Monday, October 12, 2009

Autumn Comfort Foods

One of my favorite things to do in the fall is make applesauce. I wash and slice enough apples to fit in my stock pot, add a little water and a cinnamon stick, and simmer it until the apples are falling apart. I then stir it together and, depending on if it's intended as a snack or dessert, I might add a little bit of sugar. Many people can applesauce (if you do that you'll want to make sure you consult a canning resource to make sure you process it long enough to safely preserve it) but I don't have much pantry space so I freeze mine instead. The benefit to freezing is that I have a chest freezer that fits plenty of gallon bags of applesauce stored flat, and also that I don't have to remove the peels. I think the peel in homemade applesauce is the best part!

If you enjoy cooking and preserving apples in one way or another, you might check to see if your local orchards offer price breaks for seconds or drops - those apples are sometimes smaller or not as pretty as the rest, but they are an economical alternative when you're planning to cook them anyway. I have also found local apples for sale in supermarkets this time of year, often quite inexpensively. Once I even found organic local apples for the same price as the ones that were conventionally grown. In those cases I think it is sometimes worthwhile to vote with your dollars and let the supermarkets know that consumers are looking for more local and organic options. You can also make a comment to the produce manager at a store, and perhaps help encourage the store to make small steps toward fresher, local options. In general though I do think it's better to buy straight from an orchard and not bother with the middleman!

Most people think of apples as a dessert fruit for pies and crumbles and brown betties and the like, and those are certainly delicious uses for apples, but apples are also delicious additions to savory dishes like curries. Curried apples and pumpkin is a wonderfully filling and tasty meal for a cold autumn night.

What are your favorite autumn comfort foods?

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