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Luscious plums you'll never forget

August 15, 2007|RUSS PARSONS

Last chance

Elephant Heart plums: The mottled green and purple skin of an Elephant Heart plum is singularly uninspiring, but this is one fruit you can't judge by its cover. Cut open a ripe one (choose those that are darkest and most purple) and you'll find flesh that is the deepest ruby you can imagine. And the flavor -- sweet, rich and wildly herbaceous -- makes other plums seem tame. This is another invention of turn-of-the-century fruit breeder Luther Burbank, who also developed the early summer favorite Santa Rosa. The Elephant Heart is available only for about 10 days in midsummer, so grab them while you can.

Harry Nicholas, Pritchett Farms, $2 per pound.

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Peak season

Shelling beans: Somewhere between green beans, which are eaten mainly for the pod, and dried beans, which are eaten just for the seed, are shelling beans. These are dried bean varieties that are harvested before they have fully matured. Their pods have begun to dry, but once you get past that, the seeds inside still have plenty of moisture. And their flavor is much brighter and fresher than the dried versions' will be. Unlike dried beans, which require long cooking to soften, these can be ready to eat after as little as 15 minutes of simmering. One of the best ways to use shelling beans is in a summer vegetable soup, with chopped tomatoes and squash. They are also terrific braised quickly in succotash with squash and corn.

McGrath Family Farm, $4.75 per pound.

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RUSS PARSONS

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