Fruit & News of the Week: January 1, 2018

Fruit of the Week:

 Warren European Pear
Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood, CA
This is Frog Hollow Farm’s signature pear and for good reason. Too difficult to grow for most farmers to consider it’s never caught on commercially but Farmer Al has never shied awayfrom putting the time and effort into a fruit that tastes so good. With a classic European texture, very soft and juicy with a silky sweetness that avoids the typical grittiness found in most pears.
Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood, CA
Native to the regions of Persia and the Western Himalayan range, pomegranates have been cultivated for several millennia. When sliced open a beautiful array of jewel-like seeds are displayed. The aril is the colorful casing that
surrounds the edible seeds and has a sweet tart flavor.

Hayward Kiwi
Chiechi Farm, Live Oak, CA
Originally known as the Chinese gooseberry due to its Chinese origins. Hawyward Wright, a New Zealand nurseryman propagated his plants by grafting, and they eventually became the preferred cultivar of growers due to their sweet flavor and thin skin.

Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood, CA
Most commonly cultivated in Asia and the Middle East, the kumquat is shaped like a much smaller, more oval orange and is hardier than its citrus kin. Kumquats are generally eaten whole out of hand. The outer, sweet rind is edible and offers a contrast to the tangy, inner flesh. We have only a few kumquat trees, so enjoy these treats while we have them.

…all varieties are subject to change…

A Note from Rachel

Ever since Farmer Al explained to me why we age our pears in cold storage I have been curious about the science of fruit ripening. In the industry it is well understood that, unlike peaches, pears should be picked when slightly green and stored around freezing temperature to ripen to the highest quality. Apparently, pears that are picked when very mature actually don’t taste as delicious as those which have been chilled properly. According to David Sugar, fruit physiologist from Oregon State, tree-ripened pears typically ripen from the inside out, causing the center to be mushy by the time the outside flesh is ready.

Since flavor and ripeness are clearly so important to us, I was curious to learn more… After some googling, and talking to a UC Davis fruit physiologist, I learned that fruits are actually classified in 2 groups based on their fruit ripening behavior — they are either “climacteric” or “non-climacteric.”

Climacteric fruits, such as pears, persimmons, plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots and avocados experience a burst in ethylene production after they are picked. This ethylene induces the production of enzymes which accelerate ripening. These include: amylases, which degrade carbohydrates into sugars, making fruit taste sweeter; pectinases, which break down pectin (the glue between cells), “ungluing” fruit cells and resulting in softer fruit; and hydrolases, which degrade chlorophyll, resulting in color change. So in pears, that ethylene is what signals the pear to change from tart to sweet, mealy to juicy and green to yellow! On the other hand, non-climacteric fruits, such as cherries, pomegranate, citrus, strawberries and grapes, do not experience this ethylene burst after harvest, and thus do not technically ripen further once removed from the plant.

But long before scientists discovered all of this, growers had already been taking advantage of the ethylene burst for centuries! Ancient Egyptians would slash open their figs (wounding flesh stimulates ethylene production) and Chinese farmers stored pears in a closed room with incense burning (ethylene is an incense combustion by-product)… By the way, have you ever put an avocado in a paper bag with ripe bananas to speed up ripening? Those ripe bananas are emitting lots of ethylene, which when concentrated in the bag trigger the “climacteric” process in the unripe avocado! You as well may have taken advantage of ethylene burst without knowing it.

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