The Fall equinox on September 22 marks the transition to shorter days across our hemisphere. Autumn also brings an abundance of tasty fall fruit, especially the peak of apple, grape, and pear season. The FruitGuys Fall Fruit Guide will tell you all about what’s most delicious this season.
Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits. ― Samuel Butler
It’s apple, grape, and pear harvest time across much of the U.S., and while many harvest festivals have been cancelled this year due to the pandemic, you can still celebrate the season by ordering our Season’s Best mix to get a sampling of what’s being harvested from farms in your region. We’re always tracking harvests, keeping on top of what’s growing where, and keeping in touch with our network of regional farmers. Eating fruit in season is optimal for your health and a treat for your taste buds!
It’s a source of great joy for us to be able to bring you fresh-picked fall fruit. As always, remember to always wash your fruit (and your hands) before consumption.
What’s Coming in Fall Mixes
Besides the Season’s Best mix, which contains only fall fruit, the FruitGuys Harvest and Staples mix boxes already are featuring a wide variety of fall fruit, especially fresh-picked apples and pears. Each Sunday we post on our Mix pages what will be in each regions’ boxes. Just enter your zip code and then click on your region and find your fruit box to see exactly what’s inside this week.
Apples abound in autumn! We are so used to eating apples all year round that many of us forget that they are harvested fresh in fall and then preserved in cold storage for the rest of the year. Taste a freshly-picked apple in our Staples, Harvest, and Season’s Best mixes! We’re already featuring local varieties in all regions. West coast organic boxes will find the Sweetie Apple, a sweet cross between a Gala and a Braeburn, from Cuyama Orchards in Ventura County, CA, as well as their Gala, Honeycrisp, and Beni Shogun Fuji. Look for their Arkansas Black heirloom apple in November; Chicago-area customers will see Honeycrisp and the Gala, coming out of Michigan, in their conventional boxes; and our Philadelphia and East Coast friends will enjoy Gala apples from our pals at Frecon Farms in Pennsylvania. If you see brown patches on apples or pears, be assured there is nothing wrong with the fruit but rather a natural process called russeting. Russeting is a brownish, corky or netlike texture that appears on many apple and pear varieties. It ranges in coverage from a small patch, typically near the top of the fruit, to most of the fruit’s surface, the latter being less common. Russeting is natural and does not harm the quality or taste of the fruit. The russeted patches are not only edible, but they tend to have a delicious nutty flavor.
Remember that fruit grown at small farms often has size variations and natural blemishes that make it look different from fruit found in supermarkets. Small farm fruit always makes up for in taste what it may lack in visual perfection. Taste the difference!
Also known as Asian Apple Pears, these sisters of the traditional European pear are crispy, juicy and delicious. Asian pears come mainly from China and Japan where they have a 3,000-year history and derive from the sister Pyrus pyrifolia or Pyrus ussuriensis. The Japanese varieties tend to be more round and apple-like while the Chinese ones may have a more elongated Western pear look to them. The skin of most Asian pears doesn’t get shiny like apples, but is rather a bit textured and matte-green, bronze, or gold colored. Underneath their skin, there is a complexity of tastes: firm and crisp flesh with a surprising array of subtle flavors that intensify closer to the core. These fruits are juicy but very firm, so they travel well. To contrast, European pears such as the Bartlett have a smoother, mellower taste profile. Learn more about the difference between Asian and European Pears. Look for crisp Subarashii Kudamono Asian pears from Subarashii Farms in Pennsylvania in East Coast mixes and juicy Twentieth Century Asian Pears from EarthSeed Farm in Sonoma County in northern California fruit mixes.
There are so many varieties of Pears to sink your teeth into, including the Forelle, Bartlett, Starkrimson, French Butter, Comice, and more. Though the old saying is that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” pears are even better for you than apples, containing more zinc, magnesium, calcium, copper, iron, and fiber. So eat a pear one day and an apple another day to keep the doctor away. Or why not try your hand at canning pears this year? A prize-winning centenarian canner shares her secrets on How to Can Perfect Pears. You can always contact The FruitGuys to order a box of a single commodity, such as Bartlett pears, for a canning project or special treat–just ask us!
California Valencia oranges from Bernard Ranches in Riverside will remain in abundance through late fall until the Navel orange harvest begins. Valencias have thinner skin and higher juice content than Navels and are known for their sweetness. If you notice some “greening” of their peels, don’t fear, they are still sweet and ripe, it’s a natural phenomenon that doesn’t interfere with the orange’s flavor. The navel, or “winter,” orange typically begins to appear in November-December. You can also order a 10-lb bag of these great juicing oranges. When the pandemic reduced the income for Vince Bernard’s citrus farm, we offered to expand his market reach by selling his oranges to our customers.
Grapes can be enjoyed in most regions through late fall. Grapes are actually berries and those grown for eating (as opposed to say, wine making) are called “table grapes.” They range in color from pale green to purple-black and in size from pea-sized champagne grapes to Japan’s plum-sized Kyoho grapes. West coast medium & large Harvest boxes will have California grapes coming from Blake Carlson in Fresno County (including his Scarlett Royal grapes), Grapery in Kern County, CA and Fruit World in Fresno County, CA.
One kiwi has only about 50 calories but more than 100% of your daily vitamin C. California kiwi season runs from November into early spring so look forward to eating these sweet-tart power foods as they appear in Harvest boxes this fall.
There are two main persimmon varieties: the Fuyu and the Hachiya. The Fuyu Persimmon is flat, firm, and ready to eat right out of your hand. It’s perfect for slicing into salads or using as you would an apple. The Hachiya Persimmon is acorn-shaped and needs to be eaten when the flesh is much softer.
Of all the autumn fruits, the pomegranate is the most elegant and exotic. Leathery skin protects a tightly packed network of brilliant red juice-filled arils (the official name of the jewel-like seeds) cushioned by a bitter membrane. And whether those arils are floating in a flute of champagne or scattered across the top of a salad, they always lend a pop of color and a sense of drama.The pomegranate doesn’t give up its treasures without a fight—it takes a bit of work to extract the seeds and eat one. Look for these in our Harvest and Season’s Best mixes. Here’s the best way to deseed a pomegranate.
Seasonal eating can evoke powerful memories and connections to a specific time and place. Do you have a favorite fall fruit memory? Share it with us @fruitguys on Instagram.