As the days grow shorter and cooler and the leaves begin to change color to fall, I am reminded of the many nostalgic fall fruits and vegetables that I ate around the upcoming holidays. I grew up in a culture where the words “I love you” were expressed through food—traditional dishes, fruits, and snacks. These included, in particular, my grandmother's home-cooked meals and home-grown fruits and vegetables. With every bite, I find myself wrapped in a mixture of emotions: gratitude, childhood nostalgia, and most importantly, love. 

1. Grandma's Persimmon Tree

persimmon, vegetable, apple, sweet
Danielle Chen

The months of October and November fill my grandma's persimmon trees with bright orange sweet ripened fruit. Just as the weather changes with the seasons, fruits blossom with different seasons—and persimmons are a seasonal favorite. There are two main types of persimmons: the Hachiya and Fuyu persimmon. Acorn-shaped, but still bright orange and red in color, the Hachiya is very soft, and almost has a smooth pudding-like texture. In contrast, the Fuyu is a lighter shade of orange and is crunchy with a sweet flavor. 

A fresh persimmon picked from her tree is not only a physical symbol of love, but signifies the advent of fall—the birth of colder weather, foreshadowing holidays and festivities to come in the following months. In Vietnamese culture, persimmons are meant to be shared with friends and family, used in offerings for the deceased, or eaten as a refreshing dessert after a family meal. 

2. Jujubes  

Date, red, jujube and dried HD photo by Mona Mok (@chinalily) on Unsplash

Unsplash on unsplash

A dainty, sweet dry version of an apple, this fall favorite is also known as a Chinese apple or red date. In its fresh form, it fills my grandmother's tree when harvest time is near. When I bite into this fruit, I close my eyes and I am reminded of the times when my grandmother would pick a fresh jujube off the tree, wipe it with her shirt, and give it to me. The subtle sweetness takes me back to the cool September afternoons—symbolizing that back-to-school season was near. With an abundance of jujubes for all, my aunts and uncles would leave family gatherings with large bags filled with this delicious fruit. 

#SpoonTip: Jujubes can usually be found in their dried form in herbal traditional Vietnamese and Chinese desserts. 

3. Sweet Potatoes

vegetable, fish, bread
Amanda Giudice

Growing up, sweet potatoes have always been a staple in my grandmother's home. Fresh from her boiling pot and into my hands, this nutritious treat was always eaten boiled or baked—a simple, yet delicious way of consuming sweet potatoes. The simplicity associated with this snack has given me a new profound appreciation for the natural sweetness and nutritional entirety of the vegetable, without adding ingredients to transform the potato. From its variety of colors—purple, orange, or white—to the warmth associated with a freshly cooked potato, I am reminded that love can be both simple or complex, no matter the level of the act. 

These fall fruits and vegetables all have a special place in my heart. From their foreshadowing of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, to the nostalgia embedded in my grandmother's love, these fruits can be shared amongst your family and friends this fall. My personal favorite ways of enjoying these delicious persimmons, jujubes, and sweet potatoes are typically in their most natural form—either fresh or baked, but if you have the opportunity to incorporate them into cozy fall recipes and desserts, you will not be disappointed.