When it comes to fall in the South, things aren’t exactly as idyllic as they are in our favorite movies and TV shows, like “Gilmore Girls” and “When Harry Met Sally.” However, it’s certainly worth the wait to enjoy the autumn leaves and the season’s bounty of fruits and veggies from apples to pumpkins. In fact, the Southeastern climate actually allows us to enjoy a few of those quintessential fall foods sooner while still reveling in summer favorites, like heirloom tomatoes and okra.
“How soon we get fall produce in the South depends on how chilly the nights get once fall comes around,” says Lisa Beasley, market manager at The Market at Pepper Place in Birmingham, Alabama. “North of here in places like North Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, you’ll already start to see those fall items coming in while those of us in Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas won’t see things like pumpkins until October.”
The best way to determine the best fruits and vegetables to buy in the fall where you are to visit your local farmers’ market, a local farm, or a neighborhood co-op where you can chat with local and regional growers about when to your favorites. Beasley also notes that thanks to the rise of hydroponic and other methods of growing, markets like Pepper Place are now able to extend their seasons beyond Labor Day to ensure more people get access to incredible autumnal fruits, vegetables, and even florals like mums. Below, you’ll find the best fruits and vegetables to shop for this season across the South.
Depending on where you are in the greater South, you may already be seeing apples pop up at your local farmers’ market. In states as far south as Alabama, apples start appearing in mid-August and have made their way to markets across the region by early September. You’ll find a wide variety of apples available through October for all your cooking and baking needs. Get inspired with 55 of our favorite fall apple recipes.
Turnip, mustard, and collard greens start to arrive in mid-to-late September in the South. Thanks to the popularization of alternative growing methods, Beasley says that you’ll likely be able to find these and other more delicate leafy greens throughout the winter, too. Check out our beloved Southern-Style Collard Greens recipe to get the whole family excited about eating more of this nutritious veggie.
Whether you prefer to roast their seeds, make pie, or let them serve as decoration alone, Beasley says that pumpkins start to arrive in states like Tenneseee, North Carolina, Kentucky, and even Northern Georgia in late September (depending on the weather) and will make their way farther south in the beginning of October. Discover a new favorite way to use them in the kitchen with one of our favorite easy pumpkin recipes.
Potatoes of All Kinds
Potatoes from Yukon Gold to sweet follow a similar timeline to pumpkins and while you may start to see some varieties at the farmers market in late summer, there will be an abundance come late September into the winter. Step outside the casserole box with our Sweet Potato Soufflé or start your day with our delicious Potato Hash.
Other Root Veggies
Spring favorites like carrots, beets, and radishes will return for the fall season in the South. Beasley says you’ll likely continue to see carrots available through the wintertime to enjoy those peppery radishes while you can during this season. Not a fan of beets? Try them out in our Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes recipe.
Yes, you can still enjoy some of your favorite summertime fruits and veggies in the first half of fall down south. Beasley says that Southern states will continue to see local okra pop up at the farmers market until the year’s first frost, which in certain parts of the region, won’t be until late October. Cozy up with a bowl of our Okra and Rice Casserole as the temperatures start to drop.
Like apples, pears of all varieties are appearing in Southern farmers markets, co-ops, and grocers by September. Be on the lookout for new-to-you varieties to whip up our festive Maple-Pecan-Pear Cheesecake for your first autumn supper club of the season.
Vibrant winter squashes follow a similar timeline to pumpkins and root veggies, so once you see pumpkin patches popping up in your neighborhood or a display of local sweet potatoes at your favorite grocer, delicata, butternut, acorn, kabocha, and other seasonal squash varieties shouldn ‘t be far behind. Use your favorites to make a batch of our warming Winter Vegetables and Gnocchi recipe once sweater season arrives.
Beasley says that Southerners will start to see brussels sprouts in the fall, but it depends on where you’re located how quickly they will appear at your neighborhood farmers market. Those in the deep South will start getting brussels sprouts in October while those in more northern states may have to wait until November. Even your pickiest eaters will love our Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Shallots recipe.
Lucky for us Southerners, we often get a major extension on fig season that Beasley says can reach into late September, weather permitting. This gorgeous fruit feels festive for the autumn season due to its fall-like color palette, and we love using them in our festive Bacon-Wrapped Figs appetizer for fall cocktail parties.