Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This year's local produce

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2011 at 10:35 AM

YELLOW HEIRLOOM:  Extra gnarly this year
I've been cruising the produce stands all over Arkansas these past few weeks. Visited a few farmers markets, stopped in at a few established produce markets and caught sight of all sorts of deals at different roadside stands here and there.

I've come to find a few universal truths. For instance — watermelon has become rather expensive compared to years past. I've found the cheapest just outside of Hot Springs at $5 for a medium (18 inch long) Hope melon. Most are ranging in the $8-10 range, but I have seen Cave City melons go as high as $14 each this year. I am assuming people are paying that much for them, else why would those prices be so high?

On the other hand, tomato prices have been down — as little as a dollar a pound some places. After tasting this year's crop I can see why. The larger heirlooms seem to be broken a bit, some a little wormy. And some of the bigger hybrids are coming out with little taste to them. Romas and cherry tomatoes, however, seem to be just splendid. I've been told a lot of the reason for the tomato taste issues stems from the heat; there's one school of thought that assumes it's because the heat has been so oppressive, temperatures haven't fallen below 75 degrees enough nights for the tomatoes to rest.

What is really good this year? Peaches. Oh my, I have yet to have a bad peach this year. The ones I picked up off Highway 10 last month that came from Cabot were small, sweet bombs with tight pits and nice pinking. I picked up some at Cadron Crest two weeks ago that were fragrant and irresistible; I ate most of them before I got home with them. Picked up three pounds worth at a stand just south of Bismarck Sunday — big ones, ones I expected to be a little less potent. Not at all. The weather has been kind to this year's peach crop.

So, how's the produce where you're doing? Found some remarkably good fruit out there? Share it!

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