Archive for October, 2012
Cooler weather and the first rains of the year start to bring about the seasonal transition from summer to winter crops and the location of where they are grown. Cucumbers have already moved from California to Mexico. Zucchini, green beans and eggplants are ending in California and beginning the move to Mexico. Green beans are one of the highlights of the Thanksgiving dinner but year to year their availability is weather dependent. If we are lucky to have California green beans the demand is so high that there is never enough to go around.
For those of you who have been following our avocado blogs you know how much we love California Avocados. The season is almost over so take advantage while you can of the high oil content avocados before they are gone. The rich and creamy California avocados beat out the first of the Mexican Avocado crop which is low in flavor and oil content until later in the season. So check the stickers on your avocados or ask your produce person before you quickly pick one up at the grocery store and make sure it is California grown!
Strawberries are one item that can go until December in California depending on the weather. Then the Mexican Baja strawberry deal will kick in until mid-January or beginning of February. California strawberry production is a volatile affair in the winter. If we have a “hard” winter, weather below 45 degrees with heavy rain, you won’t find any California strawberries in the store. If our winter is mild we will have California strawberries just in time for Valentine’s Day when chocolate dipped strawberries are one of the most popular gifts.
Remember seasonality and weather are the two main things affecting the produce you will find when you shop. Follow us in future blogs as we track how produce changes with the seasons.
You saw Forbidden Fruit blueberries last week and we are excited to tell you that we will continue to have them sporadically for at least the next few weeks. Although grower Sandy Davis’s regular production starts in March, weather allowing, we enjoy small shipments in the fall and winter. This is due to numerous factors such as blueberry varietals, farming techniques and weather.
Forbidden Fruit grower Sandy Davis has chosen the blueberry varietals that match her temperate conditions which average around 75 degrees for most of the year. Forbidden Fruit is located about 15 miles from the ocean in Lompoc, Pinot Noir country in northern Santa Barbara County. Sandy takes care of her blueberry bushes by pruning them in the late summer. This helps the harvest continue through the fall and into February/March if she is lucky, when she is one of the few farmers with organic California blueberries. Blueberries are completely dependent on the weather, affecting not only the amount of blueberries she will harvest but also the flavor. When the weather is above 70 degrees the blueberries will be sweeter. As the days become shorter and the temperature dips below 70 there will be less ripening which means the blueberries will be less sweet and more tart. When Sandy knows the rain is coming she will pick earlier to avoid blueberries that are cracked or split. The flavor will be tarter because the blueberries have had less time to ripen. If there is a freeze and the weather stays under 31 for a long time the entire blueberry crop will be ruined.
As winter approaches Sandy is working week to week because you can’t predict the weather too far ahead. Each week we can look forward to a different flavor but we know the Forbidden Blueberries will always be delicious. Check back with us for updates.
The dry farmed Early Girl season is coming to a close. Make sure to snatch up some of these fantastically sweet and flavorful gems while they are still around. Read more about the highly coveted tomato here>>.
The Early Girl dry farmed tomato is a sweet tasting short-season hybrid tomato, meaning they are quick to mature after planting. The Early Girl originated in France and was introduced to the United States in the 1970’s and has since become extremely popular in California.
Dry farming conserves water by relying primarily on residual moisture in the soil left after the rainy season. Once the plants have become established, all irrigation is cut off to the fields. This lack of water stresses the plants, forcing their roots deep into the soil in search of water and nutrients. Due to the tomato’s lower water content, the result is a smaller, vibrantly red and tremendously flavorful treat. Dry farmed Early Girls boast high levels of vitamins A and C and a stronger outer skin that won’t easily bruise.
Farmers initially began dry farming their tomatoes out of necessity; they either didn’t have access to water or didn’t have electricity to pump irrigation water from underground aquifers to their fields. The highly coveted flavor associated with dry farmed tomatoes today was just an added benefit.
Earl’s buys its Early Girls from a variety of growers but is currently featuring product from Tutti Frutti Farms, located off the central coast in Lompoc, California where Chris Cadwell has been growing for over 25 years. Cadwell says “Early Girl tomatoes are more adaptable to the coast (Mediterrean climate of warm, dry days with low moisture in the winter and spring) and have that good old fashion tomato taste the public loves”.
We anticipate having Early Girls in stock through October but the onset of early rains will end their short season so enjoy them now! Some of the best ways to eat an Early Girl are out of hand, tossed in a salad, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, added to pasta, or roasted with olive oil, garlic slices, salt and pepper.