Archive for September, 2011
Lake County, CA about 3 hours north of San Francisco, has been growing the best Bartlett pears since 1885. Lake County receives cooling wind from over the mountains that separates Lake County from Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and the sea. Pear trees are typically in production for 50 to 75 years, although some trees still produce fruit after 100 years. Pears are grown all over the United States but most pear varieties require about 1,000 to 1,200 hours below 45 degrees F during the winter to complete their dormant period.
Dan and Alice Todd of Todd Organics are 4th generation farmers with 32 acres of organic Bartlett green and red pears in Potter Valley located just north of Lake County. Dan bought part of his father’s operation in 1976 and started the transition to organic in 1985 after deciding there had to be a better way to farm. His family lives on the farm next to the orchard and he was concerned about the chemicals and how they would affect his family. Dan built a feeling of connectedness to the land to hand down to his children who are now in their 20’s and married with children. The creeks and natural habitat have many beneficial insects. Abundant wildlife include deer and bears which they try to discourage from eating the pears. Dan has been composting for years and grows cover crops such as legumes to maintain healthy soil.
As we have seen throughout the year the cold and moist weather has affected most crops, including pears. Problems with mildew have resulted in lost crops and a later harvest. Bartlett pears are usually done being harvested mid to late August but this year the harvest finished in mid -September. The farm is located 1000 feet above sea level and the hot days and cool nights grow delicious pears. When the fruit stays on the trees longer they develop a higher sugar content and more intense flavor.
Bartlett pears found in California are sourced on the west coast from California, Washington and Oregon. We feel that the California Bartlett pears have the best flavor. Bartlett’s can be found from August all the way through the holidays and are picked mature when they are still green but not ripe. They ripen and brown from the inside out and have a sweet aroma. Test your pear for ripeness by applying gentle pressure to the stem. If it gives slightly it is starting to ripen. If the body of the pear gives when you gently apply pressure it is overripe. Don’t buy ripe pears, let them ripen at home. If you plan to eat them in a 3-5 days buy them green and let them ripen on your counter, not in the refrigerator. If you plan to eat them in 1-2 days buy them yellow. Be adventurous with your food and cut a slice from a Bartlett pear when you think it’s ripe. A perfectly ripe pear is a thing of beauty, so have fun experimenting with how long it takes for your pears to ripen until you get that perfect pear that blows you away! You can refrigerate ripe pears for 3-5 days, but they are best eaten right away.
Bartlett pears are perfect eaten out of hand, tossed in a salad, used for canning and they also go great paired with cheese and wine.
Bartlett Pear Crisp With Cinnamon Tortilla Chips and Vanilla Ice Cream
Rusty Irons / foodnetwork.com
2 Bartlett pears
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup rolled oats
6 tablespoons butter
2 to 3 flour tortillas
Slice 2 Bartlett pears in half, brush with melted butter and place skin side down on the grill for 20 minutes. Make a crispy topping by combining 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/3 cup rolled oats, add 6 tablespoons cold butter and cut all together with a fork or by hand. When pears are starting to get tender, sprinkle crispy topping on the pears for the last 10 minutes of grilling time. Meanwhile, brush fresh flour tortillas with melted butter and grill 2 minutes each side. Remove from grill, brush a little butter on 1 side and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. When cooled, cut tortillas in quarters to be served later. Remove pears from grill, placing each pear in a single serving bowl with a dollop of ice cream surrounded by cinnamon tortilla chips. Serve immediately.
Bartlett Pear and Gorgonzola Bruchetta
Susan Flint / productoasis.com
12 baguette slices
4oz mild, creamy Gorgonzola at room temperature
2 ripe Bartlett pears, halved, cored, and peeled
Preheat oven to 400F. Place the baguette slices on a non-stick or ungreased baking sheet. Toast until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside. Spread each piece of toast with a thin layer of Gorgonzola. Slice the pears and then top each of the toasts with them and return to the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet under the broiler for 2 or 3 minutes, just long enough to melt the cheese and warm the pears. Garnish with fresh ground pepper.
Bartlett Pear and Caramelized Walnut Salad
M Seliga / productoasis.com
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups water
1 cup 1/4” diced walnut pieces
3 tbsp white sugar
8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 cups mesclun mixed lettuce
1 cup 1/2” diced canned pears
1 cup caramelized walnuts
3/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/2 cup dressing
DRESSING: Combine dressing ingredients and whisk until thoroughly combined. Yields 1/2 cup.
WALNUTS: Boil water. Add walnuts and cook 40 seconds. Strain the walnuts. Combine walnuts and sugar in a bowl. Stir to coat. Place sugar-covered walnuts on a sheet pan and bake at 325F for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
SALAD: Combine ingredients in bowl and toss until evenly coated with dressing.
Earl’s Organic participated at Local Bites this past Sunday from 2-5pm at The Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. We handed out delicious Mission, Adriatic and Candystripe figs in the west garden and talked about organic farming and our growers. Check out our recipe page for how to make delicious fig pizza, fig salsa and honey baked figs with ice cream.
We were joined by chefs who employ green practices, crafting and sampling their tasty bites. Rock The Bike pedal powered amazing ice cream including peanut butter cup and toffee flavored. City Bee handed out samples of unique locally made honey and Kendra from the Academy showed us what vegetables the Academy of Sciences has been growing on their rooftop garden. If you missed us look for us next month on October 23rd at the last Local Bites of the year. http://www.calacademy.org/localbites/
Pizza with Figs, Prosciutto, Gorgonzola and Arugula
Bon Appétit | August 2009 by Jeanne Thiel Kelley
1 1-pound package purchased pizza dough
2 cups (generous) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
6 small fresh figs, cut into 1/4- to 1/3-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons fig balsamic vinegar, divided
8 thin slices prosciutto
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 cups arugula
Preheat oven to 450°F. Sprinkle large rimless baking sheet generously with cornmeal. Roll out dough on floured
work surface to 12×10-inch rectangle; transfer to prepared sheet. Sprinkle Gorgonzola and ground pepper over
dough. Place figs in a medium bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon vinegar. Set aside. Bake pizza crust 15-20 min
until golden brown on bottom. Cover pizza dough with prosciutto slices and then the figs. Bake until figs are
just heated through, about 1 minute. Transfer pizza to cutting board. In a large bowl whisk remaining 1 tablespoon
vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add arugula and toss to coat. Mound salad on top of
the pizza. Cut into pieces and serve.
Fresh Fig Salsa
New Leaf Community Market Flavor | September 2011
1 pound firm-ripe California figs
2 fresh green onions, sliced crosswise
2 medium dry-farmed tomatoes; peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 cup peeled and diced Keitt mango
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons grated lime peel
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Wash, stem and dice figs to make 2 cups. Combine with remaining ingredients and chill several hours. Serve with broiled or grilled fish, chicken, pork, beef or lamb or with chips for dipping.
Honey-Baked Figs with Ice Cream
Food&Wine Magazine | January 2011
12 fresh figs
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
4 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 tablespoons water
1 pint vanilla ice cream
Heat the oven to 425°. Cut the stems off the figs. Rub the oil over the figs and put them in a baking pan, stem-side up. Cut a cross in the top of each fig, cutting almost to the bottom. Drizzle the honey over the figs. Top each one with a piece of the butter. Bake the figs until they open up like flowers, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Put the figs on plates, add the water to the pan, return the pan to the oven for 1 minute, and then stir to make a sauce. Drizzle the sauce over the warm figs and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.
The strange weather this year, consisting of longer winter weather and heavy rains, has affected both wine grapes and table grapes resulting in a late harvest, fungal problems and a later arrival to markets. When the weather is continually damp and wet the grapes don’t have a chance for the moisture to dry out, resulting in mildew. Organic growers will use a dusting of sulfur to dry out the mildew. Unfortunately this can result in some scaring on the grapes and thinner skin which causes some grapes to rupture and split. This means a smaller crop of grapes and higher prices.
The average American consumes about 8 pounds of grapes a year and 98% of those come from California, where the warm climate grows the sweetest grapes. Grapes are always picked ripe and do not ripen off the vine. The harvest season for popular California grapes lasts the better part of a year, starting in the spring with grapes harvested in the Coachella Valley on the Northern shore of the Salton Sea. Summer table grapes can be found continuing north through the entire San Joaquin Valley.
Grapes have been around since biblical times, documented by its evidence in ancient relics from Egypt and Rome. In California and Mexico, Franciscan monks planted grafted European wine grape varieties to American rootstocks resulting in many of the varieties we now see in today’s markets. English settler William Thompson planted a Mediterranean grape called the “Oval Kishmish” near Yuba City north of Sacramento. This popular variety is now known as the Thompson Seedless.
There are over 60 varieties of grapes grown in the state of California. Some of the top green grapes include Thompson Seedless grapes which are one of the sweetest and are available through November, and the larger Princess grapes which are available through December. Autumn King green grapes from the Fresno area are twice as large as the Thompson Seedless and are picked starting the first part of October and you can buy them through the Christmas holidays. Although bigger in size, I have found that larger grapes don’t always mean sweeter flavor. Perlette’s are one of the beautiful early maturing grapes and larger than a Thompson Seedless with a white or amber hue, which means the grape is sweeter. For the few months out of the year that grapes are not grown in California, they can be found in local stores imported from the Southern Hemisphere, mostly from Chile.
Put grapes in your children’s lunch box, snack on a handful, mix them in a salad or freeze them in a tray and eat them like little popsicles. Studies on grapes have shown they are full of antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. What better reason do you need to snack on some grapes today?