This time of year, farmer’s market tables seem to buckle under the weight of piles of stone fruit: peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, all rosy-fleshed and plump, hinting at the juice-down-the-arm bites to come. But what of those strange-named fruit, the apriums, the pluots and nectarcots? You’ll find these at farmers markets now, hybrid fruit the result of creative experts.
These fruits are hybridized by cross-pollinating two plants growing the original fruit. Farmers and biologists breed these varieties by hand, patiently transferring pollen over and over again to arrive at the end result. It may take several years of meticulous breeding, a trial-and-error process that selects for the tastiest fruit, to finally arrive at the new variety you see at the produce stand.
Though the names might seem ridiculous (and the possibilities endless), these hybrids are delicious – after all, they’d have to be to withstand a crowded market. Here’s a rundown of what’s on offer now, and where to buy it.
Pluots: The result of some 20 years of experimenting by biologist Floyd Zaiger resulted in the pluot, a plum-apricot hybrid. The pluot is heavy on plum flavors, sweet, tart, and juicy, with just a hint of the earthier apricot.
Apriums: The aprium is also a plum-apricot hybrid, but it more closely resembles an apricot; find it on the other end of the spectrum from the pluot. The fuzzy fruit has only a hint of tart plum.
Nectarcots: The child of nectarines and apricots. They look similar to a bite-size apricot but the flesh has the texture of a nectarine.
Nectar Plum: Nectarine-plum combo crafted by Collins Family Orchard will be out in September.
Buy these hybrids from farms like Tiny’s Organic Produce, Tonnemaker Farms, Rama Farm, Pipitone Farms, and Collins Family Orchard and at farmer’s markets around the city.