Celebrating and Preserving the Harvest
Harvest time in the Pacific Northwest
This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving, a celebration much like our American Thanksgiving, focused on the harvest. Deanna and I decided to celebrate the harvest in our own way, by picking apples and attending the Hood River Hops Festival.
As someone who enjoys beer, I'm incredibly lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest. This area is known for growing a huge variety of hops, most notably the "C" hops, Cascade, Citra, and Centennial. This gives an incredible variety and in particular makes this time of year stand out as many of the local breweries make their fresh-hopped beers. I would say IPAs, but so many are now adding fresh hops to a bunch of different styles. My favorites were actually the lagers, which is definitely a different place for my palate to go.
While in Hood River, we decided to go to a u-pick apple farm and pick Gala and HoneyCrisps right off the tree. I've done u-pick before, but never apples. I definitely recommend it, although I'd say you pay for the novelty. Apples were $3.50/lb, roughly the same as a grocery store. The farm is an organic operation, so that adds costs. Later as we were driving, we stopped at a fruit stand to get pears. They also had apples at $0.89/lb. Considering I turned 5 lbs of apples into apple butter, the more frugal part of me will be remembering this for next year. I will say that I don't think I've ever tasted such a beautiful apple as a freshly picked organic Gala. I had apple butter with homemade granola and yogurt for breakfast this morning and it was heavenly.
I've been growing a garden for the last several years. Deanna calls it my "pizza garden" because it's mostly focused on oregano, basil, Roma tomatoes, and peppers. The last couple of growing seasons have been strange, with a very late start for the tomatoes and the weather turning cool before I have enough production to can my Winter sauce. Last year I let the green tomatoes go to compost, but I was determined to figure out something to do with them this year. I spent much of yesterday making chow chow and green tomato chutney. The chutney was amazing with pork chops and baby potatoes. No pictures of dinner, but here are the chutney and chow chow.
If you are lucky enough to have bulk of anything, I encourage you to take a Sunday afternoon and preserve it in some way. Pickle, salt, smoke, dry, find a way to celebrate the harvest by putting intention into how that bounty is used. While preservation is really no longer necessary for survival, it's still a celebration of nature and our food ways. Even if you don't want to spend the time or don't have the excess produce, go pick an apple and enjoy it at the height of freshness. It will change your perspective on what fresh produce should taste like.
Thanks for reading Home Cooked Happiness! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.