Then there are the apples, which are leading the transition. Although the Gravenstein has already mostly come and gone, you may still find a few at Yingst Ranch's booth. Early season Granny Smiths popped up at Murray Family Farms just in time for Rosh Hashana. And keep your eyes open for a few here-and-gone heirlooms. The small Tsugaru apple from Ha's Apple Farm will be here for just one week. The even smaller, buy-it-just-for-the-name Transcendent Crab, a crabapple from Windrose Farm, is in for a few weeks longer.
Crabapples are the sour cherries of fall, and probably prompt more stories about what various grandmothers did with them than either canning or homemade pie. This is a cooking apple, one that's rediscovering its place in the early fall kitchen. It's prime use is for a glorious jelly -- but adding a few to apple sauce or pie or even duck can add terrific bright notes to the dish.
The Transcendent Crab is an heirloom -- probably related to other Siberian crabs -- that is self-fertile and very prolific. The fruit ranges from large cherry size to golf ball size, and is covered with a thin golden skin blushed red as a good sunset. The flavor is tart, but lacks some of the bitter edge and astringency that some crabapples are known for.The Tsugaru apple -- a Japanese variety from the 1970s-- has a two-week season, with this week being its last. It's a small apple that fits easily in the palm of your hand, with green skin striped dramatically with a bold burgundy red. It's the polar opposite of the crabapple, super sweet with little-to-no acidity, almost caramel-like, and best when eaten fresh. It's crisper than its parent, Golden Delicious, and has a short shelf life thanks to all that sugar. Perfect for small, fruit-fickle hands and adults who just want a crispy, sweet apple to munch.