Photo courtesy of WeetabixThe farmer's market season is wrapping up here in the upper Midwest. The leaves are turning gold and russet and the crops are withering as the colder air settles in. Already last Saturday, I noticed bare spots between the usual market vendors and assume that it means that the usual flowers and tomatoes have given up the ghost with last week's frost. I love the way that the farmer's market shows the passing of the season: we started with strawberries, spring greens and asparagus and then moved to cherries, blueberries, and cucumbers, and now it's all pumpkins and apples and frost-hearty fare like Brussels sprouts and potatoes.
Get the most out of a trip to the farmers' market with these amazing, healthy recipes.
I managed to capture some of the ephemeral nature of the season by heartily embracing the art of making jam this summer (my favorite is still the strawberry/marsala/rosemary), but now that fall is here, I'm going back to my roots. You see, when I was a dirt-poor college student, I used to make apple butter in my little crock pot, because it was completely idiot-proof and it made my apartment smell really nice. Besides, I could buy a huge sack of bruised fallen fruit from the orchards for about $4 and it made a ton of apple butter that I could give out for Christmas.
But even now that I can afford to buy the nicer stuff, the amazing Golden Supremes and organic Granny Smiths, and have a mechanical peeler to make quick work of an entire peck, there's something cathartic in the peeling of apples into sinks. I tend to make it into a game, seeing how long I can possibly make the peel and trying to go as fast as possible. I've never even once cut myself while peeling an apple (slicing a tomato on the other hand required a trip to the emergency room), so I've grown bold with paring knives and ceramic peelers, sometimes imagining that I'm Willow Rosenberg and the Granny Smith is a very bad Warren. (Video: How to make homemade applesauce.)
With the economical downturn, canning has become the new black. This weekend, I plan to continue my Jam Plan and whip up a giant batch of apple butter to fill the jars I've got left over from the last batch of blueberry pinot noir jam. Heidi's apple butter recipe over at 101 Cookbooks is almost exactly the same as mine, only hers smartly uses apple cider (instead of water) to add a little extra punch of flavor, but Martha Stewart has an interesting sugarless recipe that bakes in the oven too. I'm really looking forward to revisiting my old frugal ways, because not only is apple butter totally low-key (unlike strawberry, it doesn't require pectin or even a watchful eye. You just start it simmering and then forget about it until it turns into apple butter), I'm always scrambling for the last minute gift during the holidays and who doesn't love a pretty jar of apple goodness that will make sweet sweet love to one's toast every morning?
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