Even though California still feels like its summertime, the changes in seasonal produce are telling us that Fall is here. Stonefruit has said goodbye until next summer and beautiful Fairytale, Cinderella and Jack O’Lanterns are everywhere. Wonderful red California grown Pomegranates are in full swing and beautiful plump cranberries from Canada are here.
Winter citrus is on the horizon and Earl’s always anticipates the beginning of the Satsuma Mandarin season in November. California valencia oranges are your best bet now for juicing and will be around through at least the end of October depending on supply, demand and the weather. Even through California navel oranges start up in late October we don’t recommend eating them until the flavor is great which happens around the holiday season. Navels are best eaten out of hand and should only be juiced if enjoyed immediately because of the bitter compound Limonin found in the white pith.
A new crop of lemons is now coming out of the desert and looking beautiful! We can look forward to the volume coming on a little stronger as prices have already declined.
Ruby Grapefruits have finished up in the San Diego area earlier than usual due to the recent heat spikes. The extreme heat can cause the tree to drop their fruit and growers will pick earlier than normal for fear of losing more of their crop. We will have a small gap before the new crop of Marsh Ruby grapefruit starts up out of desert within the next week or so.
The fig season is winding down with the brown turkey variety essentially done and the black mission available sporadically.
Specialty grapes such as the large purple peony and concord grape are done for the season but we can continue to enjoy green and red seedless varieties hopefully up to the Thanksgiving holiday.
The small cute pop-able kiwi berries are done but we can look forward to a seamless transition from import Kiwis to California grown kiwis in the next few weeks.
Hopefully you were lucky enough to try a super sweet and smooth fleshed California Keitt mango before the season ended. We will be gapping on all mangos for 2-3 weeks until the Ecuador season starts up in early November with the small kidney shaped Ataulfos, followed by Tommy Atkin and Kent varieties.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and its time to ditch that canned cranberry jelly. Learn how to make an easy delicious homemade organic cranberry sauce in under 30 minutes, and discover how cranberries are grown and harvested in an upcoming blog. Follow us on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Youtube.
We may see pockets of California Hass avocados but we have officially moved into the Mexican Hass avocado season. They will be young in maturity which equals lower flavor, lower oil and the possibility of inconsistent ripening.
Avocado maturity and ripeness are not the same thing. The level of maturity is related to seasonality and it is often hard to tell when an avocado is mature enough to be harvested. If your avocado has a rubbery texture instead of turning soft it is because the avocado was picked before it was mature. Other signs of immaturity are pockets of concaving and flesh clinging to the pit. What is mature at the beginning of the season will be different than the level of maturity later in the season. Hass avocados will develop a higher oil content a few months into the season bringing the higher flavor we have come to expect. The skin on a more mature Hass avocado will lose some of its glossiness and become darker and the flesh will deepen slightly from yellow to gold. It will also slice beautifully and the seed coat will be thin and brown instead of fleshy and white.
Avocados ripen off the tree and the Hass will turn from green to a deep purple/black color during the ripening process. Look for big shoulders at the top of the avocado near the stem with a round or full shape.
Storage and Ripening Tips:
*Early season fruit will ripen around 60-65 degrees and the speed of ripening will depend on the maturity of the avocado and where it is grown. Early season Mexican avocados can take anywhere from 5-7 days to ripen.
*To speed up the ripening process place the avocados in a paper bag with fruit that naturally give off ethylene such as bananas or apples.
*Do not store at low temperatures for long periods of time. This will cause “chill injury” and the flesh can become discolored.
We can expect to see Hass avocados coming from Peru and Chile during the winter season. In past years we have seen California Hass avocado season starting up again in the January/February time frame. Continue to follow our blog for avocado updates.
Hurricane Odile, a category 3 storm, landed Sunday night September 14 near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Odile is the strongest hurricane to land in Baja California Sur since Hurricane Olivia in 1967 with winds over 125 mph. The southern area of Baja California was hit the hardest with strong winds and heavy rains. It is estimated that 92% of the population was left without power or water.
Odile caused mass flooding and damaged major infrastructure impacting many growers and causing numerous production and logistical issues. Many main roads were submerged under flash flooding and greenhouses and other farm structures were damaged. Although is still too early to know exactly how this will affect supply over the next few months, we have seen a delay in the start of organic asparagus out of Baja California Sur. Our first asparagus shipment is now scheduled to arrive next week and we can expect supply to be very limited and expensive right off the bat.
Growers are asking for your understanding as they work through this difficult time. As of yesterday Baja California Sur had 95% of their power and most of their water restored. The rest of the Los Cabos area is expected to be operating normally by next week. We will continue to update you as we know more.
If you want the best tasting Jonagold apple, look no further than Rider and Sons 5th generation apple orchardists. Rider is located in the small town of Freedom, along the Central Coast of California near Watsonville. Jim Rider is in charge of the fields and his brother Dick Rider oversees the packing shed. Their grandfather Homer was one of the pioneer fruit growers in the Watsonville area along the Central Coast in California.
Rider and Sons is the only California grower we know that picks the Jonagold apple at its optimum maturity and flavor. The best tasting Jonagold will have developed a beautiful golden background before it is picked. This means it has been on the tree longer and has more flavor. Jim Rider says the apples are ready to be harvested when “they have a hint of yellow in the background color.” Most growers pick it too early when the background is green and the flavor has not developed. This has been our experience of the Pacific Northwest Jonagold.
The Watsonville area has a unique microclimate with cooler summer weather similar to San Francisco. This allows them to grow better quality apples and harvest closer to peak maturity more than warmer climates. Jonagolds require special care and attention and are selectively picked riper than most areas could. The fruit ripens slower in the cooler climate and develops the complex flavor components that can be lost with higher temperatures. Rider’s philosophy is to get them off the tree, picked and packed within a day or two and shipped immediately to be sold quickly at optimum maturity. Rider’s workers are trained to pick slowly with an eye for detail and will pick the orchard several times in order to deliver a riper, sweet and better tasting fruit. Their goal is not to store it for months and months.
Jim Rider calls Watsonville the Napa valley of apple growing areas. The apples have a more intense flavor and better quality because of the cooler temperatures. Click here for an interview with Jim Rider in the Jonagold orchards. In our own history as the apple season goes up to the Pacific North West, the flavor and quality of the Jonagold is not duplicated. Enjoy California apples during the short but sweet season.
If you like Kiwi’s then you will fall in love with the Kiwi Berry. Kiwi Berries taste exactly like a Kiwi but they are the size of a grape, fuzzless and completely edible. Cut one in half and the inside flesh looks just like a Kiwi. This no mess snack is fun to eat and perfect for the whole family.
How to eat – Just pop them in your mouth!
Kiwi Berries are also known as the hardy kiwi, arctic kiwi or baby kiwi. 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 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. One plant can produce up to 100 pounds of fruit a year! The fruits are picked hard, and ripen off the vine. Earl’s kiwi berries are grown in Wilsonville, Oregon about 30 minutes south of Portland.
Store them in the fridge if you are not planning to eat them right away and take out small bunches at a time to ripen on your counter. Similar to a kiwi they will be slightly acidic until ripe when they will be very sweet. Eat them when they are soft and the flesh yields a bit. In this case a small amount of wrinkling is good! Don’t be fooled into thinking your Kiwi Berries are old, when in fact they will have developed the perfect amount of sweetness.
Kiwi Berries are packed full of nutrition, containing over 20 nutrients. They are incredibly rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, potassium, fiber and folic acid and have 5 times the Vitamin C of an orange and more potassium than bananas. Kiwi Berries can be used in a variety of ways, from being preserved as jam to being used as a marinade (they are an excellent meat tenderizer). Try them in a salad, on a tart, or out of hand. Any way you look at it they are delicious.
The season lasts only about a month, from the beginning of September to the beginning of October so don’t miss out.
California apple season has officially started and one of the first varieties harvested is the incredible stunning Pink Pearl heirloom apple. The speckled pearly green skin is tinged with a pink blush and the deep pink flesh has a crisp and tart-sweet flavor. They are perfect for baking because they hold their shape and retain their beautiful pink color even when cooked.
Pink Pearls were developed in Northern California in 1944 by a man named Albert Etter, using another red-fleshed apple called Surprise as a seedling. Earl’s heirloom Pink Pearl apples are coming from Rider and Sons out of Watsonville, California. Jim and Dick Rider are fifth generation orchardists and their grandfather, Homer, was one of the pioneer fruit growers in the Watsonville, California area. Heirloom apples can be odd shaped and have russeting around the stem bowl. Russeting occurs when the wind blows and causes the apples to shake and brush against the stem and leaves. This only enhances how unique heirloom apples are and in no way affects the flavor.
They are only around for another week, so don’t miss this opportunity to try them! They make a beautiful pink apple sauce or try an apple tart for the Labor Day holiday to really show off the beautiful pink color.
Peony® blue/black seeded table grapes from Schellenberg Farms in Reedley, California are back again this year! The Peony® large size makes them very impressive with the average grape measuring over an inch long. They are also one of the sweetest grapes commercially grown. Their incredible grape flavor, similar to a Concord grape, is outstanding! When you bite into a Peony® you will be so taken by the fruity grape flavor that the tiny amount of seeds won’t be very noticeable.
Rick Schellenberg found a single bud sprouting from a spur of the parent grapevine growing grapes that looked different than the other grapes on the vine. In vine breeding terminology this is called a mutation or a “sport.” These unusual grape berries were noticeably sweeter than those from any other bunch on the vine, and so the Peony® was born.
The Peony® grapes are only around for a limited time, so don’t miss out.
The Hass avocado season is coming to an end much earlier than usual in most regions in California. In the last two years we have seen the California avocado season extending into September/October. This year we experienced a smaller crop in volume in part because it was an alternate bearing year. Combined with the drought and lack of water for irrigation, the California avocado supply was sparse. Avocados are heavy water users and can require up to 300 gallons a week in hotter weather. When they don’t receive the necessary amount of water the fruit will not size up. We saw the evidence of this in an abundance of smaller sized fruit.
At the end of the season we can see avocados from Northern California, think L.A. up to Santa Cruz, and Southern California, think Riverside and San Diego County to the Mexican border, all mixed in together in an avocado display. Avocados from Southern California have been on the tree for a longer time and are more mature, meaning they ripen quicker, have a higher oil content and should be eaten firm. The flavor is outstanding this time of year but don’t wait until they are too soft or they will be rancid. A sign of a very mature avocado with a high oil content is when the green/yellow flesh turns to a duller, almost mustard color. The Northern California season starts later so the fruit has been on the tree a shorter period of time and should be eaten riper with a little give. The problem is that you don’t know where your avocado is coming from most of the time. The level of maturity depends part in how long it has been on the tree, what region it is from in California and where in the season we are. Having avocados from 2 regions, means that we have 2 seasons and 2 levels of maturity overlapping in the same display.To confuse things even more we will soon see some overlap with Mexican avocados so it is best to start a discussion with your produce person about where their avocados are from.
Storage and Eating Tips:
*Store at a moderate temperature of 45-55 degrees. Putting avocados in the coldest part of your refrigerator will “burn them”.
*Black spots that appear in the flesh are caused by storage in cold temperatures so make sure to take the avocado out of the refrigerator to finish ripening.
*Eat firmer than usual and experiment with the ripening time.
We can look forward to the California season starting up again in February out of San Diego. Follow our social media pages for produce updates.
Green Gold Organic Farms was a dream of three friends who met playing softball in San Luis Obispo, located about half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. They were all looking to do something on their own and wanted to start their own business. Melding backgrounds in construction and project management with a passion for agriculture the next logical step was for Matt, Brian and Levi to start their own farm.
Brian and Levi both graduated from the Construction Management program at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. Matt graduated from the ALBA educational farming program and also completed his Food Safety certificate at Hartnell College of Agriculture. ALBA, located on the central coast of California, offers a 10 month program comprised of a 6 month educational course in the classroom followed by a 4 month hands on farming course. After the completion of the 10 month course, Alba leases out a parcel at a discounted rate for the student farmer to start his/her production. The graduates are then free to sell their produce to ALBA and/or directly to other customers.
Matt started leasing land from ALBA in Salinas as soon as he graduated and began experimenting with what he wanted to grow and honing his expertise. About a year later in March 2013 Green Gold Organic Farms was founded. The first year was spent forming the business, building the brand and developing their label. They now have 2 acres of organic strawberries and unique sweet mini bell peppers.
Green Gold has big plans for growing their business. Next steps in 2015 are to lease additional land back where they started in San Luis Obispo in addition to another 1 ½ acres on their property in Arroyo Grande. They have a business relationship with Central Coast Grown (CCG), a non-profit modeled after ALBA. They plan to add another acre each of strawberries and mini bell peppers and hope to add avocado and citrus trees to the mix.
Matt is the Ranch Manager while Brian is the Project Manager and Levi helps with the management and acquiring new property. However the reality is that everyone does everything including pulling weeds and picking berries on the farm. Earl’s Organic is proud to be supporting aspiring farmers!
NOW AT EARL’S ORGANIC
*Strawberries 12 x 1# clamshells/case means a lower price per clamshell!
*UNIQUE NEW Mini Sweet Bell Peppers 18 pints/case
Green Gold reduces waste by using less packaging materials
Contact your Earl’s Organic sales rep for pricing
Delicious sweet and juicy Cantaloupes have just arrived from Three Star Melons. Three Star has been growing melons in Los Banos, California since 1915, and farming organically since 1998. Berj Moosekian is a third generation grower and shipper and for 6 weeks out of the year he grows the most flavorful melons. Los Banos, located on the west side of the San Joaquin valley is widely recognized as one of the best melon growing regions in the world. Berj explains, “Melons were born in the desert. They thrive in hot, dry climates just like the climate in Los Banos. In addition, the rich clay soils ensure ultimate quality making Los Banos a marvelous growing region for melons.” Picking a ripe melon is very difficult and not an exact science but Berj’s experience as a melon grower tells him when it’s the best time to harvest.
CHOOSING THE BEST MELON
Melons ripen on the vine and do not get any sweeter once picked although texture and flavor can improve. Make sure to smell the blossom end before buying, the end opposite of the stem. You can check the ripeness of most melons by gently pressing on the blossom end of the melon. A melon should be ready to eat when it gently yields to pressure. If your finger breaks the skin of the melon it could be over ripe and past its time to eat. This is not always the case and other reasons for a soft area could be where it was laying on the ground or a bruise it received during transportation. It may be an isolated spot which means the whole melon isn’t bad. The best way to tell if they are ripe is to cut one open and taste it.
In August melons will move up through the San Joaquin Valley into Yolo County near Sacramento. Follow our posts on Facebook and Instagram for tantalizing photos of melon varieties and updates on our melon growers.
*Available now: Cantaloupes in 9, 12 and 15ct
*Coming soon: Orange Flesh and Sharlyn
*Contact your local sales rep for pricing