Meanderings

 

100_01321.jpg

Easing down from the hills into the flat flood plains of the Eel River doesn’t mean leaving country courtesy behind. The Avenue of the Giants winds through almost frighteningly large Redwood trees but the people of the river valley welcome visitors like they were next door neighbors. Even in November, a produce stand in the miniscule town of Pepperwood (population 60) basks in sunshine and opens its shutters to passersby, sometimes without even a farmer manning the booth. Instead, a simple request to drop money in a slot is painted on a cheery sign.

 

Sweet Walla Walla onions nestle in wooden boxes next to dark green acorn squash. Zucchinis and Golden Delicious apples rub shoulders in battered baskets. But best of all are the indigenous taste treats—delicious delicacies found almost exclusively in Humboldt County. Come inside, there’s homemade popsicles in the freezer–$1. Help yourself. Although advertised as blackberry, the sweet treats are almost surely made from the large black Himalayan berries that many nativists consider an invasive weed but old time locals often prefer to the more domesticated fruit. The purple indulgence tastes like cold blackberry pie-sweet and dusky as a summer evening.

100_0133.jpg

 

The Waltana apples though were the real find. Created by Walter Etter, a well-known local horticulturalist from the turn of the last century, they are green with a flush of red stripes. Crisp, sweet and firm they were cultivated by the “hillbilly Luther Burbank”, as the founder of the small Humboldt town of Ettersburg was known. Delicious in pies especially but so crunchy and sweet that it is challenging to sneak them past devouring mouths and cook them up for dessert, the Waltana apples are hard to find in stores. However, knowledgeable local farmers usually have trees for their personal use.

 

If you get a chance, meander on down to Pepperwood and enjoy some of the best flavors of the season offered with the easy welcome of a Southern Humboldt farmer.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

25 comments

  • I love Pepperwood and that whole area. Most people aren’t aware that it was a thriving and bustling community until the flood of 1964. Entire towns were wiped off the map because of that flood.
    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who enjoys the area.

  • I love Pepperwood and that whole area. Most people aren’t aware that it was a thriving and bustling community until the flood of 1964. Entire towns were wiped off the map because of that flood.
    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who enjoys the area.

  • Hey Kym,

    I think we had Waltana’s in our yard in Redway – all I remember from a hundred years ago is that they were yummy in everything we did with them.

    It’s great to see Grams out and about with you & your little guy. I guess that means I’m grateful that it isn’t pouring buckets on Humboldt, otherwise, I envision Grams huddled in her trailer, hoping it doesn’t leak this year.

    Thanks for including her in your outings.

  • Hey Kym,

    I think we had Waltana’s in our yard in Redway – all I remember from a hundred years ago is that they were yummy in everything we did with them.

    It’s great to see Grams out and about with you & your little guy. I guess that means I’m grateful that it isn’t pouring buckets on Humboldt, otherwise, I envision Grams huddled in her trailer, hoping it doesn’t leak this year.

    Thanks for including her in your outings.

  • Ahh, Pepperwood, just the mention of that small village reminds me of the bags and bags of sweet yellow corn, picked just that morning, that we would purchase for our annual Square Dance corn feed held every August. I would stop by our favorite vegetable stand about a week ahead of time to be sure the corn was ripening on time and to place my order – if I didn’t there was no way to assure that they would have the amount of corn I would need on the appointed date.
    We always ordered at least 10 dozen ears to feed our hungry crowd of 40 or more square dancers. At a dollar a dozen, with one extra ear thrown in to make a Baker’s dozen, it was a fairly inexpensive party. I remember how willingly people would gather to help husk the sweet yellow ears while I brought huge canning kettles of water to a full rolling boil – the ears would be dropped carefully in so as not to splash and then we waited. It could take up to 15 minutes to bring the water back to a boil and then the corn was ready. Our guests would line up with a paper plate in hand and I would give them each a hot, golden ear of corn, which they, in turn, would roll in the large plate of butter and salt generously. Pretty tasty treat and lots of good memories.

  • Ahh, Pepperwood, just the mention of that small village reminds me of the bags and bags of sweet yellow corn, picked just that morning, that we would purchase for our annual Square Dance corn feed held every August. I would stop by our favorite vegetable stand about a week ahead of time to be sure the corn was ripening on time and to place my order – if I didn’t there was no way to assure that they would have the amount of corn I would need on the appointed date.
    We always ordered at least 10 dozen ears to feed our hungry crowd of 40 or more square dancers. At a dollar a dozen, with one extra ear thrown in to make a Baker’s dozen, it was a fairly inexpensive party. I remember how willingly people would gather to help husk the sweet yellow ears while I brought huge canning kettles of water to a full rolling boil – the ears would be dropped carefully in so as not to splash and then we waited. It could take up to 15 minutes to bring the water back to a boil and then the corn was ready. Our guests would line up with a paper plate in hand and I would give them each a hot, golden ear of corn, which they, in turn, would roll in the large plate of butter and salt generously. Pretty tasty treat and lots of good memories.

  • The corn from Pepperwood is sweeter than from anywhere but our own garden. And, after discovering they have Waltanas there, I’m thinking they must have something in the soil because the one I ate last night was one of the best apples I have ever eaten.

    I’m guessing the flood waters leave soil so rich that anything grown there becomes imbued with a intensity of flavor difficult to find elsewhere.

    Having Grandma with me just made the day better. (We stopped and got some squeaky cheese-cheese curds in Loleta. I am so glad she introduced me to those delicious salty little tidbits when I was a little girl. Now my whole family loves them.)

  • I LOVE curds! But haven’t had them since I don’t know when. (Probably the last time I was in Salmon with Grams, and we stopped by the cheese factory.)

  • I LOVE curds! But haven’t had them since I don’t know when. (Probably the last time I was in Salmon with Grams, and we stopped by the cheese factory.)

  • Some day I should write about Loleta and the cheese factory. I love that place and I love their cheese curds. I only wish they would let us buy them right out of the pan and eat them still warm.

  • Some day I should write about Loleta and the cheese factory. I love that place and I love their cheese curds. I only wish they would let us buy them right out of the pan and eat them still warm.

  • $1 for popsicles?!?! What a deal! I ‘m jumping in my car now…

  • $1 for popsicles?!?! What a deal! I ‘m jumping in my car now…

  • Not just popsicles–sublime chilled summer evening on a stick! What a steal!

  • Not just popsicles–sublime chilled summer evening on a stick! What a steal!

  • Pingback: A Baker’s Dozen « REDHEADED BLACKBELT and Other Strange Connections

  • Pingback: A Baker’s Dozen « REDHEADED BLACKBELT and Other Strange Connections

  • Pingback: Southern Humboldt: A Guide for Tourists « REDHEADED BLACKBELT

  • Pingback: Southern Humboldt: A Guide for Tourists « REDHEADED BLACKBELT

  • Pingback: You’re Missin’ Out On Humboldt, If… « REDHEADED BLACKBELT

  • Pingback: You’re Missin’ Out On Humboldt, If… « REDHEADED BLACKBELT

  • Pingback: Pepperwood the Corn King « REDHEADED BLACKBELT

  • Pingback: Pepperwood the Corn King « REDHEADED BLACKBELT

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *