The transition from summer to fall has been pretty amazing on the Jersey Shore. September has graced us with warm sunny days and cool nights without frost. One of the many reasons I love September! September 21 marked the Fall Equinox....summer gracefully bows out and fall ushers in. The fall equinox celebrates the end of summer and the beginning of the harvest season. Just because the youthful days of summer have past, doesn’t mean the growing season has drawn to a close.
On the contrary, fall is the bountiful harvest! All the Jersey Fresh farm stands and farmers market should still be bustling with life and produce well into October. You can find apples, corn, eggplant, grapes, lettuce, okra, onions, squash and tomatoes through September. Cauliflower, cranberries, peppers, pumpkins, lima beans beets, broccoli, cabbage and collards through October!
Since the fall harvest is so bountiful, its a great idea to buy fresh produce from the farmers market in bulk. Don't worry we're not going to let you waste your beautiful Jersey Fresh produce! Most fresh vegetables can be easily frozen. Simply wash them, separate them into useable quantities, pop in zip lock bags and send them to the deep freeze! You'll be eating cranberries, beets and greens well into February! If you don’t have room in your freezer, or freezing isn't for you, canning is the way to go.
Now don't be afraid of a word like canning. It's not that hard and you don't have to have grey hair to try it out. There are variations in canning methods depending on what food you are canning but you can find everything you need to know at CanningUSA.com. Fruits and vegetables can be canned alone, as jellies, in syrups, in vinegars (pickling!) and don't forget soups and sauces!
I personally love to eat home made, hearty soups and stews throughout the fall and winter. One of my favorites is a Winter Squash Stew. You can easily double or triple this recipe when all the beautiful butternut, acorn and pumpkin squashes are in season. Any soup left-over can be frozen or canned!!
Winter Squash Stew
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil1 onion, finely minced2 cloves of garlic, finely minced1 winter squash, seeded, peeled, chopped (butternut, acorn, pumpkin, delcata) Veggie or chicken stock, 2 teaspoons curry powder, 1 ½ teaspoons cumin.
Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until onions become translucent. In a pot place squash and fill with stock until just covered. Add curry powder, cumin, onion and garlic. Boil until squash becomes tender and remove pot from heat. Purée the squash until smooth in a blender, you can set aside some of the squash if you like a chunky soup or blend it all for a smooth soup. Add chopped fresh cilantro or parsley and/or toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish.
This stew also travels really well! Heat it up and pour it into your thermos and take a hike or go for a walk on the beach. When you're ready to take a break, you'll have sweet and delicious soup to warm your insides from the fall wind!