Crisp Apples, Bright Pumpkins, Tangy Cider Excite the Senses

By Eva Potter

The leaves have turned brilliant shades of crimson, gold and purple, which can only mean one thing — it’s time to enjoy the specialty foods that only fall can offer.

Take a leisurely drive down the scenic backroads of Ellicottville, Great Valley, Springville and other small towns, and you’re sure to encounter charming farm stands set up in front of iconic American farmhouses. These hand-built stands usually offer a variety of fresh, locally grown produce at reasonable prices. You’re sure to find a selection of fall squash, potatoes, apples, pumpkins and more.

Another way to shop for fresh produce is at the area’s nationally famous spot located just a couple miles outside Ellicottville. There you can find most of your fall favorites all in one stop. Pumpkinville, open through Oct. 31, is a great place to bring the whole family to enjoy rides and games, but the tastiest reasons to visit are their crisp apples, mouth-watering cider, fall sweet treats and, of course, the huge selection of pumpkins. You’ll find majestic giant orange beauties, in addition to green and yellow gems encrusted with warty growths, smaller gourds of many colors, some contorted into gnarly shapes and many varieties of squash.

New York is the second largest apple growing state in the U.S., and Pumpkinville stocks a wonderful selection of regionally grown apples. You can also watch as fresh apples are squeezed using the farm’s antique cider press. Watch it in action, then sample a glass of cold or hot cider. You’ll want to take a gallon home!

America loves apple pie and with fresh apples on hand to make the perfect fall dessert, it’s time to heat up the oven. Flaky pie crusts filled with sliced apples or smooth pumpkin filling will spread the rich, spicy smells of fall throughout your home. No time to bake them yourself? Until Oct. 31, Di’s Pies and Bake Shoppe at Pumpkinville offers old-fashion baked goods, including fall specialties like pumpkin and apple pies, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin donuts. You can also purchase home-baked desserts and sweets all year long (Friday through Sunday) at the Little Red Shop, located right next to Pumpkinville.

A little farther away, but well worth the drive, Sprague’s Maple Farms offers free wagon rides to their sugarhouse (weather permitting) where you can enjoy hot mulled cider and homemade maple cake doughnuts on weekends in October. Explore the farm’s hiking trails and enjoy the fall foliage as you walk through the maples. Then stop at the restaurant for a jug of their well-known maple syrup and delicious turkey dinners with all the trimmings.

Farm-fresh goodness is no longer limited to the growing season. You can enjoy fresh produce year round at the Canticle Farm Market in Allegany. Offerings include storage vegetables, like carrots, potatoes and onions, along with Canticle’s greenhouse-grown greens and other produce always Certified Naturally Grown. That means no harmful chemicals are used to grow or preserve their vegetables. And they’re usually picked fresh the day of the market. You’ll also find local honey, maple syrup, eggs, cheese and meats. The market is now open Tuesdays, 2 – 6 p.m.

Commonly known as the Springville Auction, Gentner’s Commission Market in the village of Springville is everything you’d hope for from an old-fashioned market. It’s been held every Wednesday, rain or shine, since 1939. To avoid the crowds, get up early and arrive by 10 a.m. to get the best selection of farm-fresh produce, flea market items, livestock and most everything else you can imagine. You probably won’t go home empty handed, so it’s wise to bring a wagon, some type of cart or some large bags to transport your haul back to your car. With a huge selection of fresh flowers, produce, specialty foods, maple syrup and honey, you’ll be tempted to buy in bulk and you’ll pay much less than you would in stores.

Don’t let the season pass you by. Take a ride and bring home some of fall’s goodness before the snow flies.