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Springtime Produce that is Perfectly Unripe

Cecilia Estreich May 5 , 2017

It’s officially May and we know that you’re desperate for a plum that doesn’t taste like a rock.  But, we ask you to suspend your judgment as we make the case for crazily green, under-ripe fruit.  At the request of some of our more adventurous customers, we’ve started bringing in a whole array of immature stone-fruits, grapes and even nuts.  Never worked with this stuff before?  It’s not for the faint of heart (or the extremely busy).  Most immature produce varieties require some labor and processing to be palatable. But, it’s worth it. Promise.

 

Sour Plums

These cherry-sized green plums may seem like a bummer at first. But, give them a shot. Unlike green apricots, which require some processing, sour plums are delicious raw. In Iran, Turkey, and Lebanon, they’re popular dipped in salt and eaten out of hand. They can also be pickled in vinegar or salt-packed. Tip: You can also use these for traditional Japanese plum wine. All you need is a bottle of Sochu (a grain or sweet potato based liquor). Check out a full recipe here.

 

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Sour Blueberries

We don’t want to over-do it with all the verjus talk, but you make verjus out of unripe blueberries too!  They can also be salt-fermented and used like capers or cooked down for chutneys and mostarda.

 

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Green Apricots

We’re starting out with the most labor intensive variety to scare off readers who aren’t committed to green produce.  This immature apricot is harvested early in the season and resembles a green almond.  The fruit has a strong almost almondy, bitter flavor.  They’re traditionally used in Persian and Eastern European cuisines in chutneys jams and pickles.

Tip:  Don’t try to pit these things before cooking them. It’s a disaster.  Cook them, cool them and then use a cherry pitter to easily remove the stone.

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Verjus Grapes

You guys. These are so exciting.  Why aren’t more of you buying them?!  Sure, they take some work but when do you ever get a chance to work with verjus grapes?  For the uninitiated, these are highly-acidic unripe wine grapes. 

Tip: Cultures throughout the Middle East crush them into condiments or pickle them and use them like capers. You can also press them to make your own verjus.

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Green Strawberries

Courtesy of The Great Noma Craze of the past five years, unripe, green strawberries have taken a few trips around the block.  But, who cares-- these are an exceptional ingredient.  We’re especially into them when they’re pickled and served as cheese accompaniment.

Tip: Rene Redzepi claims that each strawberry needs to be a perfectly unripe whitish-green. But, we haven’t found a little blush to be problem if you plan to cook or pickle them.

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Green Almonds

Perhaps the most mainstream of the under ripe items we carry, immature almonds have applications all over place.  They’re especially popular in Spain.

Tip: The center of the green almond evolves throughout the season, starting out as a clear gel and solidifying into a translucent, white nut as the season progresses.  When the gel stage passes and the nut begins to form, they make incredible almond milk.

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