Do you have questions about planting, cooking, and the best restaurants in L.A.? Send them in to our Living Editor Katherine Spiers at firstname.lastname@example.org and she may answer them in this column!
I used to be able to go to u-pick farms and bring home big boxes of stone fruit. They seem to be disappearing. I frequent Underwood in Moorpark, but their stone fruits are very limited (except apricots). We used to go to Bouquet Canyon near Valencia. Is there anywhere on the north/west side of L.A. County or Ventura that I can get/pick tree ripened peaches, etc?
There are fewer and fewer u-pick operations all the time: it's a lot of work for not a huge amount of profit, plus you've got people tromping across your property all weekend. Of those left in southern California, apples and cherries are the most well-known (we've also compiled lists of persimmon, pomegranate, strawberry, and Christmas tree u-pick farms). However, there are three stone fruit farms chugging along in Los Angeles County that will let you pick your own! They aren't exactly where you were looking for geographically (these farms are in the northeast part of the county), but driving a little longer is well worth it for perfect peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots.
(Check each farm's website, or better yet call, before heading out. Picking seasons are capricious -- this year's in particular is early -- and you don't want to find yourself at an empty farm.)
M&M Peach Ranch -- This Lake Hughes farm offers two kind of peaches spread out across 65 acres. Their u-pick season is now scheduled to start in late August. It's certified organic, so you can feel safe letting your little ones run around and lick things.
Brian Ranch Airport -- Yes, it is an airport! And also an orchard. They've currently got apricots, peaches, and nectarines on offer, but go quickly: their picking season might be done by mid-July. Brian Ranch is open weekends 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and during the week by appointment.
Yingst Ranch -- The farm offers all manner of treats year-round; right now the orchards are heavy with peaches and plums. Yingst is open weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and call ahead to see if the list of available fruit has changed.
And once you've got your fruit, put them in this maple bourbon peach crumble!