Seasoned Shopper – May 2019

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Apricots, Apriums Welcome Start of Local Farmers’ Market Season

    The short and sweet apricot season is about to begin. California grows and harvests more than 90 percent of the nation’s commercially grown apricots.  
    Honey sweet, full-flavored apricots depend on tree ripening more than many of the other stone fruits, but the resulting fragile fruit does not withstand the rigors of shipping.  However, when harvested at the proper degree of maturity the apricots will ripen beautifully and release a sweet fragrance. 
    Fresh apricots destined for farmers’ markets are hand-picked and each tree is picked several times as the fruit ripens. If apricots are picked too early and green, they shrink and shrivel and have very little or no flavor.
    Different apricot varieties possess their own special characteristics and qualities and you’re sure to find a favorite at market. Look for early Katy and Gold Kist varieties, and mid-season Royal Blenheims. 
    Choose smooth, fragrant, plump and slightly firm apricots with an orange-yellow to orange color. A few days at room temperature completes the ripening and the fruit yields to gentle palm pressure. If necessary, store ripe fruit, unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a few days only.
    There’s another gem arriving at market, and it’s one of the most flavorful early season fruits. Apriums were developed in the late 1980s by Floyd Zaiger of Zaiger Genetics in Modesto. 
    Apriums are a hybrid made up of 75 percent apricot and 25 percent plum. They look like a small deep rose-hued apricot is juicier and slightly firmer with a little longer shelf life. They’re best enjoyed fresh out of hand and to add a burst of flavor in salads, appetizers, sauces, desserts, jams and ice cream.
    Enjoy and see you at the market!
    The Orinda market is open Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Orinda Way in front of Rite Aid and the Community Park. For more information visit www.cccfm.org or call the market hotline at 925-431-8361.

(Sally Hogarty, Photographer)
Visitors at the Orinda Farmers’ Market enjoy a craft project on Opening Day. The market is open from now until November, Saturdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m, on Orinda Way in front of the Community Park.

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