July 13, 2008

Week 43

So hows about those Fresno State Bulldogs anyhow?! Ranked 58th in the country & come back to win the whole schmere. Lose the opening game. Lose the 1st of the final 3 and are down 5 zip in the third inning of the second game. Baseball’s way too boring for me but that was exciting. Little ol’ Fresno state, National Champs!! Yee Haaaw!!
Okay, you got this in a box of produce, not a box of Wheaties so back to business. Last Saturday (yeah, the one that was 108 degrees) Carol and I were invited to participate in an Organic Stone fruit festival to benefit Slow Food Madera. There were 8 of us farmers, and several hundred folks came out and sampled the fruit. Very Educational for me as I observed the people and took mental notes.
We had a traditional, complex, ripe peach, a slightly tarter crunchy peach. A non acid Nectarine and a traditional nectarine. A mild plum and a tart plum. And some Apricots. All stuff from our farm last week and we were amazed at the diversity of tastes in the crowd. Crunchers vs. leaners were 40-40% with about 20% in the middle. Older folks tended to be leaners (no pun) younger tended towards tart and crunchy. Every single variety had fans as well as detractors and really pointed up for me the challenges of presenting the perfect fruit. Speaking of perfect, my favorite melon is the Galia. John had a bunch so I couldn’t resist. May not get ‘em in the box, but we’ll figure something out. Another favorite is the Kingsburg Gold cherry tomato.
Warning!! If you try them, you’ll have to add them on every week ‘til frost. There’s not 1 in 100 who can resist. It would be an act of sheer will power if they even make it to a salad. We’ve put some of Abe’s black berries on the add on list. After last week’s embarrassment, we’re expecting great things from Don’s corn. Now this is Organic corn so just deal with the corn worms and rejoice. That’s the Organic signature and we don’t charge extra for ‘em. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of folks to trade with if it’s a personal challenge to get past for some folks.
I love it when a plan comes together, and at least from this Wednesday evening vantage point, it looks like an Abundant one!. Eat Healthy!

Did you know that there are over 600 varieties of peaches, plums and nectarines grown in the state of California? Each one is harvested for only 10 days to 2 weeks. The great number of varieties developed is what allows us to have fresh stone fruit all summer long. The varieties have been bred to allow for fruit to ripen successively so there is a steady supply. Because of that the varieties change from week to week and are not the same through out the season. These different varieties have different characteristics. Nectarines, for example, may all be called by the same name and look alike but you may notice a difference in the firmness, flesh color and ease of separation from the pit. Unfortunately if you find one you really like it probably won’t be around for long.
If stone fruit is too soft when it is packed it will become easily bruised and damaged. If you wish to ripen stone fruit it can be placed in a fruit bowl or a paper bag with the top folded over, at room temperature, out of direct light. Check it at least once a day. When the fruit is ripe, to your liking, either use it or place it in the refrigerator to stop the ripening process. Direct sunlight and high heat can cause fruit to dry and shrivel rather than ripen. If you want to freeze your fresh stone fruit it is best to freeze it in a sweet liquid like peach, white grape or apple juice. You can also use a light sugar syrup that can be made by using one part sugar to three parts water. Heat the water, add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Let the syrup cool and then add to the fruit. To prepare the fruit wash it, peel it if desired, and cut it into preferred size pieces. Mix some lemon juice with the fruit to prevent discoloring. Put the fruit in a plastic bag or freezer container and add one cup of liquid for each four cups of fruit. Be sure all of your fruit is covered by liquid. This fruit should keep for about 6 months.

Peaches, especially when they are soft, are not easy to peel. If you want to peel your peaches before using them in a recipe, or slicing them up to eat, the easiest method is to blanch them.
Fill a pot with enough water to cover the peach completely and bring the water to a boil. Using a slotted spoon submerge the peach in the boiling water for 30-45 seconds and then immediately place it in an ice water bath, which will stop any cooking process. The ice water bath must be deep enough to cover the entire peach. After following this process you will be able to easily remove the skin. You may wish to first cut an “X” in the bottom of the fruit to give yourself a place to start.

Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
-Seasonal Stone Fruit
The Peterson Family, Kingsburg
-Galia Melons
John France, Porterville
-Kingsburg Gold Cherry Tomatoes
KMK, Kingsburg
Troy Huckabay, Kingsburg
-White Kernel Corn
Don Warkentine, Kingsburg
-Red Onion*
Ginger Balakian, Reedly
-Crookneck Squash*
-Red Irish Potatoes
-Jalapeno Peppers
-Mediterranean Cucumbers
T & D Willey, Madera
*Denotes Large Box Only
Contents may vary due to availability on date of delivery

To maintain the quantity those pesky stickers are a necessary evil. Here are a couple of hints for removing them. First the stickers will remove more easily if the fruit is cold so remove the sticker after the fruit has been refrigerated. The edge of a small paring knife will help you lift it. The other method suggested is to put a small piece of transparent tape over the sticker and when you lift it off, the sticker, or at least most of it should come off.

Stuffed Zucchini
3-5 Zucchini 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, chopped ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (any cheese combo is great)
Olive oil or dots of butter (Optional)

Trim ends of squash and slice lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and put in bowl. Mix the seeds with the other ingredients. Stuff squash with mixture. You may drizzle with a little olive oil, or place pats of butter over the tops and sprinkle with extra mozzarella cheese.
Place in a baking dish and bake in a 350ยบ oven for 30 minutes, or place on foil and cook it on the grill.

Corn on the Cob with Smoked Butter
1 Tbsp butter, melted 1 tsp grated lemon rind (Optional)
1 tsp minced shallots 1 tsp honey
½ tsp salt ½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp smoked paprika 6 ears shucked corn

Combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl. Cook corn in boiling water for 5 minutes or until crisp tender. Brush butter mixture evenly over corn; serve immediately.
Corn may also be grilled for 10 minutes or until lightly browned, or wrapped in wax paper and cooked in microwave for 2 minutes per ear.

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