by David Layland

Napa Valley Register

Because of the effect weather can have on growing almost every crop, you can’t be too certain when a particular crop will arrive at the Napa Farmers Market. The market asks all farmers to provide the dates they will be at the market as part of the annual application process. This gives us a general idea of what to plan for, but we fully realize that dates provided in February are subject to change particularly when the crop is blueberries.

A few weeks ago, I began exchanging emails with Kimberly Sorensen, the owner, along with her husband, Mark, of Triple Delight Blueberries, about when we could expect to see them at the market. Kimberly knew April 6 was not going to be possible, and when we got closer to April 13 that date fell by the wayside also. It just wasn’t warm enough in the San Joaquin Valley to get the blueberries to ripen. Finally I received an email from Kim that April 20 looked good but she wouldn’t know for sure until April 19. I was ecstatic when I learned that they would have enough blueberries to be at the market the next day.

The story about Triple Delight Blueberries getting their product to market illustrates some of the difficulties that farmers experience. They don’t know for sure when crops will be ready so they don’t know when they will need pickers. Once the crop is picked, someone has to get the product to the market.

Proper planning is essential to their success. I applaud them for what they do but now I want to know who is Triple Delight Blueberries and why do they do what they do? Thanks to the internet, I was able to answer my question.

Triple Delight Blueberries was established in 1997 and is located just south of Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley. Mark and Kimberly Sorensen named their farm after their three “delightful” daughters: Johannah, Elizabeth and Olivia. As fifth-generation raisin farmers, the Sorensens decided to plant five acres of blueberries to diversify their farming operation.

The initial plan was to sell their berries to a wholesale broker, but in 1998 the Sorensens tried taking their blueberries to the Aptos Farmers Market on Saturdays. They were quickly drawn to the fulfillment they felt when meeting the people who enjoyed their berries.

Each year, their farmers market operation grew, and before long they were able to sell their entire crop directly to consumers through markets in Central and Northern California. Blueberries’ short, 10-week season means the Sorensens are attending many markets over a short time.

Mark and Kimberly grow eight different blueberry varieties that allow them to expand their season from early April to early July. The Sorensen family thoroughly appreciates the loyal customers who wait patiently for Triple Delight’s season to begin each year. They love growing a crop that brings joy to so many people and look forward to the continued friendships they rekindle each year. As they’ve added three sons-in-law, you can be sure to find a family member selling tasty blueberries at many of the farmers markets they attend.

Blueberries are a versatile fruit. You can eat them like candy right out of the bag, plop a few on top of a scoop of vanilla ice cream or take them to the next level with the recipe that follows.

Kids Activities at the Napa Farmers Market: Bring your youngsters to the market’s Education Station on Tuesdays and Saturdays for Story Time at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

On the KVYN Music Stage: David Neft will perform at the Napa Farmers Market on Saturday, May 4, and Stewart Degner will perform at the market on Tuesday, May 7.

Harvest of the Month: Through May, enjoy a comparative tasting of cherries at the market’s Education Station at 11 a.m.

Yogurt with Blueberries, Hazelnuts and Maple Syrup

From “Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner” by Janet Fletcher (Ten Speed Press)

1/4 cup hazelnuts

2 cups blueberries

4 tablespoons maple syrup

2 cups plain drained yogurt (see Note below) or Greek yogurt

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat and add the hazelnuts. Boil for 30 seconds, then drain. Immediately wrap the hot hazelnuts in a dishtowel and rub them in the folds of the towel to remove the brown skin. Some bits of skin may cling to the nuts, but remove as much as you can. Put the skinned hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown and fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Let cool, then chop very coarsely.

Set aside 2/3 cup blueberries. Put the remaining blueberries in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons maple syrup. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries collapse completely and release their dark purple juice, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the reserved blueberries. The mixture will be thin. Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and chill.

At serving time, divide the yogurt among 4 parfait glasses or wine glasses. Top each portion with some of the chilled blueberries and hazelnuts, dividing them evenly, and with 1 teaspoon maple syrup. Serve immediately.

Note: To make drained yogurt, scoop yogurt into a sieve or colander lined with a triple thickness of dampened cheesecloth. Set over a bowl to collect the whey. Cover with a plate or cloth to protect the yogurt (you’re not pressing it) and refrigerate until it has the consistency of Greek yogurt, 1 to 2 hours.

Serves 4.

David Layland is president of the board of directors of the Napa Farmers Market.