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Archive for July, 2019

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes July 28, 2019

California avocados from Southern California continue their slow decline to no supply.  Fruit is sizing large with 70 & 84 ct all but nonexistent.  Our long-time grower-partner Traceland predicts a first pick in the next week or so. Traceland is located near the ocean on the central coast and about 20 miles northwest of San Luis Obispo where the unique geography and climate allows year round growing conditions without high heat or killing frosts.

California Melon Season

Fragrant melons remind me of summer picnics and bbq’s.  Golden orange Cantaloupes, aromatic Galia melons, crisp super-sweet Canary melons, fruity Goddess Melons, sweet Honeydew, fragrant Tuscan and juicy red and yellow seeded and seedless Watermelon are all currently at Earl’s Organic. 

Historically the California melon harvest starts up in May in Brawley and El Centro in the southern end of the Imperial Valley in the desert, less than an hour to the border of Mexico and about half hour south of Palm Springs. As the weather continues to get warmer we begin to see melon production move north to the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley in the Bakersfield/ Lamont area and 2 hours further north in Coalinga. This lasts until about July 15th when we move to the northern end of the San Joaquin Valley where melons come out of Firebaugh and Los Banos.  Mid-July into August melons move up through the San Joaquin Valley into Yolo County near Sacramento. This year below normal temperatures and rain have pushed the start date of many California growing regions.

Picking a ripe melon is very difficult and is not an exact science. Melons ripen on the vine and do not get any sweeter once picked although texture and flavor can improve.  Netted varieties such as muskmelons, Galia and Charenteis will “slip” off the vine when ripe.  There will be a slight cracking in the area around the stem and the melons will separate from the vine naturally.  The skin under the netting will slightly change to yellow.  Other melons with hard smooth skin such as the Honeydew melon or Casaba will change color and have a waxy feel when ripe. The best way to tell if they are ripe is to cut one open and taste it.

Fully Belly Melons from Yolo County
http://fullbellyfarm.com/recipes-for/melon/

There are no hard and fast rules but you can use these suggestions as guidelines when shopping.  Tuscan melons reach peak flavor when the green stripes fade to a cream color. Melons covered in netting such as a Cantaloupe, Galia, or Haogen will be very fragrant when ripe. Make sure to smell the stem end before buying.  You can check the ripeness of most melons by gently pressing on the blossom end of the melon, the end opposite of the stem.  A melon should be ready to eat when it gently yields to pressure.  If your finger breaks the skin of the melon it is over ripe and past its time to eat.  As mentioned above melons with hard smooth skins are harder to tell when ripe. The Honeydew  melon for example will become waxy and almost sticky when ripe. Your best bet is to cut them open and taste them.

Watermelons are too thick to do the press test.  One way to try and determine the ripeness of a watermelon is to thump on the rind with your knuckles and listen for a dull thunking sound. The juiciest melons will be heavy for their size. Picking watermelons in a field by ripeness is an art and not a science.

Melons that have been well tended to will have a small area called a couche that has been flattened and is discolored from sitting on the ground. If the couche is too prominent or large it means the melons were not turned over or propped up during the growing season.

Read our weekly buyer’s notes for updates on new specialty varieties!

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes July 21, 2019

Muscat and Champagne grapes are now available but season is short so enjoy them while they are still around! La Granjita Organica or Little Organic Farm Watermelon Gherkins and Jalapenos are back!! Read about Victor Cortez and Veronica Ceja and the story of their farm here http://bit.ly/lagranjita California new crop Bartlett Pears expected to start by the week of July 29th. Get the latest organic fruit and veg updates each week.

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes July 14, 2019

What are the differences between the Green and Gold Kiwifruit?

The green kiwi has a fuzzy brown skin and oval shape. Gold kiwifruit, in contrast, has smooth, hairless skin that’s a nice golden-brown color. Green kiwifruit has, as one would expect, a green flesh with black seeds. The flesh of our golden kiwifruit is a vibrant yellow color with a smaller core and fewer seeds. The green kiwifruit has a fresh, tangy-sweet taste. The SunGold kiwi has a tropically sweet taste. 

The gold kiwi is usually ripe and ready to eat when you buy it and gets sweeter as it softens. The green kiwi can be firmer when purchased, so it is important to let them ripen at room temperature. A ripe kiwi should give to slight pressure like a peach or an avocado. Once kiwifruit is ripe, it can be kept in the refrigerator – about a week for Green Kiwifruit and about 2 weeks for Gold Kiwifruit.

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes July 7, 2019

A few weeks ago Fruit Buyer, Jonathan Kitchens and Food Safety Manager/Conditioning Specialist Spencer Bernardo traveled to Ecuador as part of Equal Exchange’s annual banana delegation.  The delegation consisted of Equal Exchange employees, sales members from Four Seasons Distribution and a smattering of produce managers and buyers of grocery co-ops from the Northeast states.  The delegation visited the AsoGuabo banana cooperative that supplies Equal Exchange’s banana program.  AsoGuabo is a cooperative of over 100 small (under 30 hectares) banana producers.  They also visited several growers including an agroforesty producer in the mountains.  They saw all operations from growing and cultivation though harvest and packing.  Read the full story in our latest buyer’s notes.

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