Places to pick food for fall
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 22:09
It has officially been autumn for a week now, and there is no better way to get in the spirit of the season than picking fresh produce at a farm. The colors are richer and darker to match the deepening hue of the leaves. It can be a stress-relieving way to get off campus for a couple of hours and forget about midterms for a while.
Despite the abundant farms and open land surrounding Storrs, there aren’t many farms offering pick-your-own apples and pumpkins in the immediate area. For students without a car on campus, I realize this can be a deal breaker. But make friends with someone who has a car and offer to pitch in for gas money. It’ll be worth the effort.
Arguably one of the best orchards in the state, Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, has every fall activity you could want. Through the end of October, they offer pick-your-own apples and pumpkins, along with seven other fruits. Lyman grows 12 different varieties of apples, so your favorite variety is bound to be included. The orchard also offers sugar pumpkins and carving pumpkins for picking, depending on your use for them.
In Ellington, Johnny Appleseed’s Farm has free tractor rides on weekends and you can pick-your-own apples and pumpkins throughout the fall season. All of the apple trees at Johnny Appleseed’s are dwarf trees, meaning they are low to the ground and therefore easy to pick from. Like Lyman Orchards, they grow 12 varieties of applies, and nearly all are suggested to be harvested late September/early October.
If you are willing to make the drive, try Belltown Hill Orchards in Glastonbury. Throughout the year they offer 10 fruits that can be picked on your own, including apples and pumpkins through the end of October. Six types of apples are offered for picking on the weekends, and tractor rides are available.
Once you have picked your fall harvest, the trouble is storing it. To best preserve your apples’ crisp and juicy consistency, store them in the crisper or in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Never leave them on the counter because apples will ripen 10 times faster at room temperature than when refrigerated.
If you need to extend the life of your apples beyond a week or two, another option is to freeze them. Cut the apples into slices and coat them with lemon juice before storing them in the freezer. The lemon juice will help to cut down on the brown coloring, giving you farm fresh apples all winter.
If you are looking to use the pumpkins in a recipe rather than as decoration on your doorstep, there are tricks to preserving them as well. Similarly, cut and prepare the pumpkin by boiling in cubes on the stove. After mashing the cooked pumpkin, the vegetable can be stored in the freezer for up to a year, and can be used in pumpkin pie, breads or served on its own.