Monday, September 17, 2012

Jujube and Early Persimmons

We have jujube now at the fruit stand.  A jujube is a a fruit that looks kind of like a small apple but has a drier texture with more complex flavors.  It can be eaten when it's crunchy or more mature and wrinkly.  It's nutritious and used sometimes for medicinal purposes.  "Chinese date" and natsume are other names for jujube.    

The persimmons on the trees are getting color earlier than usual, maybe because of the late warm weather.  We've even picked some soft hachiya persimmons and the first maru (or chocolate) persimmons already.  These early hachiya and maru are smaller and not as sweet as they should be later in the season.  

Many people have been asking about this year's mail order form for hoshigaki (Japanese hand-dried persimmon).  We plan to post it next week on this website.  Although all the persimmons seem to ripening early this year, the hachiya and gyombo varieties we use for are still not quite orange enough yet to start peeling them for drying into hoshigaki.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Lots of delicious grapes are at the fruit stand now.  We have small seedless red flame grapes and larger Ribier red grapes with seeds.  We also have a small amount of Kyoho grapes.  New also are golden delicious apples.  

We still have many ripe tomatoes of different types. If you'd like tomatoes for canning or freezing, please call and talk to us.  We can reserve tomatoes, (incuding seconds) for you.

What's at the fruit stand now:  

  • Grapes--Red Flame, Ribier
  • Apples--Northern Spy, Golden Delicious
  • Plums--Casselman, Kelsey, Elephant Heart, El Dorado
  • Asian Pear--Hosui, 20th Century, New Century, Yoi, Shinko
  • European Pear--Bartlett, Comice
  • Figs--Black Mission and Brown Turkey
  • Tomatoes & Tomatillos--various sizes of red tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, paste tomatoes
  • Vegetables--eggplant (Japanese and Italian), sweet peppers, hot chiles (jalapeno and fish), Chinese long beans, summer squash and zucchini, cucumber, Swiss chard
  • Herbs--Basil, oregano, mint (cut if you ask)
  • Honey--from bees at our orchard
  • Beeswax candles--handmade 100% beeswax from the orchard
  • The Art of Real Food Cookbook--by Joanne Neft and Laura Kenney

Friday, September 7, 2012

Asian vs. European Pears, Sierra Foothills Producers Cooperative

Hosui and Bartlett pears
What's the difference between Asian pears and European pears? 

Asian pears are firmer and more like an apple in texture.  They're ripe and meant to be eaten when they're crisp like this.  If you wait for an Asian pear to become soft, then it will be overripe, mushy and bland tasting.  When we pick Asian pears from the trees, they're crisp, juicy and ready to eat right then.  There are many varieties of Asian pears that grow well in our area and ripen from August to November.  Most are roundish with skin ranging from yellow-green to brown.   Okusankichi, the largest variety of Asian pear we grow, is also the latest to ripen in November.

European pears are smoother textured and soft when ripe.  Bartlett, Comice, and D'Anjou are varieties of European pears that we grow at the orchard.  All these varieties of European pears must be picked from the trees when they're hard, green and unripe, then stored until they ripen.  If left to ripen on the trees, European pears are likely to be rotten in the core by the time they become yellow and soft on the outside.   We pick Bartlett, Comice, and D'Anjou when they're green, then ripen them slowly in the fruit stand or refrigerator until they're sweet, yellow and soft. Another way to ripen European pears is pick them green and wrap them in newspaper in a cool dark place (like in a box under the bed). 

Right now in the fruit stand we have many varieties of Asian pear (Hosui, Shinko, Yoi, New Century, 20th Century, Niitaka) and Bartlett and Comice European pear.  We're also selling Asian pear through the Sierra Foothills Producers Cooperative for the month of September.  

Through the Sierra Foothills Producers Cooperative you can order local, naturally grown and raised meats, eggs, cheese, honey, olive oil, produce and products such sauces and marmalades. September orders must be made by Friday, Sept 14th at 4:00 PM.  You can pick up your order in one of five locations including Otow Orchard at scheduled times during the week of Sept. 17th.  The next delivery at our orchard will be from 4:00 - 5:00 PM on Friday, Sept. 21st.

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