Food and Drink 

Easy tips for using the pounds and mounds of fresh fall bounty

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I can never get enough of the Similkameen and Okanagan valleys this time of year. They’re feasts in every sense of the word, fragrant with sage and rabbit bush, the orchards and vineyards fairly bursting with fruit: apples in every shade of red; pears dangling over the wire fences that keep out intruders with four feet and two; the blue-purple of plums and grapes and even the fuzzy faces of a few late-season Oh Henry peaches poking through.

The fruit stands are equally works of art, including the displays of what seems like every variety of squash on earth in shapes and shades that must have sprang from the imagination of a mad scientist.

All of it coalesces to slow down your sense of time, especially if you’re caught behind a tractor or pick-up truck loaded with those big red wooden lugs from the growers’ co-ops, packed to the brim with fruit.

My mom’s side of the family comes from some of the first settlers in the Okanagan, so coping with the copious amounts of fresh produce this time of year always seemed second nature to us.

Besides stuffing our faces with every kind of fruit we could get our hands on, aunties, grannies and moms did their best to can or otherwise preserve the best of Okanagan summers to help everyone get through those long Alberta winters.

The same holds true at Whistler. Opening a jar of pear honey to slather on French toast in the middle of January is just about as good as a pear right off the tree.

Luckily, you don’t have to go to the Okanagan to pick up your fall fruit supply. In Whistler, the Farmers’ Market, which runs through Thanksgiving weekend, is a great source, as are the hard-working farmers of Pemberton Valley who grow tree and other fruits. Or simply check out your favourite grocery store. Go for the goods with the “grown in B.C.” signs and labels, and you’ll be supporting all those fine farmers who work and play in our collective backyard.

Fresh is first, but frozen can do

In my books, first choice for fruit is fresh, no matter what the variety. Ideally, none of your fresh fruit, including tomatoes, should ever see the inside of a fridge.

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