By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
How can you use the foods grown and raised by local farmers at the coldest time of year to create meals that are healthy, warm, and pleasing to the palate?
“Bake an apple,” recommends Christine Gaud, of Saratoga Apple.
Gaud cuts out the core of an apple and fills it with a dab of butter and some nuts. She places the fruit in her wood-fired oven and lets it bake until it softens. “Sometimes, it takes 15 minutes, sometimes 20,” she says.
You don’t need a wood-fired oven to do this. Following Gaud’s advice, I baked a Cortland apple at 350 degrees until it was soft to the touch. After it had cooled, I used a spoon to scoop out the inner flesh, which blended beautifully into a soft and silky custard-like concoction with the butter and chopped walnuts I added in.
“Load up on probiotics,” suggests Kelley Hillis, of Puckers’ Gourmet Pickles. As she notes, probiotics – which are abundant in such foods as her naturally fermented pickled vegetables – help strengthen the immune system, which is vital to staying healthy through the winter. On top of that, the pickles taste tangy and crunchy. While pickles often are regarded as a condiment, Hillis suggests adding them to sandwiches, tacos, or salads or eating them as a vegetable side.
“Many people have told me that they like to cut up my dill sours, for instance, and add them to a chicken or a tuna sandwich,” says Hillis.
And there’s soup. “Healthy and easy,” says Jennifer Czelusniak, of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Service, who was serving samples of potato leek soup last Saturday. Czelusniak notes that planning a soup as part of a weekly menu means you don’t have to worry about what to use. “You can make a soup with almost any vegetable, a little oil or butter, and some broth.”
Frozen meats, aged cheeses, fresh fish, root vegetables, and greenhouse-grown salad greens, spinach and kale also are available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market year round.
“Winter is a great time to try something different,” says Czelusniak. “Visit the market, talk to farmers. You might discover something new.”
Visit the Saratoga Farmers’ Market 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays at the Lincoln Baths Building in Saratoga Spa State Park; follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; and contact firstname.lastname@example.org for volunteer opportunities.