Cooking with Fall Fruit: 5 Essential Spices

Fall Fruit Week on the Kitchn has already brought about much inspiration to get into the kitchen and start cooking! While recipes are essential for most of us, there's something nice about getting to really know which spices compliment certain fruits and feeling more self-sufficient in creating your own fall flavors. So with that, we thought we'd discuss five essential spices when it comes to cooking with fall fruits. These are spices you really should keep stocked in the pantry and please do check their freshness if they're leftover from last year (or the year before!).

Cinnamon: You probably know cinnamon well. It's mild, familiar, slightly sweet and packed with a dollop of instant warm fall flavor. This common spice is often used in pumpkin pies and in apple and pear desserts. Like most of the spices we'll discuss here today, spend a little extra time freshly grating it; you'll notice a big difference.

Nutmeg: From pumpkin and squash desserts to figs and mulled ciders and wines, nutmeg is an indespensible fall spice that should make its way into your fall pantry if it hasn't already. You can easily grind nutmeg from its oblong-shaped seed: it's much, much fresher this way and the nutmeg seeds will keep for years if stored in an air-tight container.

Ginger: More often than not, we'll opt to use fresh ginger or even crystallized ginger when cooking and baking with fall fruits. But ground ginger covers a lot of ground, too. It brings the heat. There's nothing like the smell of ginger to signal falls arrival. Ginger pairs well with fall and winter citrus, wildflower honey, dates, and persimmons. Of course, using ginger in pear, apple, and pumpkin desserts is always a must.

Cloves: From gingersnaps to winter squashes or even ham, cloves bring on the distinction. Whereas cinnamon is warm and certainly more common, cloves have a more distinct, even grown-up flavor. Wonderfully aromatic, we love pairing cloves with citrus, pear, apple and even chocolate desserts. If you can buy whole cloves and grind them yourself, you'll notice a big difference inf flavor. Once ground, cloves lose their flavor quickly.

Chinese 5-Spice: As Emma told us in her post a few years back, Chinese 5-Spice usually consists of star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, fennel, cassia, and clove. It's often used with peaches and other stone fruits, but we also love it paired with plums and pluots, cranberries, and apples. Chinese 5-Spice Powder works really well with vanilla, too. So make sure you've got vanilla beans or a good vanilla extract in the pantry this fall.

Related: Not Just For Breakfast: Cinnamon Honey Butter

(Image: Megan Gordon)

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