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As we wait for local tomatoes and peppers to hit their stride and for local melon season to kick in, there is an abundant summer harvest to savor.

We’ll have local blueberries for another couple of weeks, wild blackberries are sweet and juicy, and Dry Creek Peach and Produce’s spectacular Arctic Gem white peaches are about a week away. It won’t be long before the Gravenstein apple’s short season begins.

Sonoma County’s other signature fruit, the Santa Rosa Plum, will be gone before you know it so indulge now. Pluots, early in their season, show the promise of being as extraordinary as they were last year, the best season in memory.

It is the season for sipping peach bellinis as the sun sinks down behind the coastal hills and eating simply and, of course, deliciously. If you eat seasonally, this is the easy season, when delicious meals all but make themselves in our fields and orchards.

Dry Creek Peach and Produce is near the beginning of their season. The six-and-a-half acre farm has about 1,000 trees, with 30 different varieties that ripen not simultaneously but in succession. Their season usually begins around Memorial Day and wraps up around Labor Day. This year, there is not yet enough fruit for the farm stand to open but you can find the current harvest at the Healdsburg Farmers Market.

The season peaks with the miraculous Arctic Gem, a white peach that thrives on this little patch of land. File this information under “things I shouldn’t talk about too much” and remember not to hog them. Yes, they are that good.


Make this sauce when you have great peaches. It is sweet, savory, and a bit spicy, and is delicious in a variety of dishes, not just with burrata. Several suggestions follow the recipe. White peaches make the most delicate sauce; sauce made with yellow peaches is slightly earthier.

Burrata with Peach-Cilantro Sauce

Serves 4 to 6

1-2 limes, washed (see Note below)

1 large or 2 medium peaches, pit removed, coarsely chopped

1 large garlic clove, crushed

1 serrano, stemmed and chopped

1/2 bunch cilantro, rinsed and dried

— Kosher salt

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

2 rounds of burrata

— Black pepper in a mill

Use a zester — preferably a microplane zester — to grate the outer skin of the lime. Set it aside. Cut the limes in half and squeeze out the juice, using a reamer if need be. Set it aside.

Put the peach, garlic, serrano and cilantro into the work bowl of a food processer and pulse several times. Season with salt, add half the lime juice and the olive oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, taste and correct for salt and acid balance, adding the remaining lime juice if the sauce tastes a bit flabby. If it is too acidic, add a bit more salt and a bit more olive oil. Transfer to a small serving bowl, cover and let rest 15 minutes.

To keep longer, chill, then remove from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving.

To serve, pour the sauce into a wide shallow bowl. Set the burrata on top, scatter the lime zest on top of it, add a few turns of black pepper and serve right away.

Note: Commercial citrus varies so much that it is all but impossible to accurately estimate how much juice you will get from one. Average is about 2 tablespoons, but this year a lot of limes have had much less. It is important to taste before adding too much, as you can’t, obviously, take it out if it is too tart. So begin with the juice of one and add more until it tastes exactly like you want it to.


Spoon over grilled zucchini; spoon over grilled peaches and serve with burrata or fresh sheep milk ricotta; spoon a pool of sauce on a plate, top with pan-roasted wild Pacific king salmon, garnish with quartered cherry tomatoes and a lime wedge and enjoy right away; serve alongside grilled or roasted chicken, with a generous dollop of peach chutney atop each piece of chicken.


Here’s an old American favorite, one of several fruit desserts with what many people think of as strange names. Here, “grunt” refers to the sound the fruit makes as it cooks. Traditionally made with berries, it is delicious with peaches, too, either added to berries or on their own. If the addition of black pepper seems odd to you, don’t dismiss it as a modern affectation. In ancient times, desserts were heavily seasoned, including, almost always, with black pepper. If you don’t like the idea, simply omit it.

Blackberry-Peach Grunt with Whipped Creme Fraiche

Serves 4 to 8

For the fruit:

5 cups fresh blackberries

4 ripe peaches, pitted and sliced

— Grated zest of 1 lemon

— Black pepper in a mill, optional

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons water or dry red wine

3/4 cup sugar, plus more to taste

For the dumpling topping:

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

— Black pepper in a mill, optional

2 tablespoons local butter, melted

1/3 cup plain whole milk yogurt, blended with water to make 1/2 cup

— Cinnamon sugar (2 tablespoons sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt)

— Whipped Creme Fraiche (see Note below)

Put the berries and peaches into a large skillet, preferably cast iron, add the lemon zest, black pepper, if using, lemon juice and water or wine and sprinkle the sugar over everything. Set over low heat and cook gently until the sugar is fully dissolved, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the dough: Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and several turns of black pepper, if using, into a bowl and mix with a fork.

Add the butter and stir again. Add half the yogurt mixture, stir, and add as much of what remains to make a soft, sticky dough.

When the berries have been cooking for 15 minutes, add the topping. To do so, use a soup spoon to form small dumplings at even intervals on top of the fruit. Use all the dough.

Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the top.

Cover the skillet with its lid or a sheet of aluminum foil and steam for 15 minutes, until the dumplings are set and dry on top.

If you prefer a slightly toasty crust, set under a hot broiler until the dumplings turn golden brown, from 3 to 5 minutes.

Let the grunt rest for 10 minutes or so before serving. Spoon into individual bowls, top with a generous dollop of the creme fraiche whipped cream, and enjoy hot.

Note: For whipped creme fraiche, put about 3/4 of a cup into a medium bowl and whip with a whisk for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


This chutney is both simple and so very good. Serve with curries, roasted chicken, roasted pork, cheeses, plain yogurt, and with rice. If you do not process the chutney, it will have a lighter, fresh taste but will not keep as long. If you process it, it will take on a deeper, slightly caramelized flavor.

Peach & Currant Chutney

Makes 2 to 2 1/2 quarts

2 pounds dried currants

6 cups apple cider vinegar

10 pounds peaches, pitted and cut into lengthwise slices

2 pounds granulated sugar

2 garlic bulbs, cloves separated, peeled and minced

3-6 serrano chiles, minced

3 inch piece of ginger, grated

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Put the currants into a medium bowl, cover with the vinegar, and set aside for several hours or overnight.

Put the peaches into a large, heavy pot and sprinkle the sugar over them. Let them rest, covered, for an hour or two. Add the currents and their liquid, along with the garlic and serranos.

Set over medium low heat and stir now and then until the sugar dissolves. Add the ginger and the salt, stir and taste. Add more salt if it seems a bit flat and more sugar if you prefer a sweeter chutney.

Cook, stirring now and then, until it reduces by a third to a half and thickens, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. As you stir, be sure to reach all the way down to the bottom of the pan so that the peaches on the bottom do not burn.

Cool, ladle into clean glass jars, and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

To preserve, ladle into 1 or 2 pint sterilized glass jars, add the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath according to the jar manufacturer’s guidelines. After processing, set the chutney on several layers of tea towels to cool.

Check the seals and store in a cool cupboard for up to 1 year.

Michele Anna Jordan has written 24 books to date, including “The Good Cook’s Book of Oil & Vinegar. Email her at catsmilk@sonic.net.

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