FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NORWALK, CONN., September 16, 2016 – What are the three surefire signs of fall? School is back in session, football has kicked off for the season, and Stew Leonard’s local apples and pumpkins have arrived! Both apples and pumpkins will arrive at the farm fresh food retailer by mid-September from local farmers throughout New York and Connecticut, heralding in the tastes, sights, and sounds of autumn.
“Apples this year are small in size because of the drought we’ve experience d recently, but this will actually make the apples sweeter! This is because the sugars are more condensed and there’s not as much water in the apples,” notes Stew Leonard Jr., President and CEO of Stew Leonard’s. “Thankfully, our apple growers in the Connecticut River Valley and the Hudson Valley were not impacted by the cold spring and were more protected from the late frost, so we’ll have ample local apple supply this fall!”
In addition to fresh apples and pumpkins overflowing in bins in Stew’s produce department and in the Garden Shoppe, Stew Leonard’s has a variety of seasonal treats available throughout the store. Bethy’s Bakery offers apple cider donuts, Dutch apple pie, apple crisp, apple fritters, and apple cider walnut bread. Pumpkin flavor can be found pie, bread, and mini-muffins, as well as in frozen yogurt and coffee.
Customers take a bite out of more than 1.5 million of Stew Leonard’s apples from September through November.
The most popular apple of choice is the sweet and snappy Gala apple, followed by the bold and flavorful Granny Smith. Customers’ two top favorite local apples are the Macoun and Honey Crisp, which are only available for the short local season, which is over by the end of October.
Scott Varanko, Stew Leonard’s Produce Manager in Norwalk, says that local apples will be in full-swing by mid-September. Gala apples will arrive in the first week of September followed by McIntoshes. He suggests that shoppers follow this easy chart for selecting the best apples for eating, baking, and cooking:
3 = Excellent; 2 = Very Good; 1 = Good
|Flavor and Texture||Crisp, bone white flesh, sweet tart flavor||Offer the white flesh and crisp texture of Macoun with a honey flavor||White, tender, crisp flesh that’s spicy, highly aromatic and full of juice.||A firm, medium grain apple. Bold, sweet and sour bursts are found in every bite.||A sweet, snappy, aromatic apple that is usually red and yellow striped.||Strong sweet presence and only a few notes of acidity.|
|Season||Last week in September – end of October||Last week in September – mid-October||August – November||Year Round||Year Round||Year Round|
Pumpkins will start to arrive at Stew Leonard’s Garden Centers in mid-September and this year’s crop will be exceptionally beautiful thanks to the dry summer of 2016. Sourced from local pumpkin growers throughout the state of Connecticut, Stew Leonard’s will sell more than 270,000 pumpkins this fall, including mini-pumpkins, sugar pumpkins, gourds and gourmet pumpkins! Families from all over the region will come to Stew’s Garden Centers to select their pumpkins for carving, displaying and cooking during the harvest season.
How To Make Your Jack-O-Lantern Last
For parents hoping to make their child’s Jack-O-Lantern last until Halloween and beyond, Stew Leonard’s Garden Center experts have a few easy tricks to help keep a carved pumpkin looking its best:
- Apply a generous scoop of petroleum jelly to the inside of your carved pumpkin, especially any cut areas. This will help keep it firm for weeks.
- Mix together equal parts of lemon juice and water and spray on both the inside and outside of your pumpkin. The acid mixture helps preserve your pumpkin and hardens the outside for increased protection against cold, wind and rain.
- Cover the pumpkin in vegetable oil to prevent decay and shriveling. Pumpkins tend to shrivel because of too much oxygen, and vegetable oil acts as a protecting agent.
Decorating and Cooking with Pumpkins
Not all pumpkins will be carved into jack-o-lanterns this fall. In fact, more than half of pumpkins sold this season will be of the “gourmet” variety, perfect for baking, cooking, and even decorating everything from the front stoop to a table top.
- Sugar pumpkins, or “pie” pumpkins, are much smaller in size and are great for kids’ decorating projects or for use in the kitchen. Use them to bake a pumpkin pie or hollow them out to make festive bowls for squash or pumpkin soup.
- The tear-drop shaped Hubbard Squash weighs in around 20-30lbs and has a bluish-gray skin. Use the Hubbard Squash as a substitute in winter squash recipes.
- The old-fashioned looking Fairytale Pumpkins average around 20-30lbs each. They have a tan outer coloring with a deep orange flesh.
- Cinderella Pumpkins are 20lbs each and have a bright orange-ish/red skin.
- Ghost pumpkins are all white, making for a chic decorating alternative to the classic orange. They also have an extra-spooky appeal when a candle is placed inside of a carved out one.
- An “heirloom” variety of pumpkin, Long Island Cheese pumpkins are great for making pumpkin pies. They have a smooth tan skin and top out around 15lbs.
- With a rich, reddish/orange color, the Red Warty pumpkin has a bumpy exterior but a sweet and string-less flesh, making it great for eating.
For more information about Stew Leonard’s, please visit www.stewleonards.com.
About Stew Leonard’s
Stew Leonard’s, a family-owned and operated fresh food store founded in 1969, has five stores in Norwalk, Danbury, and Newington, Conn. and Farmingdale & Yonkers, N.Y. with a sixth store planned in East Meadow, N.Y., slated to open in mid-2017. Stew’s earned its nickname, the “Disneyland of Dairy Stores” because of its country-fair atmosphere, with costumed characters and animated entertainment throughout the store that keep children entertained while parents shop. Stew Leonard’s legion of loyal shoppers is largely due to the stores’ passionate approach to customer service: “Rule #1 — The Customer is Always Right”; Rule #2 – If the Customer is Ever Wrong, Re-Read Rule #1.” This principle is so essential to the foundation of the company that it is etched in a three-ton granite rock at each store’s entrance. The company’s culture is built around an acronym for S.T.E.W.: Satisfy the customer; Teamwork gets it done; Excellence makes it better; WOW makes it fun. For more information, visit Stew Leonard’s website at www.stewleonards.com.
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