In praise of stone fruit

My wife loves fresh fruit, even more than I do, but a lot of it doesn’t love her: She can’t cope with apples or citrus, just for example. And we’re generally not thrilled about buying fruit from thousands of miles away, If possible, especially for the “dirty dozen,” we’d really prefer organic. I’m really not fond of apples, and I’m deathly allergic to bananas.

We both get pretty tired of pears at some point, and kiwis only go so far. I thoroughly enjoy navel orange season–I’ll have one a day during the whole season–but that’s been gone for a while.

So for both of us, June/July (sometimes a little earlier) is a special time:

Stone fruit season!

When the farmers’ markets we go to are filled with competitively-priced fruit that both of us enjoy, some organic, some no-spray (but not certified organic), some conventional.

We’re in the heart of it now. And we’re loving it.

  • Brooks cherries showed up early this year, and they were pretty good, but…
  • Bing cherries are plentiful and absolutely first-rate at this point; Rainiers are here, and some of them are first-rate, but they seem to bruise awfully easily. (In both cases, we’re paying $4/pound for low-spray, $5 for organic; unfortunately, the best cherries at this point aren’t the organic ones.)
  • Peachcots. Peachcots. Peachcots. Did I mention this cross between peaches and apricots? Two years ago, one vendor had them for two weeks. This year, two vendors have them (but the one we used two years ago has the best ones), and for two or three weeks. They are wonderful. Just plain wonderful.
  • Oh, and as with all the other store fruit (except cherries), $2/pound seems to be the running number for conventional and pesticide-free, $3/pound for organic. (There’s one oddball vendor who lowballs everything–$1.50/pound for apricots, for example–but the produce and the vendor are both a little questionable.)
  • Apricots are very good at this point. Apriums are OK.
  • Pluots are all over the place, as usual–some superb, some good, some still a little tart. There are so many varieties of pluot (and plumcot) at this point!
  • And two vendors are selling peach/apricot/plum hybrids, also very good. But not as good as the peachcots.
  • When these start to fade away, we should still have some time with peaches and nectarines. We buy a few of them now, but focus on the shorter-season fruit.
  • Yes, I’ll probably buy Washington/Oregon cherries in a few weeks when the local season’s through, but there’s something special about local produce. (“Local” typically means within 100-150 miles, which around here covers a lot of orchards, mostly around where I grew up.)

I’ve been reading about farmers’ market produce being so much more expensive than grocery store produce. That hasn’t been our experience, by and large–but we’d probably pay the difference anyway.




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