Monday, November 2, 2009

What to eat in November

From October's explosive bounty, the transition to November is stark.

One week there might be nearly a score of choices at the market. Next week the harvest is in, the apples are picked, and the market is closed until June.*

There are still late season choices, at orchards, in supermarkets, and at the farmers markets (mostly in cities) that remain open. Not everything has been picked, and much of what has been picked keeps well.

Early November is also a chance for a last bite at varieties that don't do well in storage, at least not the storage that you or I can provide. Sometime this month the quality of the Macouns in supermarkets, industrially stored, will surpass that of those available from the farmers who grew them.

In November I shift from an impulsive buyer to a wise one, laying in a variety of good keepers that will, supplemented by some of those supermarket Macouns, nourish me through New Year's Day and beyond.

One excellent winter apple that is still on the trees is Enterprise. This variety is sweet enough to satisfy modern tastes in the late season.

Russets, on the other hand, are an old-fashioned favorite. They can be sweet, tart, or both.

Do not be put off by a russet apple's unconventional appearance. They are supposed to look that way, are very good, and will keep well into December. Roxbury Russet and Golden Russet are still around, and should you meet the exceptional Ashmead's Kernel, take with both hands.

Two other tasty keepers are Blushing Golden, a Jonathan-Golden Delicious cross, and Baldwin, an old New England Favorite.

I also hope to lay in some of the singular Arkansas Blacks to eat in January and February--but these are so unusual I hesitate to recommend them to others.

Most late-season apples keep well, and there are many worthy varieties. I have only sampled a few them (alas!), but I hope that this misfortune will not inhibit you from trying something good if you have the chance.

*Update: Another sign the harvest is done: Fruitslinger has packed it in for the season.

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