Stone fruit season is really here!!!
The late rains and cool weather set back harvest and has been tough on all the farmers. Now that it’s arrived we’re really leaning into it and showing them the love! The fruit party has now really begun!!
Earlier this week, Nikiko Masumoto called to say she had tasted a YUM peach in the orchard – they’d be ready for us in just a few days. Nikiko, her father Mas, and the whole Masumoto crew use all senses to harvest their fruit. Touch, smell, taste, and color are all cues and reading them is an art that takes years to master. In the world of peaches, the ones you find at a grocery store have likely passed through a packing shed, where fruit from various growers is aggregated, sorted, packed, and sent off to distributors before finally arriving in your hands. Even then they may still be firm and underripe. Texture and color may improve with time on the counter, but stone fruit won’t actually “ripen” in the sense of developing flavor or sugar once it’s picked. This is why it’s so important to pick a peach when it’s perfectly ripe and no sooner. That’s the philosophy at Masumoto Family Farm and you can taste it in these Spring Lady yellow peaches.
A day before the first Spring Lady peach harvest of the season, Mas goes to the packing shed to pick up harvest totes for the big day. One of a bajillion peaches from nearby growers is on the packing line. He asks what the pressure test is reading – 14lbs. A pressure test is the industry standard for determining ripeness in stone fruit. A handheld device measures the amount of force required to penetrate the peach. Fruit bound for a grocery store is picked between 12 and 16 pounds. At 4 pounds, Masumoto decides they’ll be ready to pick in a couple days. It’s fruit so ripe that packing sheds would reject it at the door. This is just one small reason why we love Masumoto. The way they treat the earth, honor their family history, their INCREDIBLE talent in growing the most delicious stone fruit, how they interact with the world around them with love and care – you can taste it in every bite of their fruit. The first yellow peach of the season is the Spring Lady from Masumoto. They are grown in Del Rey, picked truly tree-ripe, semi-freestone, and reveal a red blush just beneath the skin.
To complement your yellow peach, we’ve included Spring Snow white peaches from Blossom Bluff Orchards in Parlier, just 10 miles down the road from Masumoto. Floral, low-acid, and clingstone, this white peach is remarkably complex for an early variety. Its juices remind us of nature’s nectar – syrupy and sweet. Blossom Bluff also grows the Honey Rich apriums. Bryce Loewen is the 4th generation farmer at Blossom Bluff, and the Honey Rich are one of his favorites. It’s a cross between an apricot and a plum, but more ‘cot than plum really (compared to a pluot, which is the opposite). It’s juicy, sweet, and has a beautiful red blush that strides across the fruit. Blossom Bluff grows over 200 varieties of fruit and diversifying their 70 acres is definitely one of their specialities.
Strawberry varietal taste test! It’s not a competition but we wanted to give you the chance to taste two varieties grown in similar climates, side by side. Fan club followers are familiar with the Chandler strawberries from Swanton Berry Farm grown on the misty coast in Davenport. As we’ve mentioned in previous fruit notes, the Chandler is intensely aromatic and flavorful but has fallen out of favor as it's delicate and difficult to ship. We’ve also included Albion strawberries from JSM Organics. Albions are a common variety amongst strawberry growers these days because they are reliable, tasty, and picturesque. These are grown in Royal Oaks, just outside of Watsonville. Royal Oaks sees morning fog that burns off earlier than the coast and higher mid-day temps. We imagine sun and heat create sweetness, but strawberries actually need cool nights to fully develop flavor. For us, flavor is not just about sugars. Texture, fragrance, juiciness, and sugars combine to make that quintessential strawberry flavor! Javier Zamora, owner and farmer of JSM Organics, grows over 30 varieties of veg, berries, herbs, and flowers to provide his crew year-round work. He is an incredible mentor, giving his time to help young farmers build successful, diversified farm businesses. Much of his berry crop was lost to floods this season so we’re lucky to have these Albions and happy to support his work.
Snowchaser blueberries from Coastal Moon. Perfect little blueberries that really pack a flavor punch. This late into the season, they are huge and yet never mealy. Ben insists we call them “moonberries”. Moonberries!