Archive for April, 2016
The California citrus season kicks off each year with Satsuma Mandarins in November and continues into March/April with such delicious varieties as the Cara Cara, Blood Orange, Minneola, a variety of Mandarins and of course grapefruits. Click here for more information on these delicious citrus varieties.
In the United States citrus can be grown in a narrow area that extends from northern California (think Side Hill Satsumas north of Sacramento), to central California, think Fresno, and down to southern California , mostly in San Diego County and California’s Coachella Valley (Palm Springs down to El Centro). The area continues eastward through the low-elevation deserts of Arizona, into southern Texas, along the Gulf Coast and south through Florida. (Lance Walheim, Citrus A Complete Guide).
What to expect over the next few months:
- The California Navel season has about two weeks left until the season starts up again at the end of the year.
- The Mexican Valencia season is winding down as temperatures heat up. Although Valencias like the heat, once it gets above 100 degrees Fahrenheit the quality of the fruit is comprised.
- As the winter citrus season is ending, the California Valencia season is starting up out of Riverside, in Southern California. With all citrus, the first fruit off the tree will be lower in sugar and higher in acid. For an early piece of fruit we feel the Valencias have very good flavor. Look for specials just in time for mimosas on Mother’s Day! Valencias are the go to citrus for juicing and eating out of hand as we move into summer when the sweetness and flavor is at its peak. The season will continue into September/October and we will be offering both retail and juicing grades to our customers. Check out our weekly specials posted each week on our website.
- Two to four medium oranges = 1 cup of juice
- Two medium oranges = 1 cup of bite-size pieces
- One medium orange = 10 to 12 sections
- One medium orange = 4 teaspoons of grated peel
Forbidden Fruit Blueberries On Special! Perfect weather has given us perfect blueberries with outstanding flavor.
Sandy Newman started Forbidden Fruit Orchards in 2002 and now has over 14,000 blueberry bushes on her 8.5 acre property. The farm is located about 15 miles from the ocean in Pinot Noir country in northern Santa Barbara County where the sandy soil provides excellent drainage and the ability to grow just about anything.
Forbidden Blueberry supply is strong! Don’t miss out on this opportunity
When we last looked at the Burkart stone fruit in mid-April, the fruit had just started to form on the trees. Now just a few weeks out from the first picking we can see how the stone fruit is sizing up nicely. Richard Burkart grows a variety of yellow and white peaches and nectarines, plums and apriums on 65 acres in Dinuba, California, about 4 hours south of San Francisco.
First up in the next week or two is the aprium, which looks similar to an apricot but is a hybrid of approximately 75% apricot and 25% plum. It has a very sweet flavor and is only available for a short time during the early stone fruit season.
Tony Chavez, owner of Rancho Don Antonio, began his career in the food industry in 1968 selling fresh tortillas and tortilla chips. Thirty years later he retired in Nipomo, an hour North of Santa Barbara, and bought a cattle ranch. A series of car accidents broke his fence, setting his cattle loose along highway 101, making Tony re-think how he used his land.
Working with consultants from the USDA in 2007, Tony experimented with a new “low chill hour” blackberry variety that allowed him to grow fruit year-round. Chill hours are important because they allow the plant to sleep for a minimum number of hours, which varies by variety, so it can rejuvenate itself and produce a bountiful crop.
Rancho Don Antonio also grows blueberries and is experimenting with varieties of raspberries. “Nipomo has some of the best climates in the United States. It is never too hot or too cold and that is why I can grow berries in the middle of the winter time when no one else can, “says Tony.
Rancho Don Antonio blackberries and blueberries are now available at Earl’s! Always check the Earl’s Organic Produce website for weekly specials and updates throughout the season.
The California blueberry season started off in March with a handful of growers and we are now seeing the first arrivals of the year from Forbidden Fruit Orchards out of Lompoc and Whitney Ranch out of Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County. Located near the ocean, Forbidden and Whitney both benefit from the coastal climate that brings warm days and cool nights, producing outstanding berries. We will continue to see other California blueberry growers come on as we head into May. The California season goes into July and then production will transition up to the Pacific Northwest.
Blueberry update across the country
Earl’s Organic is very California centric but blueberries are also grown commercially in other parts of the country. Oregon, Washington, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina and Washington are the largest blueberry producing states. The Florida season has started up and over 60,000 people joined the Blueberry Festival last weekend in Brooksville, an hour north of Tampa. North Carolina will start harvesting around mid-May with production moving to New Jersey and Michigan in late June and early July.
How to buy
When choosing blueberries look for firm, plump, fragrant, dark blue berries with a dusty white bloom. The white bloom is the blueberry’s natural protection against the sun and is a sign of freshness. Always check the underside of the container for any wet spots or staining. Discard any soft, moldy, or crushed berries. Blueberries make a great frozen snack!