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November produce: What’s in season?

Summer might seem like the time for the tastiest fruits and the vegetables, but there is plenty of produce that grows in colder weather or even in neighboring tropical climates. Fruits and veggies tastes best when you eat them in season, so while you might be bummed your favorite berries are bitter this time of year, there are still tons of great options for eating in season items that are ripe right now. Here is what will give you peak flavor in November: Apples Apples are the perfect fall ingredients, adding flavor to foods both sweet and savory. Plus, they’re delicious all on their own. Chop fresh apples in your oatmeal, bread, or yogurt for a healthy dose of fiber, vitamin B-6, and vitamin C. Artichokes Artichokes are delicious and fun to eat. They make an appearance at many holiday tables because they are ripe and ready this time of year.…

Is there a difference between apple cider and apple juice?

Apples are the star fruit of fall: Whether they’re baked in a pie or spiced in a sauce, it’s obvious we love celebrating the return of apple season. But there’s one way we can consume apples that causes confusion even among the most ardent apple connoisseurs — cider. More specifically, what’s the difference between the stuff we scoop up exclusively during September and October at markets and that other stuff available on the grocery shelf all year long? This is how you make apple cider: Here is the difference between apple cider and apple juice: Apple Cider Apple cider is made from fresh apples that have been pressed into liquid. To make apple cider, apples are first washed and cut, then ground into a mash that’s about the consistency of apple sauce. The mash is then wrapped in burlap cloth and placed between wooden racks. A hydraulic press squeezes…

Bobbing for apples is a tradition based on love

All of the good holidays have traditions that we can look forward to. Whether it’s fireworks on the Fourth of July or turkey on Thanksgiving, every tradition has to start somewhere, and as it turns out, even Halloween’s bobbing for apples has a history. This year, as you plunge your head into a cold bucket of water in attempt to bite through the flesh of an apple, consider that the origins of this bizarre tradition are nearly 2,000 years old. Apples were once considered a symbol of love. In Scotland, the legend goes, a maiden would sit alone in a room and eat an apple in front of a mirror, whereupon the face of her husband would appear. In Montenegro, if a bride successfully threw an apple on the roof of her husband’s house, their union, it is said, would be blessed with children. In Greek mythology, Paris was tasked…

15 sangria recipes ready for fall

You drank sangria all summer long, and now that days are beginning to shorten, it’s time for a cold-weather cocktail makeover. So toss on your favorite fall cozy cable-knit sweater, sink in to your extra cushy couch, and consider what you’ll make for all those fall Friday night friends’ house parties. Here are 15 tasty sangria recipes that will make you welcome the new season: Pear Pomegranate Sangria Pear, pomegranate and prosecco pair up to help you make the leap to lightly cooler weather. Get the recipe. Autumn Apple Rosé sangria This inexpensive blend is perfect for larger crowds. Think anything from engagement parties to tailgates to Thanksgiving feasts. See the full recipe. Blood Orange Sangria Nothing will be more gorgeous on your table than a glass of this fall-hued blood orange sangria. Make it now.  Honeycrisp Apple Sangria Honeycrisp is the king of all fall fruits. It’s firm texture…

Hail storms wipe out eight million bottles worth of Champagne grapes

Today the Champagne industry has nothing to toast. Strong hail storms hit the famous wine growing region of France and wiped out the equivalent of eight million bottles of bubbly. The strong hailstorm damaged 4,450 acres of Champagne vineyards — completely destroying about 1,000 of those. This isn’t the first storm to wreck havoc on this year’s harvest. The northeastern Champagne region was hit hard four times between late April and May, which is unfortunately the exact time that the delicate vines begin to flower. The fourth storm, which hit May 27, caused the most harm. “Of course storm and hail are not unusual phenomena in Champagne, but what is rare is to see them at this very early stage and with this level of violence,” the industry’s Champagne Committee said. Thanks to the region’s reserves, the hail damage is not expected to result in a shortage for customers this…

You’ll soon be spending more for that cheap wine

Just when you found a few good, cheap wines to rely on, they’re about to get way more expensive. According to data from the Paris-based International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV), wine production was down this year to the lowest production levels seen since 1957. According to Reuters, it’s the weather causing the problem. Three of the world’s top wine producers, Italy, France and Spain, were hit by harsh and unusual weather last year, like drought, hailstorms and late spring frost, leading to an overall drop of 14.6 percent in production. The 2017 harvest only brought 25 billion liters of wine. That’s down from the 2015 harvest which produced 27.6 billion liters, and the 2016 harvest which brought 26.7 billion liters. The continent accounts for 65 percent of global wine production. The OIV told the Independent that this doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a shortage of wine unless the weather conditions and poor harvest…

How the real Granny Smith accidentally discovered her namesake apple

The next time you take a bite from the pointy tip of a slice of apple pie, consider what makes it taste so irresistible. The key to America’s most iconic dessert lies in the unique tartness of Granny Smith apples. But how did such a popular, crisp, bright green apple get such a homely name? Fans of the chartreuse green fall fruit might be surprised that there really was a Granny Smith for which the apple was named. But she didn’t live in Pennsylvania, New York or anywhere else in the United States that is seemingly synonymous with harvesting apples. Granny Smith and her namesake apple both called a small town outside of Sydney, Australia home. As the story goes, Maria Ann Sherwood was born in 1799 in Sussex, England. At age 19, she married Thomas Smith and together had numerous children. During the colonial period of England, the government was offering incentives to any citizens willing to relocate and work its new lands. In 1830,…

Healthy Candy Corn Popsicles

It’s that time of year when the weather can swing wildly. You reach for swim suits one day and sweaters the next. When you’re mentally in the mood for fall, but temperatures aren’t quite there yet, consider bringing out the popsicle mold for one more hurrah. These cute candy corn inspired treats are perfect for those in-between weeks leading up to Halloween that are just too warm for cider or heavy sweets. And what’s better, unlike most Halloween treats, these popsicles are festive without containing any scary ingredients — nothing like traditional candy corn. Try your own yellow, orange and white recipe or check out my fall themed flavors below. This recipe isn’t overly sweet so feel free to add Stevia or another sweeter if you want more classically sweet candy corn popsicles. Healthy Candy Corn Popsicles Makes 10 popsicles Ingredients 1 cup vanilla yogurt 1 tsp cinnamon 1/2 cup frozen mango 1/2 cup fresh squash 1/2 cup orange…

Places to pick your own apples and pumpkins near Pittsburgh

Well, that was fast. Summer is officially over, and soon the air will become chilly and night longer. But while you were out having fun in the sun, local farmers were tending to their pumpkin patches and apple orchards, so they’re ready to meet the demand of the new season. If you live in the Pittsburgh area, you’re lucky to have a handful of places to pick your own (PYO) apples and pumpkins right from the farm. Many of the pick your own below farms are hosting fall festivals too, so be sure to call ahead or visit online if you want to attend on a day where your family can participate in other fall favorite activities like hayrides and corn mazes — usually held on weekends through the end of October. So grab a jug of apple cider, and head out in to a local farm for some old fashioned fall…

Global vanilla shortage will see pastry, ice cream prices soar

The world-wide vanilla shortage is coming to an ice cream cone near you. Pastry chefs and ice cream makers alike are looking to cut back overall consumption due to the rising cost of fair-trade vanilla, meaning that the recipes of our favorite summer sweets could be effected. And we have no one but ourselves to blame. The high demand from consumers, in recent years, switching to all-natural foods has caused the shortage. The problem was then compounded by major corporations like Nestle and Hershey’s that, in response to consumer demand, declared they were then switching from cheaper, chemically created synthetic versions of vanilla to all-natural varieties, too — meaning that they want vanilla from orchid seeds, and not factories. Factories can crank out the synthetic stuff around the clock, but there just aren’t enough vanilla pods in the world to meet demand. A few years ago, a 1-gallon bottle of organic, fair-trade vanilla would cost about $64 — today,…