May 10, 2008

Week 36

So what in the world’s an APRIUM any how? Well, to look at it you’d call it an apricot, kind of like a pluot looks like a plum. An industry hero named Floyd Zeiger up in Modesto makes around 150,000 crosses of various fruits and nuts a year. He replicates each one 15 times, keeps track of the parents, plants the resulting seeds in a nursery, grows the tree and evaluates the fruit resulting eventually in a dozen new varieties a year of peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, almonds, and all the jazzy stuff like donut peaches and nectarines, pluots, apriums and you name it. Floyd’s got to be up in his seventies and still going strong. I saw him last week receiving the national peach council’s award of accomp-lishment. After a 15 minute introduction by a guy who flew in from Carolina, Floyd walked up, received the plaque, bent over to the mic and said “Thanks” and went back and sat down to thunderous applause. When you’re the top dog, you don’t need to say much.

Anyway, an Aprium is basically an apricot with a little plum bred into it. A Pluot is a plum with a little apricot in it. Floyd would call it an “interspecific” cross. A side note, if you’re up at Floyd’s around noon time, his wife will feed you lunch topped off with Pluot pie. You’ll be eating with farmers from Spain and Italy, Georgia and the Carolinas who’ve come to see the latest.
A given variety of stone fruit harvests over about a 10 day period. Therefore, in order to have peaches say from May through September, takes a minimum of 15 different varieties with precise harvest dates. When we’re looking at new varieties, we’re comparing them in our minds to what is currently available in that time slot. We’re looking for:
1. appearance
2. size
3. ship-ability (durability)
4. flavor
Sadly, in that order. In 33 years and millions of boxes, I have yet to be slammed (not paid) due to poor flavor. I’m regularly slammed because of excess flavor (ripe)

The reason is simple. Commercially we don’t sell fruit to people who eat it, we sell fruit to people who sell it to other people, and the producer consumer connection is lost. When I get rewarded for 1-3 and punished for 4, guess which traits are emphasized. Secondly, the higher the flavor, the more difficult and delicate they generally are to handle and the greater the likelihood of getting slammed. This Tasty Rich in your box took me literally three X’s the effort to handle today as another apricot, but there’s no comparison in the flavor. ENJOY.
We get a year like this about every 15. Harvest has been going about a week now and what a joy! The fruit is just great. Could use a little more heat to bring the flavor along, but who’s complaining.
If you want to make some apricot jam or can some, I’d wait for the Pattersens in mid June. We’ll have peaches and nectarines next week and maybe a few more Apriums. Pace yourselves now. It takes a bit to build up capacity.
EAT HEALTHY!!!! Vernon

What we term as a spring onion resembles a green onion but has a slightly more rounded and defined bulb and is typically larger. The flavor of a spring onion is a bit hotter and has a little more bite than a green onion but they can be used in much the same way. Just remember, since they can be stronger less may be better.
Spring onions also resemble leeks but are smaller and milder in taste. The red spring onions offer bright color to green salads and are ideal for potato salad and other uncooked uses. You may also use them as an accent in soups, stir-fries and casseroles. The tops of spring onions have a stronger flavor than chives but milder than onion. They can be used in pretty much any dish that calls for chives or onion flavored ingredients. Try adding the sliced green tops to fried rice. When the rice is done, turn off the heat and stir in the onion tops. The heat in the rice is enough to cook them. Use them to top your baked potato, or added to omelets.
Spring onions are great sliced very thin and sautéed with fresh spring and summer vegetables. Add them to sautéed mushrooms with about 30 seconds to go.
Since the spring onion is fresh and not dried, like most of the onions purchased in this country, they must be properly stored to maintain their freshness. The onions should be placed in a plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator until you are ready to use them.

This week we have Apriums and in future weeks we will have other varieties of apricots so let’s learn a little bit about them. As with most fruits the apricot is soft to the touch and juicy when it is fully ripe. They should be eaten as soon as possible once they become ripe.
You should keep apricots cool to prevent over ripening. Place them in a bag in the refrigerator crisper and they may keep for up to a week. For the best flavor, let the apricots warm to room temperature before eating them. Wash the fruit only when you are ready to eat it. If you have hard apricots they can be easily ripened by placing them in a paper bag for a day or two. Be sure to check on their progress so they do not over ripen.
Apricots are well suited to freezing for future use. To freeze fresh apricots, simply half the fruit, remove the stone, and place on a baking sheet in the freezer until they are frozen. You can then pack them in a plastic freezer bag and use them as needed.
Apricots are not just for jam or desserts; try them in green salad or in cooked dishes too.

Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
-Aprium Apricots
The Peterson Family, Kingsburg
-Russet Potatoes
Grimway Farms, Bakersfield
-Red Leaf Lettuce*
-Romaine Lettuce
-Bloomsdale Spinach
-English Garden Peas
-Red Spring Onions
T & D Willey, Madera
*Denotes Large Box Only
Contents may vary due to availability on date of delivery.

Ever been in the “doghouse”? Starting next week, if you forget your empty box, that is where you will have to go; or your name at least. When you forget to bring your box to the delivery you will be asked to complete an “In the Doghouse” form which will be kept by your host until the box is returned. Some of the empty boxes seem to have a problem making it back to the site and this will help us keep track of where they are.

Fruit Cobbler Preheat Oven to 375º
This recipe can be used for any fruit, or mixture of fruits, and will make an
8 x 8 cobbler. It can be doubled for a 9 X 13.

Cut enough fruit, of your choice, to fit in your baking dish and mix with the following:
3-4 Tbsp flour ¾ cup sugar

Lightly butter baking dish and place the pre-cooked fruit in dish.
Mix the following for topping:
¼ cup brown sugar ¼ cup white sugar
¼ cup butter softened almost to melt ¼ cup oatmeal
½ cup flour

Mixture will be chunky. Sprinkle over top and bake for 20 minutes or until fruit is bubbly. Cool and enjoy with some homemade ice cream.

Honey Dijon Salad Dressing

3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar 3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp sour cream 1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/3 cup light salad oil
Whisk ingredients together for a delicious salad dressing.
Compliments of Sarah Jackson

Fresh Apricot Basil Salad Dressing
1 fresh ripe apricot, pitted 1 Tbsp white vinegar
½ Tbsp sugar 2 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp dried basil
Combine pitted apricot, vinegar and sugar in blender, and whirl until blended. With blender running, slowly add vegetable oil until thick and smooth. Stir in basil.

California Fresh Apricot Council

No comments: