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Farmers’ Market Report: Blenheim Apricots and Offbeat Berries
See what’s in season at the market this week
KCRW Good Food Producer Gillian Ferguson shares highlights from farmers’ markets around Los Angeles, along with tips from chefs and growers on how to best use what’s in your basket.
The Blenheims are coming! The Blenheims are coming!
Apricot season is short but blissful. New varieties seem to last about as long as Snapchat photos, but the true king of apricots is here to stay for the next four weeks. The Blenheim, beloved by jammers and pastry chefs for it’s classic apricot flavor, is quite literally a delicate little specimen. The golf ball-sized fruit notoriously ripens from the inside out, which makes them hard to pick. Ripe Blenheims will be pale orange with a faint rosy blush, but can turn quickly to mush. If you’re shopping ahead, don’t shy away from yellow or even greenish flesh. The fruit will continue to ripen on your counter.
Steer clear of supermarket apricots, which tend to be flavorless and uninspiring. If you can’t make it to the farmers market, you can get a taste of this year’s crop at Sqirl, where owner Jessica Koslow is serving Blenheim jam on Proof Bakery’s irresistible brioche toast.
Where to get Blenheim apricots: Mike Cirone (Wednesday and Saturday Downtown Santa Monica FM), Murray Family Farms (Wednesday Santa Monica FM; SaturdayTorrance FM; Sunday Hollywood FM) and Flora Bella Farm (Wednesday and Saturday Downtown Santa Monica FM; Sunday Hollywood FM)
This time of year, forget blackberries. It’s peak season for their lesser known cousins: youngberries, marionberries and boysenberries. If you manage to get some home without eating the whole basket, the nuanced flavor of boysenberries is best cooked into pies, cobblers, and crisps. If you can’t cook them right away, Akasha Richmond of Akasha Restaurant suggests freezing the berries on a cookie sheet. Place the fruit in a single layer and, once frozen, pour the berries into a Ziploc bag and store it in the freezer until you’re ready to bake that pie.
For an only-in-Southern-California berry experience, pick up a basket of Murray Family Farms’ eponymous Murrayberries. Eaten raw they are unpleasantly sour, but when cooked into preserves the glossy, ruby-colored berry takes on the flavor of rhubarb. The Murrays grow roughly sixty varieties of berries so you can expect new colors, shapes and flavors each week. Patient preservers should arrive early this weekend to score a basket of tart elderberries.
Where to find unique seasonal berries: Kincaid Farm (Wednesday Santa Monica FM; Sunday Hollywood FM), and Murray Family Farms (Wednesday Santa Monica FM; Saturday Torrance FM; Sunday Hollywood FM).