Celebrating Our Local, Independent Farms
With Independence Day on our minds, we’d like to share some stories about some of our local, independent farms, that provide tasty produce and treats this time of year.
Olallieberries were originally developed in Oregon in 1935 but since then California has been responsible for the majority of production, especially along the cool coastal areas between Half Moon Bay and Monterey. Olallieberries are a sweet-tart blackberry derivative, a cross between a Logan berry and a Youngberry, picked ripe at the peak of the season they taste better than the best berry jam. When they are super sweet and juicy I love popping them in my mouth and even when they are a little tangy they are incredible in pies and fruit crisps.
Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero, where the Olallieberries flourish, has built its legendary reputation on the strength of its Olallieberry pie. Since 1934 the recipe for that award winning pie has been passed down for three generations, and in 2005 Life Magazine honored it with the “best pie” designation.
Boysenberries are similar to Olallies but plumper and much sweeter. They too, make excellent pies. Like Olallieberries, Boysens are another type of blackberry, this time a cross between the blackberry, raspberry, and loganberry developed around the 1920s and first becoming commercially available at the now famous Knott’s Berry Farm in 1935.
Right now Sigona’s Farmers Market in Palo Alto and Redwood City has both Boysens and the Ollalies from Vince Gizdich, an independent farmer in Santa Cruz. Come fall when berries are out of season Sigona’s carries Gizdich’s heirloom apples including the once popular Arkansas Black, a deep garnet red nearly perfectly round tart apple and the Sierra Beauty a deliciously sweet but tangy Californian original.
Santa Rosa Plums
Santa Rosa plums are another regional specialty. Luther Burbank developed this plum, a favorite in California, at his home and experimental orchard in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol during the late 1800s to the early 1900s. They are tart-sweet, juicy, and delicious. They are tasty baked into crisps, cobblers, tarts, pies, and crumbles. These Santa Rosas are grown on a fifty acre family farm in California’s Central Valley.
Pluots & White Donut Peaches
Similar to the plum but combining the features of apricots as well, pluots contain the best of both fruits. As I write this, Sigona’s is carrying a Flavor Supreme pluot which is an extremely flavorful and incredibly juicy early season pluot, both tart and sweet. It is coming from a small second generation fruit grower in Morgan Hill. That same farmer also grows a flat white donut peach that if anything is even sweeter and juicier than the pluot. It is an incredibly refreshing treat, nature’s edible equivalent of a slushee. Paper towels are required accompaniments to this peach.
So this Fourth of July, enjoy the fruits of the labors of our local, independent farmers!