Nothing says spring like fresh English and Sugar Snap peas. English Peas are also called Pod Peas, Garden Peas or Shelling Peas. The waxy fibrous pod is not edible and must be shelled. Snap off one end of the pod, unzip both sides and then shuck the peas into a bowl. They are best eaten right out of the shell or lightly cooked.
Choose peas that are shiny and firm with brightly-colored pods that feel swollen and heavy. They should be eaten soon after buying because they lose their sweet taste and nutritional value quickly. English peas are low in fat and calories but rich in protein. They can keep for up to five days when stored in a paper bag in the coldest part of the refrigerator. One pound of peas will only yield about 1 cup of shelled peas so buy more than you think you will need. I like mixing lightly steamed peas and asparagus with fresh thyme from my front porch, olive oil, salt and pepper. Simply delicious.
Plump Sugar Snap Peas are completely edible but they do have a membranous string running along the top of the pod that should be removed before eating, in a process called “stringing.” Sugar Snap Peas have a satisfying crunch and can be eaten raw or lightly cooked. The trick is to not overcook them or they will become mushy. Blanch them for 30 seconds and then stir fry just long enough to heat them up until they turn a bright glossy green. This helps to retain the crispness and the sweet flavor.
Sugar Snap Peas are best when the pod begins to thicken a little, but before the peas grow large. When they are ready to be picked, the pods will snap much like a bean. Look for fat and full pods with a uniform green color. Store then in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator and cook as soon as possible.
Earl’s California English Peas and Sugar Snap Peas are coming from various growers including T.D.Willey Farms in Madera, Tutti Frutti in Santa Barbara County and Las Hermanas in Hollister. Tom and Denesse Willey follow the four seasons of the mild Mediterranean climate to produce a year-round palette of bountiful vegetable production. Chris Cadwell from Tutti Frutti Farms has been growing organically for over 25 years and he suggests eating English Peas simply raw. Las Hermanas is a relatively new grower for Earl’s. They are a family run farm and grow a variety of vegetables year round. For more information on the growers we source from please check out our growers map on our website.
NOW at Earl’s Organics! Chinese dragon tongue radishes are long and skinny with a bright white flesh. At first taste they seem rather mild but the spiciness increases with each bite. Perfectly delicious to snack on or cut up and add to a salad. Look for radish bunches with fresh greens and no signs of wilting. Eat them as soon as possible or they will lose their crunch. Limited quantities available!
Organic young coconuts from Mexico are now at Earl’s for the first time! Young coconuts are harvested at the optimum time when they are overflowing with coconut water. As coconuts mature the water is absorbed and the flesh becomes thicker. Young coconuts are lined with a soft and creamy flesh that is full of antioxidants. Christie Biddle, Fruit Buyer at Earl’s, loves to throw the flesh into a smoothie for added creaminess.
Coconut water is low in calories and full of vitamins and minerals. It contains lauric acid, chloride, iron and is chock full of electrolytes including potassium, magnesium and calcium. Coconut water has become very popular to drink after exercise to help rehydrate the body. Research has also shown coconut water to help with digestive problems, high blood pressure and increase your good cholesterol (HDL).
Choose a young coconut that feels heavy for its size which indicates it is full of water. Don’t be intimidated by cutting open the coconut. No need for a machete! You can use a simple chef’s knife to follow these easy steps.
Easy steps to open a young coconut
#1 Trim excess husk from pointed top of coconut.
#2 With the bottom edge of your knife, strike the coconut towards the top.
#3 Continue to strike the coconut around the top until you have reached your starting place.
#4 Lift the lid, pour out the water. Scrape out the creamy coconut flesh and eat.
March is National Nutrition month and Shari’s Berries asked Earl’s Organic for their favorite berry smoothie recipes. The crew at Earl’s loves making smoothies any time of year. Some of our favorite berries to use are strawberries and blueberries, also known as “straws” and “blues” in the produce business.
Fun Facts About Strawberries:
- Strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside.
- On average, there are 200 seeds per fruit.
- BUY ORGANIC STRAWBERRIES – conventional strawberries are one of the fruits that retain pesticides the most. Save yourself and the planet exposure to pesticides by buying organic.
- One serving of strawberries-about 8 straws-is an excellent source of vitamin C. in fact a serving of strawberries provides more vitamin C than an orange.
- 75% of the nation’s strawberries are grown in California.
- Cutting off the tops tears the berries cells and destroys vitamin C! Store with tops intact.
- Do not wash berries until ready for use.
- Available from March – end of the year. Freeze berries at the end of the season so you can have smoothies all year long.
Fun Facts About Blueberries:
- One cup of blueberries = antioxidants for the day
- Wash only when ready to eat
- Dusty white bloom is sign of freshness
Earl’s Smoothie/Owner and Fruit Buyer
*Fresh squeezed seasonal citrus juice
*Scoop of hemp protein powder
*Mix of frozen strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
Susan’s Smoothie/Marketing Manager
*1/4 cup cashews soaked in ½ cup water overnight
*1 cup coconut milk
*1 frozen banana
*1 cup of frozen blueberries
Kathy’s Smoothie/Sustainability and Vendor Compliance Manager
*Big handful of spinach or kale
*Tablespoon of chia seeds soaked in 1 cup of almond milk
*One apple cut up
*1 cup mixed frozen berries
Christie’s Smoothie/Fruit Buyer
*Handful of frozen blueberries
*Handful of Kale
*1/2 cup of plain yogurt
*2 chopped medjool dates
*1/2 cup or more of coconut water
*Small handful almonds
Please share your favorite recipes on our Facebook wall.
Perfect weather has given us perfect blueberries! Earl’s is well-known for the terrific Forbidden Blueberries, from Lompoc, California, and they are available now. Blueberries are very weather dependent, and so far the season’s great weather of warm days and cool nights has resulted in an early first wave of these delectable treats. Each year the season and volume is a little different and historically we have seen the first blueberries of the season start as early as November or as late as January.
Sandy Davis started Forbidden Fruit Orchards in 2002 and now has over 14,000 blueberry bushes on her 6 acre property. The farm is located about 15 miles from the ocean in Lompoc, Pinot Noir country in northern Santa Barbara County. The soil is very sandy providing excellent drainage and the ability to grow just about anything. Their main crop is southern highbush organic blueberries that produce large, crisp, flavorful berries. These are hybrids of blueberries which grew wild when European settlers first arrived in the New World and were developed to grow in California and other climates with low chill hours. The blueberries grow in hoop houses covered in netting all year to keep out the birds. During the winter overhead irrigation is used to prevent frost. The water is warmer than the cold air and by keeping the water going at a moderate rate it prevents frost from forming on the fruit and leaves.
We will have a limited supply of these blueberries intermittently, depending on the weather so make sure to try them while they’re in. Earl’s Organic delivers to customers in Northern California as far north as Arcata and as far south as Santa Cruz with our own fleet of trucks. Call us for an order today!
Kumquats are a unique member of the citrus family and are thought to come from China. The two main varieties of kumquats are the sweet and tart oval shaped Nagami and the sweet round Meiwa. There are many other varieties of kumquats and hybrid kumquats including the Limequat, Orangequat and Yuzquat.
Kumquats are very hardy and can withstand cold temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. For that very reason hybrid kumquats were developed by a researcher in Florida who wanted to grow citrus farther north where citrus such as lemons, limes and oranges can not grow. These hybrids can be substituted for lemons or limes and make great marmalades.
The versatile bite sized kumquats are small and fun to eat. They don’t need to be peeled which makes them perfect for snacking. They are on average about an inch long and are completely edible including the seeds.
You are in for a powerful sensory experience as the ZING of the sourness hits your taste buds and your mouth puckers up. The rind is sweet and the flesh is tart. I recommend slicing it up and adding it to your favorite salad. It goes particularly well with a quinoa salad.
Sweet rind and flesh with a good spicy flavor. It is the best kumquat for eating out of hand.
Juicy and acidic. A great substitute for lime juice.
The most popular variety is the Nippon orangequat which is hybrid between a Satsuma mandarin and a Meiwa kumquat. It is a big larger than a kumquat with a sweet rind and tart flesh.
How to eat a kumquat:
Let the fruit come to room temperature and then gently rub the kumquat between the palms of your hand to get the juices and oil going, releasing the amazing citrus fragrance. Pop them in your mouth and enjoy!
Kumquats can be hard to find at times but worth searching out. California leads the nation in production. Northern San Diego County is where many farms focus on specialty crops such as kumquats but they can be found growing as far north as Placerville, north of Sacramento.
Beautiful bouquets of flowers from Full Belly Farm are here! Christie from Earl’s shows off tulips and a mixed bouquet. Various bouquets of flowers will be here through spring and summer. Call us with your pre order today!
Beautiful red stalks of Rhubarb are here! Rhubarb is a perennial plant and is often thought to be a fruit but it is actually a close relative of the garden sorrel and a member of the vegetable family. Its medicinal uses have been recorded in history since ancient China.
Rhubarb leaves grow from the ground in early spring. The stalks can grow up to 18 inches long but don’t eat the green leaves of the plant, they are highly poisonous! Rhubarb’s crisp sour stalks are rich in vitamin C, dietary fiber and calcium. How do you like to eat your Rhubarb? Click here for 45 delicious recipes from Martha Stewart.
There is a shortage of apples this year with supplies from California down slightly and the Pacific Northwest remaining fairly flat. A couple of factors are at play including a continued increased demand for specific apple varieties such as the Honeycrisp and Pink Lady, and a cycle of production that seems to rise and fall every few years as issues arise. Think 10 years ago when the Pacific Northwest committed to increase acreage in organic production that saw prices stabilize rather than continued high pricing. Now there is less acreage due to the high cost of farming and apple trees are also at risk for fire blight, a destructive bacterial disease that kills blossoms, shoots, limbs, and, sometimes, entire trees.
The current domestic supply of apples is dwindling as less Controlled Atmosphere (CA) rooms are being opened. We are left with obtaining only the sizes and grades of apples available until the first varieties of import apples arrive in April. Galas, Granny Smith and Braeburns will start off the season and imports will continue into late July/early August when the first California Gravensteins are harvested.
For the full story on apples listen to Earl’s “What’s In Season” update this weekend on An Organic Conversation. The main topic of the show will be “Cooking for One: Enjoying the Pleasure of Your Own Company.”
Black Knight carrots from Tutti Frutti Farms in Buellton, Santa Barbara County have a beautiful deep purple colored skin with creamy yellow/orange colored flesh. Black Knights are crunchy with a bit of spice. The deep color means they are high in anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that have been found to have possible health benefits including anti-cancer, anti-inflammation and pain reduction.
We blanched, steamed and roasted the Black Knight carrots to see if the colors would hold. The purple color held through all the cooking methods but the creamy interior did not “pop” as much when blanched or steamed. Earl’s employee Daniel recommends eating them raw and cutting them into carrot coins, shredding or peeling them for a beautiful addition to a salad.