by Marcie Cuff
October in the Hudson Valley is just magnificent with its crisp days, fiery foliage and cornflower blue sky. If you’re anything like me, you spend the majority of the month bundled up leaf peeping and craving anything apple-y or pumpkin-y. My all-time fall favorites are acorn, buttercup, kabocha, macoun, jonagold, and crispin, and I’ll do just about anything to get my hands on them.
Though a mild winter and a summer-long drought have produced a smaller crop of apples this fall, don’t be dismayed. Hudson Valley orchards are chock-full of sweet petite apples throughout October. My favorite u-pick spots are just an hour north of us. They should have plenty of apples and pumpkins to pick this month. Fruit ripening dates vary depending on the weather, though, so be sure to call ahead to confirm hours and availability. These are the four that top my u-pick list:
>Ochs Orchard, Warwick (845) 986-1591
>Pennings Orchard, Warwick (845) 986-1059
>Weed Orchards and Winery, Marlboro (845) 236-2684
>Meadowbrook Farm, Wappingers Falls (845) 297-3002
If you are like me, you’ll return home after the big harvest (and the big sampling of cider donuts), with a surfeit of fall produce—an extra pumpkin or two, and a jumble of honey crisps and Cortlands. That’s the perfect time to whip up the recipe below. Served with apple slices, Humble Pumpkin Dip can easily hold its own alongside fall farmers market behemoths like sweet potatoes, winter squash, and broccoli rabe.
Marcie Cuff lives in Irvington, works at the NY Botanical Garden, and is the author of “This Book Was a Tree” (Perigee Books). For more ideas like this, look for her book at any bookstore, or visit her blog Mossy at http://mossymossy.com.
Humble Pumpkin Dip
1 cup cream cheese
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup cooked, pureed pumpkin or squash
1 Tbs pure maple syrup
½ tsp cinnamon
Sliced apples to dip
Cut a smallish pumpkin more or less in half, slicing on one side of the stem. Scoop out the seeds and strings, but no need to be meticulous. Place the halves face-down on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake at 375 F until the pumpkin is fork-tender, about 40 minutes. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and allow it to cool for 1 hour. Use a large spoon to remove the skin from the pulp and puree the pulp in a food processor until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor. Spoon the mixture into a bowl and sprinkle with nutmeg. Serve with sliced apples. Super simple and super delicious! Happy harvesting!