Out-of-the-Ordinary Thanksgiving Produce

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When it comes to your Thanksgiving produce this year, you'll have more fun if you think outside the box. Our favorite produce expert Josh Alsberg stopped by to share some fun new ideas. For more inspiration from Josh, follow him on Instagram.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and while the table is full of traditional treats, there's room at the table to try something new! This year we're trying out some new fruit! Delicious, tender persimmons. Floral and fragrant quince. Local, tart cranberries, Japanese pumpkins and more!

Putting on the Persimmon:

Late November is the height of the season for sweet persimmons! These local fruits are a treasure - and you can find the trees all over town - but folks have a lot of questions about these sweet and complex beauties. First, know your type! There are two major types of persimmon in the market:

Fuyu persimmons are squat, wider than tall and adorable. These are your salad persimmons, your cheese board persimmons, your eating-fresh and sharing persimmons. They are delicious when just slightly tender to the touch, like a good peach.

Hachiya persimmons are more elongated in shape and should be eaten when they are falling-apart tender. We're not kidding - holding a ripe Hachiya should be like holding a limp water balloon. These are great for baking, especially in a spicy, old fashioned steamed persimmon pudding or in persimmon muffins. Simply spoon out the insides and use in any recipe where you might put applesauce.

Queenly Quince:

Quince is the most frangrant, beautifully scented fruit we get in the market - but it's not easy. Someone once gave Josh a slice of quince ("Try this new pear!") as a prank when he was new to produce - and if you've ever experienced the astringent, sour, mouth-puckering surprise of raw quince you'll know how funny that was!

The easiest thing to do with quince is poach it. Wait until they are deep yellow and fragrant, then peel, core and slice into fat 1-2 inch wedges and plunge them into a syrup made with 2 cups of water and 1/2 a cup of sugar or maple syrup or honey and a few fragrant spices (a cardamom pod or two, a few cloves, a slice of ginger or some orange peel perhaps?). Simmer gently for at least an hour until the quince is soft.

You'll be left with jewel-like slices that are delicious over yogurt, ice cream or cake.

You can also make quince pie! Just use the poached quince either instead of or mixed in with your apples in your favorite apple pie recipe.

Get cranberry crazy:

Oregon's cranberries are a beautiful thing. Bright little balls of tart bright flavor that is worth seeking out. They are delightful in cranberry bar cookies, in cranberry cheesecake and in cranberry crumble cakes. At the very least, you should make your own cranberry sauce! All you have to remember is the number one: one pound of cranberries, one cup of sugar, one cup of orange juice and the zest of one orange simmered together will give you a bright, fresh-tasting sauce. Add a few cloves or a star anise for even more flavor.

Pretty popular pumpkins:

Pumpkin pie is a must-make at Thanksgiving, and we would never tell you to mess with grandma's recipe - except, have you ever tried making pumpkin pie with fresh pumpkin?

Skip the canned pumpkin (which is really squash, did you know?) and roast your own! Just cut your squash in half, rub with oil and roast - cut side down - until tender! (about 45 minutes to an hour at 375) For pie, we love these varieties:

Butternut squash (and Honeynut too): This squash makes great pie! It's easy to find and has a lot of flesh to work with.

Black Futsu: A simply beautiful Japanese pumpkin with a rich, complex flavor. Two or three will yield enough for a lovely pie.

Got a crowd? Seek out the Galeux d'Eysines. It's big, it's beautifully weird looking and it roasts to a velvety puree consistency.

Happy thanksgiving!