Mirror Contributing Writer
Cherry season is in full swing. Some farmers were hit hard by cold rainy weather and weeks of cloudy days, so the early cherry harvest has been curtailed. Early Burlat, Tulare and Brooks cherries are in short supply and almost finished. Recent rains finished off most of the rest of the early cherries, but the good news is that the prized Bing and Queen Anne (also known as Rainier) cherries should be harvestable in just another week.
Cherry prices will be higher this year – around $6 for a “bucket” that cost $5 last year, which averages out to about $6 per pound. Compare that price to $13 per pound spotted at a Whole Foods market in Fresno. Cherries can be baked, stewed or frozen with pits removed for later use. Most of us will simply eat them on the way home.
Sweet White corn on the cob is coming to market with Tamai Farm, which maintains acreage in the hot Imperial Valley in southeast California. The Tamai family has been making the four-hour, one-way trip to the cornfields for years in order to bring in the first sweet corn of the season. Soon the Tamai’s Oxnard field will be ready with their special calico corn– mixed yellow and white – hopefully in time for the Fourth of July.
The real peach season is just getting underway. Most of the regular stone fruit – peach, apricot, nectarine and plum – growers should be back in markets by June 1. Due to the cold weather, tree fruit took a long time to bloom, and the blooms took a long time to “set” their fruit. While the early fruit is small and not quite fully developed flavor-wise, recent hot weather has allowed the hanging fruit to pick up some sugar and character. Look for Mayfire nectarines – one of the best early varieties. Ask your farmer for a taste of the fruit before you buy it, and don’t be afraid to buy some fruit that will take a day or two to fully ripen. Firm fruit can be thoroughly enjoyable when it ripens as long as it wasn’t picked green – avoid fruit that is green around the stem end.
Farmers’ Market, four weekly markets of fresh produce and flowers, 2nd and Arizona Ave., Wed. 8:30am-1:30pm and Sat. 8:30am-1:30pm; Virginia Ave. Park, Sat. 8am-1pm; Main St. and Ocean Park, The Victorian at Heritage Square, Sun. 9:30am-1pm, features live music, pony rides, coffee, omelets, crepes & free craft workshop; 310.458.8712.