Archive for January, 2016
We are still seeing the residual effect of hurricane Patricia which ripped through parts of Mexico last October. As the growers are waiting for the banana trees to make a full recovery from the storm, supply is tight. The fruit being harvested is young and stubborn and taking longer to ripen. We are estimating that supply will remain tight through February. We are looking at all options to supply our customers with high quality organic bananas. Thank you for your support during this challenging time.
Josie’s red cabbage are a stunning deep purple with a striata of green veins running throughout. The outer leaves on these dense heads are still intact indicating a lack of bug damage. The beautiful misty layer of blueish coating on the leaves is known as the bloom and is a sign of freshness. The more pronounced the bloom the closer to harvest the cabbage is. The red color is due to flavonoids, an antioxidant that is thought to help reduce cancer. Red cabbage is also a great source of fiber and vitamin C. Just one cup of chopped red cabbage has 56% of the recommended daily dose. Josie’s produce is grown in Bakersfield at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley about 5 hours south of San Francisco.
Fragrant California grown Meyer lemons have soft thin skin with a deep yellow color and they are sweeter and less acidic than a Eureka or Lisbon lemon. The thin skin means they can be eaten peel and all! Their sweeter flavor lends themselves perfectly to desserts. It is believed they are a cross between a common lemon and a mandarin or orange. As with all citrus they are best eaten at room temperature. Roll them gently on the counter to get the juices going and then eat away! Start your morning off right with a few lemon slices in warm water and a pinch of cayenne to give your digestive system a kick start.
Moro Blood Orange season is just starting up and the floral fragrance will only increase as we get farther into the season. The colors range from a deep purple to the various shades of a sunset. It is still not known exactly why the insides turn red but it could be because blood oranges contain anthocyanins, a family of pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits. Anthocyanins contain antioxidants which help protect our body from free radicals which can lead to degenerative diseases and pre-mature aging of the skin. Blood oranges are also packed full of vitamin C which helps strengthen our immunity system. Hot days and cold nights are needed to bring out the best flavor so it is no surprise that Moros are commercially grown in Southern California, Texas and Florida. Earl’s bloods are coming out of San Diego County, California.
Recently it was brought to our attention that the Arabic word Kafir is a highly offensive, even legally actionable, racial slur in South Africa. There are many theories as to the origin and original intent of the term kaffir. Out of concern for using such a hurtful word to describe a unique and wonderful piece of fruit, Earl’s Organic will now be calling the Kaffir Lime the Makrut lime, as they are known in Thailand.
Thai cuisine utilizes both the lime and leaves. The zest contains a high concentration of aromatic oils and is used in many Thai curries and medical tonics. The rind is thought to be good for the digestive system, similar to galangal. The fruit contains a small amount of juice that can be added sparingly to dishes for additional flavor. One of my favorite recipes is an easy Makrut lime sea salt that makes a refreshing condiment and also goes perfecting around the glass rim of your favorite cocktail. Mix the zest of 3-4 Makrut limes, 6-8 finely chopped Makrut lime leaves and 1 cup of sea salt. Find more Thai recipes using Makrut Limes here.
Have you ever wondered why you can continue to enjoy domestic apples and pears long after they are harvested in October/November? Growers extend the life of their fruit by keeping them in cold storage, effectively slowing down the natural ageing and ripening process. As time goes on the sugar, starch and acid content changes, water is lost and the fruit withers and decays.
Apples and pears are divided into either fresh or controlled atmosphere (CA) storage. Most fruit through the end of the year is taken from fresh storage where fruit is put into a chilled cellar or cooler and kept between 32 and 36 degrees F with high air humidity and some air circulation. A good comparison is your refrigerator at home. When the fresh storage runs out apples and pears will then be pulled from CA storage.
Only the best quality fruit is chosen for long term CA storage. The fruit is stored in airtight coolers where they remain in a state of “sleeping” until the rooms are opened up at a predesignated time. CA is a non-chemical process where the oxygen level is reduced to about 1-2% by infusing nitrogen gas to slow down the maturation process to a near halt. Think of sleeping beauty under a spell and how she never aged a day until she woke up.
Temperatures are kept at a consistent 32–36 degrees F with 95 percent humidity. The exact conditions of each room vary by apple and pear variety, allowing many varieties to be stored into the winter, spring and even summer months. The storage life of apples in CA can last up to 12months and up to 10 months for pears depending on the variety. The higher the starch in the fruit, the longer it can be stored.
When the apples and pears are brought out of hibernation for packing they will begin to ripen and break down quickly as starches turn to sugar again. It is best to enjoy them right away and keep them in your refrigerator until eaten. Once the CA 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.
In the twenty years Earl’s Organic has been working with Lakeside it is great to see them reach such an important goal. We congratulation Dick Peixoto and the Lakeside family on fulfilling their dream.
Lakeside Organic Gardens Provides $2 Million in Funding for Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Learning Center
by Lakeside Marketing
January 8, 2016 – Dick Peixoto’s dream of having an educational facility to showcase organic farming is closer to becoming a reality. Dick and the Peixoto family have contributed $2 million dollars to the development of an organic and sustainable agriculture learning center. This center will be a resource for people interested in starting an organic farm, learning about organic farming or those just interested in seeing how their food is grown organically. The facility, which is still in the planning stages, will incorporate education, history, techniques and future innovations of organic farming. All aspects of organic and sustainable agriculture will be benefited, including careers in organic farming.
Lakeside Organic Gardens announced these plans in conjunction with the $2 million dollar gift to the Pajaro Valley non-profit organization “Agri-Culture, Inc.” Lakeside will be working directly with Agri-Culture, Inc. to facilitate the development of the fund and learning center.
The purpose of this learning center in the Pajaro Valley is to educate, train, teach and otherwise advance public knowledge of all aspects of organic and sustainable farming practices, including jobs and careers. This development will open up many great opportunities for the organic agriculture community to collaborate.
Dick Peixoto, founder of Lakeside Organic Gardens, stated: “The public has shown us a strong interest in organic and sustainable agriculture. I feel strongly that the proposed learning center will create opportunities that will allow the public to advance its knowledge while encouraging careers in organic agriculture through education and focused training programs.”
In receiving the gift, Agri-Culture, Inc. President, Steve Bontadelli stated, “We are honored to be chosen to help Dick Peixoto and his family fulfill their dream of providing educational programs focused on organic and sustainable agriculture.” Bontadelli further commented, “Our area has been the leader in organic and sustainable agriculture. It’s wonderful that the program Dick Peixoto envisions will benefit the public, the industry and our local area.”
Jess Brown, Executive Director of Agri-Culture, Inc. noted “Other individuals, corporations, foundations, etc. that see the importance of this vision are encouraged to donate to the fund so that more programs can be provided.”