The leaves are turning and the orchards are finally producing some of my favorite fruits of the year – pears and apples.
My favorite apple, undoubtedly, is the Jonagold – a native of the low countries of Europe, where I was living this time last year. I remember going to the outdoor markets in my little town in The Netherlands to haul back kilos of HUGE Jonagold apples – tart-sweet and immensely crisp. They were so cheap!
I was bewildered to find that the Granny Smith to be very expensive, but after a Dutch apple grower pointed out that Jonagolds are native to The Netherlands, whereas the Granny Smith had to be imported from the U.S. that I made sense of the price anomaly.
Now, back in the Midwest, I’ve found my own Jonagold source – an orchard in St. Joseph, Missouri named Schweizer’s. There, you can pick your own apples – they have Jonathan, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, and Jonagold – or you can buy pre-picked ones in their store.
At the local farmer’s markets, I found Kiefer pears – a old European vintage pear that is generally not regarded as a good eating pear. Though they look like they’re rotten, I find that these mottled, discoloured and rough-skinned fruits have a very unique and not unpleasant flavor. They take a long time to “ripen” off the stem – you can even stow them away until Christmas by wrapping them in newspaper. Otherwise, I just leave mine out on the counter for a month. When they go soft, they take on a light and creamy flavor, not very sweet. The flesh is very grainy and rough, unlike the more silky Anjou pears.
I look forward to more fall produce – like squash and winter melons!!