Santa Rosa plums: Luther Burbank did a lot more than just lend his name to a Southern California city. He was one of the most prolific plant breeders ever, responsible for developing the russet potato that bears his name (the Russet Burbank) as well as more than 800 varieties of fruit and vegetables. But while he is probably best remembered for that potato -- it and its progeny are still the most widely planted potato varieties in the world -- fruit lovers would argue that his crowning achievement was the Santa Rosa plum. Introduced in 1906, the Santa Rosa has fallen out of favor commercially; growers abandoned it in favor of bigger, firmer fruit. As late as the 1960s, it still accounted for more than a third of California's plum harvest; last year, it had dropped to only a percent or two. But after biting into a rich, tangy Santa Rosa, almost anything else tastes insipid. Fortunately, they are still available at farmers markets.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday July 20, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 31 words Type of Material: Correction
Plums: The Farmers Market column in Wednesday's Food section stated that the city of Burbank was named for the famed horticulturalist Luther Burbank. It was named for David Burbank, a dentist.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, July 25, 2007 Home Edition Food Part F Page 2 Features Desk 1 inches; 28 words Type of Material: Correction
Plums: Last week's Farmers Market column stated that the city of Burbank was named for famed horticulturalist Luther Burbank. It was named for a David Burbank, a dentist.
Various vendors, $3 per pound.
Blenheim apricots: This is likely to go down as the summer of Blenheims, at least for apricot aficionados. After a series of weak harvests, it seems that the market is flooded with the tangy-sweet little fruits. And some growers say they'll have them through July. Blenheims are tricky apricots to grow and to harvest. They are finicky, requiring perfect weather. They tend to be small, meaning they appeal mostly to the hard-core cult that knows them. Ripening can be difficult to detect, as they soften from the inside out. And when they do ripen, it comes in a flash: fruits go from firm to falling apart in a matter of only a couple of days. But, oh, that flavor! A ripe Blenheim has a depth and richness of flavor that no other apricot approaches. Because of their troublesome ripening, it is worth remembering that apricots, like peaches, nectarines and tomatoes, are climacteric fruits, meaning they'll continue ripening off the tree. If yours feel a little firm, just leave them on the counter for a day.
Various vendors, $3 per pound.\f7
-- Russ Parsons