There’s no better place than the Hudson Valley to Find and Eat Your Colors.
From sun-ripened peaches and autumn berries to heirloom beans and tomatoes, the Hudson Valley’s fruit and veggie harvest peaks this month. Find your nearest farm stand, farmers market, or community garden and put these local delights on your must-do list before the growing season draws to a close. Call before you go to find out what’s available for picking that day.
Kick off your local food exploration September 11-12 at the Hudson Valley Food & Wine Festival, held at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck. The event features a Gourmet Food Showcase, as well as live music and food/wine tastings.
Buy a dozen freestone peaches and bake a cobbler or pie. Smith Farms in Hudson grows Flame Prince (large yellow) and White Lady (white) peaches on dwarf trees for $1/pound, as well as Red Gold and Fantasia nectarines and Fuji, Honey Crisp, and Gala apples for $0.70/pound (200 White Birch Rd, Hudson, 518-828-1228, www.smithfarmshudson.com). Next year, visit earlier in the summer to pick sweet Skeena cherries and Autumn Britten or Polana raspberries for eating, making jam, or freezing.
Taste the difference between morning- and afternoon-picked white sweet corn. Visit Dykeman Farm, which offers an honor system after hours. A full menu of veggies are available in the family’s farm market (West Dover Road, Pawling,845-832-6068, www.dykemanfarm.com).
Learn about hardneck garlic at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival. Head to Saugerties on September 25-26 for a day of creative food, demonstrations, and crafts. Visit the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival event site for details.
In business since 1916, Mead Orchards grows berries, apples, peaches, pumpkins, and vegetables on 185 acres. Pick your own peaches and apples this month (15 Scism Road, Tivoli, 845-756-5641, www.meadorchards.com).
Flavor a soup with Pine Island onions. Nearly 30 percent of all onions sold in the United States are grown here. The Rogowski Farm plants yellow, spring, and red onions, plus 250 kinds of produce, from kohlrabi and okra to fingerling potatoes and sugar snap peas. (327-329 Glenwood Road, Pine Island, 845-258-4574, www.rogowskifarm.com) Learn more about the historic Black Dirt Region at the Pine Island Onion Festival, which takes place at the Pavilion in Pine Island on September 5.
Stew a flat of Roma tomatoes to make your own tomato sauce. Hodgson’s Farm & Garden Center sells its own tomatoes, peppers and eggplants but it is also a full-service garden center where you can pick up new plants, herbs, or even a kit to build a pond (2290 Albany Post Road, Walden, 845-778-1432).
Pick antique apples by the bushel and simmer a pot of applesauce on the stove. Dozens of varieties of tree-ripe peaches, plums, and apples will be ready soon at Love Apple Farms (1421 Route 9H, Ghent, 518-828-5048, www.loveapplefarm.com). Homemade pies, donuts and preserves are an added treat.
Fishkill Farms started picking its Paulareds and Jonamacs in August, about two weeks ahead of schedule, due to the unusually warm spring weather. Sign up for the farm’s Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and enjoy fresh veggies all summer long. (9 Fishkill Farms Road, Hopewell Junction, 845-897-4377, www.fishkillfarms.com).
In Orange County, Apple Ridge Orchards is open for picking September–November with Mutsu, Honeycrisp, and Winesap apples among its 16 varities. Bring the kids for pony rides and a petting zoo. (101 Jessup Road, Warwick, 845-987-7717, www.appleridgeorchards.com).
Take the kids to a pumpkin patch. V&R Saulpaugh & Sons (2329 Route 9, Livingston, 518-537-6494) lets you pick your own from mid-September to mid-October.
Make strawberry shortcake (next year). The fifth-generation of the Thompson-Finch Farm claims the area’s largest (4.5 acres) pick-your-own organic strawberry farm. The season closed in July, but raspberries are ripening now for picking in September and October. Veggies and apples are for sale at the farm stand June–October. (750 Wiltsie Bridge Road, Ancram, 518-329-7578, www.thompsonfinch.com).
Save the date in 2011 for Cheery Weekend with the extended Brown family at Cherry Ridge Farms. Pick black sour cherries while they last. (4150 Route 23, Hudson, 518-828-7018, www.facebook.com/pages/Hudson-NY/Cherry-Ridge-Farms/72500819118).
Check your local market year-round for simple treats made close to home: maple syrup, honey, cheese, yogurt, wine, bread, and ice cream. Then wait for asparagus, fiddleheads, wild mushrooms, and peas to arrive in spring—and the cycle begins once again.
Nikki Goth Itoi is the author of Moon: Hudson River Valley, a travel guidebook covering must-see sights from Westchester County to Saratoga Springs. A Poughkeepsie native, she enjoys making maple syrup in the Catskills and eating fresh, local foods. Her writing has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Budget Travel Online, and other publications.