Mike's Picks

Seasonal Picks As We Tip Into Fall

As we tip from summer into fall, there are some excellent items from both seasons available.  Look for the following items in a store near you or ask your produce manager to see if he or she can get them for you – you won’t be sorry!

Comice Pears
Pear season closely mirrors the apple crop, so we're seeing new varieties show up weekly. My favorite two varieties are Taylor Golds (which just ended from New Zealand) and Comice (which just started from Oregon and Washington). The Comice is a very fragile pear because it is so juicy. Comice pairs well with cheese - my wife and I like Parrano or a nice brie.

Chanterelle Mushrooms
Chanterelles are wild mushrooms and can't be grown commercially and they are best when foraged from local forests. Availability will depend on where you live, but in general, they are available when the weather starts to turn wet but the first hard freezes have not yet hit.  Fans of Chanterelles know that their subtle flavor shouldn't be overpowered. I recently had a simple but delicious preparation where a variety of mushrooms were sliced, coated lightly with olive oil roasted on a cedar plank until just tender and topped with a seasoned salt - just delicious.

Butternut Squash
This is a great winter squash. Butternut squash has a sweet, nutty taste similar to a pumpkin and is great baked. Some say this squash is best when pureed and used to make soup. I personally like to cube butternut and roast it with other vegetables after coating lightly with olive oil and seasoning with garlic & salt.

Red Seedless Grapes
The variety is called "Holiday Seedless" that I look for at this time every year. They are large, crunchy, sweet and just look great on a plate. These grapes are generally some sweetest of the year with a Brix reading of 20 or more (quite high). Brix is a measure of sugar taken with a refractometer. The range varies from 1 to 30 (higher numbers mean more sugar/sweetness in the item).

Heirloom Apples
Bramley, Winter Banana and Arkansas Black - ever heard of these apple varieties? Not many have, so don't feel bad. There are literally hundreds of heirloom apple varieties and they are difficult to find, but that is starting to change. They don’t store well and supplies are limited, so the varieties available to your local grocer will vary greatly from week to week. However, it’s a fun experience and worth asking your local grocer to see what they can source. As more customers request items like heirloom apples, retailers will become more responsive. Our goal at Produce Oasis is to give you the information you need to have a better produce experience!

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