Artisan Pears from the Sacramento Delta

There are many things I’m passionate about, and artisan made products, good quality food, and travel are all pretty close to the top of my love list. So you can imagine how excited I was to visit the Sacramento Delta on my recent trip to California. This beautiful, lush, and fertile area of California is nothing like the California you might have seen on your drive down to San Francisco, Los Angeles, or San Diego. In fact, the miles and miles of agriculture reminded me of my first visit to Punjab in the 90s. DSC_2627PinkChai

We spotted everything from endive, olives, almonds, safflower, asparagus, tomatoes, and alfalfa sprouts on our tour of the Sacramento Delta, but I was most excited about the pears. Pears are my all-time favourite fruit, and pretty much the only fruit I eat as is. (I LOVE veggies and have a strange fruit aversion that I’ve been trying to get over lately).

Our tour of the delta ended at Stillwater Orchards which has been run by the same family since 1860, that makes for 6 generations of pear farming. It was so nice to chat with the family team that runs the orchard – everyone has a job from actually working the orchard, to packing, logistics, and marketing. It was easy to see how proud they were of their family legacy, and also how much they love and respect the orchards. We even learned that a family wedding was being planned around picking season. If that isn’t dedication, I don’t know what is!DSC_2642PinkChai(A little souvenir – which I asked before picking of course!)

We got to wander the orchards, watch farm workers in action, and learn about the process of picking pears a little early giving them time to ripen in transport, and on our kitchen counters at home. I brought some ‘not quite ripe enough’ pears home and it took them about 6 days in a paper bag to get to the perfect softness and sweetness.

My biggest takeaway from the farm visit was understanding the pear farming season. If you buy a pear anywhere on the West Coast of Canada or the United States from June-September it is likely a California pear. If you are buying them between November – April though, they are probably coming from Japan or other parts of Asia. Really gets you thinking about food miles huh? 

A few images from a beautiful afternoon on a 150 year old pear orchard on the Sacramento Delta (wow, who’s life is this anyway?!)sacramento deltaPears ready for picking. They ripen up and turn green on the way to market.

sacramento deltaA quick break to take a selfie and try some pear cider (which was so good!)pear cider

pear ciderpear ciderPear cider is delicious of course, but there are lots of other things you can cook with pears. I honestly had no idea before the orchard visit, but the California Pear Advisory Board has some great ideas on their recipes page.

pear orchard sacramento delta pear orchard sacramento delta{These guys work fast and hard. Every single pear on the orchard is picked by hand. Pear farming is one of the only types of farms where machines don’t do the picking. }pear orchardIf you ever find yourself driving through California on your way to ‘happiest place on Earth’. I highly recommend a detour and drive through the Sacramento Delta. It is such a beautiful place, and I look forward to taking my kids back soon!

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