Watermelon and winter squash face off at the market this week: Summer melons will soon be a memory, but the earthy-sweet flavors of fall foods like squash and apples are coming into their own. And don't forget the pumpkins.
What to Look For
Cut open a squat, beige, pumpkin-shaped Estella squash to reveal bright-orange flesh with a deep, honeyed fragrance. Medium-sweet with a dry, dense texture that falls between butternut and kabocha, it makes a comforting pure or an ideal canvas for sweet and sour flavors (recipe) ($0.75 per pound at Caradonna, available Wednesday and Saturday).
Knobby-looking quinces are pear and apple relatives with gray fuzz on their leaf-green skin. Too firm and astringent to eat raw, they yield their floral flavor when sweetened and poached (recipe: quince in wine and roses). Or just set out a bowl of them whole they'll fill the room with the scent of green apples and roses ($3.20 per pound at Keith's Farm, available Wednesday and Saturday).
Chestnuts don't get much attention till the winter holidays, but they're at the market for a few weeks only. The fresh, golden nuts have a buttery caramel flavor that goes wonderfully with fall foods like squash (recipe: chestnuts and spaghetti squash). You can also peel them and put them in the freezer until Thanksgiving or later ($4 per pound at Eckerton Hill, available Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday).
Bronze-red and green Freedom apples have a clear, old-fashioned flavor. Their white flesh is dense yet moist, with plenty of character nice with cheese, even better sauted and served with sausages or pork ($1.50 per pound at Oak Grove, available Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday).
Blink And You'll Miss It
Don't pass by the frost berries. The gorgeous, gold-speckled garnet berries make a lovely accompaniment for roast poultry. Raw, they can be sprinkled over a salad, like tart pomegranate seeds. Simmered down with sugar, they release a sauce redolent of strawberries and raspberries and their pits soften, taking on a popcornlike flavor. Depending on how much you sweeten it, the sauce goes nicely with pancakes, chicken, turkey, or assertive fish ($5 per half-pint at Gorzynski, available Saturday).