Featured This Week:
California Bartlett Pears
California struck it rich in 1849, and I’m not talking about gold. What the most successful early settlers actually discovered was a golden fruit…the Bartlett pear. During the gold rush, travelers brought the Williams pear or Bartlett pear west. The seeds were planted, and the fruit flourished in the Sacramento Delta area. With the region’s perfect climate and rich farmland, California grew to be the leading supplier of the fruit.
Today’s California pears are grown by fourth and fifth-generation families farming some of the same lands their grandparents and great-grandparents did during the California Gold Rush. Currently, there are approximately sixty pear farming families in California. This close-knit farming community continues to be the leading supplier of pears globally and arguably the best tasting!
Harvesting today closely resembles the past. What’s old still works today! The families hold tight to traditional picking and packing methods. The proof is in the fruit, but it all starts from the source. In this case, the fruit trees and the orchards themselves. California pear farmers are still hand-picking fruit from trees and orchards 100 years old.
This process is delicate, but it’s fast and furious! Farmers have a small window to get the green fruit off the trees and shipped to market. Bartletts are a unique fruit in that they can ripen off the tree. This natural feature allows farmers to pick the fruit at a somewhat mature green color but not yet quite ripe. Workers must be highly skilled to hand-select and handpick the ready fruits while allowing others to ripen a bit more.
This process all begins in early July when California Bartlett’s are the first pears ready for harvest. The California pear growers believe in harvesting and packing the traditional way instead of using controlled atmosphere storage or chemically treating the fruit for longer storage life. So, California can offer a fresh pear for the entire shipping period.
If you’re a pear lover like me, you’ll be shouting “eureka!” when you discover them in the market soon!
One of our senior sales guys, Joe Ciccarella, a fellow foodie, is highly knowledgeable and passionate about preparing and using fresh produce. Recently he shared one of his favorite ways to use a Bartlett pear. It’s effortless but also looks and tastes fantastic!
Baked Bartlett Pears and Roquefort Cheese
¼ cup of chopped walnuts
4 Tablespoons of good Roquefort cheese
1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
4 ripe but firm California Barlett Pears
Balsamic glaze for drizzling
Preheat oven to 375*
Mix the cheese, walnuts, and lemon juice in a small bowl.
Peel, halve, and core the pears. Stuff the cavity of each pear half with a spoonful of the Roquefort mixture, mounding it up slightly. Place the stuffed pears in a shallow baking dish.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the pears are tender. Allow to cool about 20 minutes. Drizzle with balsamic and serve
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