It’s the last day of National Peach Month, and we’re finally sharing our family recipe for peach cobbler with all of you! This has been a family favorite for many years, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do. We may or may not eat it for breakfast.
3lbs of HMC Farms peaches
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup pancake mic
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375°
Toss peaches with brown sugar in a greased 9″ square baking dish
Combine pancake mix, sugar, and cinnamon
Stir egg into the dry mixture until it becomes crumbly
Top peaches with crumble mixture and top with melted butter
Bake for about 45 minutes, until topping is a golden brown
HMC Farms® has partnered with Tevel Aerobotics Technologies to pilot their drone harvesting system utilizing Flying Autonomous Robots. Each robot has the ability to fly, locate fruit, harvest and place the fruit all on its own with no human interaction required.
HMC Farms has a reputation for pursuing cutting edge ag technology. Drew Ketelsen, Vice President and Farm Manager, has a background in civil engineering which gives him a unique perspective on farming and technology. He and Jon McClarty, President of HMC Farms and Drew’s brother-in-law, work together to stay updated on the latest developments and test various forms of ag tech in order to determine the best fit for their farms.
Ketelsen attributes HMC’s high density stone fruit planting system with the ability to utilize drone harvesting. He says, “The years of work we’ve put into cultivating high density orchards are paying off as we implement technology like Flying Autonomous Robot harvesting. We have successfully harvested peaches, nectarines and multiple colors of plums using drones this summer. This project is still in an early stage, but the future potential is very exciting.”
When asked about his thoughts on the pilot program and expanding into the U.S. market, Ittai Marom, US General Manager at Tevel Aerobotics Technologies, shared: “Tevel is pushing the limits of the autonomous revolution in agriculture, and this year marks our debut in the US with our first customers, among them HMC Farms. In harvesting HMC’s fruit, we are gaining first-hand field experience by working alongside their team, while HMC is positioning itself at the forefront of robotic harvesting of stone fruit. So far in our California operations, we have successfully harvested peaches, nectarines, and plums. We are grateful for the support we are getting from HMC’s management and team.”
Autonomous harvest options have great potential to fill a crucial need in the agricultural community, which has notoriously dealt with labor shortages over the years. In places like California’s Central Valley, this technology also may help with harvest during periods of extreme heat, as summer temperatures can often reach well above 100 degrees for many days in a row, right at the peak of stone fruit harvest.
About HMC Farms
HMC Farms is a family owned and operated farming business that has grown tree fruit and table grapes in California’s Central Valley since 1887. They believe in growing fruit they are proud to put their name on. To learn more about HMC Farms, visit www.hmcfarms.com.
About Tevel Aerobotics Technologies
Tevel’s mission is to lead the transformation from manual fruit picking into on-demand Flying Autonomous Robots. To learn more about Tevel, visit www.tevel-tech.com.
April’s weather has been a rollercoaster, bouncing around 20 degrees up and down over a few days more than once. Thankfully, the forecast ahead shows weather conducive to stone fruit growth.
We are thinning stone fruit in our stone fruit orchards. Thinning removes excess, under-sized, or damaged juvenile fruit from our trees. This ensures that nutrients are directed to fewer pieces of fruit, resulting in better size and flavor. It also protects the tree from damage due to too much weight on the limbs. Hail damage is prevalent across the industry in scattered pockets. We’ve discovered hail damaged stone fruit on a couple of our ranches, as well as some damage to the vines in one location where the hail was most prevalent. We’ve been able to remove some of the damaged fruit in the thinning process, but there is a limit to how much that can help.
In our table grape vineyards, the crop looks very healthy. The vines are all pushing strongly and evenly, and we seem to be running a little earlier than last year at this point. Shoots continue to develop, and clusters are forming on the early season varietals in our table grape vineyards. Soon, the clusters will begin to bloom and then set fruit.
Early season varieties are beginning to show some blush. Pictured above is our Krista yellow peach variety, which is now larger than a golf ball. Thinning continues in our mid and late-season varieties, and we’ve begun training young plum trees.
Stone fruit continues to develop in our orchards as we approach harvest. Pictured above is our Zee Fire yellow nectarine variety, which is about a week behind the Krista yellow peach. After weathering last week’s storm, we are eager for the stone fruit season to begin.
We’re starting the new year with a good amount of precipitation on the books already this winter, and a gorgeous view of the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains from our office. September-December of 2021, we received 7.52″ of rain on our farms, compared with only 1.89″ in the same timeframe in 2020. We have already blown past the 7.07″ total for Sept 2020-June 2021, and more rain is likely on the way over the next couple of months. In December alone, we received just over five inches of much needed rain on our farms, which is a big step forward from the 1.45″ of precipitation we measured in December of 2020. We are close to wrapping up pruning in our stone fruit orchards, and pruning more heavily in our table grape vineyards during this break in the rain. The weather has been cold, which is perfect for pruning and for accumulating necessary chill hours for our trees and vines.
With the rain we’ve had this winter comes another weather event: Tule fog. Tule fog is a radiation fog that forms in the Central Valley when the ground is damp and temperatures are low. The fog is so dense that visibility is measured in feet, and when visibility is too low our local schools have a late-start “foggy day schedule” to allow the fog to lighten up a bit before school buses can safely operate.Once we’ve finished pruning our trees, we will go back through our traditional orchards to repair any damaged roping, which helps keep the trees in a vase shape and supports the weight of next season’s crop. We are almost ready to plant new trees in the blocks we prepped over the past few months.
January is National Blood Donor Month, and HMC Farms recently hosted an employee blood drive in partnership with Central California Blood Center. Our participants ranged from multiple first time donors to a member of the five gallon club. All of the blood collected at our event will be put to good use in life-saving measures in the Central Valley.
We are done pruning trees in our stone fruit orchards, and through the majority of our grapevine pruning. We are finishing up the final touches on new irrigation systems in our prepped blocks, and we will plant new trees once installation is complete. Field activity will slow down over the next couple of weeks as our trees begin to bloom. By mid-February, the Central Valley should be full of orchards covered in pink and white blossoms.
We live by this credo, which some find irrational. The onerous circumstances we must navigate in California agriculture to produce better tasting fruit each year are getting increasingly more difficult, and have yet to reach an inflection point. Inputs, whether they are labor, water, or materials, haven’t just become more expensive, but at times they have become unavailable. If you read our newsletter on a monthly basis, you are aware of some of the creative ways in which we are trying to keep costs from continuing to rise. We want to keep our products as competitive with other commodities as possible, and don’t want to push the products we grow into “luxury item” status. We believe in the stone fruit and table grape commodities. As we reflect on what may have been the best tasting season in our history, we take some pride in having brought these products into the marketplace. It is this belief and small sense of pride that urges us to continue to do what tastes right.
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.
Something you may not know about HMC Farms is that one of our family members has severe food allergies. Because of this, we are constantly inspecting ingredients on packaging, adjusting recipes, and toting allergy-friendly food along to events. We recently had a visitor who was gluten intolerant and allergic to dairy, so we quickly got to work in our farm kitchen to ensure that the guest would have a dessert just as good as the pies we ordered from a local baker. What we came up with was a tasty peach crisp, which happens to be vegan and gluten free. Most importantly, it doesn’t taste vegan and gluten free. This recipe can also be adjusted to be free of added sugar by swapping the sugar in our recipe for monkfruit or stevia.
The peaches coming out of our orchards are delicious right now, so we may start eating this peach crisp for breakfast every day until the end of the season. For a fun twist, try using nectarines or plums in place of the peaches, or mix them all together! If you’ve tried this recipe, let us know what you think and if you made any adjustments.
What you’ll need to serve 6-8 people:
6 HMC Farms peaches (if you use plums, bump this up to 7-8 pieces) Tip: it’s better to use fruit that’s slightly soft, so you may want to leave it out on the counter for a day or two before baking.
1 Tbsp sugar (raw, granulated, or coconut palm would all work here or sub for monkfruit or stevia to remove the added sugar)
1 Tbsp cornstarch (add a pinch more if you like a thicker base)
1 ½ tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup rolled gluten free oats
¾ cup almond flour
½ cup brown sugar (sub coconut palm if desired, or swap for monkfruit/stevia to remove added sugar)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2/3 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp salt (we like to use sea salt)
1/3 cup solid coconut oil, plus 1 tbsp for the pan (if your coconut oil has liquified and turned clear, try putting it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to solidify)
Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F. Grease the inside of your pan or oven-safe skillet with 1 Tbsp of coconut oil.
Slice the peaches – for clingstone varieties, place the fruit with the stem down and the seam facing you. Slice carefully straight down on wither side of the pit, and then rotate and repeat. You can then slice these chunks into smaller pieces.
Mix the peach slices, lemon juice, vanilla extract, cornstarch and sugar (or sugar replacement) in a large bowl until ingredients are combined. Set to the side for at least 10 minutes.
In another bowl, mix almond flour, oats, cinnamon, nuts, brown sugar, and salt. Once ingredients are mixed well, work in the remaining coconut oil. Work together with a spoon or your hands until evenly coated.
Pour the peach mixture into the bottom of your pan, then top with the oat mixture.
Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes, depending on your oven and how browned you like the topping.
Let sit for 10 minutes before serving – use caution when tasting
While we are in the final third of the season on peaches and nectarines, we are just rounding second base on the plum season. We are looking forward to some of the highest sugar varieties of the year, including Black Majesty, Red Yummy, and of course our exclusive HMC Holiday plum. Holiday red plums will begin harvest in early September, and will pack and ship into October.
Burro self-driving carts are currently running in our table grape vineyards. After experimenting with Burros for the past couple of years, this is our first time using them for a full harvest season. Burros reduce physical stress on our hard working employees, and make the harvest process up to 40% more efficient by allowing our crews to focus on harvesting instead of pushing carts up and down the vineyard rows. Click to watch a Burro working in a vineyard right outside our office!
Grape harvest is underway in our vineyards in California’s San Joaquin Valley just in time for the kickoff of the 2021-2022 school year. HMC Farms has value-added solutions that make it possible to provide students with the fresh grapes they love. Kids choose grapes more often than other fresh fruit items, which means less plate waste and a higher take rate when grapes are on the menu. Value-added grape packs from HMC Farms make yield and portion control easy, offer significant labor savings, and are a perfect fit for virtually any serving application.
Color development is coming along well in our table grape vineyards. We are going full bore harvesting the mid season red and green seedless varieties. We’ve experienced moderate temperatures on our farms lately, which is perfect for grape development and harvest.
Anyone who grows backyard tomatoes knows that tomato season means fresh salsa, caprese salad, and BLT sandwiches all summer long. We’ve got some news for you… stone fruit is a great replacement for fresh tomatoes in many recipes! That’s right, HMC Farms peaches, plums, nectarines, and plumcots can replace tomatoes in some of your favorite dishes. We’ve assembled some of our go-to stone fruit swaps for you. Let us know your favorite ways to replace tomatoes with stone fruit in the comments!
Swap #1: Peach Salsa
Okay, peach salsa is fairly mainstream at this point, but it’s just so delicious that we had to mention it. While some people mix tomatoes and peaches to make peach salsa, we prefer to completely replace tomatoes with chopped peaches. Something about the combination of peaches and jalapeños makes this sweet and spicy medley perfect for chips, but it’s also really delicious on top of chicken, pork loin, or grilled fish. You can find our go-to peach salsa recipe here.
Swap #2: Nectarine Caprese Salad
Fresh mozzarella slices, basil, and… nectarines? Yes! If you’re looking for a fresh twist on a classic appetizer, look no further than nectarine caprese salad. The sweet-tart flavor of tree ripened nectarines, combined with buttery fresh mozzarella and basil plucked right from the garden is a flavor combo that rivals the original. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze, and sprinkle with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and crushed red peppers (if you like a little kick) for a treat that looks as good as it tastes. Rearrange this into little stacks on individual plates for low-contact meals, and your guests will feel extra special.
Swap # 3: Bacon Lettuce Plum Sandwiches
It may sound strange, but trust us on this one. You won’t be sorry if you ditch the tomatoes in that BLT and replace them with plums or plumcots. Crisp, savory bacon and sweet, juicy plums come together in a way that’s truly unexpected and tasty. Stack the plums, bacon, and lettuce on your favorite bread, and thank us later. Any type of plum or plumcot makes a great BLP sandwich, including Plumsicle™!
Pssst… Not a fan of pork? Turkey bacon is a great alternative, or you can swap for a plant-based bacon replacement to make this a vegetarian or vegan dish.
This recipe was created by The Produce Moms.
You can’t have a summer barbeque without the right sauce to go with it! A good BBQ sauce
brings warm weather and backyard fun to mind, no matter what time of year you enjoy it. There
are as wide a range of flavors of BBQ sauce as there are ways to use it – but nothing beats a
homemade sauce filled with fresh ingredients! Mix up this Plumsicle™ BBQ Sauce and give a
sweet new taste to a classic flavor.
How to Make Plumsicle BBQ Sauce
Sure, you can buy all kinds of BBQ sauce varieties in the store. But you won’t get the exact
flavor you’re looking for unless you make it yourself! Fortunately, this cookout essential is easy
to make in your own kitchen – and Plumsicle BBQ Sauce is no exception.
Featuring deliciously sweet Plumsicle along with garlic, red pepper, and other flavorful
ingredients, this BBQ sauce is a treat for the taste buds. Ketchup and brown sugar provide a
simple base for this sauce, but it’s the Plumsicles that give it a standout flavor.
Plumsicle BBQ Sauce starts in the blender. Chop the plums into smaller, blendable pieces
and add them to your food processor or blender along with the rest of the ingredients.
Homemade BBQ sauce has a bit more texture than the typical store-bought variety, but your
blender will make it smooth enough to slather on ribs, burgers, or pizza. Then just reduce it on
the stove, store it in a container (we used a canning jar), and serve it with your favorite summer
● 3 HMC Farms Plumsicles, pitted and chopped (skin stays on)
● 2 garlic cloves, minced
● 1/2 cup ketchup
● 1/4 cup brown sugar*
● 2 T Apple cider vinegars
● 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
● 1 tsp red pepper flakes
● Salt and pepper to taste
*Plumsicle is naturally very sweet. You may want to adjust the amount of brown sugar up or down, depending on how sweet you like your BBQ sauce.
1. Chop plums.
2. Put all ingredients in food processor or blender. Blend until smooth
3. Put in a cast iron skillet, reduce over medium heat. It should take about 10 minutes.
Savoring the Sweetness of Plumsicle
Want a new way to celebrate summer flavor? Plumsicle is just what
you need! This incredible plum variety is bursting with sweetness! It’s the perfect plum for
making tasty treats like these Wine Pops and Ice Pops or for blending into delicious sauces to
complement all of your favorite barbeque foods.
How will you know a Plumsicle when you see one? It’s one of the most eye-catching plums
around! Look for a yellow starburst of speckles dotting a deep, rich skin. Bite into one and you’ll
find juicy reddish-purple flesh that’s ideal for adding vibrant color to your recipes. And of course,
look for the HMC Farms logo! Look for Plumsicle at your local grocery store between
mid-June and late-July in one pound clamshells and two pound stand-up bags.
What did you think of this Plumsicle BBQ Sauce? Did it impress the neighborhood grilling
gourmand or your family’s cookout connoisseur? Leave a comment below, follow us on Facebook, or tag us in your plum-perfect photos on Instagram @HMCfarms and @theproducemoms.