Archive for January, 2012
We are able to continue to enjoy apples and pears long after they are harvested back in October/ November by keeping them in storage. As soon as the apples and pears are harvested they are divided into two kinds of storage, fresh and CA (controlled atmosphere). Storage delays the normal ripening and aging process. As time goes on the sugar, starch and acid content changes, water is lost and the fruit withers and decays.
Most apples you will purchase before the New Year are taken from fresh storage where the fruit is put into a chilled cellar or cooler and kept between 32-36 degrees F with high air humidity and some air circulation. You can compare this to storage in your refrigerator at home.
After the fresh storage supply runs out, apples and pears are pulled from CA storage (Controlled Atmosphere). In CA, apples and pears are stored in airtight coolers where the oxygen level in the air is reduced and the carbon dioxide level is increased to slow down the maturation process to a near halt. Temperatures are kept at a consistent 32–36 degrees F with 95 percent humidity. This is a non-chemical process and the exact conditions vary by apple and pear variety, allowing many varieties to be stored into the winter, spring and even summer months. Gala’s are one of the first apples we are now seeing coming out of CA (controlled atmosphere).
When the apples and pears are brought out of hibernation for packing they will begin to ripen and break down quickly. It is best to enjoy them right away and keep them in your refrigerator until eaten. Once the CA (controlled atmosphere) storage of apples and pears run out, the supplies are augmented by apples and pears from the southern hemisphere until the season starts up again in the fall.
The 32nd Annual Eco-Farm Conference is only 5 days away and although there are so many seminars to choose from there really is something for everyone. As I mentioned in my previous blog I will be at the farm tour all day Wednesday. Thursday and Friday the seminars start around 8am and continue through 5pm. Thursday morning it is a toss-up between Multi-Farm CSA’s and Collaborative Farming and National Organic Regulations Update. CSA’s are a great way to get a variety of fresh produce either delivered directly to your door or to pick up at a central location. By purchasing produce from a CSA you are supporting local farmers while receiving produce fresh from the farm. The seminar will talk about the story of a new 15-farm collaborative in California’s Capay Valley. I am also interested in learning from the National Organic Program(NOP) about the latest issues and policies that affect everyone who is certified organic or consumes organic food.
Thursday afternoon I am contemplating the Food Hubs and Value Based Supply Chains seminar or Extend the Harvest with Fermentation. There is growing excitement and interest about food hubs and values-based supply chains. These new and emerging food distribution enterprises and networks carry values from field to fork, provide greater producer access to wholesale markets and create equitable, transparent relationships with farmers and ranchers. Happy Girl Kitchens and Farmhouse Culture from Santa Cruz will be exploring the history, science and how-to of vegetables ferments like krauts, kimchis and pickles. If you have never tried Happy Girl or Farmhouse Culture’s products you are in for a treat! They can be found at farmers markets all over the bay area.
Other events are going on throughout Thursday including Artisian Cheese and Beer Tasting, Art Show with photography of ecological foodies and farmers at work and a talk about On The Farm and In The School Garden hosted by Organically Grown Company.
February 1-4, the oldest and largest yearly ecological agricultural gathering in the West, the Eco-Farm conference, meets to create, maintain and promote healthy, safe and just food farming systems. Earl’s Organics has been a proud sponsor for 17 years. Over 1,500 people will attend the 3 day conference in beautiful Asilomar, located in Pacific Grove, nestled between Carmel and Monterey off the California coast. Earl’s will have a large group going down for Eco-Farm with plans to attend workshops, network and meet with clients and growers. There will be 60 workshops covering all aspects of ecological farming and food and farmer discussion groups. I will be starting off Eco-Farm with the Farm Tour and learning about organic farming on the central coast. Our stops include the University of California Santa Cruz CASFS Farm, Yellow Wall Farm, Bonny Doon Winery and Fogline Farm. I hope to see some of you on the Farm Tour!
Ever wonder what those tiny little orange citrus are and how you eat them? Kumquats are a unique member of the citrus family and are thought to come from China. The name comes from the Chinese words chin kan meaning golden orange. Kumquats can be hard to find at times but worth searching out. No need to peel, you can just pop the whole fruit in your mouth. The oval shaped Nagami is the most commonly sold with a sweet rind and tart flesh. The second most commonly seen variety is the round shaped Meiwa with a spicy sweet rind and flesh. You may find a few seeds inside but they are edible.
Kumquat trees are very hardy with a prolonged dormancy stage and almost never grow more than 12 feet. They require a warm summer and can withstand temperatures down to 14 degrees. The trees don’t start growing until there is warm weather and they don’t blossom until midsummer. If you can grow Meyer lemons in your backyard then a kumquat tree would most likely grow well. They are in season from November to June.
Kumquats can be used to make candied peels, preserves or marmalades. They can be sliced and added to salads or used as a garnish in cocktails. Kumquats provide potassium, vitamins A and C and are a good source of fiber.
As a reminder, let all citrus come to room temperature first and then roll it on the counter a few times to bring out the full essence of the fruit and to yield more juice.
Imagine 2 huge halls full of specialty food and beverages as far as the eye could see and you have the 37th annual Winter Fancy Food Show. The WFFS set down in San Francisco’s Moscone Center January 15th-17t and it is the West Coast’s largest specialty food and beverage event with over 80,000 specialty foods and beverages from 1,300 exhibitors in over 35 countries.
This was a chance to network with 17,000 of your peers and build new relationships. As a representative of Earl’s Organics I was in search of unique certified organic specialty food items, the more local the better.
I started Sunday off bright and early with an educational seminar about Industry Trends in Specialty Gourmet. Not surprising is retailers and manufacturers engagement with social media, mobile strategies and apps to create a one to one relationship with consumers. There was even a social media corner where anyone could use the computers to tweet or post on Facebook during the show. All the tweets using the hashtag #WFFS12 showed up on a huge screen where everyone could check out what was going on at the show.
Sunday and Monday I walked the North and the South halls all day checking out the newest items on the market, visiting the Savor California corner and visiting booths carrying every imaginable kind of snack, gourmet spice, pasta, chocolate, sauce, condiment, dried fruit and vegetable, beverage, olive, cheese, seafood, meat and more. Over half the South Hall was devoted to other countries, such as Italy, France, Germany, Mexico and Japan. It was mind boggling the sheer amount of products out there on the market. It was an amazing experience not to be forgotten any time soon.