Autumn’s colorful foods

Published 8:41 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Because of its popularity in Japan, kabocha is sometimes known as Japanese pumpkin or squash.

With summer’s harvest done, the arrival of the more rustic flavors of autumn is near. In the crisp, cool air of fall grows a slightly different bounty. Apples, root vegetables, and thick, hearty greens become more available, and we can gather these foods with dark rich colors to keep us warm and healthy in the colder months.

But good autumn foods don’t begin and end with apples and pumpkins. Here are some other foods that should be considered in the fall for their nutrients and vitamins.

You might be hard-pressed to find these fall-season foods growing in Suffolk, but they are available by way of the Internet and, sometimes, at specialty markets around the area. So you can bring all the autumn goodness home this season.

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Though native to Iran, the pomegranate has grown in popularity in the United States. Best harvested in September, the pomegranate’s status as a superfruit is well earned, since its nectar is an excellent source of antioxidants and may help reduce cholesterol and the risk of cancer.

To prepare the fruit, remove the seeds from the tough outer skin by cutting it into wedges and scraping out the seeds. The seeds can then be juiced or processed in a blender and strained. Once strained, the juice can be thickened and used for sauces or glaze.


An oft-forgotten cousin of the apple, the pear has grainier meat and comes in more than 1,000 varieties. Harvested mostly in September and October, pears are picked just before they are soft and ripe to make transportation easier.

Even though pears spoil quickly once soft to the touch, they are high in fiber and vitamins C and K.

Though very tasty on their own, pears are great for roasting, served with ice cream or as a main ingredient cakes or tarts. Pears also make a nice addition to meat stews.


Because of its popularity in Japan, kabocha is sometimes known as Japanese pumpkin or squash. It is a vegetable that is new to the American palate of flavor but can be handled and prepared like acorn squash. Kabocha has a hard, deep-green rind that makes it possible to store it for several weeks in the winter.

The orange flesh of kabocha is sweeter than acorn or butternut squash and is loaded with beta-carotenes.

Many suggest preparing kabocha as you would squash. Roasting, braising, steaming and pureeing the hearty vegetable are all good ways to serve it.

Pine nuts

After drying in the hot summer sun pine nuts can be harvested in September and October. These little nuts from pine cones are slightly larger than sunflower seeds and can add a nice earthly flavor if eaten plain, stuffed into meats or added to a tossed salad.

Although they are very tasty, be careful, because pine nuts are high in calories. On the plus side though, pine nuts are high in protein, vitamins E and K, and niacin and thiamin.


One of oldest relatives to apple and pear, quince is grown in America mostly in California and New York. It is also very popular in Europe, Latin America and Asia. A delight for more than just its flavor, quince has a distinct sweet smell when ripe and turns from yellow to a beautiful pinkish color with cooked. Varieties of the quince include the apple- and pineapple quince, which is the most common type to be found in the United States.

High in fiber and vitamin C, quince are generally too sour to eat raw. The fruit is best used to make jams, pastes, and preserves. These quince concoctions pair well with cheeses. Quince can be cooked, with or without the skin, by poaching, roasting or being baked as a part of a dessert.