She didn’t manage to take
our special camera along (humidity issues) but she did manage to send us a
brief update and some pictures of her trip so far.
I so wish that we had taken the web cam - we have
to find a way of setting this up for future fruit trips.
The Amazon, where we source our acai berries an
incredible place. The light, sounds of the jungle and just the sheer size and
scale of the river is unbelievable. (Forgive me if you've been there before…)
Yesterday, we walked into the jungle for about 20
minutes to find fruit of the right maturity.
‘That’s hardly very far’, I hear you cry, but trust
me, in this humidity, it felt like a marathon.
One of the acai farmers I met was Fernando and his son,
Isaias. They both rise at 5am each day, locate the fruit and then pick berries for 3 to
4 hours for as many days of the week as they wish or need to.
Then they retire to their hammocks once the day’s
picking is done. Life is so simple and peaceful here.
Fernando and his family rely on the river for everything and their
diet is super healthy - shrimps, acai and pretty much every other tropical
fruit you can think of...
Looking forward to sharing more when I get back
Lots of love for now,
More on Sam's trip when she gets back from the jungle.
London has Big Ben, Sydney the Harbour Bridge and New York has a giant ball. However, folk in Vincennes, Indiana have a slightly different focal point when it comes to seeing in their New Year. They drop a whole load of watermelons from one giant watermelon. The act can be caught in all its glory here. And if watermelons are you thing, then you should definitely check out this site. They even have a Watermelon Queen.
Thanks to Ingrid for getting in touch, her Dad for the film and Evansville Courier & Press for the photo.
And those woods happen to be in Poland, you might find a forest floor filled with blueberries
Rozanne and Dan have just returned from a berry sourcing adventure across Eastern Europe, where they tasted an array of berry shaped fruit.
Howver, before they got to actually taste any berries, they first had several mini adventures along the way.
After being greeted by a dog on the runway, hiring a car that sounded like a hairdryer and picking up a speeding ticket in the first twenty minutes of driving, they then got hideously lost (thanks to a self-programming sat nav system) and had to wait by some woods in the middle of the night for our suppliers to pick them up.
When our suppliers finally arrived, Rozanne and Dan were then driven through pitch black forests at 180kph in a blacked out Audi, plied with vodka, potatoes and breadcrumbed meat and made to sing along to Russian pop. And that's not even taking into account the 7 hour border crossing, rigourous strip search (of the blowdrying car) and more money changing hands they had to endure, all in the name of finding the best berries for our smoothies.
It was all worth it when they got there though as they got to taste loads of berries and meet this excellent chap
He is in charge of about twenty or so berry collection points, which is where all the farmers turn up each day, in Fiat Pandas laden with fruit to be sent further afield.
Here are Dan and Rozanne sampling some berries
And here they are post berry-buying-vodka-toasting-high-speed-driving-traffic-police-bribing antics, playing catch up kip.
Atha, Siobhan and Sustainability Jess have just come back from a mango sourcing trip to India and they brought some back for us all to try.
The mangoes we use in our smoothies are called Alphonso mangoes (after a chap called Alphonso De Albuquerque who used to buy loads of them whenever he was in Goa). We use them for their velvety texture, delicate aroma and extremely fragrant taste. You don't tend to find them in the supermarket that often as their skin is very delicate but you can occasionally find them in little shops. If you're lucky.
According to Siobhan, once you've tasted an Alphonso, you can never go back.
To other mangoes that is.
Not to work/your desk/that report you're meant to have finished yesterday.
All you need to do to bag yourself one is tell us your most memorable fruit pie/crumble/pudding experience.
Post your answers below by Monday 26th January and come next autumn, you could be running your very own black market fruit pie operation (with a nice sideline in preserves).
(This competition has now closed.
Congratualtions to Big Tom, Sammy, Karen, Rachael, Susan F, Ian, Soo, Julie Lee, Steph, Emma, Lulu, Stephen Armstrong, Esther, Sarah Bruch, Anita, Ook, Davkt, Simone, Lindsay and Abby Bookham. Gardens on their way to you very very soon).
And when it comes to making our smoothies, we like to make sure you're getting the best value for your hard earned money. So we conducted a little experiment the other week to check we're doing just that.
Our Sam has just come back from the States where she's been learning everything there is to know about boysenberries.
For those of you who have never seen a boysenberry in the flesh before, they look like a Sumo blackberry and are thought to be a cross between a loganberry, blackberry and raspberry (though no one is really sure).
Here's an nice shot of some boysenberries in the early morning sunshine.
We get our boysenberries from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, a beautiful and extremely fertile area where they also grow hazelnuts, grass seed and Christmas trees. A handy place to be if you're planning on making a hazelnut and grass seed boysenberry pie in December.
And here's a photo of Sam during boysenberry harvest, looking slightly confused
The reason she's looking a little dazed is that it was rather early in the morning when this photograph was taken.
One of the biggest threat to berries is field heat, so instead of picking them in the middle of the day when it's very hot, the berries are harvested at night when it's much cooler. That way, they're picked at their best and are sorted immediately by the side of the field to ensure the freshest, tastiest crop possible.
It's all done mechanically as it's quite difficult to tell by eye when a boysenberry is ripe. The fruit tends to colour up very quickly so it's hard to know which berries are ready and which ones aren't. The machine has a comb-n-shake type action, which means the ripe berries get shaken off and the less ripe ones get to stay in the sun that little bit longer.
You can have a go at shaking your own boysenberries here, though combing smoothie through your hair afterwards is not recommended.
Sustainability Jess and Rozanne went to Serbia in July to check out our raspberries and blackberries. Naturally, we're striving to only buy the very best berries for our smoothies, and they were there to make sure that we're buying them from farms that look after their workers and the environment.
The farms we buy our berries from are typically very small family farms – only 0.1-0.2 hectares. They grow a mixture of different crops: maize for feeding animals, plums for local markets and making schnapps, vegetables for the family and berries for some income.
These farms have been with the same families for generations, and they know exactly which crops to plant where to make the most of the natural environment (sun access, types of soils, water etc). The picking of the berries is mostly done by family and friends.
Serbia is a pretty interesting place. Not only do they have amazing berries, but they also hosted the Eurovision song contest earlier this year, have the tallest hay bales in Europe, and make some pretty spooky pottery.