BY DEBRA J. MORRIS
The fruit of summer – juicy melons, sweet cherries, luscious berries, plump figs, and succulent grapes – are what we wait for all year long, but it all begins with the utter bliss of biting into a sweet, juicy peach or nectarine. In their infinite variety and their mouth-watering flavors, stone fruit serves as a glorious introduction to the hot days of summer.
Arriving this month at the Concord Farmers Market, and for the next few months, are peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots, apricots, apriums, and other varieties of stone fruit. These fruits, so named because they all have large “stones,” come in all shapes, sizes, and flavor profiles. Some are the cling variety, meaning the flesh adheres to the pit, while others are freestone, where the flesh is easily separated from the stone. There are even new varieties like the plumcot, nectaplum, golden plum, and others making their way to your farmers market.
So now that you’ve picked up a nice big bag of stone fruit, what to do with them, besides eating them out of hand – which is a very good way to enjoy them !
• Grill: Toss some peach and nectarine halves on the grill. The heat intensifies the sweetness and caramelizes their natural sugars.
• Salsa: Chop up peaches and/or nectarines, add a finely chopped jalapeno, some lime juice, fresh cilantro, chopped tomato, chopped onion, and a bit of salt and pepper. Serve on fish, pork, or add some tortilla chips.
• Preserve: Get out the canning jars and can sliced fruit in light syrup, or make jam. Canned summer peaches in the middle of winter ? Divine !
• Sauces: Cook down the fruit with either brown sugar or white sugar, water, and butter, until desired consistency and serve over pork, chicken, or even over ice cream.
• Salads: Slice them and add to a plate of fresh summer greens, goat cheese or feta, and a fruity vinaigrette.
• Dessert: Make a mixed stone fruit cobbler, galette, or crisp. Just add ice cream!
• Bruschetta: Top toasted baguette slices with chopped fruit, goat cheese, and fresh mint.
When preparing stone fruit, use the freshest fruit for the best results. At the Martinez Farmers Market, you’ll find only the finest stone fruit from J&J Ramos Farms out of Hughson where they offer a huge variety of different peaches, nectarines, apricots, and more through the season. Or check out the different kinds of stone fruit at Resendiz Farms, also from Hughson. Also, visit Smit Farms out of Linden for cherries, peaches, nectarines, and a nice plumcot.
The summer season of stone fruit of in California is highly anticipated each year so take advantage of its relatively short appearance and drop by your Martinez Farmers Market this Sunday and take home a bag or two. Look for great summer recipes at pcfma.org/eat
Please Note: The Martinez Farmers Market is open 9AM to 2PM for your shopping convenience.