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Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes February 2, 2020

Thank you to Covilli Brand OrganicsEqual Exchange and Fair Trade USA for joining us at EcoFarm 2020 to share what Fair Trade certification means, stories about the growers and the huge impact the Fair Trade premium has made not only in the lives of the farm workers but their families and communities. Fair Trade empowers workers! 100% of Covilli’s organic vegetables are Fair Trade Certified. Learn more about Covilli’s Fair Trade projects using the Fair Trade Premium http://bit.ly/covilliftcommunityprojects

Download the Buyer’s Notes PDF here http://bit.ly/buyersnotesfeb22020

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes January 19, 2020

Forbidden Fruit Orchards Blueberries: Local, Domestic, Organic You asked for less plastic. They delivered. Forbidden Fruit Orchards is first to introduce sustainable,100% recyclable packaging for your blueberries!…California Forbidden Blueberries are also now available in a bulk 9# case!

Celebrate Lunar New Year with Pummelos

Pummelos are the largest fruit in the citrus family and are very popular in Asia. Pummelos can weigh up to a few pounds with shapes ranging from tear drop to round.  All pummelos have a thick but easy to peel rind but the flesh can be white or pink, sweet or sour and can have a little or a lot of seeds depending on the variety.  Pummelos are best recognized by their refreshing, clean citrus fragrance. Turn the pummelo over and smell the blossom end for a strong burst of a citrus scent unlike any other.

In California the Chandler is the most commonly grown variety both commercially and with the home gardener.  In 1961 UC Riverside developed the Chandler by crossing the slightly acidic Siamese Pink Pummelo with the Siamese Sweet Pummelo.  The Chandler can be as big as a volleyball with a thick rind that needs to be carefully peeled away to reveal the sweet, crisp pink flesh inside.  The sweet flavor is well worth the effort it takes to get to the fruit.

Pummelos are so popular for Chinese New Year that a small part of the crop grown in Southern California is specifically for the Asian community in San Francisco and other parts of California. Chinese New Year falls on February 16th this year.

THE PUMMELO CAN BE CUT OPEN AND SEGMENTED IN 4 EASY STEPS

First cut off the top of the pummelo.  I recommend making a cut at least half inch deep because the rind is so thick.

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Secondly make 4 scores with a knife around the sides of the pummelo so you can easily peel back the rind. Wedge your fingers between the pith and the fruit and gently peel back each segment.

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Now the fruit should be easy to remove from the rind. Using your fingers again gently pull the fruit apart like an orange until you have two halves.

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Lastly using your hand or a knife peel away the pith surrounding the fruit and separate the segments of fruit.

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The Chandler pummelo is picked when the skin is greenish yellow but they have the best flavor when the rind has developed more of a yellow color. Pummelos are related to the grapefruit but they are not as juicy and the segments are best eaten out of hand, in a salad or try adding it to a smoothie. The rinds can be used to make candied pummelo and are sometimes used in Asian cooking.

Normally you will find pummelos in season from early winter to spring all depending on supply and demand and what regions they are coming from.  When choosing a pummelo, or any citrus, you want to pick one that is heavy for its size and free of bruising. It should also smell great!  I recommend buying a few extra pummelos to put in different areas of your house. The fresh citrus smell acts as a natural air freshener. You can also cut up the rind after peeling it and place it in a bowl in the bathroom.  The citrus scent will go on long after the fruit has dried out. Don’t store pummelos out on the counter unless you plan to eat it that day. Pummelos can be stored in the refrigerator for a little over a week.  Click here for a delicious Pummelo Thai Salad recipe. 

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes January 11, 2020

2020 ECOFARM 40 years and growing is less than 2 weeks away!  Please let your Earl’s Sales Rep know if you are attending EcoFarm in Pacific Grove this year.  We would like to personally invite you to our Fair Trade Seminar on Friday, January 24th!

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

Coming this week! Buddha Hand, Page Mandarin and Pineapple Guava from Cunningham Farm, located in a secluded valley next to the Cleveland National Forest between Fallbrook and Temecula in San Diego County.

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes December 8, 2019

NEW! Honeynut Squash from Dwelley Farms in Brentwood, California. Sweet and nutty, it is estimated that a single serving of this tiny squash has twice the betacarotene of an equal amount of butternut squash. Delicious recipe in this week’s buyer’s notes.

Employees of the month for December 2019!

We are very pleased to announce that the employees of the month for December are cooler rotator Wilberth and product selector Luis!

Wilberth is recognized for providing his expertise and support to the team during this Thanksgiving season. He maintained a positive attitude, had excellent attendance, and showed his commitment to getting the job done during our busiest days!
Luis is recognized for his commitment to quality and service! Luis has one of the highest picking rates on the team, his orders are extremely accurate, and his pallets are constructed beautifully!

Cranberries are America’s Original Superfruit

All fresh cranberries are dry harvested once a year between mid-September through early November.  Cranberries grow on vines planted in bogs with a mixture of moist acid peat soil and sand which allows them to thrive in harsh weather conditions. Unlike wet harvesting where the cranberry bogs are flooded so that the fruit can be harvested while floating, dry harvest vines must be completely dry.  The pickers drive self-propelled harvesters (think vibrating lawn mower with conveyor belt to burlap bag attachment) over the dry vines.  The fruit is then taken to the packing shed to be graded and screened based on color.  Lastly, the berries are bounce tested.  Good berries will bounce because of their air pockets and the soft berries that do not bounce are discarded.

Cranberries were introduced to the English settlers when arriving in Massachusetts in the early 1800’s. Over half of the United States crop is grown in Wisconsin. Massachusetts is the second largest producer followed by New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.  Canada is also a big player with more than 80% of the organic cranberries are grown in Quebec. Eastern Canada’s cooler weather is especially ideal for growing organic cranberries. Earl’s Organic Patience cranberries are grown in Quebec and the Greenbelle biodynamic organic cranberries are grown in Wisconsin.

Cranberries on the vine

Cranberries grow on vines planted in bogs

Fun Facts:

  • Cranberries will last for a year in the freezer and can be frozen in the package they come in.
  • Cranberries are one of the few fruits native to North America and many of the cultivars have been propagated directly from these ancient wild super-foods.
  • They were initially called ‘craneberries’ because the flower, stem and calyx resembled the neck, head and bill of a crane.
  • Cranberries boast many nutritional benefits including promoting urinary tract health, protecting beneficial gut microbial and providing a wide range of phytochemical and micro-nutrient for overall immunity and health. Learn more on the health benefits.
  • Organic cranberries are free and devoid of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers.

Recipe Ideas: 

*Toss a handful of fresh cranberries with pears or apples for a delicious sweet/tart salad
*Muddle fresh cranberries with your favorite vinegar and blend with olive oil for a tangy salad dressing.
* Make a holiday shrub with cranberries, sugar and vinegar. Perfect for cocktail parties and the perfect hostess gift.
* Dip fresh cranberries in milk chocolate and freeze them for 5 minutes.

Cranberry shutterstock beverage photo

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes November 17, 2019

Tips on roasting chestnuts: Cut an “X” shape into the flat side of each chestnut. Use a sharp knife to do this. This will make the chestnuts roast faster, allowing the steam to escape from the chestnuts. Place them on a baking sheet with the cut side up. Roast 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees, keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn. Let them cool slightly before easily removing the shell. I enjoy added them to Japanese rice for a fall favorite. https://www.justonecookbook.com/chestnut-rice-kurigohan/

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Side Hill Heralds in the Citrus Season

From our frame of reference Side Hill Citrus Satsumas from Lincoln, in the Sacramento foothills have the perfect mix of sweetness, tartness and low acidity, with very little pulp, no seeds and taste like they are melting in your mouth. Rich Ferreira is a 4th generation farmer who started with only 75 trees back in 1975.  Rich has been certified organic since 1991 and now has over 2000 trees. The combination of a higher elevation of 600 feet, nutrient filled organic clay soil, warm summer days and cool nights and using a Satsuma Owari rootstock from China all contribute to growing consistently delicious Satsuma Mandarins year after year.

Satsumas, also called Mikans, are a Japanese variety brought to the US in 1878. Most citrus fruits originated in China and then made their way west which is where the word mandarin comes from.  In the United States Satsumas are grown in places where you wouldn’t normally expect citrus to grow. They need hot summers and a certain amount of chill hours in the winter and can tolerate low temperatures down into the 20’s.  Satsumas are grown in California in the thermal belt which runs from the San Joaquin Valley up to north of Sacramento.  They also grow in some southern states like Texas, Louisiana and Alabama where there are mild winters.

Satsumas have a loose peel that slips off effortlessly like a glove, with no mess and no seeds to deal with.  Satsumas are a perfect snack size that you can eat anywhere without the difficult peeling and complication that comes with eating a valencia or navel orange.

Health Benefits:

A 2008 U.S. Department of Agriculture study said Satsumas have six to seven times as much synephrine, a natural decongestant, as other citrus. Four or five Satsumas have enough synephrine to equal the effect of a Sudafed tablet, the study said. Satsumas are also naturally low in calories and a single fruit contains 34 percent of the USDA daily recommendation for vitamin C.

Buying Satsumas:

Look for fruit with an aromatic smell, firm tight peel, no dented spots and a heavier fruit means they are juicier. They can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator, but not for too long because prolonged storage can dry them out.

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