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It’s Harvest Season

By Belinda Pianezza

Fall Harvest is that time of year when Ontarians can share in the abundance of food that has grown over the summer. There is nothing quite like feasting on the freshest produce. How do you celebrate the Fall Harvest?

There are many ways to enjoy the fruits of the season. Many farms across the area have their own markets. They offer a wide selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Many farm stands even take it one step further and offer a variety of baked goods that have been made with some of the fruits and vegetables they harvested.

If you want to experience the harvest yourself, there are some orchards that welcome the public to pick their own. What a great way to spend a beautiful fall day. Gather the kids and the grandkids and visit a pick-your- own farm. Most orchards offer fun attractions for the kids that can include petting farms, mazes and even hayrides.

There are many towns across Ontario that hold annual Fall Fairs or Festivals in October that celebrate the harvest. The Fairs include attractions for the kids like petting zoos and pony rides. Most festivals last a couple of days and can feature tractor pulls and live music. At the end of the day, the main draw is of course the fresh produce. There is nothing quite like a bushel of freshly picked apples, corn or a bag of newly harvested squash.

After you have gathered your bounty, there are so many wonderful ways to enjoy the fresh fruits and vegetables of the season. While you snack on an apple on the way home from the fair, you may want to consider ways to make the harvest last. Most fall fruits and vegetables can be frozen to use later. Be sure to freeze it while it is still fresh to ensure it is still the best quality when it is thawed another time. Make sure to check for directions on how to freeze the fruit or vegetable correctly. Some need to be blanched before freezing and others can just be packaged and put in the freezer. Invest in the best packaging for the job. It will make all the difference later on.

For those that are a little more adventurous, canning is a great way to preserve the fall harvest. The best place to start is with a good recipe. There are a couple of ways to can your goods. One method is with a water-bath canner and another is with a pressure canner. Water-bath canners cost a lot less and kits can be found quite easily in most grocery stores. Water-bath canning is best for acidic vegetables like tomatoes. It is also good for pickles, relishes and sauerkraut.

Regardless of the method, jars and lids will need to be sterilized. Double-check the condition of all containers. It is important that the jars seal properly to keep the contents fresh.