Beyond corn and 'taters: fall is the time to expand your taste
Take a peek at a leek... or persimmon or ground cherry. Ontario farm bounty revealed in autumn harvest
The fall months bring with them a fresh crop of apples, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and squash, but there are many other late-summer and autumn crops that are surprisingly good—though less familiar. Here are a five for you to explore.
Gmach Produce of New Dundee grows leeks and sells them at the farmers' market in downtown Kitchener. However, what is notable, especially if you're a leek lover, is that Canning Produce, near Paris, Ontario, grows about 60 acres of leeks making them one of the top two producers in Canada (they battle it out year-to-year for number-one status with a farm in Quebec.)
A good way to prepare leeks is to remove the tough ends and wash the grit from between the layers. Cut them in half along their length trying to leave the root end intact. In a pan of boiling, salted water, blanch for 3 minutes, remove, drain, and allow to dry. Coat the leeks with good olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill them until golden brown.
It can be pulped and made into a paw paw pie. Paw paws are harvested in August and September, and can be found at Warner's Farm in Beamsville or Forbes Wild Foods in Toronto.
"Be warned that if you eat a persimmon while firm, they will taste chalky. They ripen nicely and become sweet and wonderful when soft," Ward says.
Persimmons can withstand some frost and you may see them freshly picked even in December. Interestingly, they can be stored in plastic bags with apples to allow them to fully ripen. "They can also be placed in the freezer over night and eaten the next day when thawed," Ward adds.
When you eat one, you might taste a faint caramel flavour, so ground cherries are often used in desserts; however, try using it as a flavour base for a savoury salsa.
Recipe: Ground cherry salsa with lime and mint
2 cups ground cherries, husked and washed
2 small shallots
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
1 small clove garlic
1 lime (juiced)
¼ cup olive oil (and more as needed)
2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Add the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and blend together to a salsa consistency. Add more olive oil, if needed. Adjust for salt and pepper seasoning.