What is pumpkin spice exactly? Well, it turns out it’s a lot of things. It’s a lot of cinnamon and a bit of nutmeg and ginger and a pinch of allspice and cloves. It looks like autumn pixie dust, and it smells like warmth, and it tastes like fall.
Also, it’s everywhere.
From coffee to beer to cakes and chips and donuts, it’s hard to get away from pumpkin spice when it’s in season. After a while, you can’t help but crave something—anything—else.
Here are six fall flavors worth profiling when the weather turns crisp, and the leaves turn gold.
Fresh, baked, cider’d or pie’d, apples are ripe for the picking in the fall. Pair them with cinnamon and you’ve got a match made in heaven; sink them into caramel and you’ll wonder how you ever waited so long. The beauty of fall apples is that they are naturally good for you all by themselves and can offer the nutritious respite from the 600-calorie pumpkin spice latte you just guzzled.
Chock full of antioxidants, pomegranates weren’t called the “fruit of the gods” for nothing; it has represented fertility, abundance, and love in many cultures. Once opened, pomegranates offer over 600 gem-like seeds that are tartly sweet, offering a refreshing zing against the seasons creamier menu items. Enjoy alone or on salads, yogurts, and a variety of zing-worthy meat dishes.
Spicy, bold, and earthy, ginger isn’t for everyone all of the time, but it can be a great addition every once in a while. Fresh ginger can be peeled and steeped for a gorgeous (and incredibly comforting) tea after a big meal.
Round out fall by introducing cranberries into your menu. They are the perfect segue into holiday festivities, brightening menus and tables alike. While they do take a fair bit of sugar to bring out their full flavor profile, the calories are worth it; you don’t need a lot to capture their full personality.
5. Maple Syrup
We can’t be the only ones who crave maple syrup in the fall. Real maple syrup comes in several different varieties, all dependent on their coloring and flavor profile. In general, the lighter amber varieties are best for topping pancakes and finishing oven-baked vegetables; the darker varieties are great for cooking, baking, and for those who enjoy a mineral-rich, full-maple experience. Maple sugars should not be ignored, either; they are an excellent way to switch up sugar cookies, coffee cakes, and teas.
What is it about this fall fruit that makes it so oft neglected? With a flesh and flavor profile that is softer than an apple, pears are perfect just as they are. They are also gorgeous simmered, peeled and whole, in wine. Or simmered with spices and scooped over ice cream. Or tossed and mixed for one of fall’s best pies. Or nestled in with green leaves, pomegranates, ginger, cranberries, and walnuts for a fall salad that satisfies your need for fall flavors and healthy food at the same time.
As you can see, variety—not pumpkin spice—is the real spice of life. Which of these flavors will be on your menu this fall?