Chatelaine Kitchen

Your fall produce guide

The harvest season is bringing these hardy fruits and vegetables to markets everywhere—here's what's available now, or on it's way.
By Louisa Clements
iStock photo. Fall produce. (iStock photo.)

Fall is one of the best times of the year for local and fresh produce. With an assortment of fruits and vegetables, from crisp apples to sweet winter squash, the season’s harvest is inspiration enough to get anyone in the kitchen! While you may think of summer with its bounty of berries and stone fruit as the highlight of the year, you might be surprised by fall’s seasonal goodies. What’s even better is that a good frost or two increases the sugars in a variety of hearty vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, Brussels sprouts and cabbage making them sweeter than ever. Here’s a guide to what’s fall fruits and vegetables are in season (or on their way!):

Apples Peak season: September – November

When thinking fall, crisp and sweet or tart apples spring to mind. There are thousands of varieties on the market, but look for apples that are firm with a smooth skin. Not sure what kind of apple to choose? Galas are a favourite all-purpose apple variety in the Chatelaine Kitchen, but you can make sure you’re making the most of this harvest fruit with our guide to apple varieties.

Brussels Sprouts Peak season: September – November


A member of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts are a Thanksgiving staple. When cooked, they should be tender-crisp and slightly sweet. To avoid overcooking (no one likes mushy Brussels sprouts), try slicing a small X in the bottom to ensure the interior and exterior are evenly cooked. When shopping, look for smaller sprouts that are uniform in size (this also ensures even-cooking) as they are sweeter and very tender. Or better yet, you can find them still attached to their stalk while they’re at their peak. Make sure to wash them well and remove the woody stem as well as any tough or damaged leaves.

Carrots Peak season: July – December

Aromatic and sweet, carrots are the perfect crunchy snack. Typically you’ll find bright orange carrots in grocery stores, but heirloom carrots come in a wide array of colours such as yellow and purple. Did you know that the leaves are also edible? With a flavour similar to parsley, they are the perfect way to finish off a carrot dish like our puy lentils with roasted carrots and harissa. When picking up carrots, look for thin carrots that are firm and bright, as larger and thicker carrots tend to be tough and woody.


Cranberries Peak season: September – November

Cranberries are one of the few commercially produced fruits that are native to North America. This sour and slightly bitter fruit peaks October through December, but you can find frozen berries year-round. When shopping for fresh cranberries, look for shiny, bright red berries that are plump and firm. Due to their high level of acidity, cranberries can be stored in the fridge for up to two months.


Leeks Peak season: late summer – January

A milder and sweeter cousin of onions, leeks have a sweet flavour with notes of onion and garlic. When shopping, look for leeks with tops that are dark green and firm. Be sure to thoroughly rinse leeks as sand and dirt gets stuck between the layers. Try slicing them in half then rinsing under cold water.

Pears Peak season: August – November


Like apples, there are thousands of varieties of pears available, from the crisp Bosc that keeps its shape and texture when cooked, the sweet and vibrant Anjou or the ever-so juicy Bartlett. They’re perfect for eating out of hand, roasting, baking into a pie, or poaching. When shopping for pears look for firm and unblemished fruits.

Did you know? Pears work very well in savoury dishes. Try roasting them with pork and rosemary.

Pumpkin Peak season: September – October

Pumpkins come in many shapes and sizes but sugar pumpkins are a great option for cooking and baking because they are small, sweet and flavourful. While the large pumpkins at the pumpkin patch may be tempting, they’re stringy and bland—not the best option for use in the kitchen. When shopping for pumpkins, look for ones with tight, firm skin and a bright orange hue.


Sweet potatoes Peak season: October – December

Often confused with a yam, a sweet potato is a starchy root vegetable that has a sweet flavour with notes of vanilla. Popular in both savoury dishes and desserts, sweet potatoes are nutrient-dense and come in a variety of colours, but orange is most commonly found in grocery stores. Look for small- to medium-sized sweet potatoes without any bruises; they should feel weighty. for their size.


Winter squash Peak season: August – December

This category includes a wide array of hard-skinned squash such as butternut, acorn, spaghetti, kabocha and even pumpkin. With a starchy consistency that is smooth and sweet when cooked, these versatile vegetables can be also be used in sweet and savoury dishes.  Available fall through winter, squash should feel heavy for their size and have a thick, hard rind. Roasting a simple way to prepare squash, try our sweet and spicy version.

Cabbage Peak season: September – December


As it's available year-round, you may not have known that cabbage is actually it’s at its peak during the colder months! Typically you’ll find green and red cabbages, but you can also find Napa (an Asian variety) and savoy, which is green with looser, leaves. This crunchy vegetable can be enjoyed raw, braised, roasted, stir-fried and even pickled. When shopping, look for a head of cabbage that is dense and firm.

Parsnips Peak season: October – March

Closely related to carrots, parsnips are harvested in the late fall and have a sweet, earthy flavour. This cream-coloured vegetable has roots in the Mediterranean and when cooked has a starchy, potato-like texture. Parsnips should be firm and small or medium in size for optimal flavour. Try puréeing them into a delicious, velvety soup.



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