There's no denying that brunch is the best part of waking up on the weekend. Now that fall is in full swing, it's time to spice up that brunch menu with the season's freshest fruit. We’ll tell you which fruits to shop for this autumn, how to make sure they’re ripe (before you bite into them), and recommend some of our favorite recipes that will make you forget about pumpkin-spiced anything.
You've probably guessed that cranberries ripen in the fall and they truly are perfect for this season! Use them for making brown butter cranberry almond pancake muffins or fluffy vegan cornmeal pancakes, which are splendid for a weekend brunch or try a quinoa salad or kale salad for a healthier meal. When you're browsing at the grocery store, buy cranberries that are shiny, plump, and an opaque shade of red.
(Insider's tip: when cranberries are ripe, they bounce when you drop them. Before you start cooking, give your kids a few berries so that they can test them out for you!)
Sure they keep the doctor away, but they're also the perfect fall fruit. Tart varieties like Granny Smith are better for strudel, flaky apple dumplings with salted caramel sauce, and healthy muffins while the sweeter Pink Lady are perfect for these gluten-free apple cinnamon doughnuts. Golden Delicious are best for chopping up and snacking on. Make sure the apples you pick are firm; if they’re soft, that means they’re too ripe.
Pumpkins may be most popular around Halloween, but they're also a favorite autumn flavor. Cooking with fresh pumpkins far surpasses the quality of the canned stuff and it's not as intimidating as you may think!
Pick out your pumpkin at the supermarket (or field, if that's your thing) by pressing gently on the skin with your fingernail. You'll create a dent, but not a puncture, when the pumpkin is ripe and ready to eat.
When you get home, cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. (Insider's tip: set the seeds aside, because they are easy to toast with lemon, curry or garlic and they're delicious to snack on!) Place the scooped-out pumpkin face down in a microwave-safe dish and add an inch of water. Then, cover and microwave until the pulp inside is tender and ready to mash (about 15-20 minutes). Now you're ready to create a spiced pumpkin bread, scrumptious graham bread or vegan chocolate chip pumpkin loaf from your fresh pumpkin pulp. If you really feel like going all-out, try these pumpkin doughnuts with toasted coconut and maple glaze.
A juicy, sweet fruit, pears are the perfect alternative when you’re tired of snacking on apples. Use them in a maple pear upside-down cake, apple pear crisp with crystalized ginger or be adventurous with this Asian pear and apple pie for an innovative take on a classic dessert. Make sure to test pears before buying them because they ripen more slowly than apples. If you press gently on the stem end and leave an indent, then the pear is ready to eat.
You can find squash at your local pumpkin farm, if you’re already going picking, but there will also be plenty of fresh ones at the grocery store. Treat your brunch guests to a butternut squash soup (truffle oil optional!), quinoa and arugula salad with roasted squash, or a simple side dish of spicy roasted squash slices with feta and herbs, but make sure to check the recipe for the type of squash needed. Test a squash’s ripeness the same way you do a pumpkin’s: press the skin with your fingernail and if you can pierce it, the squash isn’t ready yet.
Grapes are delicious all year round, but make sure you buy locally harvested grapes this fall. Snack on them with cheese and crackers, allow them to spruce up your salad, or try these mini vanilla pound cakes with labneh frosting and roasted grapes or fresh grape sherbet to really add some variety to your dessert routine. When buying grapes, make sure they’re plump and shiny to ensure they're juicy and ripe.
Pick up some of these flavorful fall fruits the next time you're at the grocery store and don't be afraid to get creative with your dishes. Bon appetit!