By Mira Reverente
Depending on the month or the season, certain fruits and vegetables stand out at the farmers market because of their abundance. Last Saturday, peaches, nectarines and apricots took center stage at the Calabasas Farmers Market.
Along with cherries and plums, these three fruits are commonly referred to as stone fruits due to their large and hard seeds. Usually in-season from June to September, they are at their sweetest and most flavorful in June and July.
California is the largest producer of stone fruit in the US and most are grown in the San Joaquin Valley, near Fresno.
Considered by the ancient Chinese to be a symbol of longevity and immortality, peaches have a few hundred varieties and hybrids. We found three peach varieties at the farmers market.
At the G Farms stall, owner Maria Guzman introduced CV Happening to doughnut and white peaches. The Exeter-based farm had these peaches on hand for $2 a pound.
Resembling a doughnut with that indentation in the center, thus the name, doughnut peaches are covered with very fine fuzz. This delicious peach variety is known for its sweetness, smoothness and low acid content.
Though more popular in Asian countries, white peaches were definitely not in short supply at the farmers market. Known for their delicately sweet, juicy and even floral flavor, white peaches can be distinguished from their yellow counterparts by their white or champagne-colored flesh.
Yellow peaches, on the other hand, are known to be firm, crisp and are typically more acidic than the other varieties. At their prime, these peaches can be extra sweet and juicy. Rodriguez Farms, based in Fresno, had yellow peaches in stock, for $2 a pound.
Most peach varieties can be eaten out of hand or added to yoghurts, salads, pies, tarts and ice cream.
Choose the ones that are fairly large, firm and have a yellowish or creamy background. Avoid those that are extremely small, hard or soft. Store peaches at room temperature until fully ripe, then they can be refrigerated for a few days.
Like peaches, nectarines also have white and yellow varieties. And just like peaches, the history of nectarines can be traced back to China. It made its way to California over 100 years ago, via China to Europe.
The white nectarines are sweeter, lighter in taste and are less acidic than the yellow nectarines, according to Guzman. G Farms was selling both varieties for $2 a pound.
When buying, avoid too small, bruised, pitted or spotted nectarines. Good nectarines should be fairly large, smooth, firm and with unblemished skin. They can be stored up to five days in a sealed bag and refrigerated.
Brought to North America by Spanish explorers, these orange-colored fruits are known for their velvety skin and faint tart flavor.
Apricots are usually eaten fresh or baked, glazed, canned and dried. They are also made into preserves, jams and desserts.
Choose apricots that are dark yellow or yellow-orange in color. Avoid those that look dull, soft or mushy. These fragile fruits should be handled with care and not stored at high room temperatures.
Bring these luscious fruits home for $2-$3.75 a pound, from G Farms or Arnett Farms, another Fresno-based grower.
The Calabasas Farmers Market is open from 8 am to 1 pm every Saturday at 23504 Calabasas Road, across the street from the Sagebrush Cantina.