Local berries & cherries & a shot at immortality
Oh Blenheims. Sweet sweet Blenheims. We long for these apricots’ beauty, taste, balance, and elegance all year long and then they disappear in a blink of an eye. With the 3 digit temps in the Capay Valley this past week, the orchard’s production is slowing and harvest is coming to a close at Polestar Farm. It’s the only fruit we feel compelled to intentionally preserve and make jam with annually. Enjoy these delicious, sweet, velvety little morsels. They’re simply the best. Store on your counter at room temp.
Toby of Free Spirit Farm is one of the smartest farmers we know. He grows a number of fruits that we absolutely love on seven acres in Winters. Among figs, pluots, and persimmons, he grows these Osage blackberries. He trains them up a trellis that pivots at its base allowing the canes to be positioned vertically, at an angle, or horizontally. This is brilliant in every way. Angled downward to the ground, the plants are protected from wind and new shoots grow on the upper side of the canopy. Angled horizontally, the trellis allows air circulation and encourages shoot and flower growth on the upper side. Because the flowers have grown on one side, all the fruit sets on one side. Then the trellis can be positioned vertically to protect the berries from intense sun and make harvest more efficient. This all means better fruit! Enjoy the deliciousness as we move into later season varieties. Store these in the fridge and consume within 2-3 days.
Tenured fruit fan club members have been enjoying Lagier Ranch’s Bing cherries the last few weeks. But now we’re moving on to the rest of their single acre cherry orchard: Rainiers. Beautiful, sub-acid with a sweet, wonderful flavor. It’s been a real good cherry season here in California. These little gems are such a treat to be eating in July. Most years, local cherries have wrapped up by the end of June and grocery stores will have moved on to PNW cherries by now. This year, local fruit is still peaking and looks to be available for another couple weeks. Rainier cherries are hard to pick and pack because of how easily they bruise, so we marvel at the love and care John and his crew put into making sure these little beauties arrive looking beautiful.
There’s a phrase Joyce’s 96-year-old grandma uses often, 熱氣 yeet-hay, which directly translates to “hot air”. There are foods that give you yeet-hay and there are foods that can cool yeet-hay. The thinking goes that too much yeet-hay food causes an imbalance in your body, leading to illness. Cherries and peaches are yeet-hay, so young Joyce was instructed not to eat too many (specifically, no more than 11 cherries…) Even though they’re a peach, donut peaches aren’t yeet-hay, which never quite made sense to young Joyce. After learning that donut peaches are descendents of the peento peach, another flat peach variety that’s considered the “peach of immortality” in China, it all made a little more sense. Whether you’re enjoying these white donut peaches for their sweet, juicy, and aromatic perfume or in hopes of immortality, you should store them on the counter, flat at room temp. Grown by Terra Firma Farm in Winters.
Olallieberries are finally here! These beauties were grown by Javier and his crew at JSM Organics, down in Aromas in Monterey County. Olallieberries are perfectly suited to be grown along the California coast and yet they’re hard to come by. Javier planted these 2 years ago and this is the first harvest for these canes. Picture them tall, beautiful, and dotted with ripe black berries against the backdrop of the coast. The olallieberry is a cross between a loganberry and a youngberry, whose own complicated parentage make the olallieberry roughly ⅔ blackberry and ⅓ raspberry. Its soft flesh and high notes of tartness with just enough balancing sweetness make it so special. Like anything that is hard to find or uncommonly grown due to its perishability, we cherish these berries. They’re amazing in pies or preserved into jam, but there’s no need to compare them to blackberries. You don’t have to pick – you can have both! Eat them quickly or store in the fridge for 1-2 days.
These beautiful, ruby-red Spring Bright yellow nectarines from Masumoto Family Farm are larger than the Rose Diamond and mighty delicious. In the kitchen, a squeeze of lemon or a couple drops of acidic vinegar can brighten a dish. Here, too, acid brings the brightness. You’ll want to grab a second one before you even finish the one in your hand! We like the snap the skin has against firmer flesh. To us, this signals fruit that has to handle the high heat down in the valley, compared to the softer thinner skin varieties we tasted earlier in the season. Store these on the counter at room temp if you want a softer flesh.
It’s finally warming up in Davenport and these Chandler strawberries from Swanton are the best ones out there. The Chandlers are now ginormous. Juicy, sweet, intensely aromatic, we always make room for these even with all the new additions to the fruit party. We remember the feeling these Chandlers gave us when we took our first bites after that long winter and spring full of rains, when we were feeling like we were in a fruit desert. It tasted how a summer sunrise in the Sierras feels: anticipation realized, pregnant possibility, lightness. Store in the fridge.