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Archive for 2018

Celebrate the Lunar New Year with Pummelos

Celebrate the Lunar New Year with beautiful large pummelos. The gold color of this large fruit symbolizes prosperity and are brought as offerings to temple altars. Pummelos are the largest fruit in the citrus family and are very popular in Asia. Pummelos can weigh up to a few pounds with shapes ranging from tear drop to round.  All pummelos have a thick but easy to peel rind but the flesh can be white or pink, sweet or sour and can have a little or a lot of seeds depending on the variety.  Pummelos are best recognized by their refreshing, clean citrus fragrance. Turn the pummelo over and smell the blossom end for a strong burst of a citrus scent unlike any other.

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Pummelos for the Lunar New Year

Pummelos are the largest fruit in the citrus family and are very popular in Asia. Pummelos can weigh up to a few pounds with shapes ranging from tear drop to round.  All pummelos have a thick but easy to peel rind but the flesh can be white or pink, sweet or sour and can have a little or a lot of seeds depending on the variety.  Pummelos are best recognized by their refreshing, clean citrus fragrance. Turn the pummelo over and smell the blossom end for a strong burst of a citrus scent unlike any other.

In California the Chandler is the most commonly grown variety both commercially and with the home gardener.  In 1961 UC Riverside developed the Chandler by crossing the slightly acidic Siamese Pink Pummelo with the Siamese Sweet Pummelo.  The Chandler can be as big as a volleyball with a thick rind that needs to be carefully peeled away to reveal the sweet, crisp pink flesh inside.  The sweet flavor is well worth the effort it takes to get to the fruit.

Pummelos are so popular for Chinese New Year that a small part of the crop grown in Southern California is specifically for the Asian community in San Francisco and other parts of California. Chinese New Year falls on February 16th this year.

THE PUMMELO CAN BE CUT OPEN AND SEGMENTED IN 4 EASY STEPS

First cut off the top of the pummelo.  I recommend making a cut at least half inch deep because the rind is so thick.

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Secondly make 4 scores with a knife around the sides of the pummelo so you can easily peel back the rind. Wedge your fingers between the pith and the fruit and gently peel back each segment.

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Now the fruit should be easy to remove from the rind. Using your fingers again gently pull the fruit apart like an orange until you have two halves.

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Lastly using your hand or a knife peel away the pith surrounding the fruit and separate the segments of fruit.

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The Chandler pummelo is picked when the skin is greenish yellow but they have the best flavor when the rind has developed more of a yellow color. Pummelos are related to the grapefruit but they are not as juicy and the segments are best eaten out of hand, in a salad or try adding it to a smoothie. The rinds can be used to make candied pummelo and are sometimes used in Asian cooking.

Normally you will find pummelos in season from early winter to spring all depending on supply and demand and what regions they are coming from.  When choosing a pummelo, or any citrus, you want to pick one that is heavy for its size and free of bruising. It should also smell great!  I recommend buying a few extra pummelos to put in different areas of your house. The fresh citrus smell acts as a natural air freshener. You can also cut up the rind after peeling it and place it in a bowl in the bathroom.  The citrus scent will go on long after the fruit has dried out. Don’t store pummelos out on the counter unless you plan to eat it that day. Pummelos can be stored in the refrigerator for a little over a week.  Click here for a delicious Pummelo Thai Salad recipe. 

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes Week of February 12th

 

 

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Covilli is 100% Committed to Organic and Their Farm Workers

This past weekend we traveled to visit Covilli Farm in Guaymas, Sonora Mexico.  The farm is situated in a large, open valley, Valle de Empalme, about 30 minutes inland from the Gulf of California with a surrounding ecology of Sonoran desert with Mesquite trees & cacti dominating the flora.  The total acreage of the farm is approximately 2000 acres with 1000 acres currently in rotational production.  Small villages in the area are known as ‘ejidos’.  Ejidos are communally owned townships & agricultural lands that are an important component of land reformation in post-revolution Mexico.  Covilli farms land that was purchased from the adjacent ejido of Triunfo de Santa Rosa.  Production was at a peak upon our visit with a wide variety of vegetable crops in various states of growth including; several types & varieties of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, brussels sprouts and squash.  The whole operation was clean and impressive with 100% of the crops grown from certified organic seeds.

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Anthony Mirisciotta, Veg Buyer for Earl’s Organic with Alex Madrigal, Owner and President of Covilli Brand Organics.

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Zucchini plants grown in a green house.

An important part of Covilli’s soil fertility program is their staunch commitment to composting.  All of the green waste at the farm is composted along with local straw and shredded, untreated pallets that have had their nails laboriously removed.  They add up to 20 tons of compost per acre and make it year round.  A vermicomposting (worm) program and bat guano from caves in southern Mexico help foster soil fertility.

Lastly, we toured through the packing shed.  It was alive with brussels sprouts, zucchini & green beans coming in from the fields for hydro-cooling and packaging.  This farm depends on a lot of people from germination to harvest and the packing shed was no exception.  Even though it was a holiday weekend the place was a bustle.  We visited the farm on a Saturday which is also payday.  The laborers get paid in cash which is delivered via armored vehicle.  We saw convoys of local & federal police on the surrounding roads that were there to protect this process and the vast amounts of cash that was being distributed to the workers in the area.

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Fair Trade Premiums at Work

After a quick lunch under well-established neem trees (planted to repel insects) we toured the Fair Trade projects.  The first was a van that the workers bought to help them get to and from appointments in neighboring towns.  Second, was a health clinic that was under construction.  Once completed, the workers will have a dentist, general practitioner and social worker that is all paid for with Fair trade premiums.  Lastly we visited a large, open-air dining hall.  Here the workers have access to two meals a day.  These projects are legit with impacts that could be seen and felt.  Covilli also provides housing, water and cooking gas free of charge so that the workers can keep as much of their pay to take back home to their extended families at the end of the seasons.

Construction on the Health Clinic is Moving Fast!

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New 15 passenger van to bring patients to the clinic or hospital. Also used to transport workers and family members for scheduled doctor visits.

Overall the farm, operation and fair trade projects were totally amazing. Their commitment to organic production and the laborers involved is nearly unparalleled and our support ensures that over 700 farm workers have a safe, healthy place to live and work. 

 

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes Week of February 5th

California asparagus from Coastal View Produce is coming soon!

Buyer's Notes February 5th Page 1

Buyer's Notes February 5th Page 3

Buyer's Notes February 5th Page 2

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