Archive for June, 2013
Galia melons are a hybrid melon developed in Israel with a yellow-green flesh. They are a cross between a cantaloupe and a honeydew. You can tell when it’s ripe by the Galia’s intense fragrance. Choose melons with a golden-green color. They are rich in potassium which is essential for proper hydration. Perfect for summertime!
Kent mangos have an almost completely smooth flesh with very little fibers. This means you won’t be getting stringy pieces between your teeth when you bite into that delicious mango. Kent’s are not covered in the typical red blush we associate with a ripe mango. The outside skin is mostly green and yellow with a little red blush- but don’t let the color throw you off. The sweet flavor and smooth flesh of the Kent mango makes them worth seeking out. Kent mangos will have a yellow undertone with speckled dots as they are ripening. The real test is to gently squeeze the mango. You want the mango to feel soft to the touch. Slight wrinkling of the skin is also a good thing and nothing to be worried about. This is another sign of ripeness. Kent mangos are coming out of Mexico until the end of August or beginning of September when the California Kent mangos will start.
The Kent mango is one of Earl’s employees favorite mangos because it is less fibrous compared to the Tommy Atkin variety. Try pairing the mango with California avocados. Click here for some delicious recipes from the California Avocado commission.
It is with great regret that we announce the closing of Cedar Mills Eco-Farm in Pioneer, California. So ends a relationship that started in October, 2004. As many of you might know, the owner John Van Diepen passed away in a tragic farm accident in December, 2011. Since then although the farm has had two good years, finances make it no longer possible to continue operating. We will miss the crew at Cedar Mills including Casey and Nina who have done a great job continuing to produce an extraordinary product. We want to thank everyone for your support.
Fragrant melons remind me of summer picnics and bbq’s. Golden orange Cantaloupes, aromatic Galia melons, perfumed Charentais, Honeydew, Orange Flesh, and red and yellow seeded and seedless watermelon are all currently at Earl’s Organic. It was a good spring with little rain so we are expecting it to be a great melon season this year.
The California melon harvest is now finishing up in Brawley and El Centro in the southern end of the Imperial Valley in the desert, less than an hour to the border of Mexico and out of Coachella north of the Salton Sea and about half hour south of Palm Springs. As the weather continues to get warmer we are beginning to see melon production move north to the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. Melons are just now starting up in the Bakersfield/ Lamont area and 2 hours further north in Coalinga. This will last until about July 15th as we move to the northern end of the San Joaquin Valley where melons will be coming out of Firebaugh and Los Banos. Mid-July into August melons will move up through the San Joaquin Valley into Yolo County near Sacramento. We hope that with each blog Earl’s readers are becoming more familiar with the California growing regions by season.
Picking a ripe melon is very difficult and is not an exact science. Melons ripen on the vine and do not get any sweeter once picked although texture and flavor can improve. Netted varieties such as muskmelons, Galia and Charentais will “slip” off the vine when ripe. There will be a slight cracking in the area around the stem and the melons will separate from the vine naturally. The skin under the netting will slightly change to yellow. Other melons with hard smooth skin such as the Honeydew melon or Casaba will change color and have a waxy feel when ripe. The best way to tell if they are ripe is to cut one open and taste it.
There are no hard and fast rules but you can use these suggestions as guidelines when shopping. Melons covered in netting such as a Cantaloupe, Galia, or Haogen will be very fragrant when ripe. Make sure to smell the stem end before buying. You can check the ripeness of most melons by gently pressing on the blossom end of the melon, the end opposite of the stem. A melon should be ready to eat when it gently yields to pressure. If your finger breaks the skin of the melon it is over ripe and past its time to eat. As mentioned above melons with hard smooth skins are harder to tell when ripe. The Honeydew melon for example will become waxy and almost sticky when ripe. Your best bet is to cut them open and taste them.
Watermelons are too thick to do the press test. One way to try and determine the ripeness of a watermelon is to thump on the rind with your knuckles and listen for a dull thunking sound. The juiciest melons will be heavy for their size. Picking watermelons in a field by ripeness is an art and not a science.
Melons that have been well tended to will have a small area called a couche that has been flattened and is discolored from sitting on the ground. If the couche is too prominent or large it means the melons were not turned over or propped up during the growing season.
In mid-July we can start looking forward to more specialty varieties. Stay tuned for blog updates and photos of new varieties on Earl’s Kitchen Table on Facebook and our NEW pinterest page.
The California Cherry crop is officially over and supply is now coming out of the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately heavy rains in Washington State continue causing further damage to the cherry crop. Rain or wind can cause the ripe cherries to split or crack and that part of the crop is lost. The cherries dangle together in groups of 2 to 6 pieces of fruit and the wind can cause them to bang up against each other, causing bruising on the shoulders of the fruit, the area near the stem. For the consumer this means a shorter cherry season and it’s possible that you will see higher prices than usual.