The dwindling booths and that nip in the air mean the local outdoor farmers market season is coming to an end.
So as I wandered through the market recently, I considered how much I could stock up so my family can continue to enjoy the lovely local pears and apples we’ve been eating for a few more months.
That got me thinking about all of the other “keepers” at the market this time of year: winter squash, potatoes, onions, garlic, walnuts and more.
Farmers Jeanette and Jeff Herman of Cliffside Orchards sell pears and apples that can be stored for fall and winter in the basement, fruit cellar or garage, depending on the conditions at your house. Stored properly, the d’anjou pears could keep until the new year.
“They are very sensitive to temperature and should be stored as close to 32 degrees Fahrenheit as possible (45 to 50 degrees is fine but it means they will ripen sooner). For best results with storage, it is best to wrap pears individually in tissue or newspaper and store in the pears boxes you purchase them in,” the Hermans wrote in a recent note to customers.
“So, you can take out a few at a time and ripen them on your kitchen counter. Their color becomes an even paler green with a slight yellowish look when ripe.”
Apples should be stored at about 32 degrees, as well. Wrap the fruit in newspaper or nest them in straw or clean dry leaves inside boxes or buckets.
The Hermans sell cameo, winesap and braeburn apples that keep well. Ask the farmers for tips on other apple varieties that can be stored.
If you don’t have a root cellar, “The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest” by Carol Costenbader suggests considering other places for cold storage, such as the garage, unheated basement or basement staircase to the outside.
Just be sure to choose someplace where the produce won’t freeze and has higher than average humidity. Setting pans of water in a basement room or stairwell can raise the humidity.
Most root crops will store well under the same conditions as the apples and pears. But keep the fruits, and cabbage and turnips, well away from other produce, so gases from the ripening don’t cause other items to spoil.
Costenbader includes a whole chapter on cold storage, which has a chart with the ideal storage temperature, humidity and shelf life of many crops.
Potatoes keep well in mesh bags. At the downtown market, Olsen Farms sells 25-pound bags of potatoes that keep well. Stored in a cool, dark place they’ll last through the winter.
Just be sure the produce is unblemished and high quality. “Bruises can be the start of the rotting process,” Costenbader writes.
I’ll also be stocking up on winter squash from Elithorp Farm, keeper onions from Tolstoy Farms and garlic and walnuts from Green Wave Gardens, all of which prefer warmer and drier conditions. Costenbader suggests 50 to 55 degrees.
As the outdoor venues wind down, two indoor markets are starting in Spokane, including a Wednesday market in Millwood, noon to 5 p.m. at 8919 E. Euclid Ave.
Also, market vendors will be at the Community Building, 35 W. Main Ave., Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Both markets continue through April.
Jeanette Herman shared an apple cake recipe she made recently from “Four Star Desserts,” by Emily Luchetti. Delicious, she says.
Morning Apple Cake
From “Four-Star Desserts” by Emily Luchetti
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole-wheat flour
Pinch of ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of ground mace
1 tsp baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ pound unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup walnuts (4 ounces), toasted and chopped
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Peel, core, and coarsely grate the apples and set aside.
Sift together the flours, cloves, cinnamon, mace, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Using the paddle attachment beat the mixture on medium speed until light.
Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix well. Decrease to low speed and add the reserved dry ingredients. Stir in walnuts and grated apples.
Put the batter in a prepared Bundt pan and bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about an hour. Let cake cool in the pan and then unmold it.
Cake can be made a day in advance. Store at room temp in plastic wrap.
Yield: 1 Bundt cake
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