Summer and Fall collide
Organic BRONX GRAPES from Lagier Ranches in Escalon! These sport a beautiful blush, delicate thin skin, and a floral aroma with a special sweetness. The Bronx is a cross between the Thompson and Concord grapes and John Lagier is one of very few farmers still growing it in the US. It was never a commercial success given its delicate nature, susceptibility to fungal diseases, and lack of shippability due to its nearly translucent skin. But wow are they delicious. John Lagier brought a Bronx grape cutting from the original mother vine in New York when he moved out West. Every year, we eagerly await the Bronx grape harvest. Like pretty much everything this year, these are several weeks late. John does a damn good job with these because he does it for the flavor. The season is just a few weeks long, so enjoy! Store these in the fridge.
These Indian Free white peaches are grown organically in Winters under the expert care of Toby Hastings at Free Spirit Farm. The Indian Free is an heirloom white peach variety as unusual as it is delicious. Very fuzzy skin gives way to deep crimson flesh. It’s a heat-loving latecomer, ripening only after the rest of the white peaches have come and gone. And it’s easily the highest-acid white peach around. This heirloom varietal likely arrived via Southern France over 200 years ago. In the US, it was renamed for its similarity to another crimson peach that was widely cultivated by the Cherokee indigenous peoples of what is now Georgia and South Carolina. That peach may well have arrived in North America with the first migrants from Asia, the peach's origin place, via the Bering land bridge. But enough history – eat a peach! Store these on the counter.
The stripes on the Panache (or Tiger Stripe) figs from Gauchito Hill Farm are beautiful. These are grown organically in the Capay Valley by Andres and Thea, who planted the trees just before their daughter was born, about 5 years ago. Figs are finicky at harvest, with just a small window to enjoy them before they start to turn. Fig trees exude a caustic sap that is even more irritating under the scorching summer sun. Imagine the attention required to handle the soft and crackly jam-packed figs gently so they don’t turn to mush in the basket, under threat of burning sap. Such a labor of love! To us, this care and their ephemeral nature are part of what makes them special. Enjoy these sweet and jammy figs and store them in the fridge.
These Hosui pears from EARTHseed Farm are grown organically in Sebastopol. The Hosui is usually the first Asian pear variety to come on alongside the first apples of the season. It has a beautiful golden caramel skin and a rich sweetness finished with a crisp and juicy bite. This crisp-rich-fresh combination is such a treat! Though it’s got fall vibes, its timing meets us perfectly with the late summer heat in the Bay Area for the most refreshing reminder that the seasons are changing. Though Asian pears hold up well in cold storage (some say the flavor deepens) and we often see them sold long after they’ve been harvested, we prefer them fresh. The harvest window is short so we move from one variety into the next pretty quickly to keep up, but it’s so worth it. Store them in the fridge or on the counter.
We had to give Carine and Robert’s melons a break last week since their next succession was slow to come on. The weather has been all over the place. This time last year, Sun Tracker Farm was seeing temps in the 100s. When we got the melon forecast earlier this week, they were just in the 70s, which really slows down ripening. Because they’re a small diversified farm, they grow less volume of more crops, so when ripening slows, it’s harder to meet the demand of this lil’ fan club. But we just had to have their melons! So you may get a yellow seeded Orchid watermelon or a Charentais melon. Very different but both very delicious. This unpredictability is a part of farming, and we want to support it all. Store these in the fridge and please enjoy your melons chilled.
Our friends at Blue House Farm in Pescadero grow so many beautiful and delicious things but the organic Albion strawberries have really caught our attention. As summer nears its end it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we’ve been enjoying delicious local berries for over three months now. These little plants have held on and are still producing delicious fruit in the first weeks of September. These sweet Albions have a firmer texture that holds up alongside the fall fruit that’s coming in. Store these in the fridge.
We’re holding onto berry season for as long as we can and these Kwanza red raspberries from Yerena Farms are a September treat. Grown organically in Watsonville, Poli and Silvia Yerena are one of the few farms that have local, organic raspberries right now. Floral, fruity, sweet, and tart, with delicate textures, these raspberries are delicious and provide a contrast to the beautiful diversity of fruits we get when seasons collide. Store these in the fridge.
Bernier Farms is a small organic farm in Geyserville that’s been farming sustainably in Sonoma County for over 40 years. They grow a huge diversity of fruits and vegetables but just small amounts of everything. One of the many delicious things they grow are these beautiful French Prune plums. A classic plum variety that is unlike any of the newly-bred ones: small, oval, softer flesh and perfect for drying into prunes, of course. With barely any tartness near the pit or skin, these sweet little plums taste so rich with a lovely fine texture. These store well on the counter.