1st Delivery of the Extended Fruit Season: week of Nov 5, 2012
This week we are thinking about all of our friends and family on the East Coast being affected by Hurricane Sandy. We know this is an extremely difficult time for many. Please think about what you can do to give or support those suffering from this storm. I spoke with Liz and Lou several time this week and again this morning. We get many of our blueberries from them in June and early July. Lou said they faced 80-100 MPH winds and several inches of intense rain during the storm. Thankfully he says all their buildings are standing. Some how they kept their power and after checking on all the blueberry bushes they feel like they were extremely fortunate. Now they are putting in extra time cleaning up their property. Many public roads are closed and many are still without power. Keep them in your thoughts.
Everett Myers, Founder and President of FruitShare™
In your box:
Honeycrisp, Swiss Gourmet and Sweet Orin apples
Bosc, D’Anjou, and Concorde pears
Storage and Ripening
Your pears and avocados will need between 3-7 days on the counter/fruit bowl to give to thumb pressure by the stem. To speed up their ripening process you can place some in a paper bag with a banana, but remember to “check the neck” every day. The banana gives off ethylene gas that ripens fruit faster. You can always place your pears in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process and enjoy over a longer period of time. Pomegranates are ready to eat right when you get them. You can leave them out on the counter for 1-2 weeks to add color to your fruit bowl, but the skin will start to dry out and be harder to peel and eat. To keep the skin moist you can store them in your refrigerator and enjoy as you please. Keep your apples in the coldest part of your refrigerator. They are ready to eat right away. They will stay freshest when stored as cold as 34 degrees F.
What It Takes
This week’s Honeycrisp apples and Bosc, D’Anjou and Concorde pears are from the Stennes family. Like many of our organic growers, the Stennes family farm in Washington’s Cascade Mountains is a family affair. The farm began in 1894, when the Stennes family emmigrated from Norway and planted apple trees on their homestead. Now, Keith is joined by his twin sons, Mark and Kevin to make up the third and fourth generations of Stennes farmers. They have grown the orchard to include not just apples, but also cherries, pluots, plums, and of course, pears. This week they’ve provided some great pears. Concordes are known for their sweetness and juiciness, as well as their tall, beautiful shape. It has green skin and sometimes a hint of yellow, and can be eaten while crisp – it will still be sweet and delicious! Concorde pears are perfectly suited for slicing on a cheese plate or into a fresh salad because they don’t turn brown when sliced like most pears. D’Anjou pears are a popular variety that are easily recognized by their egg-shaped appearance. These pears skin will not change color as they ripen, so don’t wait around for them to change – remember to “check the neck” to gauge their ripeness; when they give to soft pressure, they are ready to eat. D’Anjou pears are great for most recipes, because they are juicy and fresh tasting. They can be used for baking, grilling or poaching, and they are great sliced in salads. Bosc pears are a distinctive variety with a crunchy-yet-tender flesh and sweet, spiced flavor. Don’t be deterred by their brown skin: the flesh is firm and spicier than other varieties. Bosc pears are more flavorful earlier in the ripening process. Enjoy their complex, sweet flavor before they have fully softened. When you test your Bosc pears to check their ripeness, keep in mind that their flesh is denser than other varieties. This means that when you “check the neck,” it will not give as much to pressure. Don’t wait around for these pears to get super soft; they’re ready to enjoy while they’re still nice and firm! Because of this firm flesh, Bosc pears are great for baking, broiling and poaching. Their strong flavor is also less likely to be overwhelmed by spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg.
Your Sweet Orin (a yellow apple variety developed in Japan where it is considered a special delicacy. It is customary in Japan to slice and share these apples with family and friends following meals on special occasions). and Swiss Gourmet (an extremely sweet red colored apple that is a cross between a Golden Delicious and Idared was developed by a research station in Switzerland in the early 1980s) apples are from Hood River, Oregon, grown by Ronny and Jimmy, two brothers who have been working on the family farm since they were kids. Their parents, Ron and Cheryl, decided to sell their dry-cleaning business and buy a farm. Ron quickly became one of the most respected organic farmers in the Pacific Northwest. He even served as the only organic farmer on National Commission for Small Farms for many years. Ronny and Jimmy took over the farm in 2003 and have begun growing new varieties of apples, pears and more. They truly do their best to farm not only organically but very sustainably. They have created a loop in the production cycle, composting cast-off fruit and peels to keep the soil rich and fertile with minimal waste.
Ignacio “Nacho” Sanchez and his wife, Casamira, provided the pomegranates in your box. For Nacho and Casamira, farming started as a side business in 1989 when they bought their first 6-acre orchard in Cutler, California. But over the next four years, Nacho’s orchard expanded rapidly, and he made his passion for farming into his full-time job. When their twin girls were born in 1991, Nacho and Casamira named their orchard Twin Girls Farms; and when their third daughter arrived, Nacho named some varieties of peaches after her. Having converted to organic farming practices in 1999, Nacho uses beneficial insects and cover crops in place of conventional chemicals. He gets great satisfaction from the knowledge that no harmful chemicals can affect his family, his workers, his customers and our environment.
Here I include “the art of eating a pomegranate”. Wear an old shirt. Stay away from anything white and put on some glasses. Score the outside of the skin with a knife length wise and break it apart. This is when you run the risk of tiny red seeds staining your clothes or rolling around the floor to be stepped on later. Now pull the white membranes away and expose a cluster of red berries. Eat directly from the fruit or be more polite and pick the berries into a bowl to consume later. Do not eat the white membrane/peel only eat the berries. It’s a riot to sit around the kitchen table at our house and eat this wonderful fruit. It comes and goes each year before you know it so give thanks. I know these aren’t the prettiest pomegranates due to limbs rubbing the skin and scaring the outer fruit–but this does not affect the inside. Here is a new word you add to your lexicon: Arils – this is the name of the red edible seeds that you eat in a pomegranate.
Note: Normally you would see organic cranberries from Brian and Dan our two Wisconsin organic cranberry growers this time of year and prior to Thanksgiving, but both their farms had a very small harvest this year, so we might not see any organic cranberries this year. Both Brian and Dan said the early spring and then intense heat this summer combined caused the flowers and fruits to drop off the plant before reaching maturity. This left only a small percentage of the normal harvest. It also caused a harvest that is 2-3 weeks earlier than usual. Please have Dan, Brian and their families in your thoughts as this is very difficult year for them economically.
Health and Wellness
November is National Diabetes Month. Here are just a few of the recent statistics on diabetes: Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. Another 79 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $174 billion.
Wednesday we celebrated Halloween with our kids. It is interesting to note the history of this celebration. Its origins as a Celtic festival (Samhain), the Roman efforts to refocus this day to a harvest festival, Pope Boniface IV’s designation of this day as All Saints’ Day and understanding that current day tradition of “trick or treating” may have arose from parades in England where poor citizens begged for food from families of who could provide for them. Halloween hasn’t always been about costumes and candy. Our kids get excited for days planning their costumes and making arrangements with their friends to walk their neighborhoods and “trick or treat”. The thrill of coming home with a bag of candy lights up their eyes. They pour it out on the floor and run their hands through all the branded treats. It is like a game show contestant running their hands through piles of money. Then it is off to bed wired and happy.
How did we get from a Celtic festival and harvest festival to a “riches of candy” festival? The junk food marketing machine is a hard one to battle, but at least we can take advantage of this time after the festivities and excitement has wound down to have a great conversation with our kids about eating healthy. If we can help our kids understand how huge quantities of sugar can affect their health in a negative way, and how nature’s sugar in fruit and vegetables can satiate these same sugar cravings without the blood sugar spike. We can help them avoid being one of the statistics noted above. I’m constantly amazed with how my kids reach for that apple or pear this time of year and how well it fuels them throughout their day, “Powered by Fruit”.
Honey Roasted Pears
3 Bosc pears
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp. real vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. muscavado or brown sugar
1/2 cup thyme sprigs
8 oz. whipping cream
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. honey
3/4 Cup plain greek yogurt
Preheat oven to 450′. Cut the pears in half length wise, use a small spoon or melon baller to remove the tough seeded center. In a cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet, add the butter, honey, vanilla, muscavado or brown sugar, thyme sprigs and a generous sprinkle of salt. Let everything come to a gentle boil and stir continuously, about 2 minutes. Add the halved pears to the pan, cut side down. Give it a shake and let them simmer on the stove about 2 minutes. Turn the pears over so they are now cut side up and transfer the pan to the oven, middle rack. Bake for 12 minutes until the pears are soft and the sauce has caramelized. While the pears are baking, beat the cold whipping cream with an electric mixer until stiff. Add the honey, pinch of salt, cinnamon and beat another minute to combine. Gently fold in the greek yogurt. Put one or two pears on a plate, drizzle with a hefty spoonful of sauce with a sprig of thyme for garnish, and a generous dollop or yogurt cream.
Courtesy of foodily.com