Yeah, I know, September 20, and if there were still “typical weather patterns” we’d probably get a few hot days this month, but realistically, Labor Day marks the end of summer around these parts.
Particularly because it nearly marks the end of stone fruit season. (It’s also getting cool enough that I’ll probably start wearing a jacket on the way to work…)
Since I did a few posts about fruit last summer, I thought I’d offer a few updates. (I’m not linking to the earlier posts. This is Labor Day, and I’m doing as little labor as possible.)
Last year was the Summer Without Cherries, particularly the summer without decent Bings.
I’m delighted to say that this year’s cherry crops were reasonably plentiful and first-quality. First from California growers (buying them mostly at two local farmers’ markets, one a true California Farmers’ Market, the other more ambiguous), then from Washington State after the California season was done.
Great Bings. As cheap as $1.99 at Safeway, $3.99 at the purist farmers’ market. First rate in both cases.
Great Rainiers–and I always thought all Rainiers came from Washington, but that’s not true: We had weeks of first-rate Rainier cherries from local growers.
The season’s gone (a couple of weeks ago, what was left in the stores was too pathetic to buy), but I did my share to keep growers and farmer-sellers happy during the season.
Last year, I was enthusiastic about Apriums (Apria?), apricot-plum hybrids. Turns out that, after one good experience, we never really got good ones–but once we found the local farmers’ markets, we got really good apricots. True this year as well. A good thing, because our own apricot tree gave us almost nothing (and may not be doing well), and the second tree’s too young for fruit. We even got some acceptable apricots at Safeway, but of course the farmers’ market fruit was better.
Plums? A great year for plums and pluots, with some Santa Rosa plums and dinosaur-egg pluots simply spectacular. Those are still hanging on–yesterday’s breakfast featured some plums, some pluots, some truly first-rate white-flesh peaches, and some gold kiwifruit that was better than the kiwifruit’s been for a while–but, as with the peaches, they’ll be fading away.
We’re also finding more and better organic produce, both at the three certified organic stands at the Mountain View farmers’ market (which, unlike the ambiguous one, runs year-round: This is California!) and at Safeway. Of course, organic no longer means “small operation” by any means, but…
So, despite the disrupted vacation plans and still slightly enigmatic work situation, I have no complaints about the summer. We’re still here, we’re supporting local produce whenever possible (“local” meaning “within a hundred miles or so”–while the area we live in used to be prime cherry orchard territory, there’s just not much of that left in our immediate area.