Thursday, May 31, 2012

Stone Fruit Special: Apricots and Pluots with a Cherry on Top!

Today is my first day being ABD, an acronym used by academics (and no one else) to mean “All But Dissertation.” It means that yesterday, I passed the oral portion of my qualifying exams and I’ve finally advanced to candidacy. This milestone makes me happy for two important reasons: first, it means I haven’t entirely wasted the past three years of my life. So that’s always good news.

Second, and much more important to you, Dear Reader(s?), it means I can get back to blogging about the food I eat and where it comes from. Now that I’m done with the stress of exam week, “the food I eat” and “where it comes from” no longer refers to “an entire tube of raw cookie dough, eaten with a spoon” and “the grocery store that has a self-checkout aisle so I can avoid the judgmental eyes of cashiers who can’t believe one person could possibly need that much raw cookie dough.”

My return to carefree farmers market shopping perfectly coincides with the return of certain farm stands that specialize in stone fruit. “Stone fruit,” of course, refers to fruit that is made of stone (!). My favorite fruits to make a return in the last week or so: apricots, pluots, and cherries. I bought as many as I could afford and then, obviously, I built them into a pyramid:

I have to admit: until about a year ago, the only kind of apricot I had eaten was the dehydrated kind that comes in the snack boxes you order on airplanes. But recently, I tried a sample at the farmers market and was struck by how perfect apricots are. They take like, three bites to eat, so you don’t have to commit to them in the same way you have to commit to eating, say, an apple. (Note to my boyfriend: Don’t worry! I am only terrified of commitment when it comes to snacking on fruit.)

Anyway, I spent one dollar on a half-pound of apricots from Regier Family Farm in Dinuba, CA (distance from me: 239 miles). Regier Family Farm was founded in 1974 by Jim and Norma Regier and has since expanded to include a branch run by their daugher and son-in-law, Lisa and Anthony Galpin. The apricots are just ripening now, and the couple that I’ve eaten so far have been incredibly juicy and sweet.

Unlike apricots, which I always knew existed, but of which I was afraid because of unfortunate airplane-food experiences, I didn’t know about pluots at all until about a year ago. Pluots are, of course, what happens when an apricot and a plum have a baby and name it something silly just to be jerks. Other apricot-plum hybrid types include “apriums” and “plumcots” – so yeah, there’s a whole brood of weirdly named kids running around.

But pluots are not genetically engineered fruits; rather, they were invented in 1989 after much cross-breeding experimentation by mad scientist Californian fruit breeder Floyd Zaiger.

I bought four dappled pluots from the Burkdoll Farm stand. Burkdoll Farm was established in 1858 in Visalia, CA (distance from me: 225 miles), and has been family-owned ever since. Pluots are a bit more of a commitment to eat than apricots, since they are squishy and juicy (and bigger, obviously). I usually slice them up and eat them with my hands rather than biting into them whole, in an attempt to avoid a condition I like to call Sticky Face.

Rainier Cherries
I’ve always loved cherries, but until recently, I’d only ever tried the dark red kind. But this week, I noticed baskets of cream-colored cherries being sold alongside the red ones of Clip Art fame. I discovered after (very) minimal research that they were called Rainier cherries and that they were expensive. They tasted a lot like regular cherries, but I wanted to buy them because they looked funny.

Like pluots, Rainier cherries were created by a fruit breeder. Harold Fogle invented them in 1952 by combining Bing cherries (the common red kind, high in antioxidants) and Van cherries (which resemble the Bing cultivar but are a bit smaller).

By the time I encountered these Rainier cherries, I had decided that if it was the creation of a mad scientist parading as a fruit breeder, I was going to buy it and eat it. Unless it was a monkey with four butts or something.

So I dropped $5 on a basket of Rainier cherries from Erickson Farms in Fresno, CA (distance from me: 231 miles). Established in 1988, Erickson Farms is a family operation comprising 160 acres and specializing only in cherries.

I’m so excited to discover all the stone fruits the farmers market has to offer in the summer. And because I am an eco-friendly girl, I plan to reuse the stone-like pits in creative ways, like making jewelry or setting elaborate booby traps.

1 comment:

  1. I'll be waiting for my stone pit necklace and earring set in the mail. Thanks.