We are well into fall and the last of the stone fruits and berries have left the markets. This time of year you’ll see a lot of greens, whites, and deep oranges; all of which have lesser known, but incredible value nutritionally. I find that the colder months encourage us to simplify in the kitchen. We have less to choose from, but can be more creative. Here are some of my November favorites:
Grapefruit: High in vitamin C, grapefruit provides much-needed immune support during the winter months. Its bright pink color signals high lycopene content, like found in tomatoes. Select grapefruits that feel heavy for their size and don’t have an overly tough or wrinkled skin. Grapefruits stored at room temperature will be juicier than those stored in the refrigerator. Check with your healthcare practitioner before consuming grapefruit if you are taking any medications as certain compounds in grapefruit can cause pharmaceutical drugs to become more potent.
Horseradish: Horseradish can be preserved using vinegar and salt and is available in markets year-round. Fresh horseradish, however, is generally harvested in the fall in cool-weather climates. Aside from adding a hot and sharp flavor to foods, horseradish is a potent gastric stimulant that aids digestion and is high in many phytonutrients. Look for roots that are firm and store, uncut and unwashed, in the refrigerator. Use the horseradish within 1-2 weeks for the fullest flavor and freeze the rest by grating it and storing it in a plastic bag for up to 3 months.
Lemons: The trick with finding a good quality lemon is to find one with a thin skin. Thick-skinned lemons will be less juicy, so look for a fruit that feels heavy for its size. Look for lemons that are fully yellow, as any signs of green mean they are not fully ripe. Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C and antioxidants. Add their juice to dressings, soups, and sauces, and be sure to zest and utilize the peel as well!
Limes: Limes grow best in warm, tropical climates and contain the same health-promoting nutrients as other citrus fruits. Fully ripe limes will contain the highest antioxidant content, so look for limes with a bright green color and store them at room temperature out of the sunlight.
Olives: Mostly known for their health-promoting fats, olives are a wonderful addition to any antipasto plate and balance out a simple snack. Olives are harvested in the fall and typically go through a several-week curing process to neutralize their bitter taste. Look for olives with firm skin and store them in the refrigerator.
Rhubarb: Rhubarb is a great source of fiber, vitamin K, and antioxidants. Look for bright red stalks with lively, green leaves (if they are still attached). Wrap rhubarb in a damp paper towel, place in a plastic bag, and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Rhubarb can be quite bitter, so it’s best cooked and paired with something sweeter.
Scallions: Though known as “spring onions,” scallions can be grown pretty much year-round in California. Like other members of the allium family, scallions contain a nutrient called Allicin, which has been shown to decrease blood pressure and block platelet clot formation. Look for clean, uniform bunches with crispy, green stalks. Wash and store them in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.
Turnips: Though we often classify turnips with other starchy root vegetables like potatoes, they are actually a member of the cruciferous family. Along with cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, turnips contain a category of phytonutrients that have been shown to reduce cancer risk. Look for turnips with creamy looking bulbs and a violet ring around the top. Immature turnips will be mostly white. Try to find turnips with their leaves still attached as they are freshly harvested. Remove the greens when you get home as they draw nutrients out of the bulb. You can cook the greens like you would spinach and store the bulbs in a cool, dark, dry environment.