Although San Franciscans are still sporting fleece and down jackets, the arrival of the first stone fruits in Bay Area farmer's markets hints that summer is near. Apricots, peaches, nectarines and cherries are already brightening foggy market days. There is much to look forward to in the coming months for those who cherish the fragrance, flavor and beauty of the fruit of the trees.
Fresh, raw and naked is the best way to enjoy summer stone fruits. Quality fruit is bred for flavor, not shelf life or cosmetic perfection. Smaller fruit with a few blemishes may be far superior in taste and nutritional value to oversized picture perfect commercial produce. Farmer's markets provide the opportunity to sample different varieties of fruit and to consult with the vendors about how to select, ripen and store it.
Transport your fruit home from the market with care. Separate very ripe or slightly bruised specimens immediately; fruit salads and smoothies can be made with them in minutes. Many stone fruits can be held at room temperature for a few days or more. Don't wash the fruit until you are ready to eat it. Place fruit on a clean dry surface, leaving a little space between each piece.
Check the fruit daily and set aside the ripest to be eaten that day. With proper handling, your collection of stone fruit can be savored all week at peak flavor. Simply wash and nosh! When the next market day arrives you will be eager to replenish your supply of some of nature's finest creations.