I don’t know about you guys, but after the heat and drought of this summer, we are anxiously awaiting fall on the 1900 farm. The last 6 weeks of the season will be busy ones, with school kids resuming their trips to the farms, and harvest season coming into full swing. Autumn would mean long-awaited fruits and vegetables out of the gardens and orchards, getting the final cuttings of hay to the barn in preparation for the cold season, and finally, picking the corn out of the fields (but more on that later).
One of my favorite vegetables becomes ready in the fall, the pumpkin, and here at the 1900 farm we grew a couple of different kinds of pumpkins this year. They aren’t quite ready yet, but I eagerly await them, in addition to using up the rest of the canned pumpkin in the stores. I’d like to share a favorite pumpkin recipe from the 1900 farm.
(makes a large batch)
8 cups mashed pumpkin
4 cups sugar (can be made with a sugar substitute, but the flavor does change)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
Combine all ingredients. Simmer over low to medium, heat until thick.
This is a great alternative to apple butter, and cooking it over the stove makes your house smell good! Canned or fresh pumpkin can be used, and the pumpkin butter will last well in the freezer. Canned pumpkin butter makes a great holiday gift (though I recommend making it with sugar if you are going to can it.
Of course, if you prefer apples to pumpkins, you can always make apple butter. Or better yet, the cake I have included below. This year is shaping up to be an interesting one for Iowa apples, depending on where you live and when your last frost of the crazy Spring season was. Here at the farms, we’ve picked the first of our apples and pears from the orchard, a bit earlier than other years, but welcome none the less. During September we will make apple butter, apple pie, apple fritters, applesauce, and all kinds of other fun things to celebrate the harvest season. Apples are one of our favorite cooking fruits here on the farm.
1 pint molasses
1 quart raw sweet apples, pared and cut into long, thin strips
2 teaspoons (baking) soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
1 pint rich buttermilk
1 teaspoon ginger and same of cassia (a variety of cinnamon)
Flour to make a smooth, stiff batter
This will make 3 loaves of good cake. The sweet apple resembling slices of citron and adding much to the taste of the cake.
–from Three Meals a Day, 1889
Note the emphasis made in the recipe. You may decide that you do not need three loaves of cake. In that case we have found that the recipe halved will fit into a 9 x 13 pan just fine.
Enjoy the bountiful harvests that autumn in Iowa is sure to bring. This Saturday we will be hosting Applefest here at Living History Farms, and we may pull out the cider press. Or if you would like to try your hand at baking the above recipes, or others on the wood burning stove sign up for one of our fall adult education classes. The Harvest Class will be held September 18th.