Our favorite winter season fruits
Spanish markets are now packed with autumn and winter season fruits and vegetables: cold weather is not an excuse to not follow a healthy diet rich in greens and fruit.
In my food tours I’ve often noticed that some of our most common winter season fruits are not so common for my guests, and I love to show them around the Boqueria Market and introducing them to our local seasonal produce.
Last Tuesday, I took Mary Ann D. and her friend Carol on a market tour, and they were amazed at the variety there was, and how exotic some of our winter fruits and vegetables were for them. They inspired me to write this post for you today! So if you are wondering what fruits are in season in winter in Barcelona, here is my my winter season fruit list.
Winter and Autumn fruits and vegetables that you need to try:
Pomegranate. She’s the Queen of fruit: have you realized that she’s got a crown? And inside she hides a treasure of rubies: her edible seeds. I can’t wait for the Autumn to arrive, so I can have them again! Sure, preparing the seeds is a bit annoying as it takes some time to separate them from the shell. But once it’s done… Ah! Served with orange juice, or just sprinkled with some sugar they are a delight!
Mushrooms. Catalan people are huge mushroom lovers! From all the autumn fruits and vegetables, this is the one that is key to the local happiness: if the summer hasn’t been rainy enough and there are no mushrooms in the forests… it’s a drama! Instead, when it’s been humid we flock into the mountains to pick them up, and the bars and restaurants feature them in many of their seasonal offer. Rovellons are the most appreciated ones (a local type of milk caps) and are often served grilled and topped with garlic and parsley. Look out for dishes including also camagrocs and rossinyols (local varieties of chantarelli), fredolics (grey knights) and múrgoles (morels) for wild mushrooms. Gírgoles are cultivated oyster mushrooms.
Caqui or Palo Santo. That’s how we call here persimmoms. They are also very popular amongst the local autumn fruits and vegetables. Be careful when you buy them: if they are still hard, you’ll have to wait to eat them until they rippen. And if they are ready to eat: carry them carefully as they are likely to break open and spill all their juice in the bag. To eat them, just cut them open and scoop up their sweet pulp with a little spoon. Delicious!
Quince. You might have been offered quince paste some time, maybe accompanying a cheese platter. But you probably have never seen a quince fruit: shaped like a lemon or a pear but bigger and covered in a soft fuzz. Its meat is too hard to be eaten raw, but using a good food processor it’s easy to make quince paste at home: blend as much sugar as fruit, add the juice of a lemon, and cook for 20 minutes until it turns from yellow to brown. Pour in a mold and let it cool up: it’ll soon solidify into a jelly.
Cireretes d’Arboç (“Madroño” in Spanish). Ok, you aren’t too likely to find them in the market (except for some specialty shops selling berries), but it’s another thing I love picking up in the forest this time of the year. One of the earliest autumn fruits and vegetables of the year, they grow in Mediterranean woods from so-called strawberry trees (although they are rather bushes than trees), and it seems that their name in English is either madrone or arbutus fruit. In any case, it’s a cool family activity, and you don’t have to go too far: the woods of Collserola have plenty of them when in season!
AND BONUS! The winter veggie locals go crazy about every year:
Calçots. A list of winter fruits and vegetables wouldn’t be complete without Calçots! Catalans get together to grill these green onions on large wood barbecues, then dip them on a sauce called romesco, and eat them in a maybe not very politically correct (but fun!) way! It’s a great social event, and a seasonal must-do: if you aren’t lucky enough to get invited to a local Calçotada party, you can still order these tasty winter vegetables at some traditional Catalan restaurant.
What about you? Go to the comments below and tell us: have you ever tried any of these autumn and winter fruits and vegetables and did you like them?