Every Austinite knows at least one thing to be true about this city: Fall doesn’t really exist here. If you’re lucky enough to catch a cool breeze, it’s usually not until December. While states above the Texas border were wearing sweaters to football games and whipping up butternut squash soup dinners, we were escaping the heat with trips to Barton Springs and snow cones at Casey’s.
Central Texas’ unique weather patterns brings us a selection of produce that differs from what’s typically available nationwide in the fall. We all know to pick up winter squash and pears in grocery stores, what about what’s fresh in our backyard? We asked a farmer with 30 years of organic farming experience, David Pitre of Tecolote Farm, to weigh in on which Central Texas produce tastes better in the fall than it does the rest of the year.
According to Pitre, the fall selection depends of the current climate and what the month before held—so if the season is cool, the root crops (beets, carrots and turnips) are sweeter and the greens (turnip, collard, lake and chard) are milder.
Pitre recommends stocking your fridge with these produce items this season:
- Local greens and lettuces, like escarole, spinach and radicchio
- Root veggies and tubers, like carrots, beets, turnips and sweet potatoes
- Bulb fennel
- Green beans
He also recommends visiting your local farmers markets for the freshest produce available. “Produce is just hours old there, and you get to talk to the farmer and find out what’s freshest,” he said. Additionally, Pitre said that these farmers often have unusual and unique varieties that the grocery stores won’t buy.
A unique aspect of the Central Texas produce cycle is that summer items will still trickle in during the fall. Farmers’ markets are a great place to look for summer squash, cucumbers, and peppers that chain grocery stores might not be carrying anymore.
So what is seasoned farmer Pitre whipping up in his kitchen this season? Delightful dishes that’ll warm you right up, including escarole soup with meatballs, and baked fennel gratin with gruyere. Hungry, yet?
Comment below with your favorite fall produce and the recipes in your rotation this season!