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Archive for October, 2013

Pomegrante

The outside of a pomegranate is very hard and only the inside arils which cover the seeds in a red translucent material are edible.  It may seem like a lot of work to get to the arils, but it is well worth it. For the full post click here.

Pomegrante (1)

Pomegranates

Pomegranates are native to Persia, now called Iran. They are one of the oldest fruits grown with evidence reaching back as far as 2000 B.C. In the United States they enjoy the drier climates of California and Arizona. Earl’s pomegranates are coming out of Arvin, CA which is about 30 minutes south of Bakersfield in the San Joaquin Valley. The season typically runs from September to February.

The outside of a pomegranate is very hard and only the inside arils which cover the seeds in a red translucent material are edible.  It may seem like a lot of work to get to the arils, but it is well worth it. Cut off the top and bottom of the fruit, score the fruit and then open it into two halves. Place the halves in a bowl of water and use your fingers to gently separate the seeds from the white, spongy membrane. The inedible white membranes will float to the top of the water and leave you all the delicious arils at the bottom. Be careful not to get the juice on your hands and clothes because it will stain.

For step by step instructions with photos on how to seed a pomegranate click here.

Look for pomegranates with a full bright red to dark red color. You also want fruit that feels heavy for their size, which means they are super juicy.  Drastic changes in temperature from cold to hot or rain can cause the fruit to crack. This is not a bad thing! In fact the fruit will be bursting with juice and ready to go!

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Pomegrantes are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties which researches believe may help to reduce high cholesterol and high blood pressure. I like to sprinkle arils over a spinach salad. The green and red together make a beautiful salad during the holiday season. Please share your recipes on our Facebook page.

Satsumas Are Coming…

Memories of sweet juicy Satsumas are coming back to me as November draws closer. We can expect the first Satsuma Mandarins to land at Earl’s by the end of October, a little earlier than last year. This could partially be due to a consistently warmer spring and very little temperature fluctuation during the growing season.

Side Hill Citrus in Lincoln, CA, located in the Sacramento foothills, has the best Satsuma Mandarins in our opinion. Rich Ferreira is a 4th generation farmer who started with only 75 trees back in 1975. Rich has been certified organic since 1991 and now has over 2000 trees. The combination of a higher elevation of 600 feet, nutrient filled organic clay soil, warm summer days and cool nights bring out the delicious flavor in Rich’s Satsumas.

Satsumas are perfect for a quick snack anytime. The peel comes right off and there are virtually no seeds. If you are feeling under the weather eat four or five Satsumas a day to receive six to seven times as much synephrine, a natural decongestant, as other citrus.

Don’t miss the 20th annual Mandarin Festival this year in Auburn, CA at the Gold County Fairgrounds. November 22nd, 23rd and 24th taste Mandarins from local growers and try a fun variety of Mandarin inspired food including mandarin shakes, chocolate dipped mandarins, mandarin dessert pizza and more.  http://www.mandarinfestival.com/

We will let you know when the Side Hill Citrus Satsumas arrive at Earl’s. Stay tuned!

Satsuma Mandarin

Persimmons

Have you ever tried a persimmon and thought you didn’t like it? Hachiyas and Fuyus are the two main commercial varieties of persimmons in the United States and are eaten very differently.  Hachiyas are tapered and shaped like an acorn. If you accidentally tried a piece of Hachiya before it was completely jelly soft, the astringency and bitterness would leave a fuzzy taste in your mouth. Hachiyas need to be fully ripened until they are almost translucent and EXTREMELY soft. If you think any part of the fruit is still firm you need to wait. Cut a ripe Hachiya in half and scoop out the delicious fruit or use the pulp in cakes, cookies and muffins.

Fuyu’s are short, squat and non-astrigent and when ripe they have a sweet flavor with a hint of cinnamon and apricot.   You can eat them raw when they are firm or soft and they do not need to be peeled.  Fuyu’s can be eaten like an apple, cut up and eaten on their own or great in a salad.  You may sometimes find a few seeds inside but they are easy to eat around. Try making a Fuyu persimmon salad with cumin-lime vinaigrette.

Fuyu Persimmons

The harvest usually starts around the beginning of October and goes through December. It can extend into January if there is no winter freeze.  California grows almost 100% of the persimmon crop in the United States followed by Florida, Texas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Missouri. In California over half of the persimmons are grown in Tulare and Fresno counties. Earl’s Hachiyas are grown in Fresno and the Fuyus are grown in Kern County, near Bakersfield and Madera about half hour north of Fresno. The other main areas are Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties and a very small amount are grown in Sutter and Placer counties north of Sacramento.

Persimmons unlike many fruits will keep longer if left at room temperature.  Once they are in the refrigerator they will go soft faster and will need to be eaten quickly. Look for persimmons with smooth skin and no bruising. Persimmons are an excellent source of Vitamin A, C and fiber and full of antioxidants.

Cool fact: The light colored, fine-grained wood from a persimmon tree is used to make billard cues, drum sticks, golf clubs and furniture.

If you have never tried a persimmon this is the year to be adventurous and pick one up at the store. We would love to hear your comments and recipes on Earl’s Facebook page.

Stokes Purple Sweet Potato

The Stokes Purple sweet potato plant is in the same family as the morning glory.  It produces a large sweet tasting tuberous root classified as a root vegetable.  Purple sweet potatoes obtain their rich purple color from the phytochemical, anthocyanin. Phytochemicals are found in brightly colored, nutrient-dense foods and may offer the most protective health benefits against cancer and other diseases.

Purple sweet potatoes are also high in dietary fiber, calcium, iron and low in fat and sodium.  We love that they maintain their beautiful purple color when cooked. Try making baked purple sweet potato French fries!

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