Summer is already in full swing at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Markets. Summer fruit is here; the peaches, nectarines, and plums have arrived and there is still much wonderful citrus fruit to be enjoyed. The Markets are filled with wonderful strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and even boysenberries. Pudwill Farm grows delicious yellow raspberries that you should definitely try, especially if you have never had them before. Pudwill Farm is at each of the four Santa Monica Farmers’ Markets.
Just as cherry season was finally getting started, it is now coming to an end. Be sure to stock up on cherries while you still can. John Tennerelli at the Wednesday Market will have cherries for two or three more weeks. He will have Lapin cherries, a late season variety that is crispy, sweet, and mild, as well as Sweetheart cherries.
The ever popular Santa Rosa plum is now at the Farmers’ Markets. It has an intense sweet flesh with a tangy dark red skin. The softer the fruit the more flavor it will have. The flavor combination of sweet and tangy also makes this plum excellent for jam and baking. Several farmers grow Santa Rosa plums, and Burkart Farms at the Wednesday Market are certified organic and have been growing Santa Rosa plums for 35 years. Right now Harry Nicholas at the Wednesday and Saturday Pico Markets also grows an interesting variety of plum called a Flavor Grenade. It has a mostly green skin and has a combination of green and red flesh.
Alpine strawberries are another unique fruit right now at the Farmers’ Markets. They are also known as wild strawberries or fraises des bois, which translates to “strawberry of the woods.” There are many varieties of alpine strawberries and they can be red or white in color. They are much smaller than regular strawberries and are supposed to have a somewhat shriveled look to them. They have a very intense sweet flavor and also have a bit of an earthy taste. A pastry chef who regularly shops at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market often uses fraises des bois to make sauces and compotes. They are grown from seeds, not cuttings, and grow like a regular plant. Jerry Rutiz, of Rutiz Family Farms in Arroyo Grande, plants his alpine strawberries in the beginning of November and harvests them in late March, and will do another round of planting in a few weeks for a fall harvest. Rutiz Family Farms and Jaime Farms both have alpine strawberries at the Wednesday Market.
Enjoy the beginning of your summer and be sure to visit the Santa Monica Farmers’ Markets.