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Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes October 20, 2019

Cranberry season has started! Biodynamic cranberries are available by pre-order. Kiwi berries are winding down. Gorgeous Mt. Hoot Biodynamic Mountain Rose and Swiss Gourmet apples landed early. Read the full weekly update below.

Golden 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-astringent 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 or James Beard’s persimmon bread with Hachiya persimmons. 

Fuyu persimmon (1)
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.  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. 

Storage and buying tips: 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!

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes October 11, 2019

NEW! California Fuyu and Hachiya Persimmons along with gorgeous Biodynamic Red Jonagold apples from Mt. Hood in Oregon. Corn from Dwelley is back and Kiwi Berries are winding down. Read the full update in our weekly buyer’s notes.

Download the pdf.

Earl’s Organic Moves Away From Plastic- THE PACKER

The biggest banana-related trend at Earl’s Organic Produce in San Francisco is a move away from plastic packaging, said Jonathan Kitchens, fruit buyer.

“We’re even to the point where, whenever possible, we are having the banana packers remove the parafilm that covers the crown that apparently reduces crown rot,” he said.

The company also has intensified its commitment to Fair Trade.

Jonathan Kitchens Fruit Buyer

“100% of our bananas are Fair Trade,” Kitchens said.

Earl’s sources its bananas from two growing regions — Mexico and Ecuador.

Mariana Cobos, Equal Exchange Fair Trade Banana Farmer

Fruit from Mexico arrives on trucks, while bananas from Ecuador are shipped by boat, he said.

“Having two regions and two modes of transportation allows for all the inevitable variabilities in produce,” Kitchens said.

The same type of banana is grown in each location.

Original article in The Packer October 10, 2019 http://bit.ly/earlsmovesawayfromplastic

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes October 6, 2019

Sweet Carnival grapes have a unique flavor reminiscent of your favorite carnival treat! New from Cece Noodles- Fresh Veggie Ramen with Shiitake Broth. California Heirloom tomatoes have outstanding flavor! Don’t miss our weekly organic fruit and veg update.

Earl’s Organic Visited Lakeside Organic Gardens in Watsonville

Ethan and Jackie from purchasing, Susan from marketing and Kalea from the warehouse toured the Lakeside Organic coolers and fields for a sneak peek inside their operation in Watsonville. After gearing up we walked through their new 50,000 square foot cooler. One wall of the coolers backs up to the docks where trucks wait at all hours to be loaded with their orders. Next to the dock is a room where truck drivers can sit and watch a monitor showing their trucks being loaded pallet by pallet, have a snack, relax and stay warm. 

Jackie, Kalea and Susan

Heading back into the chilly cooler we noticed each section of the enormous cooler was clearly labeled with the produce items stored. Walking past pallets of produce along a very long aisle our last stop was the pressure tunnel room lined with giant fans. This room is used to remove the field heat out of dense produce like cauliflower, in order to maintain the shelf life of the produce as it travels to from the farm to retailer and eventually the consumer’s kitchen table. Ten pallets of produce are lined up in front of each fan, a tarp is dropped down above and in back of the row of pallets in order to create a suction. The fans are turned on, sucking out the hot air through the holes in the cartons until it reaches the desired temperature. Cooling down 10 pallets takes about 3 hours. 

Out on the dock there is a hydro cooling machine, which distributes chilled water over the produce to cool it down to the desired temperatures. Celery, leafy greens and green onions are a few commodities cooled with this method.  Watch it here http://bit.ly/lakesidehydrocooling

Pressure Tunnel Room

NOTE: Lakeside has 4 cooling procedures: The hydro Vac, Ice Injection, Hydro cooler, (shown in video) and Pressure Tunnels-forced air cooling (shown in photo)

ONTO THE FIELDS

After touring the coolers we all jumped into a truck and headed to the kale and collard fields were the farmworkers were skillfully picking, bundling and tying each bunch with a speed that comes with practice.  Each bundle is then carefully packed in a Lakeside box on the field. Watch for yourself! http://bit.ly/packinglakesidecollards

Packing Collards

Next up was a ride to a sweet baby broccoli field where the workers wear a large bag like a backpack on their back. Each worker walks the field, cuts and bundles the baby broccoli and ties it with a Lakeside Organic tag on the field. The bunches are placed into their bags as they continue to walk up the hill. Many workers like to tie a ribbon at the front or end of their row to indicate that section is their row. 

Harvesting Sweet Baby Broccoli

After the bag has been filled the workers head to the bottom of the hill where they grab a Lakeside box off a pallet and start to build their own box. Look how beautiful this sweet baby broccoli pack out is! The team has a new appreciation for the skill with which each item of produce is harvested and placed in each box.  More on our tour in our next blog!

Each workers packs their own box of sweet baby broccoli
What a gorgeous pack out!

Earl’s Organic Produce Buyer’s Notes September 22nd

Pomegrantes have started up with Smith, Foothill and early Wonderful varieties. Abate Fetel Pears from California are now in season.  Production is limited so enjoy them while you can! The first McIntosh from British Columbia have arrived! Read the full update below.

Kiwi Berries- Pop and Go Snack!

It is Kiwi Berry time again! The season is very short, end of September through the beginning of October, so you don’t want to miss out. Kiwi berries are a member of the Actinidia genus family, the same as a regular kiwi and have been described as a cousin of the kiwi we all know.  Kiwi berries are also known by the name hardy kiwi, artic kiwi or baby kiwi. They taste exactly like a kiwi but they are about the size of a grape, fuzzless, with edible seeds and you just pop them whole into your mouth. Like kiwis, they are acidic until ripe

POP THEM IN YOUR MOUTH AND ENJOY!

Kiwi berries are native to China, Korea, and Russian Siberia, much like the kiwifruit.  It is a fast-growing, hardy, perennial vine, in need of a frost-free season of 150 days. Each vine can grow up to 20 feet in a single season! Because of their seasonal requirements, they are well suited for areas of the North East and North West, and in fact, have become somewhat of an invasive weed in certain areas because of their rapid growth. Earl’s kiwi berries are now coming out of Wilsonville, Oregon about 30 minutes south of Portland. In October they will transition south to Oakland, Oregon about an hour south of Eugene.

Kiwi Berries are a nutritional powerhouse and a healthy food source containing over 20 nutrients. Each 6 oz portion contains twice the amount of Vitamin E of an avocado but with only 60% of the calories, 5 times the Vitamin C of an orange and more potassium than bananas.  Kiwi Berries are also high in fiber and rich in folic acid.

RIPENING AND STORAGE TIPS

Kiwis Berries are picked hard and ripened off the vine. They ripen at room temperature and are ready to eat when the skin turns a darker green, wrinkles and gently yields to touch. Similar to a kiwi they will be slightly acidic until ripe when they will be very sweet. You can store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks but I doubt that will last that long.

Kiwi Berries can be used in a variety of ways, from being preserved as jam to being used as a marinade (kiwi berries are an excellent meat tenderizer). Try them in a salad, on a tart or cake, muddle them in a cocktail or just pop them in your mouth as a delicious sweet snack!

Caviar Limes

Caviar Limes also known as Finger Limes, have juice vesicles that pop out like caviar when the finger lime is gently squeezed. They have a burst of effervescent tangy lime flavor! They are delicious on top of raw oysters, added to seafood, mixed into guacamole , mixed into the glaze for a lemon cake and really shine in cocktails. Caviar Limes are perfect anywhere you want to add acid!

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes September 15, 2019

Don’t miss Caviar Limes- they pop like caviar when gently squeezed. The effervescent tangy lime flavor adds the perfect burst of acid to cocktails, desserts, seafood and more! Concord Seeded Grapes from Heinke in Paradise, CA are here. They taste like grape jelly and make an amazing sorbet. Kiwi Berries, your favorite pop in your mouth snack are coming this week! Download the pdf.

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