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THE BEST FLAVORS OF OCTOBER
BY MARY ANNE
Fall is officially here, and as the weather changes so do the offerings at your local produce department. October is the best month for some of our favorite fruits and vegetables. Late apples are really at their peak right now with unique varieties coming to the forefront. These include Fujis, Sierra Beauties, and Pink Ladies. Although these are all fairly good storage apples, their flavor is outstanding in October. Pears are also in the spotlight this month. Bartlett Pears may be slowing down but other pears like Concordes, Seckel, Comice, Bosc, Starkrimson, and French Butter Pears are just right for plucking.
We’ve been eating grapes since June but the sweetest time for all varieties is in the fall months. The red grapes are at the height of sweetness and the green grapes turn amber as their sugar content peaks. Concord grapes are also in season now. These are my favorites, even though they have seeds, as they have the special flavor that seems synonymous with grape juice.
The only time that you can really eat persimmons is in the fall. This short season fruit is only available in late September, October and November. Persimmons come in two varieties: the Hachiya, which is taller and pointed and needs to be soft, nearly squishy, for optimum delectability, and the Fuyu which is flatter and rounded and can and should be eaten while hard and crunchy. Hachiya persimmons are great for baking while Fuyus are wonderful sliced in salads.
October is the uncontested time for pumpkins. Varieties start as tiny minis like Jack Be Littles and go all the way up to giant carving pumpkins. The Sugar Pie Pumpkin, a medium sized heavy variety, has sweet thick flesh and is best for baking and pies. My favorite is called Big Warty Thing and has delicious sweet flesh and is large enough to feed a lot of people. It also makes an interesting decoration with its creepy ,warty exterior. Other winter squash are also in season this month. In our area, local walnuts, pomegranates, kiwis, and late season plums are also October specialties. And, strawberries stay available until the weather turns cold.
Think hot cider, popcorn, first fires, and being cozy. Autumn is here and the eating is sweet.