It’s hard to grow peaches and nectarines in the Willamette Valley. Because of the eight months or so of nearly ceaseless rain, the trees have to be sprayed against the deadly peach-leaf curl, and the spraying must be done at times when you usually can’t spray, because it’s raining.
I generally fail to spray, and I’ve had trees die for that reason. So a few years ago I planted a nectarine variety that’s supposed to be resistant to leaf curl. Discovered by Roland Kreibich in western Washington and available from One Green World, this new variety produces nectarines that are both small and late but also white-fleshed and deliciously flavored–except for a distinct bitter note.
Here’s my first crop of ‘Kreibich’. See the chewed spots? The damage was done by cucumber beetles, who were all over the fruits at harvest time. I’d kept the bitter-loving beetles away from the cucumbers this year by interplanting the cukes with marigolds. So apparently the beetles found a new source of embitterment in my young ‘Kreibich’ tree.
The fruit had to be used fast. The bitterness, I found, was mostly in the skins, which were ravaged anyway. So I’d peel the nectarines. Then they would be perfect for canning in syrup or, even better, for pickling.
It was an excellent tart, actually. Although Becca hadn’t bothered to peel the nectarines, the sugar disguised their bitterness. And the spicy quince jelly with which she had glazed the tart complemented the smoothness and fragrance of the nectarines. After the first bite I stopped complaining that I couldn’t make nectarine pickles.
Little has yet been written on the ‘Kreibich’ nectarine, but a grower on Vashon Island, Washington, writes that early rains cause the fruits to split. I haven’t had this problem, perhaps only because September has been dry this year. I can’t swear to the worthiness of this variety after just one year’s harvest, but I have high hopes for next year. After another year’s growth, maybe I’ll get a tart and a quart or two of nectarine pickles besides.
UPDATE 2022: One year, before we sold the farm, our tree did experience fruit splitting, because of early rains. And in our last two years it also suffered some leaf curl. ‘Kreibich’ is resistant but not immune to that disease.