Sophie Says: Home grown is best

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A Winters Express op-ed column

Gramps Says One of my earliest memories is the smell of baking bread issued from the old wood burning stove in my grandparents’ home, and the sweet fragrance of apples stored next to the basement staircase. They lived on a large plot and grandfather tended a vast garden of every kind of vegetable and a large assortment of fruit trees. They also tended chickens and a milk cow. Grandfather never objected to my climbing the trees to enjoy the bounties. One of the last tasks that grandmother supervised before her death was to direct her daughters to bottle sugar-free fruit for grandfather, as he was diabetic in his late years. Home preserving of fruits and vegetables is becoming a lost art now days, but for those who cling to the old practice you could not live in a better place than Winters. My wife tells of the times her mother made an annual pilgrimage from Richmond to Winters to pick peaches that she would take home and bottle. There is a distinct advantage to tree ripened fruit in that the flavor is more full bodied than fruit picked early for shipping purposes. One of the first trees that I planted when we moved into our present home was a Rio Oso peach. Through experience we found this variety to be ideal for our purpose because the fruit is large, firm and meaty in texture and most desirable in flavor when tree ripened. In regards to apricots, you won’t find any better than those grown here. We use apricot jam as gift favors to friends. Kumquats make good marmalade and grapes are harvested for their juice. Apples are a different story. Gravensteins’ make the best applesauce and to get those you need to travel to Sebastopol or Apple Hill in Placerville. The trip makes a nice outing for my wife and a few lady friends and I enjoy the fresh apple pie that they usually bring back with them. So for apples it’s OK to go abroad, but for everything else, stay here. Winters Fruit Tree has become a landmark of sorts in our town. It was built in 1968 by the Carter family who still own and operate the fruit stand. The friendly staff informed me that much of their produce is grown on their own site and they place a priority on using local growers for produce that they bring in from other sources. In addition to a broad inventory of seasonal fruits and vegetables you will also find honey, nuts, bottled olives, jams and jellies and other delectable items. They are located at 415 Grant Ave. Sophie Says I can’t get too excited about bottled peaches. Alpo in a can is more to my liking. In regards to the invitation in the previous column to submit lexophiles, no entries were sent in so I was spared the onerous task placed on me by Gramps to grade them by tail wags. However I did notice that the punch line for the last play on words was inadvertently omitted in the final publication. So here it is again, “The reason the Winters cemetery locks the entry gate every night is because ….people are dying to get in.”

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