What's In Season at the Farmers Market: Short-Season Olallieberries and Mulberries
Olallieberries from Murray Family Farms at the Hollywood market
The path to the olallieberry, a 1935 loganberry and youngberry cross that grows exceptionally well here in California, is a very short one. It's around only three to four weeks tops from the start of picking to the last luscious berry. It has a direct lineage link with and acquires its color and local hardiness from the native Pacific blackberry. And similarities drawn between it and the marionberry are not accidental. A tryst between the American olallie and the Chehalem (an Asian berry decendant) made the marion, a late summer producer that dominates Oregon's berry industry.
Murray Family Farms will have them maybe for another week, after which we'll have to wait for the harvests in cooler local microclimates to roll them in. Riley's Farm out in Oak Glen predicts their olallieberry season to kick in sometime in early July.
Heavily stained fingers reveal its true blackberry nature, but genetically the olallieberry is actually one-third raspberry. This helps with three ollalieberry attributes -- the canes they grow on are much less thorny than traditional blackberries, making them very popular for U-Pick berry farms. It's near mulberry-like sweetness is another raspberry trait that softens the sometimes harsh tartness of a true native blackberry. And anyone who has had to contend with blackberry seeds stuck between teeth will also appreciate the nearly seedless ollalieberry fruit.
Persian and white mulberries from Mud Creek Ranch at the Hollywood market
And speaking of mulberries, Mud Creek Ranch out in Santa Paula has both their delicate Pakistan mulberries and tiny white mulberries for the next week. Both have a heavy-handed sweetness, with thin, easily compromised skin. The Pakistans are a large and juicy mouthful -- they average around three-inches long though several in our basket were pushing five -- but watch the stain power. One drop on a pair of jeans remains after months repeated treatments.
The white mulberry doesn't have this obvious problem, but it takes a small handful to achieve that whole mouth immersion of flavor, and they don't quite have the taste complexity of their darker cousins. They're each around $6 a basket, but afficianados willingly fork it over for the short-lived seasonal experience. For longer lasting enjoyment, grab a jar of Sqirl's Pakistan mulberry and Thai basil jam.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Los Angeles dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.