Pumpkins, Gourds, & Squash, Oh My!

Beauty. That’s the word that comes to mind when I think of the 180 acres that make up Branstrator Farm, located in Clarksville, Ohio. It’s from this land that our friend Jon Branstator has brought us pumpkins, gourds, and squash for about 7 years and counting.

Jon is quite frankly one of the coolest guys I know. Not only is he knowledgeable in agricultural (among many other topics), but he collaborates with several different agricultural and educational organizations, such as The Ohio State University.

As we step into the fall harvest, we can start to see the orange bursts in the fields, waiting to be picked. Jon waits for just the right time to pick his pumpkins and gourds, bringing the biggest and best to our stores.

The varieties Jon selects is a big deal as he spends a lot of time studying catalogs in the winter. Decisions range from the size—giant, large, medium, and small—to hybrid or heritage. Jon chooses varieties not typically available at other retailers. Large sizes with well-attached handles are important, not to mention disease resistance.

Jon also loves to use old-fashioned seeds, as they set the foundation for the harvest in addition to soil integrity (something he is very passionate about).

Some of Jon’s favorites you can look forward to this fall are Waltham Butternut Squash and Long Island Cheese Squash. In addition to the gamut of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, he also grows the best pie pumpkins which are great for decorating or making some fresh pies.

 

Check out some of our favorite pumpkin and squash recipes:

Hasselback Butternut Squash

Pumpkin Pancakes

Butternut Squash Soup with Garam Masala, Yogurt, and Lime

Pumpkin Gingerbread

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Bars

Apples Grown at Wesler Orchards

Just a few miles east of the Indiana border, the hilly splendor of New Paris, Ohio, gives way to the paradise that is Wesler Orchards. Around 7,000 apple trees stretch across the horizon, representing about 25 different varieties of apples. Ron Wesler surveys the orchards with his hands on his hips, eyes squinting as the sun peers down. “This is three generations of work here,” he says. “It’s taken a long time to get what we’ve got and we don’t take that for granted.”

AN APPLE A DAY FOR THREE GENERATIONS

Wesler Orchards got its start in 1930 with Ron’s grandfather Frank, a Purdue University graduate who joined forces with an existing farmer to form Martin & Wesler. After the Depression hit, Frank became the sole proprietor and the farm was renamed Wesler Orchards. Ron’s father Meredith, 89, then oversaw the farm for many years, with the production of apples flourishing.

“He’s down here at 8:30 a.m. every day,” says Ron, who purchased the farm from his father in 2000. Meredith lives in a farmhouse just about 200 yards away from Ron. If you ask him what keeps him in such good physical condition, a wide smile spreads across his face. “An apple a day,” he recites.

PRESSING TOWARD THE FUTURE

It wasn’t until 2012 that apple cider became the main focus of Wesler Orchards—a direction that has quenched the thirst for many, including DLM patrons (Wesler makes all of our DLM Apple Cider, after all).

If you pay attention, you’ll notice subtle taste nuances from one batch of cider to the next. When talking to Ron, this inconsistency is actually a big part of the magic that is Wesler Cider, as each batch is a blend of at least four different apple varieties, making the cider a true reflection of the apples that are at their peak. It’s that blend of tart and sweet that Wesler is looking for with its cider.

While driving alongside Ron through the Orchards, he points toward the Jonathon apples that are currently being harvested, with ladders set up alongside. We move toward the Red Delicious trees, and he quickly adds that when they’re ready, they’ll add just the right amount of sweetness. Next, we roll past Gold Rush, which will likely be used to make some of the cider produced in mid-October. He carefully puts a finger alongside the stem before he picks it from the tree with a roll of the hand. “Next year’s buds are already in,” he says, noting that great care needs to be taken when picking.

CIDER HOUSE

Just a few hundred yards from the edge of the orchard are the storage coolers as well as the machinery where the cider is freshly pressed. “We try to do it right,” says Ron, noting that although their cider is flash pasteurized, it contains no preservatives and is 100% pure apples. This results in a darker cider overall, he points out, but he thinks that’s where the real flavor is. “It would make our lives a lot easier if we add preservatives … but the flavor just isn’t there like it is with a fresh cider,” he says. With a common mission of Flavor First, it’s a good reminder why we partner with Wesler for our DLM Apple Cider.

 

Try using DLM Apple Cider in this recipe for Apple Cider Glazed Pork Chops!

Apple Must-Eat List for the Fall

Fall is in the air in Dayton, Ohio. You can smell the crispness as the heat disappears, the fall breeze blows in, and the leaves change color. You’ll see that fall is welcomed with celebration and creativity in our Produce departments as you will be lost in the beauty of one of our favorite fall treats—apples. We are biting in this October by celebrating some of the fall varieties of the fruit that have us feeling apple-y ever after.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “We are born believing. A man bears beliefs like a tree bears apples.” At DLM, we believe that there is no better way to welcome in fall than indulging in the most flavorful apples from the east to the west, and October is when it all begins.

With so many varieties out there in the growing apple industry, our goal is to source and provide apples with the best flavor. Start with your favorite and then move on to something new that you’ve never tried before. Trust us, it’ll be good, which is why we’ve created a fall apple must-eat list below. From the most perfect baking apples to the best for making homemade applesauce, you’ll want to try them all. And don’t worry, we also included the best for eating, too.

Apple Must-Eat List

KANZI®

A cross between Gala and Braeburn apples, the Kanzi® Apple is full of flavor with a perfect sweet and tangy balance. It has an unparalleled complexity of flavor that has caused it to rise in popularity throughout the U.S. We love using this apple for a variety of dishes. From apple pies to salads, this apple is one of our newest favorites.

AMBROSIA GOLD®

Ambrosia is a sweet apple, but this is one that even tart apple fans will love because of its juiciness and crunchy texture. The unique honey flavor makes this apple great for baking or serving on your cheese board, accompanying mild cheese and white wine.

FUJI

One of the sweetest apples, Fuji is a hybrid created from Red Delicious and Ralls Janet varieties. As you bite in, you’ll notice a nice crunch paired with a creamy inside. Try using this apple in homemade applesauce!

GRANNY SMITH

With a distinct green color and a crunchy bite, Granny Smith apples are delightfully tart and our #1 choice for making apple pie. Dunk this variety in caramel too for a sweet yet tart treat.

HONEYCRISP

One of our favorite varieties! Honeycrisp apples are ultra juicy and super crisp. Its beautiful flavor makes with perfect for baking and adding to salads. Not only is this a great addition to a number of recipes, but it’s one of our snacking go-tos.

KIKU®

apple

A direct descendant of the Fuji family, this exotic apple has become a fast favorite. Crunching into this variety, you’re met with an incredible sweetness and a fresh apple flavor.

GALA

gala appleGala apples are made from crossing Kidd’s Orange Red and Golden Delicious apples. It has a mildly sweet and slightly floral flavor making it a great everyday apple.

Pumpkin Checklist

Fall is here, which means bonfires and pumpkin EVERYTHING! We’re big fans of this seasonal flavor and the wide variety of yummy pumpkin products available, so we’ve compiled a list of pumpkin must-haves to get your pumpkin fix. Let’s face it, is fall even fall without pumpkin treats?

We’ve updated our Pumpkin Checklist to feature all of the pumpkin goodies we have available this fall. Make your way around the store with the checklist to get the most out of pumpkin this year!

How many of these pumpkin goodies have you tried?

CLICK TO VIEW OUR PUMPKIN CHECKLIST

See below for some of the items featured on our Pumpkin Checklist.

Caramel Iced Pumpkin Donut

Fresh and made right here daily, our pumpkin donuts are topped with scrumptious caramel buttercream.

Southern Tier Brewing Co. PumKing Imperial Ale

Pour Pumking into a goblet and allow its alluring spirit to overflow. As spicy aromas present themselves, let its copper color entice you as your journey into this mystical brew has just begun.

Purely Elizabeth Pumpkin Cinnamon Granola

Purely Elizabeth Pumpkin Cinnamon Ancient Grain Granola combines pumpkin seeds and cinnamon with ancient grains and superfood seeds for a fall flavor that tastes delicious all year round. These granolas are gluten free, vegan, non-GMO, organic, free of refined sugars, sweetened with coconut sugar, and baked with coconut oil.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Our Pumpkin Spice Lattes are what pumpkin spice dreams are made of with homemade pumpkin purée, aromatic pumpkin pie spice, and freshly made whipped cream.

 

Check out some of our pumpkin goodies that ship!

13 Must-Make Gluten-Free Recipes