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Cameo apples, sunchokes and winter squash in harvest
With its green and red striping and white freckles, the Cameo looks like an old-fashioned apple. In fact, it is a new variety, a Red Delicious offspring found in a Washington orchard in the 1980s. But it has an old-fashioned flavor, sweet with zippy acidity and an almost cider-y complexity. Even better, the Cameo is one of those apples that holds its crisp texture well in storage. So enjoy it now, but also keep it in mind for the holidays.
$2.50 per pound, See Canyon
Long before agriculture marketing folks decided to re-brand prunes as dried plums, they renamed Jerusalem artichokes as "sunchokes" with somewhat more success. It's no wonder that consumers adapted easily: These tubers don't really resemble artichokes, and they're native to North America, not the Middle East.
Sunchokes have a crisp texture and a mildly sweet flavor (a better alternative name is "earth apple"). Farmer Delia Coleman, a very good cook, says she uses them in stir-fries and soups and simply blanched and sautéed with garlic. They're also good blended into potato purées.
$4 per pound, Coleman
Here's a recipe for happiness during the coming rainy season: Hack off a chunk of winter squash and remove the seeds; place it cut side-down in a pan with just a little water, and roast it at 400 degrees until the whole thing collapses into a sweet, fragrant, slightly caramelized purée. The type of squash doesn't really matter. Different varieties have varying degrees of nuttiness and "squashiness" in their flavor and textures that range from very firm (which cook up creamy) to somewhat soft (which are a little more grainy). But let's face it: When the rain starts falling and the wind starts blowing, it's any squash in a storm.
$2 per pound, Flora Bella Farms
-- Russ Parsons