My favorite place to spend an afternoon is a U-Pick farm, gathering fruit and vegetables and enjoying the upstate New York views. I have a spreadsheet in my head of which farms have what and when and how much they charge.
For strawberries, I split my time between the tidy organization of Brookside Berry Farm and the wide selection at Silver Queen Farm. Grisamore Farms has the most beautiful cherries (except for this year when everyone’s crop got wiped out) and the juiciest blueberries, though I’ll occasionally spread the love and go to Farmer’s Choice Blueberries. Grisamore and Littletree Orchards are where I get bushels of apples, and I get pears and even more apples at Indian Creek Farm.
Indian Creek is closest to me, and I love that they offer U-Pick-nearly-anything: peaches, pears, apples, raspberries, tomatoes, peppers, even flowers. For $3, I can have two vases of beautiful zinnias in the house every week. If I’m already at Indian Creek for Orchard Ambrosia (the best apple and pear cider) or vegetables, which happens about once every 10 days, I may pick a quart of raspberries. If not, I head back up to Silver Queen to snag both golden and red raspberries for fairly cheap.
Between the Savvy Garden, Ithaca Farmers’ Market and U-Pick farms, we are never at a loss for fresh produce spring through autumn. I do my best to make the most of it with a mix of recipes to eat right now and some to save to later. This week, we’re sipping some fall fruit sangria. This winter, we’ll have five pints of pear salsa to add a little fall flavor back into our meals.
This sangria is best when made in advance. Cover and refrigerate this sangria for at least 3 hours so that the flavors meld completely.
- 2 small apples
- 2 Bartlett pears
- 1 cup raspberries
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 750 mL bottle dry white wine
- 1 750 mL bottle hard cider (I used Bellwether Cider)
- Mix all ingredients in a large pitcher or punch bowl. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
Without the traditional tomatoes and cilantro, this salsa is best suited for serving with chicken or pork.
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 2/3 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 pounds Bartlett pears
- 3 bell peppers
- Prepare for canning. Wash the jars and flat lids with hot, soapy water. Put the jars in the canning pot and fill the pot with hot water. Heat over medium-high heat to keep the jars hot. Place the lids in a heat-proof bowl.
- Whisk the vinegar, honey, salt, mustard, allspice and black pepper in a large stockpot. Core and dice the pears, tossing the pieces into the vinegar as you chop so that they don't brown.
- Core and dice the bell peppers and add them to the vinegar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 5 minutes.
- Move some of the boiling water from the canning pot into the heat-proof bowl containing the lids. Line the hot jars up on a folded towel, then pour the water out of the heat-proof bowl and off the lids.
- Fill the jars with pears and peppers up to 1/2” below the rim, then top with the liquid from the pot. Slide a chopstick around the inside edges of each jar to get rid of any air bubbles, then adjust the amount of liquid so that there is still 1/2" headspace below the rim.
- Use a clean towel to wipe any salsa off the rims, then top each jar with a lid and a tightened ring. Place the jars back in the canning pot and make sure they are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil and process for 20 minutes. Place the jars on a folded towel and allow to sit, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Check the seals of the lids after 1 hour. If a seal has not formed, refrigerate the jar immediately.