Home Posts tagged 'stone fruit'

Posts Tagged ‘stone fruit’


Simon

Summer Lovin’: Stone Fruit Season

Bi-Rite Crew at Balakian

Bi-Rite team at Balakian Farms

The month of May is all about local cherries, but as they start to slow down in the middle of June, crops like peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, and pluots start to taste really good.  Bi-Rite’s selection of stone fruit during the summertime is a showcase of the many different local varieties and the world-class farmers who grow them.  There’s truly nothing better than sinking your teeth into a peach that was picked at the perfect ripeness so that sugars have developed into the sweet juicy goodness that makes us nostalgic for summers from childhood.

This spring the Bi-Rite Produce and Marketing teams took a field trip into the heart of Central Valley to visit a few of our favorite  organic farms, and learn more about what it takes to grow amazing organic fruit!

Mas Masomoto

Mas Masumoto, Masumoto Family Farm

Located just over 200 miles south of San Francisco in the heart of California’s conventional, industrial agriculture there are three family farms doing their best to keep organic stone fruit alive. Masumoto Family Farm in Del Rey, CA is a beautiful, 80-acre orchard of land purchased by the Masumoto family in 1948. A third-generation farmer and celebrated author, Mas Masumoto has mastered the art of building soil to support the growth of his trees.  The Masumoto family is in love with the tang of the yellow flesh fruit and seeks a sugar and acid balance that screams WOW! They’re just about to start harvesting the Flavorcrest Peach, a popular variety for conventional growers who like a firm piece of fruit that can ship.  Next up is everyone’s favorite, the freestone Sun Crest Yellow Peach, a large peach with a red blushed skin and juicy texture – this is the peach that put the Masumoto Family Farm on the map.  The last variety of stone fruit we will see from the Masumoto is the clingstone Le Grand Yellow Nectarine.  The Le Grand is a large piece of fruit with a rich sweet flavor and firm flesh which makes it awesome for making nectarine ice cream.

Peaches and nectarines are categorized in two ways, freestone and clingstone. When the flesh of the fruit is attached to the pit you have a clingstone variety. They can be the best to eat but are harder to work with in the kitchen. The meat (flesh) freestone varieties are completely detached from the pit which makes them easier to work with for canning, freezing, and cooking.

Stella Balakian

Stella Balakian, Balakian Farms

Stella Balakian moved to Reedley from Boston almost 50 years ago, and she is the heart and soul of the fourth generation Balakian Farms. For the past 15 years the Balakian family has been driving 3 ½ hours one-way to deliver fresh-picked stone fruit to the doors of Bi-Rite Market. The Balakian’s farm sits on just over 40 acres. They have diversified to grow one of the best pomegranates, which we celebrate in the Markets every fall. As far as stone fruit goes, Balakian focuses largely on early season stone fruit , but keep an eye out for the Flavor Grenade Pluot.

One of the biggest challenges facing these organic stone fruit grower in Central Valley is the limited local market for them to sell their premium organic fruit. These farms rely heavily on the markets in the Bay Area to bring them the financial return needed to survive as a small farm and pay their workers a living wage.  Most of the farms that grow us all these amazing fruits and veggies that we see at Bi-Rite are in low-income communities that can’t afford the prices for specialty organic fruits and vegetables.

Blossom Bryce and Dad

Ted & Bryce, Blossom Bluff Orchards

Blossom Bluff Orchards is located on a “bluff” overlooking the King River in Reedley, CA, and it’s one of the most stunning landscapes in the area.  As we walked the orchard it was so good to see all the wildlife taking advantage of the diversity on the farm.  The Loewen family farms on about 80 acres and grow a wide variety of stone fruit, citrus, and persimmons.  Bryce and his father, Ted, operate the farm together and they have so many different fruit varieties that Ted has to keep a little black book just to remember the locations of the each varietal.  Two of the crops the Loewen’s have mastered is plums and pluots, which are just getting underway. We are finishing up the last of the unique Black Splendor Plum with its dark purple/red skin and meaty flesh, which will be followed shortly by the Yellow Dolly Plum with perfect, yellow skin and juicy flesh.  Soon after the Dolly, the Catalina Plum will be harvested, with its dark amber skin – it is one of the sweetest plums of the season and just a taste of what you’ll see at Bi-Rite from Blossom Bluff Orchards this summer.

If biting into a sweet and juicy piece of stone fruit doesn’t get your taste buds fired up, we have a terrific recipe for Peach Cobbler from our Pastry Chef Keri,  and of course Bi-Rite Creamery & Bakeshop is taking advantage of all of the amazing stone fruit to create all sorts of summer treats like Masumoto Peach Ice Cream and Peach Frangipane Galettes.

StoneFruit_Recipe_web


Simon

The Joy of Masumoto Stone Fruit

IMG_2566

Rose Diamond Nectarines

It’s usually three to four weeks into California stone fruit season before the flavor of peaches and nectarines really starts popping with that textbook balance of sweetness and acidity. Almost all the peaches and nectarines that hit the shelves at the Bi-Rite Markets are from farms that we’ve built mutually-beneficial relationships with over several years. A couple of seasons ago we were able to take our peach and nectarine selection to new heights with a new farm-direct relationship with Masumoto Family Farm in Del Rey, CA. This beautiful 80-acre orchard is located just 15 minutes south of Fresno, and was purchased by the Masumoto family in 1948. Author and third-generation farmer, David “Mas” Masumoto, has mastered the art of building soil to support the growth of their beautiful trees, and they always harvest their fruit at the perfect level of ripeness.

Before I jump into all the stone fruit varieties that Masumoto grows, you’ll notice one thing they all have in common: beautiful yellow flesh. The Masumoto family is in love with the tang of the yellow flesh fruit and their sugar/acid balance that screams WOW!  This season Masumoto is trying some new farming techniques on a handful of selected trees in their orchard. They are watering less and not pruning as heavily, which produces “petite” stone fruit. These small little sugar bombs pack enjoyment for all!

IMG_2570

Spring Lady Peaches

And for the uninitiated, peaches and nectarines are categorized in two ways: freestone and clingstone.  When the meat (flesh) of the fruit is attached to the pit, this is clingstone variety; they are sometimes the best eating but hard to work with in the kitchen. The flesh of the freestone varieties are completely detached from the pit, which makes them easier to work with for canning, freezing, and cooking.

Just last week, Masumoto sent us their first yellow peach variety of the season! They were harvested earlier in the year than ever before because of the warm winter and drought.  The clingstone Spring Lady Peach is a very juicy piece of fruit with a medium acidity level, and is just the thing to get the taste buds ready for what’s to come.

After the subtle flavor of the Spring Lady, the next stone fruit variety the Masumotos are harvesting is the clingstone Rose Diamond Yellow Nectarine.  Mas Masumoto’s daughter and fellow farmer, Nikiko, refers to the Rose Diamond as a “mini fire cracker.” The Rose Diamond is usually a large, richly-flavored nectarine with beautiful red skin, but this year the drought means smaller fruit that’s packing an extra sweet punch.

As for the rest of the season, in early June we should be seeing the semi-freestone Gold Dust Yellow Peach. Some folks consider this the best early-season variety of peach, with its firm texture and rich, sweet flavor. It’s the textbook peach for grilling! The Gold Dust will be shortly followed by one of the most popular varieties in California, the freestone Flavor Crest Yellow Peach. This variety is popular for conventional growers, who like a firm piece of fruit that can travel but also has good levels of sugar.  Next up is everyone’s favorite, the freestone Sun CrestIMG_2573 Yellow Peach, which is a large peach with a red-blushed skin and juicy texture. This is the peach that put the Masumoto Family Farm on the map! And the last variety of stone fruit we will see from Masumoto is the clingstone Le Grand Yellow Nectarine. The Le Grand is a large piece of fruit with a rich, sweet flavor and firm flesh, which makes it awesome for making nectarine ice cream.

Tree-ripened peaches and nectarines are some of the most exciting treats of the summer.  If you haven’t had the chance to sink your teeth into Masumoto fruit you have the next couple months to swing by the market and make it happen! Just ask us, we’re always happy to share a taste.

Here are a couple of recipes, created by Stephany from our Produce Team at 18th Street, to help you celebrate stone fruit season. Enjoy!

CUESA recipe card NECTARINE SALSA

CUESA recipe card PEACH SPICE CAKE

 

 

 


Casey

Fresh-off-the-vine Tomatoes, Summer Corn, Stone Fruit and more: New Summer Catering Menu

DoughnutsThe aromas of rich stone fruits and fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes fill our markets. Relaxation is in the air. The days are long and the warm weather lures us to gather together. Ah yes friends, Summer is here! Check out our new Summer Peak of Season menu and let Bi-Rite Catering make your upcoming events easy like Sunday morning. We’re highlighting summer produce stars such as peaches on our Focaccia Flatbread with Peaches, Goat Cheese, and Fresh Thyme. (Did you know California is the largest harvester of stone fruits in the U.S.?)

CornAnd although some production methods try to prove otherwise, corn does indeed have a season and nothing quite screams Summer like sweet corn. Taste the seasonal difference in our Savory Tartlets with Summer Corn, Goat Cheese, Piquillo Peppers and Fresh Marjoram  or our Summer Corn and Tomato Salad with English Cucumbers, Peppers, Red Onions, Cilantro and Parsley.

Stay cool with our take on the caprese salad. The Mozzarella Bocconcini and Cherry Tomato Skewers with Basil Dip keep things simple and delicious—no fork required!

Turn up the music, kick off your shoes, and give a cheers to the fact that just outside city limits, our farm fields are feeling the heat affording us the chance to savor sweet summer flavors while wrapped in sweaters under fog-soaked skies.