When you walk through the produce aisle or the farmers markets, you will notice that summer crops are quickly coming to an end. The peach and nectarine displays get smaller. There are fewer melons. They are making way for apples, pears and hard squash.
There is more to the world of hard squash than just the acorn, butternut or spaghetti, although those are fantastic fall vegetables. There are many shapes, sizes and colors, from the exotic turban to the simple, elegant delicata. May I suggest trying a different variety each week? You are bound to fall in love with several of them.
In picking out the best, look for three things. First of all, color. The richer the shell color, the richer the flavor. Second, pick it up. It should feel heavy for its size. Third, feel the shell. Except for the delicata, the shell of hard squash should be, well, hard.
Use winter squash as decorations around the house. When they are stored at room temperature, their flavor actually gets sweeter. Do not refrigerate your winter squash. That will diminish the flavor. You can find most of winter squash retailing for around 69 cents to 79 cents per pound. Most are grown in the San Joaquin Valley.
$2.49 - $2.99 a basket
The next few weeks will be the final time for good supplies from California.
$1.99 - $2.69 a pound
Also marketed as a Sonata, this apple originated in Germany 20 years ago.
49-69 cents each
They're finally back, after a year and a half of record prices.
Red Holiday grapes
San Joaquin Valley
$1.49 - $1.99 a pound
These huge grapes are seedless with great flavor and a great crunch.