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The SLOW Report Vol. 1

June 8, 2016

What is The SLOW Report? As a faithful farmers market shopper I was eager to read Carlo Petrini’s Slow Food Revolution in 2006. While the book lacks the salacious page-turning material of a summer poolside read, it does detail the history of how the SLOW FOOD movement was born. I’ve embraced the slow food way of life and have put my own spin on what SLOW food means to me, Seasonal, Local Organic Weekly, here is this weeks report.

 

Ahhhhhhhhh, Summer!

It’s feeling like a whole lotta summer here in Northern California. The market is alive with people and the offerings are diverse and plentiful. The first tomatoes, corn and figs were mostly gone by 11 AM. If you are looking to grab the first taste of summer get to your local market early!

In California, produce arrives earlier than other parts of the country. If you live outside of California, chances are you’ll be finding the same soon. Asparagus and artichokes are on their way out so enjoy them while you can. Here is what I’m finding at the market now.

At The Farmers Market

Aprils, Plums and Lemon Verbena (such an amazing fragrance!) from Full Belly Farm, Albion Strawberries from Tomatero Farm and Berries (boysenberries blackberries, red and golden raspberries) from Ortiz Farm

Farmers Market Vegetables

Squash Blossoms from Peach Farm, Eggplant from Star Route Farms and Bell Beans (aka fava beans) from Marin Root Farms

 

Gather Weekly

Andrew filling a bin of Blenheim Apricots from Full Belly Farm, Tomatoes from Peach Farm and Assorted Squash from Say Hay Farms

 

Gather Weekly

Green Figs and Pluots from Peach Farm and Corn (yay!!) from G&S Farms

 

Farmers Market Fruits

Strawberries, Mulberries and Queen Anne Peaches from Full Belly Farm. Blueberries from Triple Delight. Donut Peaches and Pluots. from Peach Farm. Boysenberries, Red Raspberries and Golden Raspberries (these are highly perishable, delicate in taste almost tropical) from Ortiz Farm and Regina Cherries.

Gather Weekly

Assorted Eggplant and Fresh Ginger as big as my hand! Delicate Squash Blossoms from Say Hay Farms, they cut them with a long stem so that frying them is easy to do by holding the stem with your fingers.

 Oh how I love figs!

Did you know that fig trees produce two crops? According to wikipedia, the first or breba crop develops in the spring on last year’s shoot growth. In contrast, the main fig crop develops on the current year’s shoot growth and ripens in the late summer or fall. The main crop is generally superior in both quantity and quality to the breba crop. However, some cultivars produce good breba crops (e.g. ‘Black Mission’, ‘Croisic’, and ‘Ventura’).

With over 100 varieties, there is surely one to please all palates. In California, the first crop is typically available beginning of June and the main crop August.

One of my favorite ways to eat them are grilled. Cut lengthwise in half, you can skewer them or just brush them with olive oil and place on grill, cut side down. Cook for a 2-3 minutes until caramelized. Serve with goat cheese and a drizzle of honey alone, or on top of grilled bread. I have several pins on my pinterest page devoted to figs  and I love this cookbook all about figs.

This article has several ways to use figs but my favorite is the Chicken Breasts Stuffed With Figs & Goat Cheese. 

With such short availability and the very nature of this delicate fruit I look for ways to preserve these exotic edibles. These Roasted Figs have shelf life and can be used several ways.

Fresh Fig Ice Cream-ah, yes please!

This is a compelling list of simple ways to use fresh figs.

 

You’re a peach!

Remember Andrew from the picture above filling a bin of apricots? I asked him about the two peach varieties selling at Full Belly. One is Spring Fling and the other is Brittany Lane. I was not familiar with the latter and when asked, was told that it wasn’t “a great commercial variety” meaning, because of its sensitive nature, delivering to commercial markets (i.e, grocery stores) isn’t an option. Once ripe, they are ready to eat and not a moment later. Grocers cannot take on the risk of selling these delicate fruits that are far too perishable. Andrew says that this variety can go from crisp to ripe within a day. He said, “my kids like them crunchy, and I’m like, if you’re not eating a peach like this (insert picture of a person eating a peach leaning over a sink) then you’re killing me!” I agree!

Peaches fall into two camps, freestone and clingstone (or cling). The difference is simple. With a freestone peach you can cut in half, turn the half over and the pit will easily fall out. A Clingstone pit “clings” to the fruit and is more difficult to remove. If you plan to can or freeze a lot of peaches at one time, then freestone is the way to go as it will be easier to process them.

This recipe for Heirloom Tomato Salad with Peaches combines the best of the season!

Emily Luchetti is a well-known pastry chef in San Francisco. Having worked at the wildly famous Stars in the 80’s and Farallon in the 90’s. She is also the author of the popular cookbook The Fearless Baker. These recipes from Emily that feature peaches are sure to please!

Apricots

While people rejoice in the hot weather, farmers are concerned with something called pit scald. Pit scald is when the pit becomes a thermal mass from the high temperature. When it cools down at night, the pit is still warm and literally cooks the fruit on the inside. I hadn’t mentioned this to my family so when my daughter, who when eating an apricot, mentioned that it looked different inside I knew that she was referring to the change in color from exterior to interior. These apricots are completely edible and delicious only the core showing a slightly darker appearance, a result of pit scald. Don’t let this stop you from enjoying these freshly plucked fruits.

Start off a meal with apricot-spinach salad , make apricot salsa as an accompaniment to grilled pork or chicken. Finish your meal with this drool-worthy apricot clafoutis.

Farmers Markets are a great way to try new varieties, most are available for purchase by the pound.  This way you can buy the quantity that you want at the stage of ripeness that suits you. Visit a market this weekend-you’ll be happy you did!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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