Eat This Now | November 16th, 2015

ParsnipsFennelPersimmonsGreen Anjou PearsPink Lady Apples

Best if used by 11/25/15

Subscribe and get our content emailed to you automatically!


Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Parsnips are under-rated. But that seems to be changing for this root veggie. People are rediscovering the great taste of Parsnips – they’re like savory Carrots, white and a little less sweet, with hints of celery flavor. Parsnips can be pan fried, roasted, stewed, braised or boiled and whipped like potatoes. Simply peel and slice to eat raw as a crunchy snack, to add flavor to soups and stews, or to roast for a delicious fall side dish.

Parsnip Tips

  • Affordable Parsnips are in peak season supply during the fall and winter months.
  • Parsnips easy to store in the crisper drawer of your fridge for a couple of weeks without having to worry about them going bad.
  • Recipes! Find some delicious Parsnip recipes here.

Recipe: Roasted Parsnips, Carrots and Brussels Sprouts

Roasting brings out wonderful flavors and aromas in Parsnips. Try this roasted veggie blend – a sweet and savory mix of fall flavors! I like this dish anytime during cold weather, but it has become a mainstay at Thanksgiving for my family.

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450F
  2. Prep the following vegetables
    • 4 Parsnips, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces
    • 3 Carrots, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces
    • 10-12 Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved
    • 2 cloves fresh Garlic, peeled, whole
  3. Toss vegetables in a mixing bowl with 2-3 tbsp Olive oil
  4. Season with 1/2 tbsp of coarse salt, 1 tsp cracked black pepper (roasting seasonings may be added or substituted for even more flavor). Then re-toss to coat evenly.
  5. Spread vegetables evenly on a baking tray. Roast at 450F for 12 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven to flip vegetables with a spatula. Roast for an additional 10-15 minutes. The vegetables are ready when they can easily pierced with a fork and have begun to brown.

Recipe: Sour Cream Mashed Parsnips & Potatoes

Here’s a delicious, creamy, homespun recipe my wife made that features the savory flavor of Parsnips whipped with Potatoes and Sour Cream.

  1. Peel and Cut 4 Parsnips and 4 Large Potatoes (White or Russet) into 2 inch cubes
  2. Boil for 30-35 min until fork tender
  3. Drain, then add to large mixing bowl
  4. Add 4 tbsp butter, 1 cup of sour cream, salt and pepper to taste
  5. Whip the contents of the bowl with a mixer until smooth. Note: whipping may take slightly longer than regular mashed potatoes


Roasted Parsnips, Carrots and Brussels Sprouts


Sour Cream Mashed Parsnips & Potatoes

Fennel (Sweet Anise)

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Ever see that  white bulb with long green stalks and frilly fronds branching out on the wet vegetable rack at the market and wonder, “Who uses that odd-looking fall vegetable? And what in the world do you do with it?”

Fennel, often called Sweet Anise, has the crisp texture of Celery when raw and tastes of licorice. That distinctive flavor tones down and becomes sweeter when the Fennel is cooked. The entire vegetable is edible, but most people simply trim the green tops off, core the fibrous base from the bottom and slice white bulb into pieces (like you would an onion) or into wedges.

  How do you use Fennel?

Roasted and sautéed Fennel recipes are my favorite. The use of high heat until the Fennel becomes translucent and lightly caramelized brings out a delicious result. I’ve also enjoyed luxurious casserole and gratin recipes featuring Fennel.

Raw Fennel slices add nice flavor and crunch to salads, pairing well with bitter greens and citrus. Plus, you can chop up Fennel fronds to garnish salads like an herb, like in this Fennel and Mandarin Salad.

Fennel is great for juicing too! It can be substituted for Celery in most juicer recipes and adds a hint of licorice flavor that pairs well with Mint and Lime. Like Celery, it provides lots of liquid volume that is loaded phyto-nutrients without many calories to juice blends.

Fennel Tips and How-To

  • Select Fennel that has a clean, firm, white bulb and healthy-looking green tops.
  • Store Fennel in the fridge crisper for up to 1-3 days, in a bag for 2-4 days.
  • Cut Fennel by:
    1. Chop off stems and green fronds
    2. Trim 1/8” off the bottom of the bulb
    3. Remove bruised or tough outer layer of the bulb
    4. Slice the bulb in half then carve out the fibrous heart
    5. Then slice the white bulb like an onion. Optional: Fronds can be used as a fresh herb or garnish.

Fennel, often called Sweet Anise, has the crisp texture of Celery when raw and tastes of licorice.



Peak Season    Best Flavor

Persimmons… How do you if they’re ripe or how to eat them?

Few fruits confuse shoppers more than Persimmons. Why? One type is literally un-edible until it ripens to super-soft. The other can be eaten firm right away. Oh, and the two types kinda look similar.


Persimmons are a fantastic Fall and early Winter flavor – rich, sweet and just a little spiced. Late October through mid-December is peak season for Organic and Conventional Persimmons from California and other regions. Here is what you need to know about the two primary varieties to have a great seasonal eating experience, not one that makes your mouth pucker up worse than sucking on a Lime:

Fuyu Persimmons: You can eat Fuyu Persimmons right away when hard like an apple. They’re the flat, squatty-shaped ones with skin color that is yellow-orange. Cool nights can bring out patches of black blush. Sweet, crunchy, memorable – a surprisingly crisp, sweet-spice treat! To eat them, remove the leaf calyx and quarter the fruit for a snack, or chop it into bite size pieces to add to a fall fruit salad of apples, pears, pomegranate arils and grapes. Fuyu (flat) Persimmons are also fine when soft-ripe and can be used in baking recipes that call for Persimmons.

Hachiya Persimmons: You must allow Hachiya Persimmons to ripen to a soft, gooey state before eating, baking or cooking with them. These are the long, heart-cone shaped ones with deep orange skin. Hard, unripe Hachiya’s are full of tannins and are so astringent that they’ll draw your cheeks and lips inside out. Ripen Hachiya (high cone shape) Persimmons at room temperature until the skin begins to wrinkle and the fruit feels like water balloon – then, amazingly, they’ll they taste quite sweet! Slice off the top of a ripe one and spoon out the delicious smooth flesh for a distinctive snack (the texture of a ripe mango), to make smoothies, Persimmon Pudding or to use in breads and other baking recipes.


How to Ripen and Eat Persimmons


Flat-shaped Fuyu Persimmons


High-cone-shaped Hachiya Persimmons

Green Anjou Pears

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Green Anjou Pears are good for just about any purpose – snacking, cooking, baking and salads. When their flesh is ripe it’s creamy, juicy and quite sweet. Peak season Green Anjou Pears are readily available during late Fall and early Winter. Have one for lunch or give some of these Pear recipes a try!

So… What’s trick to getting a creamy, sweet and delicious Anjou Pear? Check the neck! Hard = crunchy and not so great. Soft = sweet and juicy.

Anjou Pear Tips

  • Anjou Pears don’t really change color as they ripen. So you have to feel them to know when they’re juicy-ripe.
  • Check the neck. Gentle thumb pressure near the stem will clue you in to the firmness inside. A little give means they’ll be sweet and juicy!
  • Ripen Anjou Pears at room temperature or speed up the process by placing them in a paper bag.
  • Recipe ideas for all-purpose Anjou Pears here.

Anjou Pears don’t really change color as they ripen. So you have to feel them to know when they’re juicy-ripe.

Pink Lady Apples (Cripps Pink)

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Not everyone likes a sweet only apple. And even sweet-apple-lovers need to mix things up every now and then. Typically, tart snacking apple fans have gravitated towards the green-skinned Granny Smith variety, but I direct them to Pink Lady Apples. They’ve got a bright cheek-rosy skin; dense, crunchy, almost hard flesh; and a honey sweetness under the bold, sharp, tart flavor.

Pink Lady Apples and their non-branded version, Cripps Pink, are a premium variety that sometimes command a premium price over varieties like Red Delicious. But for about 20-50 cents more per pound, they’re definitely worth a try for healthy snacking and using in juicing blends. Plus, Pink Lady and Cripps Pink are ideal for baking recipes where you want the apple to hold its shape and retain some texture!

The Pink Lady Apple crop is harvested from the trees in late Fall at orchards across the country, so November through the winter months is considered peak season. Most come from Washington, but Pennsylvania and New York orchards grow this firm variety too. The local PA fruit I’ve brought home from the orchard has had deep pink skin color, extra firm and white flesh, plus fabulous tart-sweet flavor.

Pink Lady Apples and their non-branded version, Cripps Pink, are a premium variety that sometimes command a premium price over varieties like Red Delicious.

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

Subscribe and get our content emailed to you automatically!