We know – the typical image of a Thanksgiving spread is full of gourds and root veggies and other savory goodies spilling out of a cornucopia. Thanksgiving is about the abundance of harvest, after all.
But we here at FruitStand would kindly like to remind those cornucopia folks that fruits are things that get harvested, too!
True, most of nature’s sweetest treats come of age in the warmer months, but there are still a number of fresh fruity ways to brighten up the late autumn holiday – and we mean with more than just cranberry sauce!
Before we start thinking about the best ways to bust out fruity spreads on the Thanksgiving table, it might help to think of what will work best in those recipes, coming in at their juiciest, plumpest best for the season.
So before you hit the farmer’s market for supplies, here’s a quick reminder of what kinds of fruits, exactly, can stay ripe through to winter:
An autumn classic, this all-around all-star is already part of many people’s holiday celebrations. That’s mostly thanks to a long harvesting season, which lasts from the end of summer through late fall.
The old Thanksgiving classic – and for good reason! These boggy berries start to ripen right around September, and really hit their stride in the late fall.
Many people may consider figs a summer fruit – and they’d be right. These delicious bites do ripen in the warmer months, but figs have a secret second season, albeit a short one, that kicks off just in time for the holidays.
While grapes are at their peak at the end of summer, these sweet treats continue to make stellar farmer’s market buys until autumn is through. (And the wine and vinegar they make, thank Thanksgiving, is practically timeless.)
If you need a little late-season tang in your life, look no further. Limes are typically considered a summertime fruit, linked up to the tropical image they conjure – and while that’s mostly true, in the right kind of climate, these fruity delights can keep sprouting through the fall.
Serving these babies at the Thanksgiving meal is the opposite of letting things go pear-shaped. Depending on the variety, pears can come fresh off the tree from mid-summer all the way through the winter.
Technically a fruit – but who are we to judge! Peppers of all varieties lend themselves to any number of spicy and savory fare, and can be harvested fresh through the early fall.
These unique wonders have a small window of ripeness in the autumn and winter. Plus, persimmons look like a tomato painted a perfect fall orange and taste like all the best parts of pumpkin pie. If that doesn’t make them the ultimate Thanksgiving table fruit, we don’t know what does!
Another fruit by technicality. (That’s right, just ask any botanist.) These orange wonders start to ripen in September, with a harvesting season that lasts through the fall.
While pomegranates can really only be grown in warmer climates, that doesn’t mean they can’t be shipped off and enjoyed elsewhere – right? And these mystical fruits hit the perfect timing to be ready for fall, with a ripening season that spans from October through December.
Undoubtedly one of the weirder fruits Mother Nature’s come up with – but wonderful all the same – these large, odd pieces of produce can lend a bit of tarty bite to any fall concoction, with a harvest season that lasts through early winter.
The papery green tomatoes are famous ingredients in many summertime staples, like salsa verde and heirloom tomato salads. But they’re as versatile as their growing season, with tomatillos still blossoming through the fall.
If you still want to stick to tradition (this is a time-honored holiday, after all), there are a number of classic fruit-based dishes you can whip up with the above pieces of produce. And most of them, we’ll be honest, revolve around the apple. (Seriously, though, is it even possible to make this fruit taste bad?)
Pumpkins, too (again, technically fruits!) offer a plethora of other time-tested autumnal recipes, from soup to salad and up to and including the type of pie that may or may not be the all-time best of pies. (Debate amongst yourselves.)
But if you’re feeling adventurous, there’s no telling where you can go with this bounty of in-season treats.
Pomegranate, lime and tomatillo can combine to make a bright and crisp, blissful fruity salsa – if you want to buck another Thanksgiving trend and get your taco on for the holiday.
Cranberries, figs and persimmons would make another fine trio, conjuring a combination of tangy, sweet and earthy that could go gangbusters with any number of other Thanksgiving dinner staples.
The limit here is truly only the limit of your imagination. And the culinary world was made for nothing if not to be explored.
The most important thing, of course, is to have fun, and enjoy the ride. After an all-day cooking marathon, there’s nothing better than sitting down to dig into the exact type of dish you want.
And a delicious meal full of seasonal fruits is something we can all be grateful for.