Early June is one of my favorite times for farmers' market in San Francisco. Springtime is winding down and summer fruits and vegetables are starting to come in from the warmer counties. This past week, I bought my first zucchini and basil of the season. It's the time of year when there's so much abundance, it's easy to miss some of the special crops that are only available for a blink of an eye.
We've had a very strange northern California spring, and it's wreaked havoc on some crops. A farmer who usually has fava beans for two months only offered them for a few weeks—a severe heat wave in March ruined many of the plants. And lately, we've had quite cold and rainy weather, which has made the cherry season impossible to predict. Lagier Ranch offered sour cherries this weekend, but in such small quantity that they sold out instantly, according to the earlybirds at the market when it opened.
For the first time in memory, Happy Quail Farm was selling the small, sour ume plums, which are preserved and popular in Japanese cooking. David Winsberg is only offering the plums for a limited time. I picked some up last week, and have begun my first attempt at making umeboshi. He expects to have a few more ume next week. They will be too ripe to make umeboshi, but can be used for syrups or for flavored liqueurs.
Tell Tale Preserves is a relative newcomer to the Ferry Plaza. Chef William Werner brings amazing pastries and sweets each week, including the miracle pastry called "The Rebel Within," a savory muffin with a perfectly soft-cooked egg oozing out the middle. Tell Tale not only sells at the market, but offers a CSA; each month, subscribers receive a bag of seasonal preserves, sweet and savory baked goods, and confections like pate de fruit.
It's a wonderful time at the market for fruit. Nectarines and apricots will be available for a little while, as well as blueberries, raspberries and tayberries. You can still find a few lemons in the market, too, which means it's one of the only times of the year that you can have stone fruit, berries and a bit of citrus all together.
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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.