Our Favorite Californian Stone Fruit
I'm not going to quote the poem, but William Carlos Williams had a point. Yes, plums taste best right out of the ice box; peaches are the sweetest picked ripe off the tree; nectarines are at their juiciest in August. And nothing is more emblematic of summer in California than stone fruit juices running down your wrist, the discarded pit still in your opposite hand.
You can argue that nectarines are sweeter than peaches, that peaches are juicier that plums, but each type of stone fruit (and variety to boot) has its own unique charm. Out of the pallets of stone fruit that have come into our Marketplace this summer, these are the five fruits we've fallen in love with and why you will too.
These apricots have rich flavor, even though some appear to be tinged green on their shoulders. They're tangy, sweet, and high in sugar content -- baking them or tossing them in an acidic vinaigrette helps balance out that sweetness.
Look for freestone varieties like Flavortops from Cloverleaf Farm. Freestones will pull apart effortlessly like an avocado when sliced in half, best for throwing on the grill.
The name says it all. These are cherry-plum hybrids about half the size of traditional plums. Cherry plums are sweet (from the cherry side), but still quite tart. They're only around a few weeks a year, so try one while they're around and see if you like them.
Gold Dust Peaches
These early season yellow peaches are packed with flavor. Nikiko Masumoto, one of our peach growers, promises their sweet acidity will "knock you off your feet." Most grocers reject this variety as the peaches tend to be on the smaller size, but we think they're missing out.
Black Splendor Plums
Inside the black plum is an equally deep, rich red flesh with a punch of flavor to boot. These are larger than standard Santa Rosa plums, best enjoyed on a hot summer day, straight from the fridge.
White peaches are low in acid, which means you get a sweet, floral juice and flavor. They're blush pink on the outside with a creamy white inside. Save yellow peaches for baking, or in instances where you're really banking on a strong peach flavor. The whites are best eaten raw.