Local food spotlight
The Fourth of July signals that summer has officially arrived. You can also tell by the exponentially expanding variety and volume of locally grown produce that is now appearing each week at your local growers’ market.
What should you buy this week? This time of year, it’s almost impossible to pass up the fresh cherries. Whether you like Rainier (blush colored) or Bing (ruby red) – or both! – nothing says summer like the fruit grown in our nearby
orchards. Overflowing baskets of cherries and the first early apricots hit the markets at the end of June, and their season isn’t long.
John Trujillo (Trujillo Orchards) and his family have been tending fruit trees in Chimayó for generations. He says his cherries have about a three-week window because they sell so fast. In addition to selling at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, he sells from his farm stand on the High Road to Taos. His brother Ray sells at the Albuquerque Downtown Growers’ Market on Saturdays.
“My granddaughter now stands where her mother used to stand back when I planted the trees in the ’80s,” he recalls. “And then there are the trees that my brother planted, the ones that my dad planted in the ’70s, and those that my grandfather planted in the late ’40s. But we lost a lot of the old trees in the big freeze of ’71 when the whole valley hit 31 below.”
New Mexico’s orchards create a living history that few places have held on to. The descendants of the early fruit-growing pioneers have worked hard to keep the knowledge and varieties alive, even through freezes, hot sun and many dry years.
This year, the weather has cooperated for Trujillo and other northern New Mexico orchardists. Coming soon will be Trujillo’s apricots, plums and peaches. Later in July, look for early apples, such as the Yellow Transparent and Lodi. By
mid-August, early Bartlett pears will be available, followed by Bosc pears and, of course, many more apples. The sweetness will continue through October for pears and apples.
If you live in Albuquerque or southern New Mexico, your local fruit season will be slightly ahead of this schedule. The best way to know what is available is to go to your local market and see what is on your local vendors’ tables. Get there early for the best selection.
If you can get your cherries home without eating them all, try a fresh Cherry Salsa to accompany your grilled meat this holiday. Jalapeños are a great contrast with sweet cherries. You can also add to your holiday fare with a delicious Stone Fruit Compote, which is very adaptable to whatever fresh fruit you have.
If you’re looking for a savory recipe for the Fourth of July, try a tasty red, white and blue potato salad. You can make it extra “blue” if you like blue cheese. Whether you use larger potatoes or smaller fingerlings, this salad can also benefit from local herbs and onions.
Getting into the seasonal habit of shopping at your local growers’ markets will bring the pleasant experience of shopping for your weekly produce, cheese, meat and other goodies back into focus. In July, also look for broccoli, beets, carrots, chard, garlic, garlic scapes, kale, parsley, salad greens, squash and more.
Half the fun of growers’ market shopping is taking an extra minute or two to ask the grower where they farm, when the produce was harvested, or how they like to cook or store a food. You won’t be disappointed! Farmers are a wealth of information, and many like Trujillo have interesting family histories on their land to tell you about.
Denise Miller is executive director of the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association. Visit FarmersMarketsNM.org.
¾ pound sweet cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ cup lime juice (about 2
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
1-2 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped (use gloves to prevent skin burn from the capsaicin)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
In a large bowl, stir cherries together with sugar and let stand 5 minutes for the sugar to absorb. Stir in lime juice, red wine vinegar, garlic and salt. Gently fold in red onion, jalapeños, and cilantro. Chill for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Serve cold or at room temperature.
– Recipe adapted from ediblenm.co
STONE FRUIT COMPOTE
¼ cup sugar
1-inch piece vanilla bean, split (or 1/8 teaspoon vanilla)
1 cinnamon stick
¼ teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 cup water
4 cups summer fruit, such as, but not limited to:
Few handfuls cherries
1 or 2 plums
2 apricots, or more if they’re tiny
2 nectarines, white- or yellow-fleshed
1 cup blackberries or blueberries, optional
For the syrup: Combine all the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then turn the heat to low and simmer while you prepare the fruit.
For the fruit: Dip the peaches briefly into a pot of boiling water, then slip off the skins.
Remove the pits from the peaches, cherries, plums, apricots and nectarines. Cut larger fruit into slices. Put all the fruit (including the blackberries) in a compote dish (a glass, porcelain or metal serving dish with a base and stem).
Pour the hot syrup over it, including the spices. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes, then chill. Serve with a scoop of yogurt or ice cream.
RED, WHITE AND BLUE POTATO SALAD
Makes about 8 cups
1 cup chopped green onions, divided
1 cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup white wine vinegar
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound unpeeled small or baby red-skinned potatoes
1 pound small purple or blue potatoes, peeled
1 pound unpeeled small white creamer or White Rose potatoes
2 cups cooked fresh peas, or one 10-ounce package frozen, thawed
1½ cups crumbled blue cheese (about 6 ounces), optional
Whisk ½ cup green onions and next 7 ingredients in medium bowl. Cover and chill dressing. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.)
Place all potatoes in large saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Sprinkle with salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium, and boil until tender, 10 to 15 minutes (time will vary depending on size and variety of potatoes). Drain and cool to room temperature.
Cut potatoes into ½-inch-thick slices and place in large bowl. Add dressing, peas and blue cheese; toss gently. Cover and chill at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
Sprinkle potato salad with paprika and remaining ½ cup green onions.