For seven generations, the Eckert family has been preparing delicious meals from foods grown on their farms. The family currently operates farms in Belleville, Millstadt and Grafton, Illinois. Eating locally grown foods is a family tradition for the Eckerts, and over the years, their collection of delicious fall recipes has grown.
From a classic apple butter that has been handed down for generations to a more modern preparation of pork with apple cider reduction, The Eckert Family Fall Cookbook: Apple, Pumpkin, Squash Recipes, and More has something for everyone.
Angie Eckert is vice president of Retail Operations for both the Country Store and the Garden Center for Eckert’s. She spoke with KRCU’s Tom Harte about the history of Eckert’s and their new fall cookbook.
The first apple trees were planted by an Eckert in 1862. Alvin O. Eckert is credited with starting the retail business. He set up roadside farm stands and sold produce out of the back of his truck. He involved his sons in the business and they grew the operation over the years.
While the operation has grown, many activities at the farms are still done without the use of “modern” technologies. A lot of care and attention goes into the apple trees year-round to ensure a successful crop. One of the challenges is humidity and the impact it has on the plants.
What makes a good apple? Angie Eckert says it really comes down to taste and what you like to eat. She also shared the family secret for the perfect apple pie. The ratio is four Jonathan apples to one golden delicious.
The new fall cookbook has over 150 recipes that include not only apple recipes but some for pumpkins and squash, too. And it’s not all about dessert. There are also recipes for appetizers, entrées and more. Some of the recipes for the book were chosen from cooking classes held at their Belleville location. The classes focus on local, fresh products.
The cookbook is available at any of the Eckert’s locations and at www.eckerts.com.