The strawberries, blueberries, watermelon and peaches of summer are becoming a distant memory as we head into October, but that doesn't mean there isn't a variety of fruit to choose from. As you walk through your farmers market or even in nature, keep an eye out for some of these not-so-common fruits that are in season right now.
Persimmons grow in the wild but can also be cultivated in a backyard garden or farm. (Photo: andrea castelli/Flickr)
The persimmon is an orange fruit that looks a bit like a tomato, but when ripe it tastes a little like an apricot. In the United States, it's a native fruit from Florida to Connecticut, west to Iowa and south to Texas, according to Gardening Know How.
Here's what you can do with them:
Pawpaws grow in the wild. These were found along a canal in Montgomery County, MD. (Photo: Alice Crain/Flickr)
If you live in a region where pawpaws grow, you might want to plan a foraging trip. While they grow well in the United States, they aren't widely cultivated. Fortunately, they are growing in accessible places like the woods or along riverbanks in the Midwest and MidAtlantic regions.
Ground cherries, also known as husk cherries, have a sweet, mild flavor. (Photo: Pen Waggener/Flickr)
Sweet-tart ground cherries are native throughout the United States and can be found alongside roads and in fields, according to Organic Life. They can sometimes be found at farmers markets and can be cultivated in backyard gardens. Ground cherries, which are also known as husk cherries, can be eaten raw or used in recipes.
- Use ground cherries in conjunction with other fruits in an orange juice-like beverage that uses no oranges (and may be made of completely local ingredients depending on where you live).
- Ground Cherries Preserves
Hardy kiwi, also known as kiwi berries, grow on vines and taste a bit like Kiwifruit. (Photo: bittenbyknittin/Flickr)
Hardy kiwi, also known as kiwi berries, are grape-sized fruits that has a tart outside and a sweet inside. The skin is edible, but some people prefer to simply suck out the sweet flesh inside. They can be found in grocery stores and farmers markets, but they are also found in the wild, particularly in the Northeast. They also work wonderfully if you want to create an edible landscape in your yard.
Versatile figs can be used in salads, sauces, baked goods, and even in cocktails. (Photo: calafellvalo/Flickr)
Figs are becoming more common in stores and farmers markets, but they still aren't the first thing most people think of when they think seasonal fruit. These sweet fruits are for more than just the filling in a Fig Newton cookie. They can be used as pizza and salad toppings, covered in chocolate for a delectable treat, baked into muffins, and made into smoothies and cocktails.
- Fig and Feta Pizza
- Honey & Goat Cheese-Filled Fig Muffins
- Chocolate Fig Candy
- Vanilla and Fig Popsicle
Bonus: Heirloom apples
Go beyond Gala and McIntosh apples this fall and hunt down heirloom varieties at farmers markets and pick-your-own farms. (Photo: Elise Roedenbeck/Flickr)
Apples are still the traditional fall fruit that everyone loves baked into pies and tarts, pressed into cider, and covered in caramel. The half-dozen or so varieties you find at the grocery store are just a fraction of what's available, though. At one time there were more than 15,000 varieties of apples native to North America. Now only about 3,000 of those varieties are available.
Head to your local farmers market and grab a small basket of an heirloom variety of apple that you've never heard of before. Ask the farmer if the random basket you've chosen is good for making apple sauce or pies or if they're best thrown in a lunch box and eaten whole. By purchasing these heirloom apples instead of grabbing the Galas, you'll help to create a demand for them and help make sure they don't disappear.