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Archive for September, 2011

California Apples


Cuyama Orchards are located in a remote mountainous area surrounded by the Los Padres National forest within Santa Barbara County. The mineral rich soil in high elevation areas helps to grow more flavorful apples. Apple trees also need a certain number of dormant hours or chill hours in order to produce a bountiful and quality harvest. Cool nights, warm days and an abundant native water supply produce sweet, crunchy and juicy organic apples at Cuyama Orchards.

Howard Albano from Cuyama Orchards along with his wife Jean and their son Byron are in charge of all growing, picking, packing and marketing of their 265 organic certified acres. Enjoy fresh, local Gala apples from Cuyama farms now through the end of October. Gala apples are an early season apple with a bright, crisp, sweet flavor. They are a cross between a Kidd’s Orange Red and a Golden Delicious. The color ranges from light red in a young Gala to a deep red in a mature Gala. Flavors are best when recently picked.

Chill hours

Everyone knows the Fuji apple, but there are many varieties. The Standard Fuji sets the benchmark for the Fuji we know and love.  The Early Fuji, also known as Beni Shogun, is a hybrid closest to the Standard Fuji. Anticipate its arrival from Cuyama Orchards September 25th, and sticking around for about a month. Worth waiting for is the Standard Fuji arriving October 25th and available for about 5-7 months. Cuyama Orchards is one of the few farms still growing the original Standard Fuji. There are many hybrid Standard Fuji’s out there that don’t have the highly cultivated flavor of the original. The Standard Fuji is a cross between the American apples, Red Delicious and Ralls Janet. In the 1930’s the Japanese spent years selecting the best Fuji apple for taste. They were hard to grow, harvested late and the color was hard to develop. Cuyama Orchard uses wood from their own orchards to propagate one of the best Standard Fuji apples on the market.


Rich and sweet figs

The second and sweetest crop of figs arrives now at the end of summer and early fall. Figs are picked ripe and do not ripen once they are off the tree.  Although there are hundreds of varieties of figs, the most popular are the Adriatic, Black Mission, Kadota and Brown Turkey. Figs have a rich and sugary interior and are intensely enjoyable.  Try figs out of your hand, in a salad or grilled.

Adriatic’s have a light green skin with a dark pink flesh and its high sugar content makes it great for fig bars. Black Mission figs range from a deep purple to a dark black with a mild sweet flavor.  Kadota figs have a thick green skin, amber flesh and are almost seedless.  Brown Turkey figs range in color from a brown to copper and have a very fragrant flavor.

Figs are very high in fiber and a ¼ cup of figs provides 20% of the recommended daily value.  Figs also have no fat, sodium or cholesterol.   California fig growers produce 100 percent of the USA’s dried figs and 98 percent of fresh figs.  Figs bruise very easily and will stay fresh once they are ripe in the refrigerator for about 2 days. Maywood Farms in Corning, CA and Susie Bee farms from Chowchilla, in the central Joaquin Valley, bring you some of the best organic figs.

The unusual and special Candystripe figs can be found from Capay Valley in Yolo County. They are a pale green with light stripes. They are only in season for about 3 weeks a year. We will have a very limited supply available only through the week of September 12th.

The season to try them is now so check out your local farmers market or fine retailers near you.


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