This little red fruit is synonymous with the holidays, and although you can buy them frozen year-round, fresh cranberries show up in grocery stores in the weeks before Thanksgiving. Fresh raw cranberries deliver a powerful punch of antioxidants for such a tiny berry. (Unfortunately, cooking them negates some of their nutritional power.) Chop raw cranberries and add them to smoothies, salsas, salads, and oatmeal. Or incorporate into a cake or biscuit recipe. These hard, tart little berries turn succulent and sweet when you simmer them with sugar and water, making the quintessential accompaniment for roast turkey.
- Kiwifruit: California's harvest of this Chinese transplant (made internationally popular via New Zealand) winds down in November, but you can find the sweet-tart fruit in grocery stores throughout the winter. The edible skin makes it easy to enjoy this vitamin C powerhouse on its own, but the fruit is also delicious in a smoothie or a colorful cocktail.
- Kumquats: The edible peel of this bite-sized citrus fruit interestingly tastes sweeter than the tart and juicy sections inside, but the combination works beautifully. Enjoy in a salad with Belgian endive and herbs, or turn into a delicious marmalade. Like most citrus fruits, kumquats deliver a potent dose of vitamin C, with the benefit of added fiber from the peel.
- Oranges: Ubiquitous in grocery stores all year long, oranges taste best during their natural harvest season from November through March. Always refreshing out-of-hand, oranges can also be incorporated into a chicken dish, salad, and dessert sauce. The citrus fruit is very high in vitamin C and provides a good dose of fiber.
- Pears: Stone-fruit lovers can switch their allegiance to pears once the summer peach and nectarine season winds down. Potassium-rich pears benefit when they ripen off the tree, and whereas apples taste best crisp, pears shine once their flesh turns soft and juicy. Savor the fruit in a fresh pear cobbler, or create an elegant dessert with cardamom salted caramel pears. The fruit is a good match for Brussels sprouts and bacon, and is delicious with lamb and pork.
- Persimmons: Resembling a tomato but even more abundant in vitamin A, the persimmon ripens into a custard-like, honeyed softness that tastes delicious simply spooned out of the skin. Choose Hachiya persimmons once they reach almost to the point of mushiness to avoid an unpleasantly tannic flavor. You can enjoy the sweet flavor of Fuyu persimmons while they still retain some crispness; chop them for a colorful addition to salads, salsas, and oatmeal.
- Pomegranates: Antioxidant-packed pomegranates contain between 200 and 1,400 ruby-red kernels of flavor. It is easy to extract the arils with minimal fuss to unlock the versatility of this winter fruit; you can then incorporate the seeds into recipes for salmon, chicken, and salads. The juice can be part of dressings and cocktails.
- Quinces: Looking like the misfit cousin to the apple and pear, quinces release an enticing aroma as they ripen and become quite delicious when cooked (they cannot be eaten raw). Quince paste is a common preparation, but the fruit is also wonderful preserved and made into a jam. Quince have a complex nutritional value from a variety of vitamins, minerals, and essential phytonutrients.
Vegetables in Season in November
- Beets: Stored properly, fall harvest beets last all winter. Roast, grill, or steam them for an earthy-sweet dose of calcium, iron, and folate. This root vegetable, available in other colors besides purple, are a welcome salad ingredient, and are often enjoyed pickled.
- Bok choy: Closely related to cabbage, baby bok choy can be sliced raw and added to salads or gently simmered in warming soups. It is also a favorite ingredient in Chinese stir-fries. Cook larger bok choy as you would other greens. One cup of bok choy provides a whopping 100 percent of your recommended daily dose of vitamin A.
- Brussels sprouts: Carry a stalk of Brussels sprouts through the checkout line at the grocery store, and you will surely turn a few heads. It takes a bit of work to separate the mini cabbages from the woody stem, but most stores sell them loose or already trimmed and packaged. Try roasted Brussels sprouts with chorizo for a spicy dish full of beneficial vitamins, minerals, and omega 3 fatty acids. Brussels are also an ideal vegetable to incorporate into a gratin.
- Chard: The most colorful of the leafy greens, chard (also called Swiss chard) has a reputation as a nutritional powerhouse. It's no wonder because chard delivers vitamins K, A, C; vital magnesium; and respectable amounts of potassium, iron, and fiber. A natural partner for bacon, this leafy green is also delicious stuffed.
- Daikon: A large, mildly spicy radish that looks like a white carrot, daikon stars in Asian dishes. Enjoy it stir-fried, pickled, fermented, or thinly shaved and raw, and get the added benefit of a healthy dose of vitamin B6, among other essential nutrients.
- Fennel: With a faint flavor of licorice, aromatic fennel adds an intriguingly fresh flavor to Mediterranean recipes, salads, and slaws. The bulb, stalks, and feathery fronds contribute a good hit of vitamin C to your plate.
- Rutabagas: A hybrid produced from cabbage and turnip, rutabagas offer an alternative to standard mashed potatoes. You can also bake them into a casserole, puree them into soups, and turn them into an interesting take on french fries. They are a good source of vitamin C, manganese, and potassium.
- Squash, winter: Most grocery stores stock 10 or more varieties of winter squash when the fall harvest season comes around. Though technically a fruit, winter squash typically appear as a vegetable on the dinner table. All varieties contain a healthy dose of vitamin A, in addition to other beneficial nutrients.
- Sunchokes: These tubers, also called Jerusalem artichokes, look similar to ginger root but taste nutty and sweet when you roast, boil, fry, steam, puree, or grill them. A member of the sunflower family, they deliver the versatility and appeal of potatoes with a lower glycemic load.
- Turnips: This common root vegetable combines the zest of radish with the peppery bite of arugula, their closest relatives in the mustard family. The mild flavor works well in stews and soups, or you can grate them raw and add them to a salad. The greens contain even more important nutrients than the bulbs; saute them with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped onions, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes for an easy side dish.