One of my favorite writers asks ‘how shall we live?’ For me the answer is to live in a garden. And what garden would be complete without the great joy of growing fruit; the word itself comes from the Latin frui, meaning enjoy. During Spring, the fruit trees are full of promise. Not all promises are realized at present; my apple, mulberry, nectarine, citrus and jujube trees are what might charitably be said to be ‘coming along’.
But two of my peach trees are loaded with peaches, full of color but not quite ripe. The variety, ‘Red Haven’ is so far resisting the multitude of peach diseases. These peaches are not large but have great flavor and I use them to make peach juice to mix with Champagne for Bellinis. I also grow the venerable peach, ‘Sam Houston’; it blossoms very late and sets fruit late; avoiding the destructive late freezes that can kill the blossoms of ‘Red Haven’. It is a wonderful tree.
The next fruit to ripen will be the blackberries. I have planted at least a half dozen varieties of this berry and all have died with the exception of this beautiful plant named “Apache”, a thornless variety. Last year I bottled blackberry cordial but it was too sweet for my taste.
I plan to simply freeze them this year to put in homemade ice cream. The problem with the fruit is that it does not ripen all at once but it is easy to put them in a freezer bag as they come along.
Figs suffer from the same ‘problem’. They ripen a few at a time over weeks and weeks. This makes it hard to put them up. Otherwise, I love growing figs since they do not suffer much from pests. Now the figs are tiny and bright green. They will get fat and brown by midsummer.
I have a recipe for figs preserved in brandy I found in Paul Virant’s wonderful book The Preservation Kitchen. I will do what I can to assemble a couple of ripe quarts for Christmas desserts.
My “Santa Rosa” Japanese plum tree is not bearing as well as I would like. I have planted another plum, “Methley”, a reliable and beautiful tree (according to the plant catalogue). I ordered it to provide extra pollination. Two plum trees, the Methley and the Santa Rosa should produce better than one, even if both varieties are styled ‘self fertile’. The little green plums should be fat and purple by June.
Another tiny green fruit: grapes. I grow the “Black Spanish” bunch grape and “Blanc du Bois” both resistant to Pierce disease and mildew that plague grapes here. Soon the birds will be planning to strip the vines of ripening grapes but I have netting ready to use this year. I plan to sew it closed around the grapes with a big tapestry needle threaded with twine. If I am successful (for the first time in this battle with the birds), I shall have grape juice for my holiday Sangria.
The Kieffer pears won’t ripen until the fall, just when we need fresh fruit. I hope for a good crop this year, I planted a Sugar Pear last year for better pollination.
Another fall fruit is the Persimmon. When ripe, it is bright orange and this will be my first year to harvest these unusual fruits. My tree is covered with the most beautiful little green persimmons.
When they ripen, I plan to make want the make
Creamy Persimmon Sorbet– recipe by Max Falkowitz Editor of Serious Eats: New York
4 to 5 large persimmons (about 20 ounces; see note above), peeled and chopped 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup very strong black tea, or water
1 teaspoon fresh juice from 1 lemon (more or less to taste) 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Combine persimmons with sugar in blender or food processor and process on high speed until very smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour through a strainer to measure out 2 cups of purée, reserving remainder for another use.
- Transfer purée to a medium-sized mixing bowl and whisk in tea, lemon juice, and salt to taste. Chill in freezer until mixture is very cold, 2 to 3 hours.
- Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve immediately as soft serve or transfer to an airtight container and chill in freezer for 4 hours for a firmer texture.
So I make promises too. I want to share a taste of warm weather with my friends and family when it gets cold this winter. It’s a way to live.