As the summer tree fruit season ramps up, apricot fans have a new option for picking their favorite fruit.
Just minutes from downtown Fresno is a small farm in Easton called Two Sisters U-Pick Apricots. The family-run farm sits on slightly less than 3 acres and is loaded with trees ready for harvesting. The branches on many are heavy with the Patterson variety of apricots.
Sisters Sarah Parker and Jeanae Dubois launched the U-pick farm last year as an alternative to shipping its fruit to the packinghouse.
"This is a real nice experience for people who want to come out to a farm, get a little dirty and pick some great-tasting fruit," Parker says.
Customers get a quick lesson on how to select the best fruit. They can pick into boxes and even use the ladders if they want. And, of course, customers can sample all the fruit they want.
"We encourage that," Parker says. "After all, you want to make sure that what you are picking is good."
And don't worry too much if what you are picking isn't ready to eat. You can store slightly under-ripe fruit in a paper bag for two to three days to make them sweeter, Parker says.
Apricots are sought after by home cooks who enjoy making jams and canning. They also freeze well for use later.
Two Sisters customer Karen Thomas loves apricots so much she paid $150 to adopt a tree. That means she is entitled to all the fruit on the tree. She and her neighbor, Lisa Garcia, who also contributed to the adoption, were at the farm last week making their first pick of the season.
"It is so much easier to go to the store and buy fruit," Thomas says with a wry smile. "But then you don't get the benefit of seeing where your fruit comes from, or get to know the farmers who are growing it. Plus, you know exactly what you are getting."
Thomas and Garcia have big plans for their fruit, including making jam, cobbler and grilled apricots.
Parker says the average apricot tree will yield about 350 pounds. This year, 17 trees are adopted.
For regular customers, it's $20 for a large, roughly 30-pound bag. Half a bag is $10 and kids get their own bag and can pick for free.
Two Sisters is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. to noon; Tuesdays and Thursdays 1 to 6 p.m.; and weekends 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information you can visit their Facebook page at Two Sisters U-Pick Apricots.
Other options for finding apricots
Other U-pick apricot operators include Naylor Organics in Dinuba. Nori Naylor says the farm has four apricot varieties available, including Heather Marie, Daybreak, Spring Morning and Golden Sweet.
Naylor says the apricots are in high demand: "We had one woman buy 80 pounds just the other day."
For those interested in canning apricots, the Golden Sweet works very well.
"It is a beautiful apricot and has a bright orange color that looks very pretty in a canning jar," Naylor says.
You also can find locally grown apricots at most area farmers markets and fruit stands, including Simonian Farms at Clovis and Jensen avenues and Bella Frutta at Willow and Shepherd avenues.
Fans of the Blenheim apricot can visit Fresno farmer Paul Mesplé at his farm stand at 7443 N. Millbrook Ave. He has a very limited supply and recommends calling first to make sure he has fruit available. He can be reached at (559) 439-0104.