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Because a majority of my food comes from the farmers market, I am often tied to the schedule of farmers markets around the Bay Area. I missed my home market twice in a row due to scheduling conflicts in recent weeks, but I made up for it by visiting the brand-new Divisadero Farmers Market and the Napa Farmers Market. I was in Napa for the unbelievably great Taste3 Conference and snuck out between speakers to visit the small, but extremely friendly and adequate, downtown market.

Cruising the markets, I noticed a proliferation of plum and apricot-like stone fruits: pluots, plumcots, apriums, plums, and apricots. It wasn't until I came home and perused the Internet that I figured out the differences. Pluots and plumcots are the same—a hybrid mix of a plum and an apricot—but the pluot is a trademarked version of a plumcot. They tend to resemble plums more than apricots and are usually sweeter than traditional plums. Apriums are a hybrid between plums and apricots that are more like apricots than plums. For a more specific history of plumcots, pluots, and apriums, check out this article from SFist.

20080721-marketscene-sign.jpgI tend to stick to traditional plums and apricots for no reason except that I prefer their flavors, but my tastes change from week to week. At a typical farmers market, you'll find me tasting five to ten fruit varietals before deciding what to purchase. It's part of the fun of a market.

This weekend, my choice was the Shiro plum—a small yellow plum with Japanese origins that felt so fragile that it was going to burst if mishandled. The flavor was floral and sweet, and the texture resembled that of a late harvest grape.

I'm looking forward to the upcoming market weeks—we're entering the time of supreme abundance. This past week's market meals have included:

After market lunch: tomatoes, toast with avocado, hard-boild farm eggs, and home-fried tortilla chips.

  • My first tomatoes of the season, tossed with only salt, pepper and parsley. Served with avocado smashed on toast, home-fried tortilla chips, and hard-boiled farm eggs.
  • "Fried" okra made in the style of my friend Catherine from Food Musings. Once I learned her method, I've never looked for another recipe. It's that good.
  • Ratatouille. Not as pretty as Deb's, but good and hearty nonetheless.
  • Braised Romano Beans made from the recipe in the Zuni Cafe Cookbook.

Seasonal Produce Guide

In Season

Summer squash
Cucumbers
Pluots
Plums
New potatoes
Peaches

Coming Soon

Heirloom tomatoes in abundance
Tomatillos
Eggplant
Shelling Beans

It's Time To Put Up

Hard-neck garlic for drying
Apricot jam
Pickled okra

About the author: Jennifer Maiser writes about locally and sustainably grown food. She is the founder and editor of the Eat Local Challenge website and writes at Life Begins at 30, her personal weblog.

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