Fruit and News of the Week: July 21st

THIS WEEK'S FRUIT

Summer Lady Peaches

The Summer Lady is a variety that developed naturally in a commercial orchard in Fresno and was discovered in 1982. An early-ripening variant of the O’Henry, it is similarly well-balanced and aromatic. Slightly more round and uniform than its O’Henry parentage, the Summer Lady has deep burgundy streaks at maturity and delights our taste buds almost a full two weeks earlier.

Opal Peaches

Yellow-fleshed peaches are more popular in the United States, but the allure of an excellent white-fleshed variety like the Opal can't be denied. Very low in acid, the Opal's sweetness comes across two-fold. A beautiful dessert peach, the Opal has a delicate pink blush to its skin and mild flesh with a hint of vanilla.

Fantasia Nectarines

Quickly becoming one of our best known and most popular varieties, the Fantasia is a large, tapered heirloom variety. Its deep golden flesh is amazingly sweet and smooth, and its marbled bright red skin makes for exceptionally beautiful presentation. Like many of our more unique and heirloom varieties, the Fantasia is a far more fragile fruit than most farms will even consider growing. Like the Suncrest peach that often ripens at the same time, the Fantasia is easily bruised when allowed to ripen properly on the branch, but we’re sure you’ll agree that the taste is well worth the risk.

Dapple Dandy Pluots

Playfully called the “dinosaur egg” pluot, the Dapple Dandy has marbled pink and green skin over delicate white flesh threaded with rose. Kids especially love this pluot for its distinctive coloration and the lack of tartness in the skin.

Flavor King Pluots

A dark skinned pluot with red flesh, it has an intense rich flavor combined with sweet, spicy tones that are reminiscent of the Santa Rosa. A nice acid bite and firm texture that softens beautifully as the fruit continues to ripen, the Flavor King is amazing out of hand and equally good for baking.

A NOTE FROM CHEF BECKY

Dear CSA Members,

As we still enjoy nectarines and we gear up for O’Henry and Cal Red peaches, this week the spot light is on the pluots. We’ll be picking Flavor King and Dapple Dandy pluots and they are both delicious this year. And next week, we should have Flavor Heart pluots.

All varieties were created by 88-year-old Floyd Zaiger at his 140-acre farm on the outskirts of Modesto. Fruit plant breeding is a laborious, slow process. Zaiger does it the old fashioned way; no gene insertion, just the same 1960’s era technique of taking one plant that needs tweaking and another plant that's genetically compatible and has desirable traits; alter one and pollinate it with the other, and hope the resulting fruit offers the best of both. Zaiger is one of the most prolific and famous plant breeders in the world. Not only has he bred plums that are better for shipping and altering plants for better earlier maturity but his real genius and his passion is breeding plants for good flavor. Lucky for us!

It just so happened that the Flavor King pluots grows especially well here on Frog Hollow Farm. We hear repeatedly from pastry chefs who have tasted many other growers’ Flavor Kings that others don’t have the intensity of flavor that ours do! Our Flavor Kings have been described as “Santa Rosas on steroids” and indeed they have the sweet flesh of the Santa Rosa, although pleasantly firmer, yet without the bitter skin. This is evidence of just how special the terroir of Brentwood really is!

The Dapple Dandy, also known as the “dinosaur egg,” called so because of its distinctive pale green to yellow skin with red mottling. Its flesh is creamy pink, it has a slightly spicy and plum-apricot balanced flavor. These just seem to get better and better as the trees get more mature. They taste better to me than I can ever remember.

The Flavor Heart is aptly named, having dark ruby to almost black skin color and a very pronounced heart-like shape. It’s on the larger side and has a cream colored flesh. According to the Dave Wilson Nursery website, “it doesn’t store well,” but I think after they’ve been in cold storage the acid drops and the sugar becomes more pronounced with no compromise in texture.

What’s lovely about all these pluots is that they are so convenient to cook with; no peeling, they’re high in pectin so jam making is a breeze and they are delicious eaten out of hand. So enjoy these wonderful gifts from Floyd Zaiger via Frog Hollow Farm while they last!

Chef Becky