The United Nations declared 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables in order to raise awareness of the importance of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition, food security, and health. One of the key messages in this campaign is the value of family farms in communities. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, family farms generate income, improve food security and nutrition, and enhance resiliency through sustainably managed local resources. We couldn’t agree more!
We normally compare table grape harvest timing to the previous year, but last year’s heavy wildfire smoke blanket pushed back grape maturation significantly. We’ve had approximately 20% more solar radiation over the past month than the same time period last year. During the last few weeks of September we experienced heavier smoke in the Central Valley, largely due to the fires in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. We expect that the smoke will clear out in the near future, but even if it lingers for a bit we already have much more momentum in color and berry maturity than we did at this time last year.
We are wrapping up the stone fruit season after a long, hot, and challenging summer. Weather conditions impacted our yield, but this turned out to be one of the best tasting crops in recent memory. It may seem like we’ve got a long break ahead of us, but farming truly is year-round, even for seasonal crops. We’ve already begun pruning trees to prepare for dormancy over the winter, and we are prepping blocks for winter planting.
This year is the 40th anniversary of the original Lunch Bunch® grapes! Lunch Bunch grapes were the original value added grape solution for HMC Farms, dating back to 1979, and they continue to be a staple in our product offerings. To learn more about the Lunch Bunch, contact your HMC Farms salesperson.
Table grape harvest continues to thrive in the current weather conditions. Timco, Allison, and Vintage red seedless grapes and Autumn King green seedless grapes are in active harvest. Tree pruning will begin soon in our peach, nectarine, and plum orchards. The forecast shows more sunny days with high temperatures in the low to mid 70s. We still have seen no signs of early rain, which is unusual this far into October.
Chances are, you’ve seen a perfectly styled cheese or charcuterie board on social media. While cheese, meat, and crackers can make any crowd pretty happy; we feel that no charcuterie is complete without our HMC Farms fruit. The sweet flavors of our tree fruit and table grapes perfectly compliment the savory meat and cheese that are classic cheese board staples.
What you’ll need to copy our board:
4-6 pieces of HMC Farms fruit
We used 2 plumcots, 2 nectarines, and a large peach
HMC Farms grapes
We used Bunchkins, which are perfect for this, but our other grapes work well also.
3 kinds of cheese
We used 3 types of Vintage Cheese from nearby Bravo Farms: Dutch-Style Gouda, Chipotle Cheddar, and Classico (this one is a hard goat cheese) – we suggest using one cheese that crumbles well
2 types of meat – salami, prosciutto, etc.
We used sliced peppered salami and dry salami nuggets
Crackers, crisps, or a sliced baguette
We used cranberry pumpkin seed crisps and mini Croccatini crackers
1-2 kinds of nuts
We used raw almonds and cashews
We used chipotle honey from a local stand
We used oregano from our home garden, but rosemary is a beautiful accent.
The perfect board is a combination of beauty and taste. We started by placing our cheeses in three different spots around the board. We sliced the softer cheeses, and crumbled the hard cheese, while leaving it inside the rind for aesthetic purposes. Next, we sliced our HMC Farms peaches, nectarines, and plumcots, and placed them in three different spots on the board. We’ve found that the board looks best when the anchor items, in this case cheeses and fruit, are on different thirds of the board. Our jar of honey went right in the middle of the board.
Tip: A lot of our HMC peaches and nectarines are clingstone varieties. We’ve found that the easiest way to create pretty slices of fruit is to place the fruit on a cutting board with the stem side down and slice straight down on each side around the pit. These larger pieces can be sliced more easily that trying to separate each slice from the pit individually.
After placing the stone fruit, we added our Bunchkins Champagne grapes. These petite bunches of fun practically scream charcuterie board, and we are still in their narrow window of availability. Once the Bunchkins have completed harvest and are no longer available, try replacing them with our delicious HMC Farms California table grapes.
The open spaces remaining on the board were then filled in with the salami and crackers, followed by the nuts and garnish.
Tip: An easy way to make sliced salami look fancy is to fold it into quarters (in half once, and then in half again so that it is shaped like a slice of pizza) and then wedge it together with the rounded side up.
Honestly, we had to hold back the whole office to take photos of the board. It was promptly devoured as soon as we finished the photos. You can expect a similar reaction when serving a fruit and cheese board at your next BBQ, game night, or book club. People love these delightful mini buffets, and HMC Farms fruit will elevate your board to the next level.
We hope you enjoy our fruit and cheese board guide. Tag us in your fruit and cheese board photos on Facebook (@HMCfarmsKingsburg) and Instagram (@HMCfarms)!
P.S. We learned how to make cheese boards from @ainttooproudtomeg on her Instagram feed. Check it out for ideas on different types of board styles and ways to elevate your cheese board game.