Fresh News

The taste of sum­mer might best be summed up in one bite. That’s if that bite is a juicy, ripe peach.

One of sev­eral so called stone fruits, they fall into one of two dis­tinc­tive cat­e­gories. Cling­stone and free­stone are the peach camps.

Cling­stones are known for their firm flesh that stub­bornly clings to the stone, mak­ing it hard to sep­a­rate with­out man­gling the fruit.

Free­stone vari­eties, on the other hand, are easy to sep­a­rate the pit from the flesh. Cal­i­for­nia cling­stone peaches are best used for can­ning and freez­ing. Har­vest for these go roughly from mid-​July to mid-​September. Fresh mar­ket free­stone types are har­vested from April through Octo­ber.

Both free­stone and cling­stone peaches have numer­ous vari­eties that dif­fer in skin color, flesh color, firm­ness, and juici­ness. Two of the most pop­u­lar vari­eties of yellow-​fleshed free­stone peaches are Ele­gant Lady and O’Henry. Other vari­eties include the Empress, Elberta, and Rio Oso Gem.

Semi-​freestone or semi-​clingstone is a newer hybrid type of cling­stone and free­stone. It is good for using all around for both fresh and canned purposes.

Read more: Peaches & Cream →

Amer­i­can cooks have a mad crush on cast iron skil­lets and cook­ware. More than durable, these cook pans are long on tra­di­tion and easy to use.

From pork roast to cherry pie, results in just this one pan style of cook­ing are pretty fan­tas­tic.

Brand names like Lodge, Gris­wold and Wag­ner are fre­quently found at week­end yard sales. Vin­tage pans go rel­a­tively unno­ticed by adult kids edit­ing stuff for estate sales.

A keen eye scours trade­marks and emblems to iden­tify a rusty, crusty old pan as a pos­si­ble trea­sure. A bit of clean­ing and re-​seasoning will bring a cast iron skil­let back to “work­ing in the kitchen” sta­tus.

One pos­si­bil­ity of dis­tin­guish­ing an authen­tic cast iron pan are the sides. The depth (fry­ing pans are shal­lower than skil­lets) and the angle (sauté pans have straight sides while fry­ing pans have flared sides). Some saucepans have pour spouts. In older pans, the pour spouts were big­ger.

Most older pans had two pour spouts while newer ones might have one. Con­tem­po­rary cast iron pans might also have a helper han­dle and non-​stick coat­ings, which are both newer.

Read more: Made to Last →

Memo­r­ial Day is a national hol­i­day set aside for remem­brance. We com­mem­o­rate all U.S. cit­i­zens who have died in the ser­vice of our coun­try.

Orig­i­nally, we called it Dec­o­ra­tion Day because the tra­di­tion of dec­o­rat­ing sol­diers’ graves with flags and flow­ers seem to fit.

The long obser­vance week­end has also mor­phed into a viable excuse to gather with friends and fam­ily over pic­nics, bar­be­cues and patio meals.

Per­fect tim­ing with warm weather makes this hol­i­day a way to wel­come in more of our favorite local foods. Water­melon, sweet corn, blue­ber­ries, straw­ber­ries, cher­ries and stone fruits are Cal­i­for­nia sourced.

How we trans­form fresh pro­duce in to patri­otic fla­vors is open to inter­pre­ta­tion. Com­bi­na­tions of red, white and blue is an easy begin­ning. Look for ways of assem­bling fruit filled plat­ters and plates with red berries and juicy water­melon. Blue is for blue­ber­ries and even black­ber­ries.

Stars and stripes clearly rep­re­sent “Old Glory”. The thir­teen stripes and fifty stars of the U.S. flag do not have to be per­fectly repli­cated. Cookie cut­ter stars of any size are indica­tive of patri­otic sym­bol­ism.

Cut from pas­try dough or melon, add the five-​point start to pies, cakes, fruit sal­ads and more.

Read more: Patri­otic Flavors →

Burg­ers, sand­wiches and sal­ads dom­i­nate casual warm weather fare. How they go from mediocre to super star sta­tus is just one ingredient/​degree of sep­a­ra­tion.

Sweet Red Onions have just begun their sea­sonal har­vest­ing in the San Joaquin Val­ley.

They bring excep­tional fla­vor, sweet­ness and tex­ture to every­thing from piz­zas to pas­tas. To be sure, an Ital­ian Red or Fresno Flat sweet are quite dif­fer­ent from any onion rel­a­tive.

Alli­ums in gen­eral include round globe (red, yel­low and white) onions, gar­lic, shal­lots, scal­lions, leeks and chives. Packed with nutri­ents and antiox­i­dants, these kitchen sta­ples are used to impart bold and some­times savory heat to dishes.

Milder, sweet onions are ter­rific for eat­ing raw, pick­ling and grilling. In this class are well-​known Vidalia, Walla Walla and Maui Sweets. These pop­u­lar vari­eties have a pale yel­low skin with a white or light yel­low inte­rior.

Ital­ian reds have a flat­ter shape. As their name implies, are a red­dish to pur­ple bright color. Not all super­mar­ket red onions are sweet. Be cer­tain to seek out that flat appear­ance to get to the right choice.

Other red-​skinned sweet onions include Bermuda, Bur­gundy, Cipolle di Tro­pea or Tropea’s sweet. The pop of color is part of the red onion attrac­tion. The sweet, mild taste pairs nicely with greens like kale, arugula, baby spinach and but­ter or romaine lettuces.

Read more: Sweet Spot →

There’s a rea­son why “pre-​cut” or “value-​added” pro­duce sales are on the rise. It’s some­times very intim­i­dat­ing or tricky for home cooks or even pro­fes­sional chefs to mas­ter the art of cut­ting, slic­ing or chop­ping.

Knife skills are essen­tial for kitchen con­fi­dence, effi­ciency and safety. How to han­dle knives and mak­ing the best choice for cer­tain jobs comes with loads of prac­tice and expe­ri­ence.

Cer­tain fresh pro­duce items, fruits in par­tic­u­lar, are eas­ier to approach than oth­ers. Apples and cit­rus might be intu­itive. Pineap­ple, mango, papaya and water­melon are a bit more com­pli­cated.

There are sev­eral food hacks tout­ing the best ways to get to the heart of what we want to eat. Any fruit com­mis­sion web-​site (mango, straw­berry, water­melon, avo­cado, etc.) will show­case ter­rific knife skills via video or step-​by-​step photo images.

To begin, learn to choose your fruits. Same day use requires ripeness. The Mama Bear “just right” approach to color, feel, and smell is a good start.

Greener or harder fruit may not mature in a man­ner that works. Seek out pro­duce exper­tise to assist if your retailer is rep­utable for sell­ing qual­ity prod­uct and hav­ing trained and informed clerks.

There are depend­able mar­ket clerks will­ing to share their pro­duce expe­ri­ence. The value in hav­ing trusted and informed staff to assist shop­pers is reflected in sales and cus­tomer loy­alty. A great clerk has the knowl­edge to help with prod­uct selec­tion, stor­age, care, han­dling and usage.

Read more: A Cut Above →

All along the cen­tral and south­ern coast­line, hun­dreds of Cal­i­for­nia straw­berry farm­ers are cul­ti­vat­ing the major­ity of all straw­ber­ries grown in the United States.

Nearly ninety per­cent of all U.S. straw­berry pro­duc­tion hap­pens on less than one per­cent of the Golden State’s farm­land.

The Cal­i­for­nia straw­berry story is about more than the effi­cient use of this prized land. It is also intrin­si­cally con­nected to the real story of Amer­i­can immi­grants and farm work­ers.

Today, in many cases, sec­ond and third-​generation fam­ily farm­ers con­tinue to farm and pro­duce America’s favorite fruit.

The agri­cul­ture boom hap­pened in Cal­i­for­nia right along­side the gold rush. Peo­ple were immi­grat­ing to Cal­i­for­nia to chase their dreams and find per­sonal suc­cess.

Straw­ber­ries made it pos­si­ble for fam­i­lies to set­tle in a sin­gle loca­tion where they could live and work instead of fol­low­ing the in-​season crops around the state. Some of these immi­grant farm work­ers started in irri­ga­tion or pick­ing straw­ber­ries. Many went on to build their own straw­berry farms and busi­nesses.

While con­sumers enjoy straw­ber­ries nearly year-​round, they may not rec­og­nize or fully appre­ci­ate the hard work and ded­i­ca­tion required to pro­duce them.

Read more: Berry Good →

The pan­demic, for all its unique dif­fi­cul­ties, has served to high­light and inten­sify some ongo­ing indus­try chal­lenges.

No mat­ter what lane of the food indus­try a com­pany is in– grower, packer, proces­sor, retail, food­ser­vice, distributor-​there is an acute need for good work­ers to fill the voids.

This long-​term prob­lem has been exac­er­bated as the slow return to “busi­ness as usual” unfolds.

Worker scarcity, worker safety, tough con­di­tions and high turnover have all been height­ened by the COVID cri­sis.

Long term, com­pa­nies will have to sort out how to man­age the on-​going issues of lack of labor.

The entire U.S. econ­omy needs work­ers. Employ­ers hired nearly a mil­lion peo­ple in March. Job list­ings are surg­ing, with open­ings on career sites well ahead of top­ping their pre-​coronavirus lev­els. Gov­ern­ment stim­u­lus money has allowed some peo­ple to stay home longer than they oth­er­wise would have.

The hottest jobs sec­tors are those areas that “make or move” things. Con­struc­tion, ware­hous­ing, fac­to­ries and phar­macy are areas that can­not fill the demand. The num­ber of ware­house jobs listed on Indeed as of early April was 57% above what they were before the virus struck.

Retail gro­cery deliv­ery through the pan­demic has increased sig­nif­i­cantly. FMI reports that e-​commerce for gro­ceries grew by 300 per­cent dur­ing the pan­demic. The same peo­ple who may have held or taken jobs at retail or ware­houses before, now have mul­ti­ple types of newly cre­ated job oppor­tu­ni­ties. A con­tribut­ing key fac­tor is bet­ter or more flex­i­ble work­ing conditions.

Read more: Worker Scarcity →

Anthony Bour­dain cov­ered a lot of ground in his book Kitchen Con­fi­den­tial.

One hot topic that res­onates with all line cooks is the Mise-​en-​place. The orga­nized work sta­tion, unique to each cook, keeps the kitchen ready for every order mov­ing smoothly through the line.

It houses all of the essen­tials– sea salt, rough-​cracked pep­per, cook­ing oil, wine, but­ter, gar­lic, pars­ley, and so on.

One item in par­tic­u­lar that Tony claimed as a Mise-​en-​Place essen­tial for all pro­fes­sional kitchens is shal­lots. His kitchen staff used about twenty pounds daily.

A “take-​away” from Bour­dain to home cooks look­ing to ele­vate dishes, is to keep shal­lots on hand for turn­ing out tastier ver­sions of most any prepa­ra­tion.

Shal­lots are one of those fresh ingre­di­ents that we notice parked next to fresh gar­lic and the onion sec­tions at the gro­cery store. We fre­quently see them, but bypass them for reg­u­lar onion vari­eties.

Their del­i­cate, mild onion fla­vor (with a hint of sharp­ness) is pre­ferred for clas­sic dishes, vinai­grettes, sauces, soups and fry­ing when a hot­ter onion isn’t the right fit.

Read more: Shal­lot Woes →

Aspara­gus is a mem­ber of the lily fam­ily and is related to onions and gar­lic. The spears are usu­ally not har­vested until the third or fourth year planted to allow the crown to develop a strong root sys­tem.

After that, the healthy plants will then pro­duce spears for about fif­teen years.

Cal­i­for­nia pos­sesses sev­eral micro-​climates ideal for aspara­gus pro­duc­tion. The 250 farms that grow the favored spring crop deliver on the promise of local, fresh and hand-​cared atten­tion.

Sev­eral regions through­out the state are ideal for grow­ing “grass”, includ­ing the Cen­tral Val­ley, the Cen­tral Coast and the Stock­ton Delta.

Nearly sev­enty per­cent of the nation’s fresh mar­ket aspara­gus is pro­duced in Cal­i­for­nia. Har­vest sea­son is about ninety days long, start­ing in March and run­ning through May.

This peren­nial crop is labor – inten­sive from har­vest to pack­ing. Work­ers walk the rows, scout­ing for nine inch green spears to har­vest. Aspara­gus is graded, sized and packed in sheds located near the fields to assure max­i­mum fresh­ness.
Early in the sea­son, spears may be picked every four days or so. As tem­per­a­tures warm up, they may have to be picked every day. Each spear grows about seven to nine inches per day. Depend­ing on weather and growth, beds maybe cut mul­ti­ple times per day.

Spears are trimmed to lengths of nine inches and bun­dled for sales. Typ­i­cally, a one pound bun­dle con­tains about 10 to 14 spears, depend­ing on size/​thickness of the stalks.

Read more: Grass Season →

The chaos and may­hem of gro­cery shop­ping a year ago seems like a wild faded dream. Dur­ing lock­downs and stay-​at-​home orders, we found ways to com­pen­sate for long lines and hoard­ing.

As life begins to unfold post-​pandemic, new habits have emerged that retail­ers and food ser­vice providers have made invest­ments.

We may all be count­ing on new ways to feed our­selves. Online order­ing and home deliv­ery have taken the sting out of food pan­de­mo­nium. We’ve learned new cop­ing skills.

Meals can be either ready-​to-​eat or those ready to pre­pare. The pan­demic accel­er­ated ghost kitchens (also known as dark or cloud kitchens) and the wide­spread adop­tion of food deliv­ery by at least three to five years.

No doubt, food deliv­ery had the lime­light 2020. As con­sumers adopted new habits, the gig econ­omy surged in that arena. Grub Hub, Uber Eats and Door­Dash were on Smart phone “Favorites”.

The trend and adop­tion of dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies and e-​commerce was greatly advanced by per­sonal health safety con­cerns as much as con­ve­nience. Com­fort lev­els now push con­sumers to pur­chase prod­ucts online with con­fi­dence.

Already on the rise in recent years, par­tic­i­pa­tion in online gro­cery shop­ping sky­rock­eted in 2020.

Read more: Pandemonium →

Restau­rants are tun­ing up menus to reflect stream­lined offer­ings and their need to do more with less. Smart oper­a­tors are not hav­ing to com­pro­mise on qual­ity food that tastes great over bet­ter effi­cien­cies.

Now, more than ever, we eat first with our eyes. This includes scan­ning menus online or using QR codes on smart­phones.

Good com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key for every suc­cess­ful busi­ness. Menu writ­ing is a com­mu­ni­ca­tions art­form and tal­ent nec­es­sary for food­ser­vice providers. Chalk­boards, ink on paper or vir­tual links help sell what’s for break­fast, lunch and din­ner.

Words mat­ter and how they are used on a menu can entice orders and impact rev­enue. The power of per­sua­sion when it comes to food descrip­tions makes or breaks ini­tial per­cep­tions.

Set­ting appetite expec­ta­tions is only a word or phrase away. Loaded cau­li­flower casse­role tells the diner to expect a hot, cheesy, gooey and indul­gent dish.

Descrip­tions regard­ing culi­nary prepa­ra­tions pique inter­est. Roasted, grilled, poached, fried, toasted, whipped or stuffed tell much about what will be deliv­ered on the plate.

Sea­son­ings and fla­vors get prime text space. Smoky, savory, fiery, nutty, tart, pep­pery, cit­rusy, zesty, and but­tery get the mouth and brain work­ing together for the selec­tion. Food and mood are strongly teth­ered together. What food crav­ing needs to be con­quered today?

Read more: Eat My Words →

The holy Easter hol­i­day cel­e­brates the res­ur­rec­tion of Jesus Christ and is of great sig­nif­i­cance to Chris­tians around the world.

This is a time for prayers, reli­gious obser­vances and gath­er­ings with fam­ily mem­bers and friends for Spring feasts.

The sym­bol­ism of spring sig­ni­fies rebirth, renewal, a new dawn, hope, awak­en­ing, and promise. Sea­sonal flow­ers are nat­u­rally asso­ci­ated with the annual Easter and spring fes­tiv­i­ties.

Aware­ness of spring bloom­ing flow­ers and their sig­nif­i­cance will guide deci­sions for bou­quets, table arrange­ments and pot­ted plants for décor. Uplift­ing, cheer­ful and some­times fra­grant, bloom­ing flow­ers are an instant mood booster.

Tulips are the ulti­mate spring flower. Beau­ti­ful and vibrant, these flow­ers come in an array of bold and sub­tle col­ors. White tulips are asso­ci­ated with for­give­ness, a com­mon theme for Easter.

The pur­ple tulip rep­re­sents roy­alty. Com­bined, they cel­e­brate the roy­alty of Jesus Christ and mean­ing of Easter.

Easter Lilies and Lilies of the Val­ley, both white flow­ers often sym­bol­ize purity and inno­cence. This purity and inno­cence is asso­ci­ated with Christ. Lilies also have reli­gious sig­nif­i­cance from being men­tioned in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments.

Read more: Bloom­ing Color →

Amer­i­cans can thank the ancient Greeks for the orig­i­nal waf­fle. While they may not have tasted like what we enjoy today, those “obelios” or wafers were cooked in much the same fash­ion.

The Greek hot cakes were cooked between two hot metal plates attached to a long, wooden han­dle. The Dutch get credit for the deep grids in waf­fles that hold our pre­ferred culi­nary accou­trements.

Sweet or savory, the ver­sa­tile waf­fle is enjoyed around the world as a per­fect street food or snack. In the U.S., we rely on them for a quick toaster break­fast or more lux­u­ri­ous one when time allows us to make a big­ger fuss.

Dur­ing COVID, we don’t need an excuse to glam up break­fast or din­ner. Start plan­ning for a fam­ily waf­fle date. In or out, home or restau­rant, waf­fles make every­thing feel bet­ter.

Made from scratch, an ordi­nary day turns spe­cial by whip­ping together a batch of waf­fle bat­ter. Most of the ingre­di­ents are ready pantry sta­ples. What we choose to slather into the crevices makes them per­son­al­ized and favorites.

But­ter, hot maple syrup or whipped cream are just the gar­den vari­ety start­ing points. Pow­dered sugar, almond but­ter, and fresh fruit purees are the sec­ond wave of good­ness. Pecans, banana slices and a driz­zle of choco­late trans­forms week­end brunch into an extra­or­di­nary occasion.

Read more: Waf­fles Baby →

As restau­rants gen­tly lean back into indoor din­ing, they likely will keep take-​out and deliv­ery busi­ness in their wheel­house.

Those seg­ments were sup­ple­ments to Amer­i­can meals and a wel­comed break to cook­ing and eat­ing at home.

Over the past year, the improved per­spec­tive on eat­ing left­over foods has shifted to very favor­able.

Research from The Hart­man Group reports that 28 per­cent of all eat­ing occa­sions involve left­overs (vs. 22 per­cent in fall 2019). Sig­nif­i­cant increases of left­over eat­ing hap­pens dur­ing morn­ing snack and lunch occa­sions. Eat­ing restaurant-​sourced left­overs has become a more com­mon­place behav­ior dur­ing the pan­demic, with 67 per­cent of left­overs occa­sions involv­ing at least some food or bev­er­age sourced from a restau­rant.

This is abun­dantly clear as con­sumers are even upping food orders to pur­posely plan for future meals or snack­ing. Left­overs. Yay!

As the pan­demic con­tin­ues, con­sumers’ new­found love of left­overs sug­gests great oppor­tu­nity for meals-​oriented food­ser­vice providers and brands to mar­ket towards evolv­ing snack­ing occa­sions and eat­ing approaches.

Every­one has dif­fer­ent types of food stored in their fridge or freezer. Stay­ing on top of it before spoilage can be a chal­lenge. If hoard­ing was part of the plan to stay a step ahead of pan­demic food scares, now might be a good time to take inven­tory of the freezer or pantry.

Read more: Yay! Leftovers →

Cab­bages are from the “cole crop” fam­ily. Other mem­bers in this hearty tribe include broc­coli, Brus­sels sprouts, kohlrabi, col­lard greens and cau­li­flower.

We can sep­a­rate cab­bages in to four main types: green, red (or pur­ple), Savoy, and Napa cab­bages.

In com­mon are the sexy lay­ers of alter­nat­ing leaves, each cup­ping the next, form­ing a firm, dense head. Spring is the per­fect excuse to explore using all four types of cab­bages in a myr­iad of ways.

Braised, boiled, charred, sauteed or raw; rolled, slawed or casseroled– cab­bage is happy at cen­ter plate or assum­ing a sup­port­ing cast role.

From Ger­many to Asia, schnitzel to stir fry, world cuisines know how make cab­bages some­thing we crave. Com­fort dishes made by grand­moth­ers give mod­ern recipes a run for the money.

Selec­tion: Choose firm, heavy heads of green, red and savoy cab­bage with closely furled leaves. Color is an indi­ca­tion of fresh­ness. For exam­ple, green cab­bages stored for too long lose pig­ment and look almost white. To ensure fresh­ness, check the stem ends of cab­bage heads to make sure the stem has not cracked around the base, which indi­cates unde­sir­ably lengthy stor­age. Chi­nese cab­bage leaves should be crisp, unblem­ished and pale green with tinges of yel­low and white.

Read more: All in the Family →

Mid-​March we’ll get our Irish on and cel­e­brate Saint Patrick’s Day. Wear­ing the color green is a tra­di­tional way to sup­port the hol­i­day.

March also boasts the start of Spring and Palm Sun­day. Two more days that draw atten­tion to shades of green.

On the sub­ject of emer­ald, celadon, jade and olive, use this month as a nudge toward fill­ing the plate with more things green.

Green veg­eta­bles and fruits are known for being good sources of phy­tonu­tri­ents, fiber and water that can revi­tal­ize health.

To main­tain healthy cho­les­terol lev­els, increase the con­sump­tion of green foods like avo­ca­dos, olives, green peas and grapes. They con­tain monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids and fiber that aid in low­er­ing cho­les­terol.

Spinach, cucum­ber and green apple can aid in con­trol­ling blood pres­sure. Look­ing for a boost to the immune sys­tem? Check out all things green in the pro­duce section.

Read more: Make It Green →

All indus­tries have jobs that require train­ing. Food, and pro­duce specif­i­cally, are no dif­fer­ent. What sets us apart is the care and han­dling required of fresh food prod­ucts.

Indi­vid­u­als who are new to the pro­duce learn­ing curve are promptly informed that they are not han­dling a can of veg­eta­bles on a gro­cery store shelf.

What­ever the role played along the sup­ply chain, human hands are involved. Plant­ing, har­vest­ing, pack­ing, ship­ping, and prepa­ra­tion call for a deep under­stand­ing of tak­ing the best care, at all times, of the fruits and veg­eta­bles.

Fac­tors like proper stor­age tem­per­a­ture and cold chain are fun­da­men­tal not only for prod­uct longevity, but also for how it may end up tast­ing on the plate.

There is a sub­stan­tial dif­fer­ence for retail clerks between “throw­ing freight” and care­ful han­dling. Proper receiv­ing, put-​away and hand-​stacking can pre­vent dam­age (crack­ing, bruis­ing and smash­ing) to fresh goods.

Some items are hardier than oth­ers. Pota­toes, onions and car­rots quickly come to mind. Still, giv­ing them a soft touch rather than a rough tum­ble will pre­serve their integrity.

Bell pep­pers may appear to be sturdy. Slam­ming their car­tons down on a rack or shelf will crack their ten­der walls and loosen their mem­branes. Treat them as frag­ile cargo, along with most other unsus­pect­ing fresh ingre­di­ents.

Pota­toes, toma­toes, avo­ca­dos, pears, whole mel­ons, and other fruits and veg­eta­bles are often stored at room tem­per­a­ture to main­tain qual­ity. Some items in this group like the room tem­per­a­tures for quicker ripen­ing purposes.

Read more: “Take Care“ →

Depend­ing on geog­ra­phy, there might be snow on the ground where you live. Mother Nature rules the weather.

This month is usu­ally chilly, wet and some­times foggy in most of the grow­ing dis­tricts, yet there are blos­soms, buds and bulbs start­ing to sprout. The promise of Spring is here.

Win­ter fatigue is real. Meal prepa­ra­tion and recipe rota­tion have made us weary. Still, we eat hap­pily through the sea­son.

What we eat depends largely on what is in sea­son now and read­ily avail­able. Whether its from a local farm­ers mar­ket, gro­cer or food box deliv­ery, the fresh pro­duce ingre­di­ents are col­or­ful and ver­sa­tile.

Cit­rus fruits, win­ter squashes, cab­bages, fen­nel, cook­ing greens and root veg­eta­bles should be on this month’s shop­ping list. What to do with them is a wide open sub­ject.

Mix up the meal plan with win­ter soups, stews and casseroles. Slow cook­ers and Instant pots keep things on track for make now, eat later plan­ning. Onions, cel­ery, car­rots and gar­lic begin the con­ver­sa­tion.

Mush­rooms of all vari­eties – cri­m­ini, shi­take and oys­ter add to the cho­rus line. Build depth of fla­vor and inter­est using spices and herbs. One fresh herb com­po­nent is cer­tain to take things in a very spe­cific direc­tion. Rose­mary stands out. One sin­gu­lar choice, leeks for exam­ple, yield a par­tic­u­lar mouth feel and taste. Part of the allium fam­ily, they are kin to onions, gar­lic, shal­lots, and chives.

Read more: In Sea­son Now →

Sumo Cit­rus are also known as “deko­pon,” which is a Japan­ese ref­er­ence to the dis­tinc­tive top knot of the fruit.

This triple hybrid cit­rus fruit is a cross-​breed of navel oranges, pomelo and man­darin oranges.

They were first devel­oped in Japan in 1972 with tra­di­tional plant-​breeding tech­niques. When Cal­i­for­nia farm­ers began to grow the seed­less fruit, they trade­marked the name “Sumo Cit­rus”.

The name is an obvi­ous play on the phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics of the well-​known sumo wrestlers in Japan. The fruit is large in size, round in shape and instantly rec­og­nized by their top knot accent, which is the sig­na­ture hair­style of the wrestlers.

Seedlings were first imported into the United States in 1998, but because the Sumo Cit­rus is one of the most chal­leng­ing vari­eties to grow, and requires at least four years to pro­duce, it wasn’t until 2011 that they became avail­able to the pub­lic.

The fruit’s extremely del­i­cate skin is eas­ily bruised and sun­burned. Cal­i­for­nia farm­ers are ded­i­cated to the pam­pered and painstak­ing atten­tion required of Sumo Cit­rus.

Trees are hand-​pruned to allow for more sun­light to reach the fruit as it grows. Left to ripen on the tree, they are then hand-​picked when ready. They are har­vested in small totes instead of big bins as other cit­rus fruits. Floated into the pack­ing line to pre­vent bruis­ing, they are then hand-​packed into car­tons.

The seed­less cit­rus is super easy to peel and eat. The zip peel makes them con­ve­nient for lit­tle hands or any­one really who finds it tedious to peel a reg­u­lar orange.

Sumo Cit­rus are low in acid­ity, mak­ing them a good choice for those who can’t tol­er­ate a higher level of fruit acid.

Read more: Sumo Power →

Play­off games and the Super Bowl are one giant invi­ta­tion for Amer­i­cans to snack. New year’s res­o­lu­tions to “eat bet­ter” go out the win­dow once game time grabs our atten­tion.

The req­ui­site chips, crack­ers, dips, salty nuts, meat and cheese plat­ters make graz­ing part of the tele­vi­sion watch­ing foot­ball ritual.

Pots of chili, grilled sausages, and foot long sand­wiches have tra­di­tion­ally fed large crowds for game-​watching. This year, smaller house­hold gath­er­ings will pre­vail for com­mon sense activity.

Fewer mouths to feed doesn’t elim­i­nate those highly crave-​able game day foods. A bag of Ruf­fles potato chips and French onion dip come to mind. Clas­sic, yes, but cer­tainly not on the 2021 snack res­o­lu­tion list.

The thing about mind­ful eat­ing is plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion that goes in to it. A full day or after­noon of munch­ing is best served by a decent pre­lim­i­nary strat­egy. Set a good inten­tion to include guilt-​free munchies. They won’t kill the health­ier eat­ing goals already estab­lished. Real foods equal good eat­ing.

Read more: Board Games →

Tinga is a pop­u­lar stew using a blend of Mex­i­can and Span­ish cook­ing meth­ods. The result is a per­fect mar­riage of spicy, sweet and smoky fla­vors.

Chicken or pork are favored meats used in this tra­di­tional Pueblo dish. Lentils, chick­peas or pota­toes are solid veg­e­tar­ian twists.

Onions and gar­lic are sauteed first. Like most authen­tic Mex­i­can recipes, white onions are pre­ferred. Toma­toes are then added. Fresh toma­toes are used when avail­able and taste great. Vari­ety isn’t really impor­tant.

Oth­er­wise, canned toma­toes are quite suit­able. Good choices dur­ing win­ter months would be to use fire roasted toma­toes, crushed toma­toes or even tomato sauce or tomato paste in a can.

Next comes adding the stock, herbs and spices. Bay leaves, salt, pep­per and Mex­i­can oregano are stan­dard spices used in a tinga. Corian­der, thyme and mar­jo­ram take another culi­nary path.

Chipo­tle chilies in Adobo sauce give the stew a sub­stan­tial kick. Essen­tially, chipo­tles in adobo are smoked and dried jalapeños chiles– rehy­drated and then canned in toma­toes, vine­gar, gar­lic, and spices.

Decide on the heat pref­er­ence before adding a whole can of pep­pery heat. There’s no turn­ing back once they go into the stew pot or slow cooker.

House made chipo­tle chilies are doable, but require more effort. If han­dling chili pep­pers is no prob­lem, look for jalapeños that are firm. The fresher the pep­pers, the bet­ter the result.

The mix­ture is sim­mered long enough to allow all of the ingre­di­ents to meld nicely together. If meat is desir­able, add that to the sim­mer­ing sauce. If not, add legumes or other vegetables.

Read more: Tinga This →

Cham­pi­oning a return to nor­malcy as the new year begins includes meals that are restora­tive in nature.

Cold weather invites soups, bisques and broths to com­bat winter’s chill.

The heal­ing pow­ers of soup are undis­puted. Veg­etable and herb-​centric broths set up a base­line on which to build.

While soups may not cure the cold or flu, they will relieve their symp­toms. Good for hydra­tion, warm­ing prop­er­ties of broths and soups also can clear con­ges­tion and flush out tox­ins from the res­pi­ra­tory sys­tem.

Sup­port­ing the immune sys­tem is some­thing that good nutri­tion in any form does well. Pack­aged in a steamy hot bowl of soup is a home­made remedy.

Read more: Restorative →

Cold, damp months perk up from win­ter cit­rus. The skin, zest, juice and tangy flesh brighten up culi­nary choices with great fla­vor and a lively vibrancy.

Cit­rus fruits add color, tang, sweet­ness, and tart­ness. They eas­ily bring some needed bal­ance to savory, rich, or sweet dishes.

In addi­tion to numer­ous culi­nary ben­e­fits, cit­rus fruits also pro­vide a wide range of healthy, “good for you” attrib­utes. They are proven to be good med­i­cine dur­ing win­ter and beyond.

Dieti­tians and health pro­fes­sion­als heap high praise on cit­ruses for their high vit­a­min C con­tent. One medium orange pro­vides more than 100 per­cent of the rec­om­mended daily vit­a­min C needs.

Cold and flu sea­son is rea­son enough to boost our immu­nity. Fight­ing the risk of COVID-​19 is why the dou­ble down efforts focus on the cit­rus defen­sive. Lucky then that we are headed into the peak of cit­rus sea­son.

Cit­ruses help our bod­ies get rid of free rad­i­cals and pos­i­tively impact a range of meta­bolic func­tions that help us thrive.

What’s so amaz­ing is their ver­sa­til­ity. Beyond being a per­fect out-​of-​hand snack, cit­rus fruits can be enjoyed in a myr­iad of ways.

Read more: Good Medicine →

Cae­sar Salad is an ionic culi­nary favorite. There are plenty of riffs on this clas­sic fresh salad.

Adding toma­toes, avo­ca­dos, hard-​boiled eggs and even grilled chicken or shrimp takes it to another whole-​meal prepa­ra­tion.

Do you recall when you took your first bite of this reli­able and ele­gant salad? Per­haps it fixes a place in time rather than an age. Bet­ter yet, the per­son who may have made it for us. Think back.

The few sim­ple, high qual­ity ingre­di­ents are com­bined into an exquis­itely per­fect salad. Romaine let­tuce, fresh gar­lic, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, parme­san cheese and rus­tic crou­tons seem too easy. They are a match made in heaven and prove to be sophis­ti­cated for any palette.

Anchovy fil­lets are left up to debate. In or out, the salad stands on its own mer­its. No need to quib­ble. They can be served on the side for any­one who doesn’t like these tiny, briny fish. Sales were up eighty-​five per­cent on anchovies year over year.

What’s life chang­ing is get­ting an impor­tant intro­duc­tion to any num­ber of ingre­di­ents, foods or prepa­ra­tions that stay with us for a life­time. Those new food expe­ri­ences serve us through­out our cook­ing reper­toire. We build on what we find to be the most tasty and enjoy­able foundation.

Read more: Appetite for New →

On Fri­day, Octo­ber 11, 2019, our res­i­dent GP “Chefs” made 14 deli­cious dishes using any vari­ety of win­ter squash. Some devel­oped their own recipes while oth­ers cooked or adapted clas­sic recipes found in cook­books or inno­v­a­tive recipes found on food blogs. Win­ners won Tar­get gift cards of $25, $15 or $10.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to the win­ners & thank you to all of the par­tic­i­pants. We enjoyed a very tasty Fri­day and have a new appre­ci­a­tion for win­ter squash thanks to you!
Check out the dishes and click on the titles in green to see the recipes:

Cran­berry Chip Squash Bread
Romana Har­ris
First Place

Kuri Curry
Coconut Soup
Gina Back­ovich
Sec­ond Place

But­ter­nut Squash
San­dra Sanchez
Third Place

But­ter­nut Squash, Sausage
and Tortellini Soup
Traci Ennis

But­ter­nut & Red Kuri
Squash Soup
Rochelle Grover

Parme­san Acorn
Leah Haz­zard

Roasted Red Kuri Squash with Can­nelli Beans
& Spinach Salad

Linda Luka

Kabocha Squash
Donut Muffins
Linda Luka

Spicy Squash Salad
with Lentils and
Goat Cheese

Jeff Sac­chini

African Lamb Kabocha Tagine
Gina Back­ovich

Lemon Grass But­ter­nut Squash
Patty Chan

Sauteed Del­i­cata
Nancy Spinella

Green business Bureau article about GP
Green Busi­ness Bureau
By Amanda John­son Sep­tem­ber 11, 2018 Blog, Mem­ber News

From food­ser­vice to retail, export to whole­sale, the fresh pro­duce dis­tri­b­u­tion busi­ness can cover a wide-​rage of busi­ness seg­ments that come together to ser­vice every­thing from gro­cery stores to restau­rants and casi­nos to schools. One busi­ness that suc­cess­fully cov­ers all of these seg­ments is Green Busi­ness Bureau mem­ber, Gen­eral Pro­duce Com­pany, a com­pany tack­ling the fresh pro­duce mar­ket in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

Founded in 1933 by Chan Tai Oy, his three sons and nephew, Gen­eral Pro­duce Co. is a third gen­er­a­tion owned and oper­ated fam­ily busi­ness that dis­trib­utes and exports fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles that are local, organic, sus­tain­able, and region­ally and glob­ally sourced. As a PRO*ACT mem­ber, Gen­eral Pro­duce is focused on energy con­ser­va­tion and reduc­tion, recy­cling and par­tic­i­pat­ing in pro­grams like Greener Fields Together, a local farm ini­tia­tive. Gen­eral Pro­duce works to inte­grate sus­tain­abil­ity – social, envi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic – into their daily busi­ness prac­tices and long range plan­ning.

While Gen­eral Pro­duce is chal­lenged with facil­i­ties that are dated in terms of struc­tures, energy sys­tems, fleet demand for ser­vice and CA leg­is­la­tion, they have worked hard to be cre­ative in address­ing the demands of state man­dates, as well as facil­ity lay­out. From light­ing to cool­ing and refrig­er­a­tion, the company’s oper­a­tions and facil­ity team con­tin­u­ously work toward mak­ing improve­ments. They also look for ways to min­i­mize the company’s envi­ron­men­tal impacts in the areas of water, waste, energy and air, and reduce their car­bon foot­print by installing cost sav­ing mea­sures.

“Our approach to busi­ness is guided by our com­mit­ment to the prin­ci­ples of integrity, hon­esty, per­sonal rela­tion­ships, diverse exper­tise, stew­ard­ship and inno­va­tion,” said Linda Luka, Direc­tor of Mar­ket­ing & Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. “We are ded­i­cated to pro­vid­ing qual­ity ser­vice and prod­ucts. To do so, our aim is to ensure that our work­force and com­mu­ni­ties ben­e­fit from the small scale of our daily oper­a­tions to the large scale of our sup­ply chain.”

Read the orig­i­nal arti­cle here.

Seek­ing to infuse your culi­nary or bev­er­age cre­ations with the ulti­mate fresh fruit fla­vor? No need to peel, dice, purée, and sim­mer for those ideal results.
Per­fect Purée is the solution!

Per­fect Purée is the pre­mium purée prod­uct on the mar­ket. The suc­cu­lent, single-​note fla­vors of Per­fect Purée inspire every­thing you can think of: cock­tails, mari­nades, cakes, cook­ies, sor­bets and smooth­ies. At the back of the house or front of the house, chefs, cookes, baris­tas, bar­tenders, pas­try chefs, and brew mas­ters love this prod­uct line!

For a per­fect sum­mer, try out our favorite warm weather fla­vors: El Cora­zon, Pink Guava & Pas­sion Fruit.

Call us today to order your sam­ple kit. Can’t wait? Go online to http://​bit​.ly/​g​p​p​u​r​e​e.

Dan Chan (Pres­i­dent) and Tom Chan (CEO) with Sacra­mento Food Bank & Fam­ily Service’s Kelly Siefkin (far left) and Blake Young (sec­ond from right)
Last week, Farm-​to-​Fork and Food Tank hosted the inau­gural food sum­mit called Farm Tank in Sacra­mento. Look­ing to fur­ther offer indus­try mem­bers oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn about the unique per­spec­tive of Cal­i­for­nia food and agri­cul­ture, Gen­eral Pro­duce par­tic­i­pated in Farm Tank in many ways. We really wanted to pro­vide an exhil­a­rat­ing expe­ri­ence that will advance con­ver­sa­tion around access to healthy food. All of the thought­ful con­ver­sa­tion and edu­ca­tion that tran­spired those few days could poten­tially improve our local food system.

Read more: Farm Tank Sum­mit & On the Plate 2016