Fall is the time when food starts to take center stage — farmers markets are re-opening with fresh produce, Oktoberfests are happening, tailgating is going on, Halloween is approaching with pumpkin carving and treats, apples are being dipped in caramel and being pressed for cider, and cooks are researching soup recipes to help ward off the coming change of the weather.
Living in Southwest Florida we don't see the leaves changing color or feel the temperatures dropping too rapidly, but stores are receiving an abundance of pumpkins and apples. They are not only in the produce departments but also used for flavorings of the new offerings of foods lining grocery shelves.
You won't find many pumpkins turning into a carriage to take Cinderella to a ball or catch a glimpse of Linus' Great Pumpkin, but you will find pumpkin-flavored bagels, cream cheese to smear on that bagel, pumpkin spice coffee and coffee creamer to enjoy with your morning paper and a variety of treats that include chocolate, candy and doughnuts. Of course, there are always pumpkin pie and pumpkin-flavored cookies to end a hearty meal.
Apples, a favorite fall fruit, are being made into fritters, combined with cabbage, used as a chutney, being mixed with sausages, made into cakes and pies, topped onto pancakes, baked and of course used for stuffing. Local stores are carrying apple butter, a new apple-flavored yogurt, candy-dipped apples, bags of sliced apples, dried apples and fresh cider along with a variety of fresh apples.
Here are some pumpkin and apple products that are available in local stores:
■ Fresh Market, 4129 U.S. 41 N., Naples, 239-430-2444 and 27251 Bay Landing Drive, Bonita Springs, 239-390-5948; bag of mini pumpkins, $3.99; Fresh Market pumpkin spice ground coffee, $11.99, 16 ounces; pumpkin chocolate chip pound cake, $3.99; Carousel hand-crafted caramel apple dipping kit, $9.99; and Fralinger's pumpkin spice taffy, $2.99, 6 ounces
■ Kilwin's, 743 Fifth Ave. S., Naples, 239-261-9898: chocolate-drizzled, caramel-covered apple, $6.95; Perfect Apple Pie ice cream, a limited edition, $4.77; small cone or $5.95, ice cream sandwich; pumpkin fudge, $15.95 per pound; coming in October, pumpkin ice cream cones and sandwiches.
■ Panera Bread, 2184 U.S. 41 N., Naples, 239-744-9140; 6424 Naples Blvd.,Naples, 239-514-1126; and 2415 Tarpon Bay Blvd., Naples, 239-2524-8901; pumpkin pie bagel, $1.29, and pumpkin muffie (a muffin top), $1.49
■ Publix, various locations: Hershey's pumpkin spice Kisses, $3, 10 ounces; and David's pumpkin seeds, $2.79, 5 ounces
■ Sweetbay Supermarket, various locations, Ziegler apple cider, $2.99, 64 fl oz
■ Target, 2324 Pine Ridge Road, Naples, 239-435-0051 and 2415 Tarpon Bay Blvd., Naples, 239-552-1100: Yoplait apple crisp low-fat yogurt, $2, 6 ounces, package of four; Philadelphia pumpkin spice flavor cream cheese,$1.99; Dunkin Donuts pumpkin spice ground coffee, $7.99, 11 ounces; Starbucks via pumpkin spice instant coffee, $7.99, 8 single-serve packets, 3.56 ounces; Green Mountain Naturals hot apple cider, $12.99, 16 K cups; Green Mountain Naturals pumpkin spice coffee, $10.99,16 K cups; International Delight pumpkin pie spice-flavored creamer, $1.79, 16 fl oz.; Coffee Mate pumpkin spice-flavored creamer, $1,99, 16 fl oz; and Pillsbury pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies, $1,75, 24 pre-cut cookies.
■ Trader Joe's, 10600 U.S. 41 N., Naples, 239-596-5631: Blue Moon harvest pumpkin ale, $8.49, six bottles, 12 ounce fl oz each; pumpkin pancake waffle mix, $2.99; pumpkin butter, $2.29, 10 ounces; cinnamon apple snack, $2.49, 6 ounces
■ Wynn's Market, 141 U.S. 41 N., Naples, 239-261-7157: Pepperidge Farm caramel apple or pumpkin spice swirl bread, $3.99; Pepperidge Farm pumpkin cheesecake soft cookies, $3.49; Stonewall Kitchen apple cranberry chutney, $6.99, 8.5 oz.; Earth Vine Provisions apple cranberry pear chutney, $6.99, 9 ounces; Libby's pumpkin pie mix, $1.89, 15 ounces; organic pumpkin pie mix, $3.49, 15 ounces and UFO pumpkin ale,$7.99, six bottles, 12 fl oz.
Look to local bakeries and restaurants for ready-made autum delights like these:
■ Dunkin' Donuts: Apple Orchard donuts and donut holes, apple crisp muffins and an individual apple pie, as well as pumpkin coffee and latte and actual apple cidier, available hot or iced; pumpkin muffins; K-cups of its pumpkin coffee for single serve coffee makers and bags of ground pumpkin coffee. All locations in Southwest Florida.
■ Starbucks: Pumpkin-spice lattes.