Eat This Now | September 24th, 2014

McIntosh ApplesRomanescoOrange CauliflowerAcorn Squash

best if used by 10/01/14

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McIntosh Apples

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Classic flavor that is more tart than sweet with a juicy, semi-crisp texture is what you’ll get with this old fashioned, East Coast favorite: McIntosh Apples. Discovered as a chance seedling by John McIntosh in New York over 100 years ago, this is a variety so ubiquitous as a fall ingredient that one bite can make you recall Mom’s apple cake or Grandma’s applesauce or that warm apple pie you love so much. McIntosh Apples are a round-shaped apple with chewy skin that is dark-red over green. They’re good for sauces, salads and for baking even though they don’t hold shape as well as firmer apples like Granny Smith. It’s a local preference thing, I suppose. Speaking of preferences, some folks really enjoy McIntosh Apples for eating out of hand in spite of their semi-crisp texture.

No matter what you like to use McIntosh Apples for – peak season has begun in Pennsylvania and New York, so look for fresh crop quality and plenty of “on sale” pricing to take advantage of. Organic McIntosh are in season too at higher pricing, though only available from organic orchards in the Pacific Northwest. At the store, fruit sold loose tends to be a larger than the McIntosh sold in totes or bags, but the flavor and tangy-sweet aroma when you peel them is the same either way. At the farm market or orchard, select McIntosh that have been picked that day or were stored in refrigeration to make sure you’re getting fruit with good texture.


  • McIntosh Apples do bruise fairly easily so handle them gently.
  • For the best texture – keep your McIntosh in the fridge, since several days at room temperature will make them mealy inside even though the still look fresh on the outside.
  • Even though PA & NY McIntosh Apple supplies will be available for the next 9 months thanks to controlled atmosphere storage –the texture will be at its best here in September and October, just after harvest time. So pick up a bag or a handful if you find them and enjoy a vintage flavor of fall.

Recipe Ideas from regional apple grower associations

What “snacking fruits” are at their best this week?

Bring home that old-fashioned fall-apple flavor for your baking and cooking with fresh crop McIntosh Apples – juicy, tangy and sweet.

I love McIntosh Apples in my wife’s homemade apple pie recipe and in apple cake. Here is an apple cake mix that calls for 1.5 cups chopped apples with the skin on. It’s easy and tastes great – so moist!


Peak Season    Best Flavor

Romanesco may be one of the most beautiful vegetables in the world to admire. Each floret is like a fractal, providing geometric wonder. Romanesco is an old Italian variety of Cauliflower that is light green in color and forms its head in spiked cones. The flavor is like a mild-Cauliflower with hints of Broccoli. You can prepare Romanesco basically like you would with its creamy-white cousin: cut the florets from the core to then steam, boil, sauté or roast. I started a collection of inspiring Romanesco recipes in a Pinterest board HERE.

Romanesco is not a prominent vegetable on many produce department shelves, but is growing in popularity. Here in late September and through early November you stand a better chance than usual of finding fresh, in-season Romanesco grown at local farms in Pennsylvania and New York being sold at farmer markets and stores that carry a broad variety of vegetables.

Beautiful fractals that naturally occur on Romanesco turn into delicious nooks and crannies for butter or olive oil and seasonings to seep into when cooked.

Orange Cauliflower (Cheddar Cauliflower)

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Like Romanesco, Orange Cauliflower is growing in popularity. It tastes and looks very similar to regular White Cauliflower, but it’s florets are orange, giving it the nickname: Cheddar Cauliflower. It looks really cool and has more Vitamin A than regular White Cauliflower. Peak season at local farms here in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic for Orange Cauliflower is late September through early November. It is often sold “naked”, meaning it is not wrapped in plastic and still may have a few of the outer leaves attached to the stem. Orange Cauliflower is also available from commercial farms in California. If you find it this Fall, it is definitely worth a try for roasted, steamed or sautéed recipes… and to impress your family and friends, right?

Orange Cauliflower, which is high in Vitamin A and looks down-right awesome, is in peak season from local farms in PA and NY during most of Fall.

Acorn Squash

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Ah, Fall is here! Time to put away the shorts and get out the jeans, maybe fire up the oven. Speaking of Fall, Fall Squash – aka Hard Squash – aka Winter Squash – is in peak season which means it is readily available, tasting great and priced affordably.

Green Acorn Squash is an easy to use Fall Squash variety. And local harvests of Conventional and Organic Green Acorn Squash are plentiful here at the start of Fall from farms on the Eastern Seaboard, Mid-West and elsewhere. Fiber-packed Acorn Squash is dark green with patched of orange, has deep ribs and is shaped like… well, an acorn nut. The flesh is yellow to gold, slightly fibrous and has a sweet, slightly nutty vegetable flavor.

Acorn Squash Tips

  • Select Acorn Squash that is hard and has not pitting.
  • Store it for several weeks at room temperature.
  • The easiest way to prepare Acorn Squash is to slice it in half side-ways, scoop out the seeds and pulp, place the halves face down in 1” of water and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the flesh can easily be pierced with a fork.

Recipe: Cider-baked Acorn Squash

This easy dish is a pleasing mix of fall flavors! Carnival Squash, Sweet Dumpling or Golden Acorn can be substituted for Green Acorn Squash in this recipe.

  1. Cut one Acorn Squash in half, scoop out seeds and pulp with a spoon
  2. Spray a large glass baking pan with no-stick olive oil, then place Acorn Squash halves flesh-side down in pan
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
  4. Flip Acorn Squash up right, then fill both squash halves with Apple Cider and 2 tbsp Butter each
  5. Season squash halves with a light dusting of Ginger Powder, Cinnamon and Cloves
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes more or until flesh can easily be pierced with a fork
  7. Cut halves into quarters, serve with pan drippings

Local harvests of Green Acorn Squash are plentiful here at the start of Fall from farms on the Eastern Seaboard, Mid-West and elsewhere.

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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