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Archive for July, 2013

Figs are back!

Brown Turkey, Black Mission, Kadota first of the 2nd crop 2013

Brown Turkey, Black Mission and Kadota figs

The 2nd crop of figs has arrived. The level of sweetness will improve as the weeks go on. Look for peak flavor from mid August to mid September.

The Life of Luther Burbank

Many of the stone fruit varieties we see each season were developed by Luther Bank, a world-renowned horticulturist from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Luther Burbank moved to Santa Rosa in 1875 from Lancaster, Massachusetts.  He spent over 50 years of his life developing new varieties of fruits, vegetables, flowers, nuts and grains.  His experiments changed plant breeding into a modern science.

The beautiful and free Luther Burbank Home & Gardens are located in Santa Rosa, California.  The delicious Santa Rosa plum was introduced in 1906 and named after the city where Burbank spent most of his life. Other popular plum varieties still grown today are the Elephant Heart and Burbank.

Santa Rosa Plum courtesy of the Luther Burbank garden

Santa Rosa Plum courtesy of the Luther Burbank garden

Burbank experimented with cross pollinating from thousands of plants. Out of the over 800 plants that Luther Burbank introduced, 100 of them were plums, prunes and the unusual plumcot. Burbank was the first person to successfully cross a plum and an apricot resulting in a plumcot, a 50/50 cross between plums and apricots. Burbank thought that if a plum could have the protective fuzz of an apricot the fruit would not bruise as easy. Apricots have delicate blossoms that are easily damaged by late frosts and Burbank thought that the plumcots would benefit from the fact that plums are late flowering fruits. Over the years Burbank developed 15 different plumcot varieties of various shapes, sizes, coloration and flavor. Unfortunately they were hard to grow and had a bad reputation.

Luther Burbank Gardens in Santa Rosa, CA. Lena Bengstton in the flower garden.

Luther Burbank Gardens in Santa Rosa, CA. Lena Bengstton in the flower garden.

Today we celebrate Burbanks birthday as Arbor day on March 7th by planting trees in his memory. We can thank Burbank for his tireless research which has lead other plant breeders to develop new stone fruit varieties such as the pluot and aprium.

Lloyd Zaiger took Burbank’s research one step further and developed the pluot by crossing his own plum/apricot hybrids with plums. The result was a fruit that is about 75% plum and about 25% apricot. The Dapple Dandy is one of the most popular pluot varieties and is on special this week at Earl’s.

There is no hard and fast rule on how to know when stone fruit is ripe and ready to eat.  This applies to all stone fruit whether it is a plum, apricot, peach or nectarine. The difference from one day to the next can be the difference between ripe and overripe. The best advice we at Earl’s can give is to try eating your fruit on different days and experiment by trial and error.  Store the pieces of stone fruit you plan to eat within a few days on a natural cotton cloth to allow the air to circulate and to prevent bruising. In very warm weather the fruit will ripen more quickly so be sure to check your fruit each day.

Cunningham Avocados

California Hass avocados are at their peak of flavor! The creaminess and flavor of a California avocado is night and day from 3 months ago.  The flavor comes from high maturity accompanied by high oil content which translates into the best tasting avocados of the season and perfect for that summer meal.

avocado

Avoid disappointment and make sure your avocado is from California. Avocados from any other geographical region will not have that full rich flavor we have come to expect from California Hass avocados during this time of year.  We feel there is absolutely no match to the flavor of the California Hass avocado.  Don’t miss this chance to eat California Hass avocados in their prime! Earl’s has delicious 48 count Cunningham avocados out of Fallbrook in San Diego county on special this week.

Earl’s employees never seem to have a problem finishing a whole avocado but in case you want to save half for later here are some tips. Save the half with the pit in it for later. Wrap it in plastic wrap and it will still be good to eat the next day.  If you need more than a day to eat your leftover avocado try storing it in a sealed container with a piece of cut up red onion.

Bon appetite!

Cherry Sizing

Have you ever noticed when you buy a bag of cherries at the store they are typically all a uniform size? Cherry growers want to make sure the consumer is buying only the highest quality cherry so the cherries go through a machine before being packed to determine the size and quality of the cherry. Cherries have the same size pit regardless of the size of the cherry. The larger the cherry the more flesh on the fruit which demands a premium price.

The industry measurement for cherries is determined by their row size. The smaller the row number the larger the cherry.  For example if 10 cherries fit in a row inside the box the cherries were called a 10 row box. This method came about when cherry growers used to pack the top layer of a box in a neat row. Sizes can vary from about the largest 8 size row to the smallest 12 size row.

Cherry rows

Courtesy of www.stemilt.com

The smaller sizes don’t get packed for retailers and will end up being processed for juice or other consumer goods such as cherry pie filling.  Small cherry growers do not usually have the machines to size their cherries and will pack in bulk mixing large and small sizes at a better price to the consumer.

CherrySizingChart

Courtesy of www.stemilt.com

Organic cherries are currently coming out of the Pacific Northwest and we are expecting the season to end early to mid-August. Make sure to get your cherries while they are still in season!

Plums and Pluots

Hiromi Red Plum, Crimson Glo Plum and Dapple Fire Pluot. Did you know a Pluot is a cross between a plum and an apricot with most of the fruit being a plum? More on stonefruit and plumcots in a future blog.

 

 

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