Fresh fruits and vegetables aren't just for summertime in Cincinnati.

While it's true that almost all produce can be grown somewhere year-round, some of the best-tasting apples, pears and grapes are harvested in the fall, says John Johnson, owner of Country Fresh Farm Market on Vine Street in Hartwell, one of a handful of so-called fruit markets left in the city.

Johnson, who's been in the business 35 years, often taste-tests the fruit found in his store. In the summer months, the shop, one of two locations—the second is on Beechmont Avenue in Anderson Township—averages between five and six deliveries a day.

"I've always tried to push 'eat seasonal,'" Johnson says. "And we look for quality and freshness. I go to the produce houses, literally walk through and open the boxes and look, taste and feel the stuff, to make sure we're get the best there is to get."

We're currently on the cusp of the fall harvest, so here's some go-to picks for your next shopping trip:

1. Apples

Apples are one of the best go-to fall fruits, and there's several varieties from which to choose. Honeycrisp, a relatively new variety, has come on strong over the last 10 years, Johnson says. Pomegranates and persimmons also peak this time of year.

"We get a lot of apples out of Ohio," Johnson says. "The local apples—for the short time that they're here—I think they always have better flavor."

2. Pears

Another solid choice, pears, like apples, come in several varieties. Bartlett pears are usually first on the scene; Johnson says to look for fruit sourced from Oregon or Washington for better taste.

Bosc and Anjou pears are also common selections. Johnson's top pick is the Comice pear, also known as Christmas pears, which peak in late December. Pears, Johnson notes, should be left to ripen at room temperature.

3. Grapes

Johnson says his favorite grape comes out in the fall—autumn royal, a black grape that's only available for a short period of time. Look for grapes with a full, rich color that are firm, plump and firmly attached to their stems.

 

As for vegetables, selections here are more consistent month-to-month, Johnson says, but cauliflower and broccoli, considered cool-weather crops, can be found locally grown and are better tasting later in the year.

More traditional fall finds include hard squash—varieties like acorn, butternut, which is the most popular, delicata, carnival and sweet dumpling. Yams and sweet potatoes are good buys, too.