Favorite Superfoods for Fall
By Yuvraj and Shannie Khamare
The Central Florida kitchen garden is a thing of beauty; when planted wisely, it will be brimming with color, nutrition, and a complexity of flavors.
Fall is an optimal time for Central Floridians to get into the garden. The weather has cooled and pest populations have abated. It’s best to grow crops that prefer winter temperatures, and, luckily, many of our favorite vegetables thrive in these conditions. The list of crops to sow in fall is quite lengthy, you can check out the University of Florida IFAS monthly vegetable planting calendar online for a good guide on crops that are known to thrive this time of year.
In our garden, we particularly enjoy planting with a recipe in mind. This year we are planting a kimchi garden, which includes napa cabbage, bunching onions, daikon, and carrots, all crops that thrive in our raised beds over the fall/winter. We will even include ginger that can be harvested in early fall. Kimchi is one of our favorite fermented foods and a staple in our kitchen; making it from scratch is quick and easy. (You can find seeds at rareseeds.com.)
Our favorite Florida fall delicacy is round, orange, and has a superb, sweet flavor — and, no, we are not talking about pumpkins, but rather, persimmons. The American persimmon is a native fruit that grows in our region. These small globes are picked when super soft and can be eaten fresh or baked into persimmon bread, cookies, and other delightful, fall-inspired desserts. Take note that persimmons must be harvested and eaten when very soft, otherwise the fruit will leave an unpleasant astringency in your mouth.
The Japanese persimmon is the type of persimmon that one would find at the grocery store; it is a cousin of our native fruit. These trees can also be grown locally and make a lovely backyard fruit tree. The fruit of Japanese types are larger, and a bit more refined and sweet. There are a few different types of Japanese persimmon. Astringent persimmons need to be eaten when soft, and have a fantastic, gooey texture. Hachiya is a popular type of astringent persimmon that we love to slice and dehydrate, then dip in dark chocolate. Dehydration transforms the texture to that of gummy bears.
Non-astringent persimmons are sweet, crispy, and crunchy; they can be harvested and eaten when the fruit are firm. Fuyu is a type of non-astringent persimmon that is sweet and has a pumpkin-spice flavor. The crisp texture is phenomenal, and we love to snack on these fresh or add slices to salads as a sweet element.
As you wade through a sea of pumpkin-centric recipes this fall, consider what you might do with a Florida persimmon instead.