Cooking with Fall Ingredients

Seasonal produce you should get your hands on now

There are reasons to hate fall: School starts, the weather gets colder, daylight disappears. And reasons to love it: Apples, pears, pomegranates, and more are at their best. Here’s a bushel of fall ingredients that you should cook with now.
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Some—apples, for instance—are old hat; while others—like persimmon and quince—might be less familiar. The recipes below are all straightforward and delicious ways to use fall’s produce. Click the ingredient names for more reference information on each item—and more recipes.

Acorn Squash

As the name insinuates, this dark green vegetable is shaped like an acorn. Though it’s one of the smallest hard-skinned squashes available, it’s notoriously difficult to cut open, so check out our CHOW Tip for pointers.


A cousin to the artichoke (and also part of the thistle family), the less familiar cardoon has a longer culinary history: It was prized by the ancient Greeks as a delicacy. Its large stalks can be unwieldy to work with, but the cooked flavor—part bitter, part earthy, and distinctly vegetal—is worth the effort.


There are many varieties of this gourd, but the most common found in the United States is green, pear-shaped, and looks somewhat like a clenched fist. It goes by many names—including choko, mirliton, custard marrow, and christophene—and in the Caribbean it’s a staple ingredient.

Delicata Squash

This lesser-known hard-skinned squash has sweet flesh that tastes almost like a creamy sweet potato.


The Smyrna fig was brought to North America by the Spanish and planted up the coast of California by Franciscan monks, creating the common, purple-skinned fig known as the Mission.

Gala Apple

About 2,500 known varieties of apple are grown in the United States, and more than 7,500 are grown worldwide. The Gala, with mottled yellow-red skin and crisp, sweet flesh, is one of our favorites.


There are more than 3,000 varieties of the pear—one of King Louis XIV’s favorite fruits. We love the Bosc for its crunchy flesh and floral flavor.


The American Colonists made persimmons into puddings, preserves, and wine and other alcoholic drinks.


The Moors brought pomegranates to Spain around 800 CE, and the city of Granada was named for the fruit.


The word marmalade comes from the Portuguese name for quince preserves.

Red Flame Grape

One of the most popular table grapes, the Flame peaks in the fall and adds fruitiness to salads, sandwiches, and breads.

Sweet Potato

There are four major varieties of sweet-flavored tubers cultivated in the U.S. They’re often erroneously labeled as yams, but the true yam is native to Africa.

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