Autumn's Harvest Makes Winter Delicious

By Sandra Fletcher

Fall is a gorgeous time to explore the farmer’s markets in your area. Even in early winter, your local grocery stores will have plenty of fresh produce. The variety of fruits and veggies (vegetables) varies across the country, but here are some great Canadian harvest foods!

Root Vegetables

Root vegetables are simply vegetables which grow underground – the edible root of a leafy plant. Some common Canadian root vegetables are potatoes, carrots, parsnips, yams or sweet potatoes, radishes, and onions (which are bulbs).

Hearty root vegetables are harvested in the fall. When kept in a cool dry place they can last for months. In many cultures around the world, root veggies are staples because of their starchy consistency when cooked. Starches are carbohydrates which give us energy.

A common way to cook root vegetables is to boil them, and either mash them or eat them as is. As well, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, beets, potatoes and yams are delicious roasted or grilled, and they're perfect in soups. The Internet has thousands of recipes for using these vegetables, and Canada's food habits are multicultural. Experiment!

Squash

Canadians have been growing squash – both summer and winter varieties – forever. Summer squash, like zucchini, are softer than winter varieties such as butternut squash, acorn squash or pumpkin. The winter squash, which have thicker skins to withstand the colder temperatures, have a higher concentration of carbohydrates (sugars and starches), and are sweeter and heartier than the summer squash.

Squash can be cooked in many ways. You can roast squash to bring out its sweetness, grill it over a barbecue, or boil it and use it in soups. Pumpkin is used in both sweet pies and savoury dishes. And zucchini is equally delicious in pasta and in a sweet cake. Squash is a versatile veggie!

Preserves

Another way to take advantage of the harvest is to preserve fruits and vegetables when they are at their peak. When I was a child, my mother and grandmother made tomato sauce, apple sauce and relish every fall for us to eat year round. I realize now that the “chili sauce” my family loved so much was simply a non-spicy chutney.

I’ve followed in the footsteps of my family, and continued the tradition of making relish from vegetable that I purchase at the farmer’s market near my house. It took research and some trial and error, but I taught myself to safely preserve the relish and it keeps for a year!

Apples

Many varieties of apples grow across Canada, and for hundreds of years apples have been a Canadian winter fruit staple. The earliest Canadian settlers would pack their apple harvest in hay to preserve them for as long as they could throughout the winter, or dry them over their fireplaces to be rehydrated later and used in baking.

Nowadays we have apples available in farmers markets and at grocery stores throughout the year. While they don’t need to be stored in hay, its best to store apples in a cool dry area (for example the basement, or in a humidity free area of your refrigerator). Try not to buy apples with bruises or marks on them, as rotten fruit can cause other fruit to go bad. ONE bad apple really CAN spoil a whole bunch!

Apples are full of fibre and antioxidants. They have been promoted for years at a heart-healthy fruit. The old saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” may really be true!

How do you eat apples? Plain is always good, but you can fancy up apples in desserts, in sandwiches, in baked goods, or even as a bit of sweetness in a soup or casserole. They also make a perfect HEALTHY snack when dipped in melted peanut butter.

Enjoy the healthy foods that our country has to offer!


Recipes:


Carrot and Butternut Squash Soup with Maple Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 1 Butternut Squash (large in size)
  • 1 Onion, Diced
  • 3 Carrots, Diced
  • 1 Stalk Celery, Diced
  • 1 Tablespoon Chopped Garlic and Chopped Ginger
  • ½ Cup Maple Syrup
  • ½ Cup Brown Sugar
  • 8 cups Vegetable or Chicken Stock
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter or Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Cut butternut squash in ½ length wise, clean out seeds inside. Lightly oil butternut squash on flesh side sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place butternut squash on roasting sheet with skin side up into a 400F degree oven. Roast squash for 1 ½ hour or until squash feels soft to the touch. Allow squash to cool slightly, using a spoon scoop out flesh of squash.
  • In a large pot, add butter and sauté garlic and onions, carrots and celery until onions are translucent (5-7 minutes).
  • Add in the squash, maple syrup, brown sugar and stock. Simmer until vegetables are tender (15-20 minutes).
  • Blend soup in small batches in a blender or with a hand-blender.
  • Serve with crusty bread!

The Great Canadian Apple Crumble

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 6 apples (I like Ida Red or MacIntosh)
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons butter

For the crumble:

  • 4 teaspoons butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • ½ cup nuts (walnuts or pecans)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats

Directions:

  • Peel and slice apples into greased baking dish.
  • Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over apples.
  • Cover the apples with two teaspoons of melted butter. (Note: if you’re feeling like a change, add some cranberries – frozen or fresh – to the mix!)
  • Blend the remaining four teaspoons of butter into brown sugar, flour, nuts and oats.
  • Spoon mixture over apples and cover with tin foil.
  • Bake at 350F for 30 mins.
  • Uncover and bake another 5-10 minutes until crust is golden and apples are tender.
  • Serve warm or cold with vanilla ice cream. Delicious!

This story is from the "For the Love of Food" InfoBlock. To read more stories on this topic, click here.