Today as we start the 2nd week of the California freeze temperatures drop lower than ever across the state. San Francisco came in at 36 last night and parts of Marin County across the Golden Gate Bridge were as low as 15. The extreme cold temperatures are expected to last through at least Wednesday. The cold weather is preventing many farm workers from getting out in the fields early to pick. They are waiting until the weather warms up later in the morning which is affecting the amount of produce harvested. Buyer beware! There is a possibility that supply may be down and prices may increase in the coming weeks.
In the San Joaquin Valley where much of the California citrus is grown the temperatures reached as low as the high teens in some areas. The biggest worry is the thin skinned mandarins. Navels and lemons have thicker skins and hold up better during the cold weather. In order to try and assess the damage from the frost many growers will take samples of the fruit and will hold them for a few days at room temperature before cutting into them. The freezing cold weather can freeze the liquid inside the cells of the fruit, cracking the cells and drying out the piece of fruit. Unfortunately frost damage is not always apparent right away and sometimes it takes weeks for the damage to show up.
Last week I interviewed Rich Ferreira from Side Hill Citrus in Lincoln, CA about ½ hour north of Sacramento. Today Rich told us that the weather is continuing to hold in the low 20’s and he is not worried about the Satsumas being damaged by the cold. Satsumas can withstand weather as low as 20 degrees and Side Hill is lucky to be located on a sloping hill which offers natural air flow protection. The cold air flows down the slope and drains into the low spots of the valley. This natural air flow prevents the cold air from settling on the citrus and frost from forming. Some growers will use wind machines or hire helicopters to hover over the orchards, stirring up the cold air and preventing it from settling on the fruit and causing frost damage. In addition the orchard is south facing, allowing the trees to receive energy from the sunlight and at the same time warming up the soil, helping to prevent frost. Rich grows the best Satsuma Mandarins in our opinion and we anticipate the season going through the end of the holidays.
It is too early to tell the damage on veg grown all over California but we can expect to see some damage on sensitive leafy items like lettuces. The main growing areas at this time of year are Coachella and Imperial Valley but there are pockets all over California. For example Willey Farms out of Madera, just north of Fresno. During the winter many of the warm veg items like cucumbers, squash, peppers and tomatoes are coming out of Mexico. Although the freeze did not reach Mexico the temperatures did go down to 40 which has briefly slowed down production.
Brian from Earl’s Sales department recommends making a Hot Ginger Satsuma tea to stay warm during the freeze. Click here for the recipe and check back with Earl’s for the latest produce updates.
Earl’s Organic is looking for an outstanding candidate to join our class-A sales team! We are excited to extend this rare opportunity to bright, enthusiastic individuals with significant retail experience in, and a passion, for organics.
Earl’s Organic Produce, Inc., a leading distributor of organic produce throughout Northern California, seeks a broadly-skilled Salesperson for our San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market headquarters.
Under the direction of our Sales Manager, the selected candidate will perform daily sales activities in order to supply our wide customer base with the highest quality products and customer service. The candidate will work closely with other members of the sales team as well as the purchasing team to ensure an efficient movement of product that meets the needs of our customers as well as our vendors. The selected candidate will be available to start shortly after offer acceptance.
Responsibilities will include:
- Close monitoring of daily inventory levels, and product quality and condition
- Grows relationships with customers through anticipating needs, product knowledge, and committing to their success.
- Executing multiple sales orders throughout each workday, while making decisions in critical times without assistance
- Communicating pertinent customer needs and promotional opportunities to Purchasing and Sales team members in a timely and specific manner, both verbally and in written form
- Aggressively seek new customers in field
- Have a sense of responsibility, be self motivated, and have a sense of urgency to resolve fast pace job duties
- Participating in the marketing of larger volume, grower-represented deals
- Actively supporting other team members in an engaged and lively fashion
- Contributing to process improvement and team development efforts
- Participating in additional company projects and activities
Position requirements include:
- 2-5 years hands-on fresh organic produce experience, preferably in a quality control, retail merchandising, or sales
- An ability to maintain a customer-focused perspective
- In-depth understanding of quality requirements of discerning retail and institutional customers
- Attention to detail
- Appreciation of fresh produce aesthetics and varietal range
- Organized, even-tempered communication skills
- Positive approach to alternate points of view; an ability to create agreement
- Experience working as a member of a high performing team
- Basic understanding of the natural and organic foods industry
- Desire to grow individually and to learn how to best support other team members
- Facility with inventory database programs and basic desktop application software
- Ability to maintain a dynamic and verbally animated pace throughout the workday
- Ability to lift a minimum of 50 lbs. on a regular basis
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 email@example.com. Thank you in advance for your interest!
Position is open until filled.
Earl’s Organic Produce works to embrace diversity in all its forms; it strives to be an inclusive community that fosters an open, thoughtful, and productive environment.
The freezing cold weather in Northern California is on everyone’s mind this morning. The low this morning in San Francisco was 39 and the high is only projected for 50. We are now in the middle of the Satsuma season and this morning I called Rich Ferreira, the Side Hill Citrus grower from Lincoln, CA to see how his Satsuma trees are faring during the cold weather.
Rich said that the temperatures dropped to about 22-25 degrees last night and the cold weather is expected to go through Tuesday, with Saturday being the coldest day. Satsumas unlike many types of citrus are able to withstand temperatures as cold as 20 degrees. Side Hill Citrus is located about a half hour north of Sacramento. The key is how many hours it stays cold. The longer it stays cold each day and when it goes on for multiple days, this can cause problems.
The cold weather can freeze the liquid inside the cells of the fruit, cracking the cells and drying out the piece of fruit. Rich doesn’t think it was cold enough last night to have a negative effect on the fruit. He also has two things on his side. His orchard is lucky to have slopping hills(hence the name Side Hill) so that they get a little natural air flow protection and secondly the temperature today will rise to 50 which will warm up the soil and protect the trees. Rich will wait it out for a few hours today until the temperature is warmer and then start cutting pieces of fruit to see how they look inside. Sometimes though, the grower cannot tell if the piece of fruit has been damaged until a few weeks after the frost is over. Stay tuned for updates on the weather and how it is affecting your produce.
Satsumas from Side Hill citrus in Lincoln, CA got started early this year and we anticipate them going through Christmas depending on the weather. Typically the season goes for about 4 to 6 weeks and we are hoping it will last 8 weeks this year. The sugars are fully developed for a super sweet and juicy seedless piece of fruit. Satsumas are incredibly easy to peel and don’t leave a sticky mess on your hands. Put a few in your bag for a quick snack. I love tossing Satsuma slices in a spinach or kale salad with toasted walnuts or juicing them for a smoothie. How do you enjoy your Satsumas?
Thanksgiving is only 2 days away and cranberry sauce is on my mind. Cranberries were introduced to the English settlers in Massachusetts in the early 1800’s and the first farmed cranberries were grown in Cape Cod. Now 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 over 20% of the world’s cranberries grown in the province of British Columbia. Cranberries are also grown in New Brunswick, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Quebec.
Cranberries contrary to popular belief are not grown in water. The season starts in April when the cranberries are planted in bogs in a mixture of moist acid peat soil and sand which allows them to thrive in harsh weather conditions. Cranberries turn from green to white to a deep red, telling the grower they are ready to be harvested. The harvest season lasts from about mid-September to mid-November and about 95% of cranberries are wet harvested. The bogs are flooded with water from a reservoir area which can take a few hours up to a few days depending on the size of the bog. Water reels move through the bog and the wheels knock the berries off the vines. The berries will then float to the surface because they have tiny air pockets inside them. The cranberries are then corralled by a person wading through the bog pulling large vinyl booms around the berries. From there the cranberries are then vacuumed out of the bog onto a tractor trailer bed.
From the 1800’s up through about 1960 cranberries were dry harvested by workers getting on their hands and knees used a claw like scoop to take the berries off the vines. This was a very labor intensive method and thank goodness now there are automatic machines that can be pushed through the fields.
The cranberries are taken to a facility to be washed and then sorted through a machine to pick out any soft berries. Good berries will bounce because of their air pockets. The soft berries will not bounce and therefore will not make the cut to be packaged for fresh berries. Some growers use an optical sorter to pick out only the red berries. Lastly the berries move on a conveyer belt where workers pick out any light colored berries that might have slipped through.
Cranberries are high in vitamin C, fiber and vitamin E. Cranberries are said to help prevent urinary tract infections, improve immune function and decrease blood pressure. One half of cup of cranberries has only 25 calories! Cranberries are sold fresh for the holidays, frozen, canned, made into juice and dried fruit. They are delicious baked into muffins or breads, added to stuffing and of course made into cranberry sauce. I like to pair my cranberries with Satsuma juice and chopped up peel from Side Hill Citrus Satsumas from Lincoln, CA. Post your favorite cranberry recipe on our Facebook page. Everyone at Earl’s wishes you a very Happy and Bountiful Thanksgiving!
If you missed the original posting of this blog last holiday season we thought it was worth sharing again.
So what exactly is the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? Trying to figure this out can be very confusing when you’re at the grocery store. The U.S. government decided to label sweet potatoes by their color to make things easier but it just ended up confusing everyone more. The creamy white flesh ones are labeled sweet potatoes and the orange fleshed ones are sometimes labeled yams. The USDA requires that sweet potatoes labeled as yams also be labeled as sweet potatoes. Chances are likely that you are buying sweet potatoes regardless of what the label says.
In reality sweet potatoes and yams are two totally different vegetables. Yams are tubers and are usually found imported in ethnic markets in the United States. They are originally from Africa, where over 95% of the world’s crop is harvested, and Asia. Yams are grown in tropical climates and are very popular in Latin America and the Caribbean. A few varieties can grow up to 7 feet in length and weigh almost 200 pounds! The skin of a yam is rough and scaly and the taste is very starchy. Yams are an extremely important part in the diet of the people in Nigeria and West Africa. Yams provide more than 200 calories per person per day for more than 150 million people in West Africa while also providing a necessary income for local farmers. Yams are high in vitamin C and B and potassium and low in saturated fat and sodium. The flavor can sometimes be sweeter than a sweet potato depending on the variety.
Sweet Potatoes are thought to originate in either Central or South America at least 5,000 years ago. In the U.S. they are grown in temperate climate zones. North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes followed by California, Louisiana and Mississippi. In California 80% of the sweet potatoes are grown in Merced County followed by Fresno and Stanislaus County. When you sit down for the traditional American Thanksgiving dinner you will be eating sweet potatoes regardless of their color.
There are 4 main types of sweet potatoes grown. The orange flesh varieties become moist when cooked and the white flesh varieties become dry when cooked with a crumbly texture similar to a baked white potato. The Garnet is the classic sweet potato that most people think of when making mashed sweet potatoes, pies, cakes and breads.
- Red Skin/Orange Flesh (Varieties include Dianas, Reds & Garnets)
- Orange Skin/Orange Flesh (varieties include the Beauregard, Covington & Jewel)
- White Skin/White Cream Flesh (Varieties include the O’Henry, Jersey Sweet, Hannas or Hanna Golds)
- Red Skin/White Flesh (Varieties include the Murasaki & Kotobuki-most commonly referred to as “Orientals”)
Sweet potatoes are relatively low in calories and have no fat. They are rich in beta-carotene , having five times the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A in one sweet potato, as well as loaded with potassium. These nutrients help to protect against heart attack and stroke.
As you can imagine sweet potatoes are consumed the most during Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Easter. Try these wonderful recipes from Eating Well Magazine. What is your favorite recipe for sweet potatoes during the holidays? Please share your favorite recipes on our Facebook wall.
Bangkok apple guavas are also known by the name Guayaba. The small greenish fruit is about the size of a medium apple and gives off an extremely aromatic scent which reminds me of trips to Hawaii. The flesh can range from a pale yellow to a bright pink. Look for guavas free of blemishes. A guava will give to gentle pressure when ripe. Ripe guavas need to be eaten within a few days or can be stored in the refrigerator up to a week. The entire guava including the rind and seeds are used to make jams, preserves and sauces.
Guava is originally from South America but is now grown in California, Florida and Hawaii. There are over 140 varieties found throughout the world. Earl’s has a limited quantity of Bangkok Apple Guavas from Stehly out of Bonsall in San Diego County.
Guavas are full of vitamin C, A, folate, fiber and potassium. Click here for some sweet and savory guava recipes from www.yummly.com
We are about 2 weeks away from Thanksgiving and our transition to Mexican warm veg has begun. We can expect a full range of organic veg including brussels sprouts, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, various squash varieties, peppers and tomatoes. During the months of March-May we will also see a variety of melons coming out of Mexico.
Our major strategic partner is Covilli, located inland from the picturesque beaches of Guaymas, Mexico. Earl’s has worked with Covilli for over 16 years and last year we strengthened our relationship by becoming their exclusive Bay Area representative. We are excited to be working with such an incredible grower and to bring you the best in warm veg during the off season.
We just received the personal sized 5 pound boxes of Side Hill Citrus Satsuma Mandarins in Lincoln, CA. Grown just north of Sacramento, the smaller Satsumas are a little harder to peel but we feel they are sweeter! They are the perfect size to give as a gift and there is no need to wrap. The stylish boxes can be given on their own or with a simple bow on top. Or keep it for yourself. I like to juice my Satsumas for smoothies and cocktails. Try infusing the peels in a bottle of organic vodka for 7-10 days and then mix with Satusma juice. My personal favorite winter cocktail is to juice a few Satsumas for a clove scented Side Car.
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.
So whether you are eating your Satusmas for health reasons or holiday party reasons we encourage you to enjoy Side Hill Citrus Satsumas until the season is over. Depending on the weather the season could go through December.
As we head into November, 99% of the California avocado growers will be finishing up. Earl’s received our last pallet of California avocados this week. Sad, but true, the California avocado crop is really coming to an end until next year. Sometimes we are fortunate and California avocados will go year round but this year they stop now.
Beware of the origin of your avocado when you are out grocery shopping. The late season California avocado will ripen quickly with high oil and incredible flavor, while the Mexican avocado will ripen slower but will develop better flavor as the season goes on. You may see avocados being sourced from Peru and Chile but Earl’s will only be carrying the Mexican avocado. Earl’s loves avocados as you know so you can count on us for updates as the seasons continue to move.