“The North Fork has, hands down, the best produce in the world,” said Noah Schwartz, who this year is marking a decade as chef and owner of Noah’s in Greenport. Here’s his cheat sheet to finding the best of the season.
Apples and Pears
Macoun apples and Asian pears, both of which are grown locally on the North Fork are two favorites. “Smell the bottom. More sweetly aromatic fruit will be riper and ready to eat.”
These local tubers also benefit from some curing me. “Potatoes cellar well, when they sit and age they appreciate. You can do this at home. Any place cool and dry, like a basement, will work.”
The best time for me to buy these beauties is after the temperature dips below freezing. “Wait until they are what we call ‘frost-kissed,’ because that’s when they’re at their sweetest.”
While garlic is harvested in the summer, a few weeks or months of drying deepens their flavor. “Look for bulbs that are dry and papery. They’ll be at their peak, flavor-wise.”
Look for Schwartz’s lesser known favorites like kabocha and Long Island cheese pumpkins as well as local butternut or acorn squash. You want one with a dry stem that feels heavy but is average in size, which, for butternut is about 8-12 inches. “If it overgrows and gets too big you kind of lose some of that intense sweetness and the really bright color I look for inside of a butternut.”
Like garlic, beans that look a little drier will be better. “When things quiet down for us later in the fall, we take the me to shell cranberry beans. We let them dry some more after they’ve been shelled and then jar or can them.”
Late season finds
Tomatoes and corn often last deep into fall, and tomatoes keep growing until the first frost. “Grab them from the farm stand right after warm Indian summer days, they’ll be sweeter!” Schwartz said. Eggplants are also still widely available into October locally. Look for globes that have a little give to the touch but aren’t mushy, with green stems.