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Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush….

May 3, 2016

overheard at the farmers market “your spinach last week was so good! Yes, and it’s even sweeter this week because the weather has been cold”

-Fiddlers Green Farm

These.Are.Amazing!

Have you ever heard of Mulberries? Perhaps the name rings a bell from the popular nursery rhyme. These exotic edibles are hard to come by, if you are lucky enough to find them I urge you to buy a basket and savor these berries. Mulberries grow on trees not bushes, looking like an elongated blackberry. While not as dark as blackberries, mulberries have a deep ruby hue. The most common variety is red however they are available in white, pink and black. Red, white and pink mulberries are available in the spring. Black mulberries are ripe in the late summer.

mulberries

 

Did you know that Crayola had “Mulberry” as a color from 1958-2003? I’d like to get my hands on one of those! Mulberries can be used in recipes that call for blackberries and raspberries. Think smoothies, parfaits, cobblers and pies. I find that mine do not last long enough to eat them other than right from the basket. The pint I bought last Thursday was gone by the time I got home.

It’s very possible that I have the same thought every year but, when I walked through the market this week I was struck by what I saw. Stone fruit? In April?  I have lived on the West Coast for 31 years and yet, year after year, I am surprised to see peaches and apricots in April.

There are all kinds of hybrid stone fruits, the wildly popular pluot comes to mind. This week I found one that I had never tasted before. It’s called an Aprium. They are from Peach Farm in Yolo County.

aprium

 

The aprium is essentially opposite of a pluot with a ratio of 80% apricot and 20% plum and they are delicious.  I walked the aisles of the market tasting apricots that were mushy and flavorless. When I found this variety the difference was notable and with just enough sweetness and a touch of bite without being mushy. These beauties were a bargain at $2/pound and organic to boot! I skipped the peaches. After sampling at several vendors I didn’t think the flavor was there yet.

life is a bowl of cherries…

Having grown up in Pennsylvania I associate these plump, glossy, ruby-red fruits with summer. On the West Coast they show up in spring. With the perfect sweet to tart ratio, what’s not to like? They seem to conger up nostalgia. Thoughts of hot summer nights sitting on a deck or porch swing. A bowl of cherries on ice, spitting seeds with friends to see whose could go furthest. Brooks are typically the first variety to arrive. The ever popular Rainer can’t be far behind.

Cherries

Cherry prices varied from $8-$5 a pound. Not surprisingly organic topped the price point. When I asked a vendor if they were organic he said that all of his produce was with the exception of his cherries. He then went on to say “if anyone who sells cherries says they don’t spray they’re lying. When the vinegar fly showed up four years ago it was necessary to spray to save the crop”. I didn’t have time to go back to the organic vendor to ask about their methods.

I came across this deep purple and green karinata kale at Full Belly Farm.

kale

 

It’s a combination of Red Russian Kale and Red Mustard, “this is a unique variety offered only by a couple of Capay Valley farms (pronounced K-pay).  It is an open-pollinated cross between red Russian kale and red mustard. If you are not familiar with it, you might want to first taste I raw just to get a sense of the mild mustardy flavor. It was developed by a local plant breeder who thought it might make a good cover crop.  One day when we visited his plot we started eating his experiment and got excited about its culinary value! You can substitute Karinata kale in any recipe that calls for collards, chard, spinach or mustard”*.  After months of eating common kale varieties (dinosaur, curly & red Russian) I find myself tiring of them and crave something different. This variety fits the bill, familiar yet different. I’ll be using it just as I would with any kale variety.

*from Full Belly Farm

spring

Find a market in your area this week. Try one new vegetable and one new fruit-your mind and mouth will thank you.

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