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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/

Print and share our weekly buyer’s notes

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.

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)


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!
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