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
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.