By Elizabeth Esparza, Communications Intern
The fall season is coming up quickly, and with it, our farms and gardens will soon be overflowing with autumnal bounty. Taste tests can be a great way to introduce students to seasonal flavors and encourage them to continue trying new foods. Research shows that children need to try new foods multiple times to know if they like them, and taste tests can be an accessible way to introduce or reintroduce foods to students who might be reluctant to eat a full serving of something new. We all have our tried and true favorites for taste tests, but once in a while, it can be fun to mix in something out of the ordinary or highlight those seasonal items that we don’t always get to work in. Read on for seven fall-inspired taste test suggestions to think about for the upcoming season.
Crabapples: Apples are amongst the most common fruits served at lunch, so why not try their tiny, incredibly tart cousin? Crabapples are generally smaller than 2 inches in diameter, making them a fun and easy size to serve whole or to chop into just a few slices. Have students compare the flavor, size, and shape to the apples they’re used to.
Persimmons: Persimmons are always a sweet treat to try in the fall, and they can be simply sliced and served for a taste test. Fuyu persimmons are probably the better choice for a tasting, as they can be served while still slightly firm. Hachiya persimmons need to get very ripe and soft before you can enjoy their sweetness raw.
Rainbow Carrots: Same great taste, new and exciting colors! Purple, yellow, white - take your pick. Rainbow carrots can be a fun way to highlight a food that many students see all year. See if students can taste a difference between their familiar orange carrots and the rainbow carrots.
Radishes: Radishes can be another familiar vegetable for students, but try tasting different varieties, such as watermelon or daikon radishes. Include the radish greens for a taste test bonus!
Higher Prep: Time in the kitchen is a precious resource, but a little extra can go a long way toward helping get students excited about new foods they might not have tried before. Here are a few suggestions that take a little bit longer to prepare. These foods are also great for a classroom lesson or afterschool program when students can help prepare them!
Butternut squash: These delicious orange wonders can be time-consuming to dig into if you’re getting them whole and roasting them, but the sweet nutty taste can be such an interesting new flavor for students to sink their teeth into.
Pomegranates: These messy fruits and their tiny arils may not be ideal to chop up for lunchtime service from a time perspective, but if they can be worked in somewhere, you’re in for a treat. Not much compares to fresh pomegranate seeds in the fall!
Rutabagas: Rutabagas may need to be peeled or given a good scrub before you can dig into them, but once you do, they’re a great addition to any fall day. They can be eaten raw, but roasting brings out their richest flavor. For a twist, try slicing the rutabagas thinly and bake them for a fun take on a baked chip!
New to taste tests? Here are some resources to help you get started:
- Taste Testing Resource Guide - Action for Healthy Kids
- Taste Test Guide - Green Mountain Farm to School
- Taste Test Toolkit - Montana Harvest of the Month