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Market Watch: Garlic Scapes, Blenheims and Blackberries For the Picking

I spotted some strikingly beautiful garlic scapes at the Marin Roots Farm booth last Saturday. Scapes are the slender shoots that emerge from hard-neck garlic varieties in late spring and early summer. They’re usually removed to allow the garlic plant to focus its energy on the growing bulb. Garlic scapes have a lovely mild flavor and a wonderful texture similar to young asparagus or pole beans. They can be grilled, added to stir fries or salads and they make a fantastic pesto.

Artisan June Taylor creates some fantastic fruit and herbal syrups in her kitchen at The Still Room in Berkeley. One type uses excess liquor from the fruit used in her jams and preserves and another type is made by infusing simple syrup with fresh herbs and flowers. June’s syrups are available each week at her booth in some enticing varieties including Provencal Lavender Strawberry and Rose Geranium Mint.  Her latest creation—Mediterranean Bay Laurel syrup made from Bay leaves grown by Joseph Minocchi of White Crane Springs Ranch – makes a lovely glaze for fish while her fruit syrups are perfect for desserts or cocktails.

Agretti, a deep green succulent vegetable native to Italy and sometimes referred to as “little sour one,” is available now at Star Route Farms. Its flavor is mildly tart with a hint of saltiness that works well when added to grain salads or omelettes. It is also surprisingly easy to grow in a backyard garden, as it requires very little water or maintenance.

Blenheim apricots—prized for their unique flavor and perfect pie-ready softness—are only around for a very short time and can be hard to find outside of your local farmers market. Blenheim, or “Royal” apricots, ripen from the inside out, requiring them to be picked by hand and handled very delicately, making harvesting and storage difficult. For this reason, there are very few trees left in production in this area. So, when farmers, like Bill Crepps from Everything Under the Sun, take the time to grow and bring them to market, savvy market shoppers don’t skip a beat. At the very least, these beauties are worth a sample; as Bill says, “sampling is mandatory.”

I know it’s almost summer when baskets of juicy blackberries start appearing at the Lagier Ranches booth. Farmer John Lagier is a fourth-generation farmer from the San Joaquin area where he grows almonds, grapes, and berries and makes fruit jams and pies in the farm’s own commercial kitchen. John’s plump berries are perfect on their own, piled on top of pancakes or with just a drizzle of one of June Taylor’s syrups.