The freeze back in December followed by warmer weather and no rain meant California did not have a winter. Fruit trees need anywhere from 100-1000 chill hours to produce a healthy bountiful crop. Chill hours allow the trees to go dormant and get the sleep they need to rejuvenate themselves. Trees, like ourselves need sleep in order function correctly. Even trees can get cranky from lack of sleep.
The best temperature for trees to “chill” is above 45°F (to about 55°F). If the temperature rises above 60°F it can reverse the chilling hours accumulated up to that point. Think of how you feel and function after not getting enough sleep for a period of time and how refreshed you feel when you return to a more normal sleep pattern. Same with trees, if they are not getting enough sleep over winters they can become dysfunctional.
We are now seeing the evidence that stone fruit trees have not gotten enough sleep these past winters. In the early spring our growers reported uneven blossoming, also known as split blossom, where part of the tree blossomed first and then the other half came on late or not at all. This erratic blooming causes different parts of the tree to ripen at different times as well as affecting the volume, sizing and quality of the fruit. The fruit is ripening irregularly and volume is less this year. A grower who would normally go into the orchard to pick 1-2 times is now picking 3-4 times as the fruit ripens. Typically the season starts with small fruit and then sizes up. Growers are seeing smaller sized fruit, more culling and an inability to forecast larger sizes and how many cases will be picked.
Guidelines for storage and eating:
If you have been following our blogs you will remember that we recommend buying only enough fruit that you can keep out on your counter. The idea is not to store your fruit, but to buy and eat during a period that keeps it out of the refrigerator.
*Gently place your stone fruit shoulder or stem side down on a cotton cloth on your counter at room temperature.
*As they ripen eat them and if the ripening gets away from you the fruit can be stored in the refrigerator if necessary. Remember refrigeration affects the flavor over a period of time and fruit will begin to taste ice boxy or flat.
* Always bring your stone fruit to room temperature before eating to get the best flavor.
Depending on where you shop finding ripe fruit off the rack is very difficult. Factors such as maturity, ripeness and where you buy your fruit all come into play. We will discuss this in further detail in our next blog. We look forward to hearing all of your fruit or veg questions on our Facebook wall.
Masumoto Family Farms is a 4th generation family farm located in the Central San Joaquin Valley just south of Fresno, California. The entire family is involved in running the 80 acre farm of which 25 acres are devoted to growing stone fruit. This name is undoubtedly familiar to anyone in the Bay Area, as David “Mas” Masumoto is the author of many books including Epitaph for a Peach and most recently The Perfect Peach. He is also a well-respected contributor on many agricultural issues. The Masumotos have been growing organically and sustainably since the 1980’s. They strive to be “socially just, environmentally responsible, and economically viable” The Perfect Peach.
The Masumotos like all California farmers have the drought on their mind and are wondering how long their water reserves will last. Farmers are digging deeper for more wells on their land and hoping they will have enough water for their plants. Different regions of California have varying levels of water reserves due to rainfall, snowmelt and rivers to name a few. Masumoto Farms is located in the Central Valley where the ground water reserves have been good. Farmers in the nearby Sacramento region are lucky to be located where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers come together. Not every farming region in California is fortunate to have large amounts of water reserves. We are all hoping that the drought will be short and this winter will bring plentiful rains. The Masumotos have already started to make changes to save water by retiring 20% of their land and leaving some of their perennial crops to fallow. For the full story by Mas Masumoto in the Sacramento Bee click here.
The Masumotos live for peaches and Earl’s is now carrying the Flavor Crest yellow peach, a relative of the Sun Crest peach which is a hybrid of the best old heirloom varieties with a WOW flavor. It is a Freestone variety which means the fruit easily falls away from the pit when cut. The Flavor Crest is described in The Perfect Peach as “The peach you take home to meet your parents: solid, sweet, understanding, outstanding flavor, blush color”. I have one ripening up on my desk and the peach fragrance is intoxicating. The Peach Bruschetta recipe in the The Perfect Peach is on the menu today. An arugula pesto spread on crispy crostini, topped with ripe yellow peach slices and shaved parmesan cheese.
How to choose a peach:
Look for peaches with a yellow or golden background with a red blush. Test the ripeness of your peach by applying gentle pressure with the pads of your fingers. Peaches are delicate and bruise easily so be sure to handle them with care. If your peach gives slightly, it will be ready to eat in a few days. A peach that feels soft to the touch will be ready to eat immediately. Avoid peaches with a green background that have picked before they were ripe. A green peach that has been refrigerated will turn mealy at room temperature.
How to store peaches:
Peaches can be ripened at room temperature by storing them stem side down on a cotton cloth. Make sure they are not touching each other to avoid bruising. If you are not ready to eat your peaches you can delay the ripening process by storing them in the refrigerator for a few days.
We always recommend experimenting with your produce. Try ripening peaches to different degrees and discover what tastes the best. Every variety will ripen differently and have their own subtle nuances. Prolong the peach season by canning late season varieties and enjoy them all season long in sweet and savory dishes. Please share your favorite peach recipes on our Facebook page.
Earl’s is carrying two hot new items from Suzie’s Farm in San Diego.
Padrons can be hot and or not. It is like Russian roulette with peppers! These small peppers are best simply sautéed in olive oil until they start to blister and then served with a flaky finishing salt such as Maldon.
Shishitos don’t have the heat of a Padron and are perfect for those who like a mild pepper. This small Japanese pepper is great skewered and grilled or cooked like a Padron. If you are feeling adventurous trying making Shishito tempura.
5# Bulk Boxes available now! See Earl’s Specials or contact your local sales person for more details.
Earl’s Organic Produce is seeking quality delivery drivers! Immediate positions are available. Class A/B license is required. Multi-drop delivery experience is a plus. Please contact Patrick Stewart @ 415-824-7419 with questions or interest. See the full job description below and attached here.
Earl’s Organic Produce, Inc., a leading distributor of organic produce throughout Northern California, seeks a skilled and safe Class A and Class B Delivery Drivers for our San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market headquarters.
Under the direction of the Operations Manager, the selected candidate will deliver palletized and floor-loaded orders to our diverse customer base in a timely and attentive manner.
Responsibilities will include:
• Conducting thorough pre-trip safety checks
• Maintaining accurate trips logs and related reports
• Securing loads to ensure product integrity upon delivery
• Efficiently navigating assigned delivery routes
• Unloading and appropriately handling pallets and packages, per customers’ specific needs
• Providing excellent customer service at every opportunity
• Informing his/her supervisor of route delays and outstanding delivery situations
• Obtaining necessary delivery receipts
• Organizing and securing all route related paperwork
• Participating in efficient route planning
• Pick-up dispatched backhauls in a timely manner
• Cultivating respectful working relationships with all customer personnel
• Contributing ideas for individual and team improvement
• Actively supporting other team members in a direct and respectful fashion
• Participating in related team projects and activities
Position requirements include:
• Valid driver’s license and clean driving record
• Class A or Class B California drivers license
• Able to operate an electric Pallet Jack Experience
• Able to operate a hand truck
• 2-3 years delivery driving experience, preferably with a fresh produce company but not necessary
• Familiarity with Bay Area traffic patterns
• Ability to read directions and use a street map to plot delivery route
• Ability to maintain logs and records
• Strong communication skills
• Excellent customer service ability
• Ability to respond to feedback from others
• Ability to present oneself professionally in customer-facing situations
• Ability to maintain respect and composure in stressful situations
• Attention to detail
• Desire to support other team members
• High amounts of energy!
• Desire to grow individually and to learn how to best support other team members
• Ability to lift a minimum of 50 lbs. on a regular basis
• Ability to read, write and understand English
• Basic Warehouse experience
Earl’s Organic Produce provides a highly competitive compensation package, including medical, dental and company-sponsored retirement programs.
Qualified candidates are encouraged to submit a cover letter, resume, and three references to PatrickS@earlsorganic.com. Thank you in advance for your interest!
Earl’s Organic Produce works to embrace diversity in all its forms; it strives to be an inclusive community that fosters an open, enlightened and productive environment.
Sweet golden Patterson apricots are in season from the middle of June through the middle of July. They are perfect for canning , drying and freezing. They are named after the apricot capital of the world, Patterson, California. Patterson is located 1 ½ hours south of San Francisco in Stanislaus County.
California produces 90% of the U.S. crop although the amount of apricot orchards is gradually declining. Apricot orchards are being replaced by almonds, pistachio, and grape orchards to name a few. Don’t miss out on the unique experience of eating a fresh California grown apricot.
Choose apricots with a yellow to orange color. Avoid green fruit because it will not ripen. Apricots are ready to eat when they are soft to the touch. They are very delicate and can bruise easily so handle with care. Apricots are full of Vitamin C, iron and fiber and just 3 apricots will give you 30% of your daily requirement of Vitamin A.
Fun Fact: Dried organic apricots are not treated with sulphur, which turns conventional apricots orange.
Check out our 8 x 2 lb clamshells of Patterson apricots! Great value and price per pound. Talk to your salesperson or refer to our price list for more information.
We are ending the California Cherry Bing season with a bang! California Cherries are finishing up this week and we will be starting with the Pacific Northwest crop. Dark sweets like Chelans and Sequoias will be some of the first varieties we will see out of the PNW. Bings and Rainiers will start up around the middle of June and the season will continue into the first few weeks of August.
Every cherry tree produces about 7,000 cherries or, if you prefer to think about it in real terms, about thirty pies’ worth.
Earl’s Organic was born out of a desire to promote a lifestyle founded on respect for both the people who produce our food and the land from which it is grown. We have always operated on the principals of conscientiousness and accountability in both the relationships that we maintain with our customers and vendors, as well as the way we organize our day to day operations.
In recent years, however, the immediate need for action around the environmental impact of our operations has become more apparent. Our commitment to environmentalism extends far beyond simply composting and recycling; Short sighted environmentalism like this is just the tip of the iceberg. Further action is needed to examine the true environmental cost of our operations- the emissions from our trucks, the energy required to power our coolers, and not just where we put our waste at the end of its life, but how much we are producing and consuming. Ultimately, we must find a way to eliminate the use of nonrenewable resources required to power our operations.
It is not just about respecting our land and respecting our communities, it is about sustaining an environment that can produce the same bounty of produce tomorrow as it can today. The agricultural industry today is in peril. Climate change is posing a dire threat to our food supply- rising temperatures, more extreme weather patterns, and severe droughts are causing devastating effects on crop yields and food production. This is by no means a new phenomenon. The awareness around the devastating environmental effects of intensive agriculture practices that rely on agrochemicals and monocrops has been a topic of conversation for decades. But today the impact of the changing climate on the enduring prosperity and capacity of our food systems is more apparent than it has ever been. Consequently, our action today on sustainability is essential for the preservation of our industry, our food system, and the continued sustenance of all humans.
In 2013, Earl’s Organic announced the launch of its formal sustainability program with the intent of developing a more comprehensive understanding of the social and environmental impact of our operations and more actively using our long standing awareness to make positive changes towards reducing our waste to landfill, our dependence on fossil fuels and nonrenewable resources, and the general environmental impact of our business operations. We began the roll-out with a visioning process. The sustainability visioning committee, a group consisting of 14 passionate and intuitive individuals from various departments created a revised mission statement for Earl’s that encompasses our commitment to sustainability, our values, and our long term vision for the company (see below). As part of this visioning process we determined a set of short, mid, and long term goals that we would like to pursue. This sustainability vision illustrates a clear picture of a future state that everyone at Earl’s feels committed towards working to achieve and will ultimately guide our action and act as a roadmap for redesigning our operations to be better aligned with our sustainability objectives.
However, because we can’t manage what we don’t measure, we’ve created a comprehensive baseline assessment of all of our environmental impact areas- fuel, energy, waste, greenhouse gas emissions, water and packaging- to serve as a benchmark from which to measure the progress towards our short, mid, and long term goals. Using this data, the Sustainability Action Committee will meet monthly and is responsible for determining areas for improvement, performing research, creating action plans, and measuring progress towards meeting our goals. Under the guidance of the Sustainability Manager, The Committee will provide initial and ongoing leadership, supervision, and coordination to Earl’s sustainability effort.
At this juncture Earl’s celebrates the successful roll-out of its sustainability program with the publishing of its revised mission and vision, the release of its short, mid and long term goals, and the convening of its sustainability action committee. The sustainability program has already had major success (see the dramatic reduction in waste to landfill with the roll-out of Earl’s new waste system) and looks forward to many more.
Earl’s Organic Produce promotes organic agriculture and a sustainable food trade while cultivating enduring partnerships with growers and customers. We operate on the principles of innovation, education, and superior customer service to distribute premium certified organic fruits and vegetables to our diverse customer base.
Earl’s Organic Produce aspires to connect those who produce and consume organic food by creating mutually beneficial, meaningful, and committed relationships across the food chain. We seek to educate, excite, and evoke passion for the organic culture and continually evolve our business practices to both promote and meet the needs of the ever expanding organic industry. Furthermore, we are committed to discovering and implementing innovative business solutions in order to improve the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of our operations.
There are two seasons for figs in California. The first crop starts up around the end of May and lasts only for a few weeks. We will see a gap for about a month until the second and much more flavorful crop is harvested in late July or at the beginning of August. Figs love warm days and night time warmth. California figs are usually grown in the central valley around the Fresno/Reedly area to up north of Sacramento in Corning.
Buyer beware! The first crop will not have developed the flavor you have come to expect from figs. Your patience will be rewarded when the second crop arrives and the first bite reveals a honey sweetness that is perfect all on its own.
Figs are all hand-picked by workers wearing long sleeves because of the scratchy leaves and reactions some workers have due to the sap on the trees. The figs are packed into 3 gallon buckets and then cooled by fans in a warehouse which suck out the fruit’s internal heat from 100 to 44 degrees. This allows the fruit to stay fresh and delicious tasting during the farm to table journey. The figs are then packed into pints in an air conditioned warehouse and then loaded onto a refrigerated truck to a location near you.
How to eat fresh figs? Out of hand is the easiest but they are also delicious cut up and tossed in a salad or try putting goat cheese in the middle and then drizzling with a little honey. Please share your favorite ways to eat figs on our Facebook wall.
Pluots look very similar to a plum but they are actually a hybrid of about 75% plum and 25% apricot or it could be 60% plum and 40% apricot. It is difficult to discern the exact percentage because of all the complex crossbreeding between hybrids. One thing for sure is that the Pluot is more plum than apricot. Floyd Zaiger, the father of over 200 stone fruit varieties, developed the Pluot from the Plumcot, developed by Luther Burbank. To learn more about the genetic history of the Pluot click here.
Pluots have a sweet rich plum flavor married with the savory flavor and dense flesh of an apricot. Pluots are mostly grown in the San Joaquin Valley where the winter time temperatures are not too cold and the summer time is hot and dry. Pluots come in many colors from green, shades of purple, pink to red and can be solid, mottled, dappled or spotted. They often have a white or silvery colored “coating” on them. This is a natural, waxy, protective coating produced by the fruit.
The first variety of Pluot to land at Earl’s is the deep plum colored Flavorosa. A first bite into this early pluot is tangy followed a sweetness that floods your mouth. As the season continues other varieties will arrive including Flavor King, Flavor Queen, Flavor Supreme and the ever popular Dapple Dandy, also known as the “dinosaur egg”.
Always make sure to wash your fruit before eating it. Look for pluots that are smooth-skinned, plump and firm. They will ripen on your counter and you can refrigerate them for up to 3 days.
This Friday May 23rd the California Appropriations Committee will determine whether California Senate Bill 1381 (a cleaner and simpler version of Prop 37 which will require all food made with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled as such) will proceed to the Senate Floor for a vote or remain in suspense and eventually die.
California was the first US state to introduce legislation around GMO labeling. Although proposition 37 was narrowly defeated by a 3% margin in 2012, it paved the way for states across the country to introduce legislation of their own. Since the introduction of Prop 37, 20 different states have drafted legislation, three states currently have legislation on their ballots, and three states have actually passed mandatory GMO labeling laws.
Polls show that the majority of Californians do support GMO labeling and prop 37’s defeat was primarily due to the pervasiveness of anti GMO labeling advertisements (the companies supporting the NO on 37 campaign like Monsanto and Pepsi outspent the YES campaign by 5-to-1). Many respondents who voted no on Prop 37 say they support GMO labeling and did so because of the confusion caused by the anti-labeling propaganda.
The difference, however, between CA SB 1381 and California Proposition 37 is that SB 1381 will not be put to public vote like Prop 37. The Senate Bill will be put through the California legislative process and its verdict will be determined by California’s elected officials. This means that it is important as companies and as individuals to communicate with our state assembly members and our state senators the importance of GMO labeling and urge them to support the passing of SB 1381. For more information about getting in touch with your state legislators please visit http://www.labelgmos.org/.
GMO labeling is not about making judgments about the safety, value, or morality of genetically engineered foods. It is about giving consumers the right to know what they are ingesting. Earl’s supports GMO labeling for the same reason that we support organic labeling: transparency. We believe that people both need and are entitled to make informed decisions about the food they are consuming and deserve to know where their food comes from, how it is produced and what exactly they are putting in their bodies.
Over 60 countries in the world require GMO labeling and we too as Californians and as Americans deserve the right to know what is in our food. Visit http://www.labelgmos.org/ for more information about current GMO related legislation in California and across the country.