Fall Fruits – eating locally and in season

Whenever I see the first pomegranates of the season, fond memories resurface from childhood; My mother would always buy me a few for dessert during the long dark winters in Chicago. ¬† On “pomegranate” night my Mom would cut one¬† pomegranate¬† into manageable pieces and place them in a large bowl. ¬† I would curl up on my favorite TV chair and drape myself with dark-colored towel to avoid staining) and savor each and every one of the kernels. ¬†¬† And as a young girl, I had no idea what a healthy treat I was enjoying.

The bright red (staining) juice of pomegranates means that this fall fruit is loaded with bioflavonoids — cancer-fighting anti-oxidants found in most deep-colored fruits and vegetables.¬†¬† Their nutritious juice has been credited with helping alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s, breast and prostrate cancer, osteoarthritis and high blood pressure, among many other medical miracles.

Choose pomegranates that are firm but that have a little give when testing against a surface or with your finger.¬† Avoid the ones with “mushy” parts as they will contain spoiled kernels.¬† Eat them as a snack, sprinkle the kernels on salads, add them to your smoothies.¬† One of my favorite uses is to sprinkle in a sunflower or walnut pate, along with green peas.¬† This dish is always a hit at raw pot luc

Another great fall fruit, carambola (starfruit) grows in warm climates between July and February. One cup of this sweet and tangy delight (approximately 1 ¬Ĺ fruits) provides 76% of your Vitamin C requirement — along with 15% of your dietary fiber, a good amount of potassium, folate and pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)! I particularly like starfruit because of its high water content; better hydration translates into better mental acuity and more youthful your skin!¬† This is one of the fall fruits that I have come to appreciate since we moved to Tampa six years ago.

There is no need to peel this fruit; simply slice in sections, discarding the top. The seeds are edible. I let mine ripen until the edges brown and scrape those off before slicing. Then I drizzle with local orange blossom honey and a splash of cold orange blossom water ofr a very refreshing and healthy treat! (You will find rose and orange blossom waters at Middle Eastern or Indian grocery stores.)

Persimmons are another fall favorite.¬† You will generally find two varieties: the Asian (fuyu) persimmon,which is smaller and rounder and the more oblong one pictured above.¬† The Asian persimmon is edible even when the fruit does not appear to be ripe i.e. still kind of hard, but not so with the local (Hachiya) variety!¬† These need to be quite soft to be appealing — in fact, if they are hard, they leave a kind of bitter, astringent taste on the tongue.¬† Last year I was disappointed by several persimmons that never seemed to ripen, no matter how long I kept them.¬† Even tried putting them in a paper bag to hasten ripening per our local fruit stand’s advice, but wound up throwing out at least 3 of them.

When you do get a good persimmon the taste is luscious and sweet and makes a perfect light dessert.  They also can be used in baking and raw desserts.  I am contemplating trying a persimmon vegan ice cream this fall and will post the recipe when I get it right.

Persimmons are loaded with calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin A and even have a decent amount of protein.

So this fall, immerse yourself in the autumnal delights available at your local farmer’s markets.¬† Tell me which your favorite fall fruits are.

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