Fall for local, seasonal produce with these culinary treasures

Published 6:03 pm Monday, September 30, 2013

Happy first day of October.

Fall – a.k.a. harvest season – has much to recommend it for local eaters.

Plenty of summer produce stays in season well into October in WNC, and storage fruits and vegetables that help get us through winter like apples, potatoes, onions, beets, cabbages and winter squashes abound. Pears ripen, figs have their second season and cooking greens of all sorts pileup at farmers markets. Eating locally is eating seasonally. To eat seasonally you need to know what’s in season.

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Here’s an A-Z reminder of what is local and seasonal throughout Polk and surrounding counties in October. These items are in local farmers markets, farm stores, road-side stands, and for direct sales from farms.

Apples: Lynch Orchards in Polk, a dozen orchards in Henderson County and a gorgeous fall ride up the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Orchard at Altapass with mountain music, nature trails and of course dozens of varieties of heirloom apples.

Arugula is back: We see it in the spring and again in the fall under cooler weather conditions.

Basil is still lingering around. Look for Thunder Ridge Farm (Lynn Ronzello) at Polk County Farmers Markets.

Beets make great juices, pickles, and roasted treats.

Broccoli at the Columbus Farmers Market on Saturday mornings and out at the farm store at the Mill Spring Ag Center. Along with that comes broccoli raab and brussel sprouts.

Cabbages of all shapes, colors and sizes are in markets or soon to make their way. It’s wonderful to have fermented cabbage food source right within Polk County at Yielding Branch Farm in Columbus.

Carrots, cauliflower and celery are local fall produce items. Emerald Green Farm in Green Creek brings celery to markets in Polk.

Collard greens and green beans are a mainstay at Manna Cabanna in Saluda, throughout the fall.

Kale, kholrabi, leeks and lettuce grace tabletops in markets and fill dinner bowls in homes.

Mushrooms are still easily spotted for wild harvest and in cultivated settings like Shiitake log forests all across Polk County.

Onions, oregano and other herbs are year-round and should stay in supply for quick and easy-added flavor to most any savory dish.

Pumpkins: now that’s a no-brainer. Eatin’ and carvin’ it’s that time of year for the bright orange presence in harvest scenes.

Radicchio, radish, sage and scallions: Hearty fall harvest foods.

Sweet potatoes and winter squash store well throughout the cold winter, so when you spot them locally, perhaps stock up and store in a cool, dry, darker, space.