Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cherries, Blueberries, Raspberries Arrive

Beechwood Orchards
On the first Headhouse Farmers Market after summer solstice produce stalls were full with cherries, blueberries and even a few raspberries.

The sweet cherries were a bit of a surprise, given that this year's crop will be lean. Prices hovered around $8.50 a quart (at the Reading Terminal Market, Ben Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce was asking $9.99).

Although the red cherries tasted bright, sweet and fresh, they weren't 60 percent better than the $2.99/pound commercial Washington State Bings purchased later in the week at the Cherry Hill Wegman's. While the store-bought fruit wasn't quite as intense in flavor, it was close enough and just as sweet; the individual fruits were also larger, though that's a tertiary consideration as far as I'm concerned. The sweet cherry, it appears, is one of those fruits that can be shipped cross-country, when properly packaged, successfully.

The local orchardists say the sour cherry crop is also slim and hence will be pricey, too, when it shows up in another week or so. Dave Garretson of Beechwood Orchards said he has a too few early variety sour cherries to make harvesting worthwhile, but expects to bring in mid-season Montmorency pie cherries when they're ripe. Beechwood also offered Rainier sweet cherries last Sunday, priced slightly higher than the sweet reds.

Queens Farm tomatos
Wanna buy some superfruit? Well, blueberries are back, $4.75/pint at Beechwood. Three Springs Fruit Farm had them, too, along with the season's first red raspberries. I've been enjoying the blues in yogurt for breakfast this week. Ben Wenk of Three Springs expects good crop of raspberries this year, especially the black variety. He cultivates both but said the wild raspberry patches he's seen are full of fruit.

The early tomato crop from Queens Farm remains tasty. Although pricey at $3.60/pound for its mixed heirloom varieties, they are a pure taste of summer.

Just in time for gin and tonic season, limes continue their downward price trend. Over at the Reading Terminal Market this week Iovine Brothers Produce has been selling nice-sized and heavy fruits at 20 cents a piece, a far cry from the buck (or more) apiece limes commanded in early spring.

Another crop making its seasonal debut at Headhouse Sunday: sweet corn. South Jersey farmer A.T. Buzby was selling its at 75 cents an ear.

Last Sunday may have been the last we'll see of English peas and strawberries, but there's a chance some farmers in cooler climes may have them. I took the $5 pint of sweet and fresh shelled peas purchased from Tom Culton and turned them (after the briefest boiling and then shocking in ice water) into a salad with some diced and well-fried Irish bacon, thinly sliced shallot rings, shredded gruyere cheese and homemade ranch dressing.

Here's a quick tour of some of the more photogenic produce seen at Headhouse last Sunday:

Summer yellow cukes from Savoie Organic Farm
Radishes in two colors from, iirc, Weaver's Way
Chard from Blooming Glen Farm

Red onions from Tom Culton

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