Summer is here, Manhattan Beach! Sure, the solstice is still three weeks away, but Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, and today the Manhattan Beach Certified Farmers Market begins its extended summer hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. If that’s not enough of an unofficial kickoff of the summer season for you, try this: Peaches are here.
Not only are they here, in fact—they are suddenly everywhere. Along with apricots, peaches appeared in all corners of the market last week, from Arnett Farms to Gama Farms, MB Farms and even Ha’s Apple Farm.
Naylor Farms joined us back at the market last week after a several-month absence following questionable organic claims. This time they came stocked with stone fruits labeled “in transition organics,” meaning that the farming practices are organic but they have yet to complete the certification process, which takes about three years. A sun-warmed sample box provided my first peach of the year, and its sweet-tart flavor was like the edible incarnation of summer. Naylor’s apricots were delicious as well, though they are already reaching the end of their season. Keep an eye out for what’s up next at Naylor: white peaches!
Over at J.R. Organics, a different summer fruit was the main attraction. “You have to try my strawberries,” vendor Amado told me with a look of complete seriousness. The first of their berries, Camarosa strawberries, had an outstanding season. While there were (thankfully) still some samples left, the delicate, jammy berry with a surprising hint of cinnamon had unsurprisingly already sold out at J.R. for the day. Today you can expect to find another variety at J.R. Organics called the Avion strawberry. “The Avions taste a bit sweeter,” Amado said. “They have a sweet and sour thing that brings out the sweetness, and they don’t bruise as easily as the Camarosas.”
At Erickson Farm, two different varieties of cherries are available as well. The lighter in color, multihued Rainier cherry is a bit more tart and lighter in flavor with some peach undertones. The dark red Brooks cherry is the “cherriest of the cherries,” as described by Erickson’s vendor. “This cherry has the most classic cherry flavor. This is where we really beat out our competition—it’s the best cherry you’ll have.”
I guess we’ll just have to start tasting to compare! See you next week at the market.
The Manhattan Beach Certified Farmers Market, 13th Street and Morningside Drive, is held every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (after Memorial Day); from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (after Labor Day).