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Welcome to Frog Hollow Farm's photo blog describing our on-site experience of the Pineapple Express storm that swept over California Dec. 11, 2014. Being more inland than some other parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, we received a steady down pour of rain starting around 9.30am PST and it continued until the end of our work day. 

5 p.m. PST: It's getting dark already but the rain's getting just a little lighter than earlier on in the day. Pineapple Express continues to grace Frog Hollow. 

4 p.m. PST: You know the rich soil of Frog Hollow Farm is grateful for this rain. So far, we have a steady, ongoing shower.

3 p.m. PST: We put up this netting around the fava beans to help protect them from blowing over in the wind. It worked well. "Everything looks pretty good in our vegetable garden," says our assistant farmer Marlene.

2 p.m. PST: It's raining! It's pouring and we are all doing our little rain dance at Frog Hollow... #NoMoreCalDrought 

 

12 noon PST: What the orchard looks like against a backdrop of dark, looming clouds. 

10 a.m. PST: Pineapple Express has arrived at Frog Hollow Farm. The downpour continued for at least an hour. Our assistant farmer Marlene (left) and Jennifer (center) and Alexyss (right) sneak in a quick photo-op! We're definitely loving the rain... And so are our trees.

8 a.m. PST: Things are starting to get really windy at Frog Hollow. The palm next to our office is starting to shake things up.

It's starting to get verrrrry windy at the farm. #onstorm #NorCalStorm #PineappleExpress

A video posted by FrogHollowFarm (@froghollowfarm) on

 

7a.m. PST: It's dark and gloomy at the farm with strong winds heralding the incoming storm.

 

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving Holiday. At Frog Hollow Farm, we're grateful for the wet weather and hoping that it helps to make a dent in California's drought. As I sat down to type this e-mail, I received a message from one of my colleagues with a picture of rain pouring down yesterday and washing away some dry foliage at the farm.  It's a beautiful sight for any farmer and yours truly is no exception to the rule. 

My wife Becky baked off some light and sweet cream scones this morning. I paired them with my favorite Apricot conserve and some sliced up pears and apples and a cup of piping hot Brazilian coffee from Alta Organics. This is my favorite breakfast on a cold, rainy morning.

This year, we are giving you more opportunities to enjoy and share some good food in true Holiday spirit. We have a selection of especially affordable gifts under $35 that will spread joy and happiness among your friends and loved ones.

Experience the joys of summer fruits like peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums in a jar with our popular line of fruit conserves; indulge in baked treats like Becky's gourmet cookies made fresh in our farm kitchen on the morning of shipping; organic dried fruits that have soaked in nothing but sunshine; certified organic fresh fruits; and some Tuscan style,extra virgin olive oil

What's more? If you're looking to order gifts for everyone on your list, then you can save a lot more. Take advantage of our special tiered discounts 
up to 30% off on your entire order. For customizations, multiple orders or corporate gift-giving, please call my team at1(888)779-4511 ext. 1 to see how we can help you. You may also e-mailinfo@froghollow.com for more information. 

So go on and get your orders in by our order deadlines to be sure that your gifts reach their recipients in time for Hanukah and Christmas.

Organically yours, 

 

SHOP ALL GIFTS UNDER $35

GOURMET FRESH-BAKED COOKIES ...
Select from our chef-special assortment of gourmet cookies baked fresh in our farm kitchen on the day of shipping so they always arrive ready-to-eat. Our individual cookie bags are a great add-on to any gift and an assortment of them arrives in a beautiful gold tin, ready for presentation on its own. 
FRUIT SPREADS
Our fruit conserves bring you all the naturally sweet goodness of our summer fruits in a smooth spreadable fruit. Have it in the morning with your pancakes, on waffles or french toast, or try it as a delightful summery snack with cottage cheese and yogurt. Feeling like you want an even sweeter treat? Top off a scoop of your favorite ice cream with a spoonful of peaches!
SHOP NOW
SULFUR-FREE, SUN-DRIED FRUIT
One-hundred percent sun-dried, our fruit goes from the tree to the drying table without any sulfur or additives. The dried medallions range from golden brown to deep mahogany due to the lack of sulfur additives. 
TUSCAN-STYLE EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Vivid and peppery, our 100% organic olive oil is made in a Tuscan style - carefully picking a mix of fully ripe black and green olives. 

 

 

 

Tuesday, Oct. 21, was spent tasting California’s best olive oils at a workshop hosted by Maia Hirschbein, olive oil educator from California Olive Ranch. Maia was an engaging speaker who has spent years learning about this fruit. In fact part of her Master’s research in Food Culture and Communications (University of Gastronomic Sciences in Piedmont Italy) involved a comprehensive study of California olive oil. She is committed to demystify and educate about the green gold. This is a quick overview of her presentation. The olive producers in attendance were Farmer Al Courchesne from Frog Hollow Farm and Jonathan Sciabica from Sciabica & Sons.

We started the evening with this comment from Maia — “The olive is the fruit of the olive tree, olive oil is a fruit juice.” From there, we reviewed the history of olive production in California, describing location of major olive groves in the valleys of central California where the tree is best suited to a dry Mediterranean climate. Next, olive varieties were discussed such as Mission, the original variety cultivated in California since Spanish colonization and other commercial varieties like Sevillano, Manzanillo and Arbosana. As we discovered there is now a much greater diversity of olives in California than in the past which means more interesting oils available to the consumer. The harvest takes place from about mid-September to the end of November either manually (such as done at Frog Hollow) or by mechanical harvesters. Depending on the variety, olives may be picked green, green-purple or entirely purple to black and blended with other varieties. Good coordination is required to ensure rapid transport to the mill after harvesting to quickly extract the oil. That is, the quality and taste of the oil is not o0nly dependent on olive variety and ripeness but on other factors such as the terroir (soil and weather conditions), method of extraction, storage and the style of the producer. After all extra virgin oil is simply “pressed fruit juice without additives” so therefore must be handled with a healthy respect.

With this introduction over, the tasting began. We were given 1oz servings of six different oils, California Olive Ranch, Bariani, Frog Hollow, Sciabica and McEvoy with the addition of mystery oil. Farmer Al provided two samples from his orchard, an early harvest fresh pressed that day and late harvest olive oil for our tasting. In between tastes, we cleansed the palate with sparkling water. Maia instructed us how to warm the cup in our hand while covering the top with the other hand and swirling gently to release the aromas. The first step in tasting is to smell the oil and note the aroma. Descriptions may be fruity, nutty and herbaceous. The next step is to take a slurp and inhale the oil. This allows the oil to be sprayed across the mouth and on the tongue, releasing more aromas. Other detailed descriptors can be used such as avocado, unripe banana etc. Lastly the oil is swallowed and the taste is noted in the back of the throat, peppery and pungent are some descriptors here. Maia provided an Olive Oil Tasting Wheel that we used as a guide. In  general, the greener the olive the more pungent and peppery at the back of the throat along with varying bitterness in the mouth. Our mystery oil was quite different from the rest of the pack starting with its “winey” scent, it carried rancid notes on the tongue after swallowing, quite unpleasant. The key question to ask yourself is, do you enjoy the taste of the oil, does it appeal to your tastebuds?

We then paired these oils with foods such as cooked beet greens, cooked beets, diced tomatoes, fromage blanc and raw pea shoots and let our taste buds do the talking.  Every oil with its unique flavor profile had a different effect on the flavors of each dish. I particularly enjoyed Frog Hollow oil on the fromage blanc - the cheese seemed to jump and become ever so sweet and other tasters had the same experience. The tomatoes with salt welcomed almost any oil. As for the beet greens, cooked beets and pea shoots, those foods tasted best paired with a robust olio Nuevo.

After doing this guided olive oil tasting tour, I have learned that we have an incredible and delicious array of local California olive oils to choose from.  I no longer fear buying my next bottle of oil because I’m unsure whether or not it will please me. I now know how to appreciate and savor the oil, how to store (in the dark, away from heat) and how to buy the freshest oil based on the bottled harvest date all important factors to enhance your olive oil experience.

In fact, I feel I can better appreciate olive oil more than ever and look forward to not only pairing with foods but doing more baking, cooking and even frying with my oil. But the big question is, will I have enough Frog Hollow Olive Oil to last through the winter? I hope so.

Dr. Foodie, Guest blogger.

 

We started picking our olives October 16th, 2014 - an all-time record early harvest for us. The Leccinos, first of our four varieties to ripen were black. Leccinos comprise 25% of our trees and this variety ripens all fruit on the tree concurrently. Maurinos, which are only 5% of our trees, ripen fruit late, so their fruit is solid green when picked. Pendolinos are mostly ripe when picked. The Frantoios, making up 60% of our trees are ½ purple and ½ green at picking time. Remember… We’re picking all these trees, which are planted together in rows in the above ratios, at the same time. When taken to the mill for milling and pressing, the blend of flavors and different ripeness of these four varieties will already be blended in the picking bins.

The dominant flavor profile is in the Frantoios, which is one of the most widely planted olives worldwide used for oil. It has a great balance of fruitiness, bitterness, and pungency. The Pendolinos are unusually sweet for an olive. So at 10% of the blend its sweetness is a counterbalance to the grassy qualities of the Frantoio. Leccinos offer sweetness and spice to the Tuscsan blends.

While most other olive growers in California are now using mechanical harvesting equipment to pick their olives, we still do it the old-fashioned way, all by hand. And, our trees are big. Most are 15-20 feet high with dense heavy growth all around the perimeter. To pick, we often have to actually cut the uppermost branches off and bring them down to harvest on the ground. So the orchard at harvest time is a scene of devastation, with just picked branches lying on the ground. The once towering trees are now slightly truncated. But we’ve got to get the olives off somehow, so we cut the highest branches down. But this is actually just a way of pruning the trees which we do anyway immediately following harvest. In two months we won’t even notice the difference. These trees love it here and their re-growth is a wonder to behold.

After hand-picking our olives, we transport them straight to McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma, CA, where they are cold-pressed in to a precious, bold-flavored, grassy oil. Our olio nuovo has now arrived at the farm and we are moving fast to get it to you as soon as possible.

Chef Becky first started working on her own fruit cake recipe nearly 11 years ago. Her motivation? An abundance of Frog Hollow Farm's sweet, sun-dried fruit and the nagging unpleasant memories of bright green-colored, candied "whatever-it-was" fruit cake from her childhood. "Every year we’d get a fruitcake at Christmas time – sent from some well-meaning relative. I would look at it and wonder, why," says Chef Becky in her blog post. Her final product has become a Holiday-time favorite among customers since it was first introduced 10 years ago.

Frog Hollow Farm fruit cake is traditional in that it has plenty of alcohol, dark Rum in this case and are best after we have allowed them to sit for three weeks to a month in our kitchen before being sold. Otherwise the cakes are too “hot” with rum that will overpower the flavor and make the texture a little boggy. Becky always wanted to keep the cake small because "a little goes a long way" and the cake is still very rich. Frog Hollow Farm's fruit cake is made with our own sulfur-free dried peaches, dried cherries and candied orange peels (made in our farm kitchen). The fruit and walnuts are soaked in rum over night before making these cakes. Then, the leftover rum from the macerated fruits is added to a batter and is sprinkled over the cakes as they come out of the oven. When cool, they are wrapped in cheesecloth that has been soaked in rum. Yes - lots of rum in those cakes.

Chef Becky recommends pairing the cake with a cuppa coffee and a slice of Warren pear. Divine!

If you remember the fruit cake from years gone by, then we know you're a fan already. But if you're new to Frog Hollow Farm, then this is a fine piece of cake you will fall in love with at the very first bite.

Let's get straight to the point. We have all done our research on how to buy extra virgin olive oil so here are four simple reasons we think you should order extra virgin olive oil from Frog Hollow Farm. We make our olive oil from olives we harvest in our 143-acre organic fruit orchard in Brentwood, CA. Our oil is certified extra virgin by the California Olive Oil Council. So here goes! 

1. Good oil comes from great olives: This is a given, right? Olives are stone fruits - like peaches, apricots, nectarines and plums and they need to be harvested at optimal ripeness to derive the best olive oil. At Frog Hollow Farm, we have wowed customers for decades with our legendary tree-ripened stone fruits and our olives are no exception. After a trip to Italy with Becky, Farmer Al planted Frantoio, Leccino, Maurino and Pendolino olive trees in our orchard. We have spent years perfecting oil that has the full-bodied perfume of the fruit from which it is made. It has bright, grassy tasting notes with a bold and vivid, peppery flavor.


2. Certified extra virgin by the California Olive Oil Council: While you may be inclined to believe that European olive oil is superior in quality to what comes out of California, it may be interesting for you to note that according to blogger Jan Bills of Let There Be Bite, “The California Olive Oil Council‘s evaluation criteria are stricter than those of the International Olive Oil Council and call for a 0.5% oleic acid (monounsaturated fat) content to the IOOC’s 0.8%. (The lower the fatty acid content, the lower the chance of rancidity).” Frog Hollow Farm’s olive oil has been certified extra virgin by the California Olive Oil Council. This means, it has a nice fruity flavor, with no taste “defects” and its quality reflects the great care we take along the production process.


3. Greater health-boosting antioxidants: Frog Hollow Farm’s extra virgin olive oil is made from a blend of perfectly ripe black and green olives harvested from our olive grove during the brief harvest window. While green olives don’t yield as much oil, they are higher in health-boosting anti-oxidant properties. We harvest our olives at different stages of development to get the perfect balance of flavors and health benefits - a ratio that has been perfected by olive growers in Tuscany over many years.


4. Not refined and certified organic: The process of refining involves using chemical solvents and high heat to neutralize the tastes of oil made from oxidized, less than perfect grade of olives. At Frog Hollow Farm, our extra virgin olive oil does not undergo any chemical refining. We take ample care in growing and harvesting our olives so all we have to do is grind them (in a process is known as “maceration”) and bottle the extracted oil. The flavors are rich and authentic. Like all our fruit, our olives are certified organic too.

Author: Pearl Driver
Pearl is the Marketing Director at Frog Hollow Farm. She is a digital marketing expert. Before joining Frog Hollow Farm, Pearl worked as a journalist and as Website producer. She brings a combination of creative thinking and knowledge of the Web to Frog Hollow. Her favorite fruits from the farm are the O’Henry peach and the Flavor King pluot. She loves good food and like to experience foods from different nations and cultures. She loves to cook with a variety of ingredients and experiments often with fruit from the farm in her own, home kitchen.

Have you tried cutting in to a juicy peach, especially a cling stone, in the hope that the stone at its center would come right off without creating a royal mess of the fruit itself? I did! Every single time but in vain! Over the years, my disdain for cutting up any cling stone fruit only grew stronger as I dreaded losing out on most of the fruit’s juice in the process. This was before Frog Hollow Farm co-owner Sarah Coddington left a pouch on my office desk.

On the pouch was a handwritten note from Sarah that read, “Ask me about it.”

But before I could get back to my desk, Sarah got to me! She was so excited to show me what was in the pouch that she walked me back to my deskright away. Her excitement was palpable and 100% infectious. When I opened the pouch, I discovered an 8GB memory card. Of course, at this point, my curiosity knew no bounds. What was on this card??? We waited anxiously as the computer loaded up the program to reveal the contents of the memory card. And there it was – on a memory card — my very own “Eureka” moment. Of course, I didn’t run out of a bath tub like Archimedes did, but the two-minute video that was on there, changed how I had felt about cling stone fruit my entire life.

The video features University of Pennsylvania tropical ecologist (and distinguished UC Berkeley alum) Daniel Janzen sharing a quick and easy two-step method to pitting cling stone fruits. In the video, he holds a Frog Hollow Farm nectarine and reveals a technique likely dating to our Pleistocene ancestors, and illuminates the ecology of the ancient large mammals and their progeny that still share our earth. Janzen's effective swipes of the knife belie over a half-century studying the co-evolution of plants, insects, people, and other animals.

So go on, watch this video and cut open your very own cling stone fruit and be proud of what you’ve accomplished!

Read more about Janzen and his work at www.gdfcf.org, http://www.acguanacaste.ac.cr/ ; and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Janzen

Author: Pearl Driver

Pearl is the Marketing Director at Frog Hollow Farm. She is a digital marketing expert. Before joining Frog Hollow Farm, Pearl worked as a journalist and as Website producer. She brings a combination of creative thinking and knowledge of the Web to Frog Hollow. Her favorite fruits from the farm are the O’Henry peach and the Flavor King pluot. She loves good food and like to experience foods from different nations and cultures. She loves to cook with a variety of ingredients and experiments often with fruit from the farm in her own, home kitchen.

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