There is perhaps no better place to grow tree fruit than the central San Joaquin Valley. The winter's cold nights coupled with the summer heat and a farmer's growing skills combine to make the central San Joaquin Valley one of most productive tree fruit growing regions in the nation.
Peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and their hybrid cousins, apriums, pluots and plumcots, thrive here.
So to help whet people's appetite for what will be a summer full of flavorful fruit, the Mokichi Okada Association will host the 5th annual Organic Stone Fruit Jubilee at its 5-acre Oasis Garden in Clovis.
About 1,200 people attended last year and organizers are expecting an equal number, if not greater, on Saturday.
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The event allows people to buy and taste 60 varieties of organic tree fruit from 13 Valley farmers, including Blossom Bluff Orchards, D.E. Boldt Family Farms and KMK Organic Farms.
David Boldt plans to bring several varieties including two plums that are among his favorites: Showtime, a big plum with flavor similar to the Santa Rosa variety, and the Black Splendor, a dark red plum with a sweet and slightly tart flavor.
Like many farmers who sell direct to consumers, Boldt picks his fruit ripe and ready to eat. If the fruit is still a little hard when you buy it, Boldt recommends putting it a paper bag for a day or two until it is slightly soft.
"And once you start to smell the aroma of the fruit, then you can't go wrong," Boldt says. "People should avoid putting fruit in the fridge, unless it is fully ripe."
Ted Loewen, of Blossom Bluff Orchards, will bring several varieties, including the green-speckled Flavor Supreme pluot -- a cross between a plum and an apricot. Slice the Flavor Supreme and you will find a reddish border under the skin and sweet tasting, reddish yellow flesh.
Loewen also promises some yellow flesh peaches with a nice balance of sweetness, acidity and rich flavor.
Although many people buy fruit without giving much thought to the variety, Loewen encourages consumers to learn as much as they can about the fruit grown here.
"All peaches are not created equal," Lowen says. "There is such an amazing array of fruit produced out here, each with its own unique qualities."
As part of the Jubilee, people can buy as much fruit as they can fit into a small bag for $5, or $10 for a larger bag.
Participants also can listen to live music, watch a jam-making demonstration and take a tour of the Oasis Garden.
Artisan foods made with local tree fruit also will be available from six well-known food makers, including La Boulangerie, Sierra Nut House and Dusty Buns Bistro Bus.
Chef Dustin Stewart, owner of the Bistro Bus, said that while he is not sure what he will be making for the event, he looks forward to working with the flavors of tree fruit.
"There are so many characteristics of flavor in the fruit that you can use it raw, cook it down or [use] it in a marinade," Stewart said. "Whatever we make, it will be some version of California comfort food that we will dust up."
IF YOU GO
Stone Fruit Jubilee, 5-8:30 p.m. Saturday, June 23, at Mokichi Okada Association's Oasis Garden, 5790 N. Indianola Ave. in Clovis. Cost: $5 for adults, children younger than 12 free. Details: www.fruitjubilee.org.
STONE FRUIT RECIPES
Makes 3-4 servings
5-6 plums, pitted and quartered
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar, rapadura or cane sugar (you can add more if you like it sweeter) 1/2 cup to 1 cup of coconut milk (depends how creamy you like it)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ginger powder or juice (optional)
1/8 teaspoon of cloves or nutmeg (optional)
Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. It will take several minutes for the plum pieces to purée up. Be patient. Serve and enjoy.
Note: This soup can be made with peaches, nectaries or apricots as well. It will keep in the fridge for 2 days.
-- Tara Hamilton, owner of Organic Fresno
Stone fruit parfait
Makes 4-6 servings
For parfait mix:
1 cup almonds
1 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar or rapadura or cane sugar
For the stone fruit:
12 peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums or pluots of your choice
1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar or rapadura or cane sugar
To make parfait mix: Combine all this in a food processor until the consistency of coarse crumbs.
To prepare fruit: Peel (if necessary) and thinly slice. In a bowl massage sliced fruit with sugar until fruit becomes softened and syrupy. Drain liquid from fruit.
To assemble: In a clear glass put 1/4 cup of prepared stone fruit; add 1/4 cup of parfait mix; add another 1/4 of stone fruit. Top with parfait mix to cover stone fruit.
-- Tara Hamilton, owner of Organic Fresno