BY DEBRA J. MORRIS
There’s no better reminder that summer is here than to see juicy California stone fruit like peaches, nectarines, plums, and apricots appear at the farmers’ market. Stone fruit gets its name from the large seed or “stone” inside and includes peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, pluots, and apriums. They’re available from May to October.
Peaches and Nectarines: “Freestone” vs. “Clingstone”
Freestone peaches and nectarines have flesh that slips easily away from the pit, clingstone fruits do not. Most peach varieties are freestone and are available April through October. Some nectarines are freestone and some are clingstone. Freestone nectarines are available in June and July. Most plum varieties are clingstone.
There are two types of plums—European and Japanese. Most plums produced in California are Japanese plums, with a distinctive round shape and dark color, and European plums, which are more elongated in shape and have a mottled appearance with purple and green skin tones.
Pluots and Apriums
First introduced in 1989, pluots and apriums are unique crosses of plums and apricots. Pluots are smooth skinned, like plums, while apriums are slightly fuzzy, like apricots, but they have unique flavors and higher sugar levels than the standard varieties. The new fruits are complex hybrids of plums and apricots that are created by making several generations of crosses and selecting desirable traits such as high sugar content.
The apricot, a native of China, has been cultivated for over 4,000 years. The first recorded commercial production of apricots in America was in 1792, south of San Francisco. A relative of the peach, the apricot is smaller and has a smooth, oval pit that falls out easily when the fruit is halved.
You’ll find fabulous stone fruit in varieties that can’t be found at your local grocery store from farmers like J&J Ramos Farms in Hughson, Ken’s Top Notch from Fresno, and Resendiz Farms out of Hughson.
2 pounds peaches, pitted and diced
1 large tomato, diced
½ medium red onion, diced
1 sweet pepper, diced
2-3 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped
1 lime, quartered
Wash all your produce and your hands! Remove pits and dice the peaches. Dice sweet pepper. Using a serrated knife, dice the tomatoes. Put ingredients into a bowl. Add the juice of ¼ lime, salt, 1-2 tablespoons red onion, and 1-2 teaspoons cilantro, and stir, tasting as you go. Adjust flavor by adding more lime and salt, and add more onion or cilantro if desired! Like it spicy?! Use a jalapeno instead of sweet pepper in whatever quantity you enjoy!
The Martinez Farmers Market is located at 700 Main St, Martinez, CA 94553 and open on Sunday’s from 9AM – 1PM.