Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Stone Furit, At Last!

No more teasing—stone fruit is here! The weather has cooperated and we started picking our first stone fruits in mid-May. CSA members will find dainty sweet Brooks cherries, which aren’t as big and fleshy as Bings but are still a delicious eating cherry and a welcome harbinger of summer. We’ve also added a few of our first apriums. This hybrid fruit looks and tastes a lot like an apricot, but it’s actually a cross between an apricot and a plum. Its genetic makeup is roughly 70% apricot and 30% plum, just the opposite of the pluot.

Both the aprium and the pluot are the brainchildren of plant breeder Floyd Zaiger of Zaiger’s Genetics in Modesto. Zaiger produced the first aprium, which he dubbed “Honeyrich,” in 1989. Adding some plum into the mixture increased the fruit’s sweetness and juiciness, and the aprium has become a popular early summer fruit, especially in California. Recently, Frog Hollow Farm’s apriums were featured on the menu at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, as part of a chefs’ event called the AlmondInnovation Project. Chefs from across the country were charged with coming up with new almond recipes, and our apriums made a delicious part of several desserts created by Corry Barrett, pastry chef at Lola’s in Cleveland, Ohio.

These first fruits are so tasty, we don’t think they’ll last long enough for you to wonder about storage. But just in case, remember that cherries break down quickly at room temperature, so store in the refrigerator any cherries you’re not eating right away. They’ll last a couple of days, but are always best eaten sooner rather than later. Firm apriums will soften up at room temperature. Leave any particularly firm fruit out on the counter for a day or two until it’s as ripe and soft as you like. Then, eat it or store in the refrigerator. Like any stone fruit, their shelf life, even in the fridge, is brief. If you have extras, try making a quick and easy fruit-topped coffee cake perfect for breakfast, dessert, or a teatime pick-me-up.

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