17 August 2006

Stone Fruits

Posted in food, T-boy, Z-boy at 12:41 am by Tricia

When I go to the Farmer’s Market, I make my rounds of various vendors. I start at my CSA where I load up my big green tyvek bag with the ‘extras’ and then grab my box. I put these in the car or bike trailer and then make my rounds of the other vendors. The CSA covers most of our vegetable needs, so the rest of the trip focuses on fruits and sundries.

I have little nicknames I use when thinking of the vendors or when talking about them to T-boy. We have “the cookie lady” – she also sells eggs, and occasional produce, but T-boy insists we visit her for cookies (we usually get PB cookies with chocolate chips, or ginger snaps). There’s also the “Turkish cookie lady”, who sells a wider variety of baked goods with less sugar than is typical in the US, including a tahini ‘sweet’ roll that’s delightful. C-boy and Z-boy vastly prefer the cider from one orchard, so I always buy that from my “apple lady” (although in the late spring she was my “rhubarb lady“!).

And then there’s the “plum man.” He wears a black cowboy hat and is unassuming, straightforward, and soft-spoken. Ask him how a certain variety of plum tastes, and he might give you some characteristics (sweet or tart or …) or he might just say “how do I describe a taste? I just can’t do it.” But he sells an amazing variety of plums (along with other things, but he’s got the biggest variety of plums of anyone, so “plum man” he is!). He starts with small red plums, then moved on to yellow plums. Now he has a different (larger) red variety, and the italian plums should be coming in soon.

Cherries and Tiny Plums Michigan cherries at top left, tiny plums at bottom right. Notice the similarity in size (if not color).

This summer I’ve added “the cherry people” to my rotation. As with the plum man, they sell lots of different things, but I stop there for cherries. Every week I buy 2 quarts. He puts them into a plastic sack, and I store it in my fruit crisper drawer at home, washing them as I need them. One day a few weeks ago, I reached into the drawer and grabbed a few cherries to finish off my breakfast. I stuck one in my mouth, took a bite, and thought “that’s a weird cherry. Maybe it went bad?” I popped the next one in, again thought “that texture is all wrong. How bizarre!” – and then realized that I’d grabbed some of those tiny plums. There was nothing wrong with the plums as plums, believe me, but it was a shock when I was expecting cherries. I got yellow plums the next week, to avoid suffering through a repeat, and by now the plums are bigger so I’m safe.

Last week Z-boy decided he liked cherries. He decided this at a friend’s house, where he somehow discovered the joy of spitting out the pits. (The previous day, he rejected cherries when offered at home, in part because of the pits!) Inspired by his big brother, T-boy now eats cherries, too (although I have to pit his). So now I have competition for my cherries – I might have to start buying 3 quarts! Cherry season has been going since early July or maybe late June, but I fear the season will end too soon (and I’m afraid to ask). But there’s still a few more varieties of plums to work through, and some more peach varieties (not to mention the nectarines that rival the ones I ate while working at Yellowstone) before we launch into apple season, so I think we’ll be in stone fruit heaven for a few more weeks. Now if we could just convince C-boy to join us…



  1. I suspect the woman you call “the cookie lady who also sells eggs” is the same person I think of as “the egg lady who also sells cookies”. Now that it’s getting late in the season I’m looking forward to seeing my “concord grape family”.

  2. jonskifarms said,

    Probably so! Our “cookie lady” is the one with the “Grandma’s Kitchen” sign. My cherry people were all out today (although the Tabone Orchards people had a few sad looking pints) and my plum guy didn’t have any plums (although some other people did).

  3. nan said,

    My sister loved the tiny yellow and red plums growing outside her window in Berkeley, California. I would love to find out what kind of plums they are and buy her some trees. Could you please ask your plum man if he has any idea what kind of plums the tiny plums are? My sister said they were very sweet and aromatic and not tart. The flowers were pink. Thanks very much for any help you can give me.


  4. jonskifarms said,

    Nancy, I won’t be seeing my plum man until next summer, but I’ll try to remember then! (Some vendors stick it out over the winter, but he is not one of them as far as I know.) He often has labels on his plums, so hopefully we can figure it out for you.

  5. Jori Schellenberger said,

    Hi, I too am interested in finding out the name of those tiny plums. My MIL lives next door to someone with plum trees that produce those same tiny plums. They produce abundantly and the plums, though not as sweet as some varieties, are wonderful.

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