Friday, January 27, 2012

Winter Orchard News

We picked the first lemons and kiwi and now have them for sale at the fruit stand. The very last hoshigaki is finishing drying in the last drying room.  We're still taking mail orders for hoshigaki and we have some for sale at the fruit stand.

At the end of last week, we finally got a few days of heavy rain, the first major rain of the winter.  Hopefully the rainfall will catch up to at least the usual amount this year.  Just before the rain it got unusually cold, as you can see in the photo. We had to turn on the irrigation to help protect the citrus from frost, and the spray froze and made interesting patterns.  The ice is supposed to insulate the trees and raise the temperature a few degrees. The first trees are flowering right now, too.  Both the white and pink flowering ume (Japanese plum) started blossoming, and the loquat (biwa) is almost finished.  

Sadly, our rooster was carried away by a coyote and eaten.  On one of the windy, rainy days my daughter heard what she thought sounded like a goose fighting with the chickens by the garden. She looked to see what was going on and saw a coyote carrying the squawking rooster in its mouth and then taking off through the orchard.   The photo in the previous post shows "Blue" the blue Orpington rooster by the edge of the garden where the coyote took him away.

Here's what's at the fruit stand now:

  • Mandarins--owari satsuma
  • Kiwi
  • Lemons
  • Navel Oranges
  • Hoshigaki (Japanese hand-dried persimmon) 
  • Persimmons--Hachiya, Fuyu, Maru (chocolate), Hyakume (all soft now)
  • Pomegranates--white variety
  • Perfectly Persimmon Cookbook--1004 persimmon recipes by Jean Brine
  • Placer County Real Food Cookbook--by Joanne Neft and Laura Kenny
  • 2012 Master Gardeners Calender
  • Eggs

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Meat Buyers Club & Late Mandarins & Persimmons

Chickens in the orchard by a mandarin tree.
New at the fruit stand now are navel orangesGrapefruit and kiwi should be coming soon. We still have lots of mandarins at the fruit stand, including  owari satsuma and another orange-red variety of satsuma.  Both are sweet and easy to peel mandarins, the difference is that the orange-red satsuma variety is darker on the outside and less acidic.

Surprisingly, there's still a good supply of persimmons at the fruit stand.  We have soft hachiya, firmer vodka-treated hyakume, fuyu and maru ('chocolate') persimmons.  Since both persimmons and mandarins ripened late this year, they're available later than usual. 

In late December KCRA channel 3 News came to visit the orchard to do a story on hoshigaki (Japanese hand dried persimmons).  You can see a slide show on the KCRA website.  The Nikkei West newspaper visited too and has an article about hoshigaki and Otow Orchard on the front page of the current issue.

The last hoshigaki is drying and we're down to only one drying room full now.  We still need to check on the hoshigaki to see how they're drying and massage them every few days until they're finished.  Shoko has been busy packing them up and sending out mail orders.  We're still taking hoshigaki orders for pick up at the fruit stand and by mail order, too.   

The next delivery for the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club will be at our orchard from 4:00 - 5:00 on Friday, Jan. 20th. Orders need to be received by Fri., Jan. 13th at 5:00.  Through the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club you can order local naturally grown pork and lamb, grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, eggs and honey.  New this month are mandarins, navel oranges, meyer lemons and mandarin sauces.  Monthly deliveries are at our orchard in Granite Bay, Community Ink in Truckee,  Confluence Kitchen in Auburn and Sinclair Family Farm in Penryn.

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