Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pickling Class and Autumn at Northern Orchards

My dear readers, it is that most blessed and hallowed of times--that magical intersection of seasons where there are still tomatoes, peppers and corn, but now the winter squashes are upon us, and the pears and apples have begun! There are simply not enough words to convey how much I LOVE this time of year! It's what makes enduring the eternal North Country winters worth it. But of course, this season is all too ephemeral. In fact, this week is the last for my favorite local farmers' market. Boo hiss. So from here on out, we must go to the farmers ourselves, which is what I have already begun doing. I have a new favorite haunt called Northern Orchards in Peru (NY) that I have been frequently lately. I first met a nice woman named Deb from Northern Orchards at the Thursday green market last year who always provides me with the most delicious produce at the most reasonable prices. I saw her this past Thursday, and she still had some marvelously plump green beans which I wanted to buy for my canning class on Saturday. But I really needed fresh-picked beans to use for pickling, so she gave me directions to the orchard, and I headed down there Saturday morning before my class. Well, my goodness, was it a charming place--and all decked out for fall! Observe the glorious abundance of the harvest:

Stunning, eh? You gotta love autumn. Have to. No choice, no free will about it. Anyway...I collected my five pounds of green beans from the farm stand and headed off to the college for my second of three canning classes, this one featuring pickles and relishes. Originally, I had planned on teaching them the secrets of the amazing, unparalleled Blesi Dill Pickles, but since we had to back up the classes by a couple of weeks, pickling cukes had become too scarce. So I went with dilly beans. Everyone loves them, and they're easy. Then we also made zucchini relish, which is perfect for the end of the season when you're trying to use up every last tidbit from your garden. It was a fun class. There were three people that returned from last week, one new lady, and then we also had both the mother and the daughter of one my colleagues at school. My friend Chrisa's daughter Madeleine is 13, and she came with her grandma, Barbara. It was just so CUTE to watch grandmother and granddaughter canning together! Don't believe me? Look... (I hear that "awwwwww" sound escaping your lips! Don't deny it!)

So two classes down, one to go. The last class will focus on fruit, including jam and applesauce. I really wanted to do apple butter, but it just takes too darn long! Nevertheless, I wanted to make some at home for the students to try, so today after work, I headed back down to Northern Orchards to acquire some apples. I also took a little token gift for Deb with me, since she has always been so kind, and particularly because she hooked me up with the fresh-picked beans last weekend. I took her some of the beloved paradise jelly that I made last season. She seemed delighted--so much so, in fact, that she sold me a half bushel of antique/heirloom apples at half price! (Ah, the fringe benefits of networking with other market vendors! Tee hee.) I chose a mix of Milton, Hume, and Red Wealthy in order to give the apple butter a depth of apple flavor. I also bought a half gallon of fresh cider to simmer the apples in, and a couple of honeycrisps just for my own personal munching. Yum! On the way home, the car smelled delicious and apple-y, but that was nothing compared to the stock pot full of apples simmering on the stove all evening, wafting spicy, autumnal vapors throughout the house. Fall is literally in the air, my friends. Make sure you get out and enjoy it. It's all over far too soon.


Randi said...

I'm envious, we dont have honeycrisp yet. I love those apples.

Btw, I made the oreo cupcakes. They were good!!

Just the Right Size said...

Oh Gina, those pictures simply make my heart skip a beat. We only get two seasons down here in Florida: Summer and Christmas Day!

I can't even imagine have that kind of selection at a farmer's market. Apple butter is nothing more than a spoonful of love!

I think I'm gonna make a batch of Linda Lou's Apple Pie jam tomorrow night.