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A rose by any other name….

frog hollow farm conserves

A lot of people ask me why we use “conserve” to describe our jams instead of just “jam” or “preserve”. There are a lot of misnomers around what a jam or preserve is. There is what we all think of as jams, preserves, marmalades etc. and there are legal “standards of identity” and as in this case, they do not always coincide.

The Food and Drug Administration’s Standards of Identity have been in place since 1940. According to Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations Section 150 a “jam or preserve” must have a minimum of 45 to 47 parts fruit ingredient, by weight, be added to each 55 parts, by weight, of sugar or other sweetener. The fruit and sweetener mixture, along with other optional ingredients, must be concentrated to achieve 65% soluble solids (brix). Frog Hollow Farm conserves only have about 20% added sugar and usually brix in 45-46 range and we wanted to keep it that way.

You can order Frog Hollow Farm conserves online for delivery anywhere in the U.S.

So, this left us with only one option; call it a “spread”. We didn’t really like “spread”, because it sounds rather unappetizing. So, a friend suggested that we call it a "conserve" because of the large chunks of fruit it was more like a conserve than a jam or preserve anyway. In order to be compliant with the FDA’s labeling laws and standard of identity, we still needed to have the word “spread” on the label so, as small as we could, we put “a spreadable fruit” underneath the product's name. This may be more euphonious but not very accurate; our conserves are so chunky that most of them are anything but spreadable. Still, we must comply with the FDA’s archaic laws where it comes to food.

Conserve is a little confusing as well. For those that do know what a conserve is, and there aren’t many, they usually associate it with a mixture of fruits and often dried fruit and nuts, not unlike chutney but without the acid (vinegar). There is no actual “standard of identity” for a conserve; its definition has been molded by canning history and traditions. Definitions may vary from country to country and region to region.

The following is an excerpt from the “Art of Preserving” a book that I co-authored listing the names with commonly accepted descriptions.

 

Jams: Chopped or crushed/mashed fruit cooked with sugar until desired jell point or set. Set varies depending on personal preference and pectin content of fruit. A "Jam" may or may not have added pectin. Generally used for accompaniment to breakfast pastries or breads but can also be used for savory sauces. The best jams with the best set are ones made with medium to high natural pectin.

Preserve: Whole or whole pieces of cooked fruit suspended in a soft jelly or syrup. May include spices, wine or spirits and can be used for both savory and sweet dishes. The fruits that lend themselves best to preserves are ones that have little natural pectin or are best preserved whole due to time consuming processing, pitting cherries etc.

Jelly: Clear gelled fruit juice with added sugar and acid if needed. a perfect jelly should be clear not cloudy, jiggle when touched but not be hard or rubbery. Sometimes leaves or flowers can be added to jellies for appearances but by definition jellies do not have any pieces of fruit in them.

Marmalade: Chopped, pureed or sliced citrus cooked with sugar. Ideally, marmalade should have the right ratio of soft jelly from the juice to soft pieces of cooked peel suspended in it. The Marmalade can have one or be a combination of different citrus.

Conserve: Usually a combination of 2 or more fruits, often with dried fruit and nuts, cooked with sugar. Conserves are usually have chunky texture and are served often with cheeses and meats.

Butter: Pureed fruit cooked slowly with little sugar until all liquid evaporated and mixture becomes dark.

Were it not for the sugar requirement we would call our conserves "jam." When we first started making jam, we tasted everything on the market. Most commercial jams are ridiculously sweet. I believe this is because they are using fruit that has no flavor and sugar is after all, the best preservative; these jars last a lifetime in the refrigerator. Ours however, do not have the longevity that those jams enjoy because of the reduced sugar. This is why we went from a 12oz jar originally to our current 7.75 oz jar; we hope that you will finish it before spoilage is an issue and that is usually the case. How quickly it begins to show signs of spoilage depends on your refrigerator and where it placed in it, the colder, the better.

But, whatever you choose to call it, you can rest assured that we have tried to make it as full of fruit flavor and as low in sugar as we could without compromising its shelf life. It’s all about the fruit and we’re using the best fruit there is!

- Chef Becky Courchesne, Frog Hollow Farm

 

On Jan. 3, 2016 CBS News 60 Minutes aired an exposé on adulteration and quality issues affecting Italian olive oil. According to the show fake/adulterated olive oil production in Italy is big business for the mafia. Fake oil is made using a less expensive, readily available seed oil (like sunflower) as the base and then adding some chlorophyll to give it color and beta carotene to give it some ‘fruitiness’.  Here are our four takeaways from the program on how to buy extra virgin olive oil in the United States:

Label: Take a closer look! Don’t fall for a ‘made in Italy’ tag because that could very well mean ‘packaged in Italy’. Check for the name and location of the company that produced it. It may be worth your while to find one that is based in the olive-growing regions of Italy. 

Date of production:  “Olive oil is fruit juice – they are from the same family as cherries and plums; would you (consume) two or three year old fruit juice? No! Probably not! So why would you consume rancid extra virgin olive oil?” rationalizes Guy Campanile, the 60 minutes producer who visited Italy to uncover the Italian olive oil scam. 

Find good quality closer to home: If you’re looking for truly fresh, great quality extra virgin olive oil, then you would be better served looking close to home in the Golden State. Campanile says, “(There are some) Wonderful olive oils made in California that are top-notch because they are fresh; they are made here!”

According to the California Olive Oil Council website, “As much as 80 % of the oil exported to the U.S. is fraudulent and mislabeled according to high ranking officials in Italy. The criminal intent is pervasive and difficult to control.” COOC stands by its stringent Seal Certification Program and long established sensory panel. So look for the COOC seal when purchasing extra virgin olive oil because it is your guarantee for quality and a 100% California grown product.

Price: Consider the tag! “If you are paying seven or eight bucks for Italian extra virgin olive oil, (then) it’s probably not extra virgin olive oil,” Campanile explains!

Find out everything you need to know about Olio Nuovo (or 'new oil') at: http://www.froghollow.com/pages/olio-nuovo-tradition-benefits-taste-shop.

PURCHASE OLIVE OIL

The crunchy juiciness of a ripe, fragrant apple is one of the best things about the fall harvest. Whether eating out of hand, or baking into pies and tarts, apples are a versatile fruit that appeal to just about everyone.

There are many apple varieties, too, and that means diverse flavors, textures and colors. We grow two apple varieties at Frog Hollow Farm: Fuji and Pink Lady. Fuji is a well-known and popular heirloom variety dating back to the days of Thomas Jefferson. They are known for their bursting sweetness and crisp texture. Pink Ladies are just as popular as Fujis and boast a beautiful pink blush over their bright green peel. They are also crunchy and sweet, which leads many fruit lovers to ask these questions:

How are Fujis and Pink Ladies different from each other?

Can I use them interchangeably?

There are several characteristics that make Fujis distinct from Pink Ladies. Fujis tend to be larger and heavier. And, while both apple varieties are sweet and juicy, Pink Ladies pack a tart punch. Some Pink Ladies will make you pucker! That brings us to the second question about using them interchangeably.

The answer is maybe. For eating out of hand, sure—fruit lovers who enjoy a good Fuji will probably also love a delicious Pink Lady. And, both varieties are excellent for baking. Taste a Fuji and then taste a Pink Lady. Now decide if you want to swap them out of in recipes where you have exclusively used one or the other. If you’re looking to increase the tartness of a favorite pie, go for the Pink Lady.

Or, consider this: Fujis and Pink Ladies complement each other very well, so why not mix and match?

Play with the poundage, as one canner we know likes to say. Homemade applesauce is an easy place to start. Here’s a recipe that calls for a mix of Pink Ladies and Fujis. This batch will give you a healthy portion of applesauce—perfect for serving a group and having some left over.

Sweet, buttery and succulent, pears are the ultimate compliment to salads, sandwiches and cheese platters. But once you slice them, how do you keep them from turning brown?

Unfortunately, browning is inevitable. It happens when oxygen hits the cut fruit. Lemon juice can help slow down the browning and keep your fruit looking bright and delicious. To keep the inevitable discoloration at bay, mix a light solution of water and lemon juice (strain the lemon juice before adding to the water). A little goes a long way: For several pears, a ¼ cup of water and three tablespoons of lemon juice is plenty.

There are many foodie and fruit websites that offer varying measurements of lemon and water. Some use less and some use more. These are the proportions that we found slowed down the browning process without adding too much lemon flavor to the fruit. The lemony solution will add a subtle tart flavor to your initial bite, but the sweetness of the pear will come through beautifully.

Method:
Slice your pears and place in a fine sieve. Use a basting brush to add just a touch of the solution to your fruit. For best results, brush the lemon solution all the way to the peel. Remove from the sieve and arrange the pears as you wish. (The sieve is optional, but helps you keep the lemon-water solution off other foods—like cheese or crackers—that don’t taste good when they’re wet!)

organic persimmons

Ah, the persimmon. So lovely with its smooth, bright peel, yet so tricky to decipher. When is it ripe? How do you eat it? What’s the difference between the varieties?

We asked Farmer Al for some tips on how to enjoy Frog Hollow Farm’s persimmons. Farmer Al raises three varieties: Fuyu, Hachiya and Chocolate Hachiya.

Fuyu are stout and shaped like a flying saucer. They have a bright orange peel and flesh. Slice them lengthwise and you’ll reveal their gorgeous star pattern. Fuyu persimmons are not considered a juicy fruit, though they have some juice. Fuyus maintain their solid texture. They slice easily and make an excellent garnish for savory dishes and salads. Farmer Al says you can eat them like an apple if you prefer.

Hachiya persimmons have an attractive teardrop shape and gorgeous orange color. You’ll want to watch them and test their softness—they are ripe when they are slightly soft. Farmer Al says you don’t want them to by mushy—they are best when they are firm-soft. The same is true with Chocolate Hachiya.

We’ll get back to how to eat them in a moment. Chocolate Hachiya is a genetic variation of the Hachiya, and it surprises fruit lovers with its warm, chocolatey flavor. While its peel is orange like other persimmons, the Chocolate Hachiya has a brownish - gold flesh that has raised a few eyebrows. We occasionally receive calls from customers saying their persimmons are rotten because they are brown inside. The brown color is natural—the fruit is fine and not spoiled.

Farmer Al likes to eat Hachiya and Chocolate Hachiya like a bowl of pudding. He scoops out the tender, sweet flesh with a teaspoon.

Whether you’re new to persimmons or a longtime fan, try a box of our delicious varieties today and let the fun begin!

organic warren pears, fruit deliveryFootball season is here! It’s time to plan a game day feast with friends around the television. And while nachos and mini-quiches are great, chances are your friends are ready for something different, something FRESH. This season, add a new twist to your spread with a Warren Pear and Blue Cheese Crostini with Pepper Jelly made with succulent Warren pears from Frog Hollow Farm. The recipe couldn’t be simpler, and the results are delicious and… disappearing.

We look forward to having Warren pears all season long and so can you! Keep your fruit bowl (and party platters) stocked with our Warren Pear Legacy Club that delivers 8 or 12 shipments of beautiful, delicious pears to your door from September to December. Or, try the Warren Pear Legacy (Petite) Club and receive four shipments. You may also order single boxes of 6, 12 or 24 pears. Experience the subline flavor and texture of these epic pears, and be sure to share your game day recipes with us at info(at)froghollow(dot)com.

Chefs love this rare variety featured in Oprah Magazine and Martha Stewart LIVING 

Frog Hollow Farm, the Brentwood, California farm known for its legendary stone fruit, has started shipping thousands of pounds of organic Warren pears to fruit lovers across the United States under its mail order program — Frog Hollow Farm is one of only a few growers to grow this incredible variety that made it onto Oprah Magazine’s Favorite Things List in 2011. Martha Stewart LIVING magazine has also featured Warren pears, and top chefs love to cook with this buttery and succulent variety. Frog Hollow Farm expects to have Warren pears through the end of December. 

About the Warren Pear
The Warren pear is a difficult variety to grow and has never caught on commercially, making it a rare fall treat. Its incredible flavor and texture make it worth the trouble—the Warren has a classic European texture that is very soft and juicy with a silky sweetness. Take a bite and relish the thin skin and smooth flesh that is free of the typical grittiness found in most pear varieties.

Thomas Oscar Warren discovered this variety growing naturally outside a post office in Hattiesburg, MS a number of years ago. Once known as “the Post Office pear,” it has adopted the name of its founder. Frog Hollow Farm is harvesting Warren pears now and they will available by mail order until late December or early January at www.froghollow.com.

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