As we near the end of October, many of the farmers’ markets in Ontario are beginning to wrap up for the year (there are a few that operate year round but the variety of local produce drops off considerably by November). I visited a small one this week and was pleasantly surprised to find there was still a lot available. These were some of the highlights:
I was a bit taken aback to still see local corn at the market. The husks looked sad and tired but the farmer ensured me that the corn was in fact sweet and tasty. I was skeptical but at $4 for 7 cobs, I figured it was worth giving them a try. I husked the corn and cut the kernels off the cob, sautéed them in butter and dressed them simply with some salt and pepper. Much to my surprise, it was delicious! I expected it to be dry and tasteless but it was sweet and juicy (although the cobs were quite small). It was almost certainly the last of the year and a sweet reminder of how much I will miss local corn over the next nine months or so. However, canned and frozen corn are usually decent enough to tide me over. Check out the Corn Archives for some tasty corn recipes.
Apples and Pears
Apples and pears were abundant at this week’s market. There were many different varieties available and the farmers were offering samples so it was a great way to make comparisons. My favourite apples to eat out of hand are Cortlands – they are the perfect balance of sweet and tart. However, sometimes they can be a bit mealy and I prefer ones that are perfectly crisp and juicy. This week’s specimens were pretty good; I will eat a few and use the rest to bake with. Perhaps a classic Apple Pie will be on the menu. I also picked up some bosc pears after sampling various types including the always popular Bartletts. Pears are delicious with nuts and my recipe for Pear and Pecan Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce is sure to be a hit at your next dinner party. An unusual pear cocktail is another fun way to incorporate pears into your menu.
Not surprisingly, there were a lot of root vegetables such as carrots, beets and potatoes available. Because they can be harvested late in the season and store well, they are staples throughout the winter. Why not make an interesting salad out of roasted beets or some carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting?
Pumpkins and Squash
October is peak pumpkin season and the sunny, dry weather this year has produced some nice specimens. Large jack-o-lantern pumpkins aren’t very good for eating but they’re fun to carve and you can roast and eat the seeds. Sugar (or pie) pumpkins can be turned into a delicious pumpkin treats such as pie, pumpkin french toast or pumpkin spice muffins. My favourite winter squash are butternut squash – they can be used to make a variety of dishes such as soup, salads or gratins.
There are a few more weeks left for local produce so I’m looking forward to testing some new ideas I have using the best of the season. Enjoy!