June 20, 2024

June 20, 2024

Fresh this week

We’re lucky to live in a part of California where the still-rare Blenheim apricot is a bountiful variety. It’s music to our ears that many farmers we know have a good Blenheim crop this year. There are so many good apricot varieties out there, all offering different but delicious characteristics and traits. But there’s something about a perfectly ripe Blenheim and its sweet, sweet aromatic flavor; it’s rich and old-school. In our minds, the Blenheim is an apricot category of its own. The Blenheim apricot was once one of the most widely-grown apricots in California. It began to fall out of style around the 1920s and by the end of the century had nearly gone extinct. It has a very short season (sometimes no more than 10 days), it's prone to disease and sunburn, and it has a habit of ripening from the inside out, which all work against its commercial interests. Because of this peculiar ripening trait, Blenheims are often harvested with green shoulders. It’s nearly impossible to harvest perfectly ripe Blenheims without bruising or damage. But lucky for us, Cathy and Michael at Spreadwing Farm harvest and handle their Blenheims with so much care that they are able to push ripeness a little further. They harvest just before the point where gentle touch will bruise, and the fruit is delivered to us the next day. Sweet with honey-suckle sugars and dotted with freckles and the occasional red blush, what a dream! We are big Blenheim fans. Store on the counter or in the fridge. Grown organically by Spreadwing Farm in Rumsey.


This week, Toby Hastings from Free Spirit Farm started harvesting his Osage blackberries, an early season fave of ours. These plump and juicy berries have a melt-in-your-mouth texture that’s unmatched. Temps are pushing 100*F in Winters this week, but Toby’s trellising technique is next level cool! The trellis pivots at the base, allowing him to angle his blackberry plants from vertical to horizontal, and points in between. It means that he can optimize for the perfect angle to provide the blackberries a little much-need shade, protecting them from sun damage. Read more about it in an email here we sent out yesterday. Enjoy the blackberries – if they’ve made it this far! Store in the fridge. Grown organically by Free Spirit Farm in Winters.

We’re onto Coastal Moon’s last blueberry variety: San Joaquin blueberries. These are super sweet and packed with flavor! We’re really enjoying these big, plump blueberries but as we near the end of the season, the berries will gradually produce smaller and smaller fruit. We’ve got a few more weeks to enjoy this last variety. Store in the fridge. Grown organically by Coastal Moon Farm in Freedom.

Encore appearances

In our minds, the Gold Dust yellow peach is so familiar and comforting – we’re some lucky fruit eaters! Every year that we catch the short harvest window of Gold Dust peaches from Masumoto Family Farm, we’re reminded of how special they are. They arrive a little too small, a little too pointy, a little too fuzzy. When ripe they’re so delicate that a fingerprint may bruise the fruit. All of these characteristics make this heirloom peach unfavorable for the commercial market, which is why it’s fallen out of style. Nikiko says that no matter how hard they thin the fruit, the peaches just never “size up”. Yet the Masumotos continue to grow it, nurturing the trees year after year. Once you bite into one of these juicy, silky, and rich-tasting peaches, it makes sense. The Gold Dust is easily forgiven for all of these “flaws”. This is the last week of the Gold Dust peaches! Enjoy the luscious, silky texture with bright flavors the Gold Dust has to offer. Store on the counter. Grown organically by Masumoto Family Farm in Del Rey. 


John Lagier and Casey Havre grow some of our favorite fruit: Page mandarins, Bronx grapes, and CHERRIES! They’ve downsized their cherry orchard to just an acre of Bings and an acre of Rainiers, which has only heightened our anticipation for Lagier cherries every year. NorCal cherries usually start up about a month later than SoCal, and John’s cherries are the ones we wait for. This year, a delay in cherry harvest, challenges with the Black Cherry Aphid, and hot temps mean that Bings came and went. The Rainier cherry trees had a better crop but it’s probably the last week. Harvested and packed with so much care, the Rainiers are a treat to savor. They are packed with flavor and the word that comes to mind when describing the texture is creamy. John’s Rainiers are the best. Store in the fridge. Grown organically by Lagier Ranches in Escalon. 


For the apricot lovers who have fallen deep down the rabbit hole of variety lineages, the Red Cloud apricot remains a bit of a mystery. When Paul Holmes, the founder of Terra Firma Farms in Winters, started farming in the 1970s, there were already a few Red Cloud apricot trees on the property. He loved the flavor, so he decided to expand the orchard by propagating more from those first few trees. Though Paul Holmes passed away two years ago at the age of 72, Terra Firma (and the orchard) lives on. Today, it’s a productive 200 acre farm carried on by co-owners Paul Underhill and Hector Melendez-Lopez. This is the first season in YEARS where the Red Cloud apricot trees have produced a harvest big enough to share. Some fifty years later, despite being sought after by aficionados like jam-maker June Taylor, little is known about the origins of the Red Cloud. But they sure taste good! This is the last week of Red Cloud apricots. Store on the counter. Grown organically by Terra Firma Farm in Winters.


Farmers Cathy Suematsu and Michael Smith focus on the fruit-growing for Spreadwing Farm, located at the top of the Capay Valley in Rumsey. They grow a variety of stone fruit and this week we get one of Michael’s favorites! The Flavor Supreme pluot has green skin over a maroon background with red flesh. It’s rich in sweet flavor, juicy, and incredibly sweet! It stays firm when it’s ripe. Pluots are plum-apricot hybrids but more plum than apricot – no fuzzy skin. Store on the counter. Grown organically by Spreadwing Farm in Rumsey. 


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