For the first summer in many years, I've been doing more u-pick harvesting than neighborhood foraging as the late spring rains in the East Bay seem to have led to poor local fruit setting, including no fruit at all on my much beloved apricot tree. Luckily apples and pears seem to be setting nicely on my street, so fall may see the return to the eminence of foraging.
For now, I've been wandering further afield, east to Brentwood and down the coast to Pescadero, in search of the perfect u-pick farms. I'm very happy to report that this year there are more pesticide free and organic u-pick farms than I have found before, including some new favorites: Farmer's Daughter for stone fruit, Pease Ranch for cherries (both in Brentwood), and Phipps and Coastways in Pescadero for berries.
This week I've been obsessed with peaches and olallaberries, in a number of different combinations. Friday I picked 35 pounds of peaches, warm from the sun, and so candy sweet I must have eaten six or seven straight from the trees.
Monday was berry-ing and purple stained fingers.
Olallas (a cross between blackberries and boysenberries (themselves a cross between blackberries and raspberries)) are just finishing and blackberries and boysenberries should be starting next week. Anyone wanna go picking?
Jamming is not for those who don't like to get their hands dirty--it is seriously sticky work!
Cherries remain my season favorite and also the most fun to pick with three to five year olds. Even I appreciate being able to pick fruit by the handfuls and fill 5 gallon buckets in 10 minutes!