We may wax poetic about the bounties of the summer harvest, but autumn gardens are also bursting with delicious produce. Many crops do well when harvested in the crisper fall season. Some, like pumpkins, have come to symbolize this time of year, when the leaves start to turn and we get to dig out our cozy sweaters.
Food-wise, fall represents a transition period that marks the switch from tomatoes, summer squash, and fruit to heartier greens and root vegetables. The vegetables that flourish in the fall may stick around all winter and into the spring. Don’t be surprised if some of the vegetables listed below continue to grace the market stalls for the next six months or more. These are the toughies that thrive in the cold.
Here are 10 of our favorite fall vegetables, how to keep them fresh, and how to preserve them for the long winter.
10 Fantastic Fall Vegetables
Arguably the king of the Brassicas, broccoli is rich in sulfur, vitamin C, and vitamin K. You know you can eat broccoli florets and stalks, but if you’re lucky enough to find broccoli with the leaves still attached, grab it. Chop the leaves and add them to your next salad, stir-fry, or smoothie.
How to store: Make sure it is dry, then store it in an unsealed storage bag in the crisper drawer. Eat within three to five days.
Ah, the ubiquitous cauliflower. Thanks largely to the keto movement, cauliflower is having its heyday standing in for bread, pizza crust, rice, and potatoes. Is there anything cauliflower can’t become?
How to store: Wrapped in plastic in the crisper, it will stay good for several weeks.
Celeriac is a bulbous root vegetable with a bumpy skin and flesh like a firm potato. When cooked, it has a texture similar to a parsnip and a neutral flavor that resembles a potato with a subtle celery quality. Try roasting, mashing, stewing, or slow cooking this versatile veggie.
How to store: Remove any greenery, then store unwashed celery root in a bag in your crisper. (Use the greens in your next batch of homemade bone broth.) The texture will be best if you use it within a couple weeks, but it will stay good for much longer than that.
How to preserve: Store in a root cellar packed in sand or sawdust. Or, peel, cube, and blanch the celeriac, then freeze it.
Kohlrabi is one of those vegetables that you might have seen in the grocery store and thought, “What the heck is that?” It looks sort of like a cross between a turnip and a cabbage with leafy greens growing out the sides. Tastewise, it’s kind of like a mild turnip and is great raw (thinly sliced or shredded) in salads. Alternatively, you can roast it, sauté it, or use it in recipes as a substitute for turnips, radishes, or rutabaga.
How to store: Separate the leaves from the bulb. Roll the leaves loosely in a thin kitchen towel and place in an open food storage bag in the crisper drawer. Use within a few days. Toss the bulbs into the crisper loose or in an open or perforated storage bag. They’ll stay good for a few weeks.
How to preserve: Kohlrabi bulbs can be frozen (cut into small cubes first) or fermented into pickles or kraut.
Pumpkins are so much more than jack-o-lanterns and pie filling. The edible flesh and seeds deliver a good helping of vitamin C, potassium, and the trace minerals copper, zinc, and manganese. Equally good in savory and sweet dishes, eating pumpkin can make you healthier—and happier!
How to store: Whole pumpkins will keep for up to a month at room temperature in your kitchen. For longer-term storage, keep them in cool temperatures, as in a root cellar.
How to preserve: Cooked pumpkin (cubed or mashed) can be frozen or canned.
Many people have only eaten radishes raw, but cooked, they can sub in for potatoes or other root vegetables like turnips or kohlrabi in many recipes. The leaves are also edible, but make sure you wash them very thoroughly, lest you end up with a mouthful of soil.
How to store: Cut off the leaves just above the bulb. Roll the leaves loosely in a thin kitchen towel and place them in open food storage bags in the crisper drawer. Use the leaves within two or three days. Radishes can be stored the same way, or keep them in a jar of cold water in the fridge, changing the water every few days. They will keep for a couple weeks or more.
How to preserve: Lacto-fermenting, either on their own or in something like kimchi. Store in sand in a root cellar (bulbs only).
Spinach has a lovely mild flavor and texture, which is why it’s so easy to sneak into smoothies, sauces, and even muffins for kids (and grown-ups) who don’t want to eat greens but still want the vitamins and antioxidants they pack.
How to store: Spinach likes to get brown and slimy quickly, so use it as soon as possible after buying it. To make it last a bit longer, store dry leaves in a sealed bag or container between layers of paper towel to suck up extra moisture.
Yes, there is a difference between sweet potatoes and yams. Most, if not all, of the “yams” you eat are probably sweet potatoes, botanically speaking. And they’re abundant at this time of year. Sweet potatoes are one of our favorite ways to add some carbohydrates to a Primal diet, especially in the colder months when fresh, locally grown fruit might be hard to come by.
How to store: Store at room temperature or, preferably, in a cool, dark place, but do not refrigerate. They will stay good for several weeks.
How to preserve: Store in a root cellar wrapped in paper or packed in sand. Curing before long-term storage is recommended to preserve storage life.1 Alternatively, cook the sweet potato, then freeze.
Turnips are a Brassica with edible leaves and a flavorful bulb. They don’t enjoy the same popularity as their cousins broccoli and cauliflower, at least not in the U.S., probably because they are slightly peppery and pungent. Give them a try, though. Cooking them will help release some of the natural sweetness.
How to store: Separate the roots from the leaves. Roll the leaves loosely in a thin kitchen towel and place in an open food storage bag in the crisper drawer. Place the turnips in the crisper drawer loose or in a storage bag. They will stay good for at least a couple weeks.
How to preserve: Freeze. Store in sand in a cool, dark place.