Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jenni's Lemon and Blueberry Cake

Grab yourself a Betty Crocker Super Moist Lemon cake mix and follow the instructions. Then add in some Organic Dried Blueberries (about a cup, but you can always add more depending on how much you like the lemon to blueberry ratio) and then to make the frosting in a small mixing bowl add 1 cup of powdered sugar along with 2 teaspoons of milk, then add some lemon juice (I like squeezing the juice myself) and add anywhere from 2-5 teaspoons (depending on how much lemon you like to have). Its very simple but tastes amazing!

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Wrap Up Time

The end of berry season is drawing near. It has been two months since we opened our farm stand with fresh berries, out lasting other blueberry farms in the area. We will be closing the farm stand on Saturday, August 29, 2009. It is fair to say that we have had more U-Pickers this year than any other year. Along with the fresh farm stand closing we are also wrapping up our frozen market berries. This means that we wont be open every day. We will be open 9am-12pm on Mondays, and by appointment.

We thank everyone who has bought berries from us this year, and in years past, and are looking forward to seeing you next season.

~Sunset Valley Team~

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Behind the Scenes: The Farm Stand Workers

Beka Byland has work for my family for four years, and before that we were friend so now we are basically like sisters. She has done all kinds of different jobs from labeling spread jars to working in the field. In the midst of harvest she is in charge of the Saturday market in Corvallis. She also works at the farm stand, sorting the berries, getting them out of the field from the pickers, and helping customers. Currently she has taken the rest of the summer off, this is because of a friend from Germany has come to visit her and they are touring the United States and part of Canada by train.

This was Nat Adams First year working for my family, another friend of mine, having graduated from CV and having time before leaving for a year in Germany with the Rotary club, for a year of study abroad, he worked in the fields and at the farm stand. He also got to get his hands dirty by painting our house, which is now a very blueberry blue. He did a lovely job.

It was also Dina Pham’s first year working for my family, she will be a Senior at CHS this coming fall. She started out picking blueberries, then when Beka and Nat left for their own adventures Dina stepped up and covered the Farm Stand, she was always so busy with sorting, labeling, picking, and helping customers. Alas with summer ending and school starting up, sport are sure to follow, and Dina is a participant in Volleyball and with her practices right in the middle of the day, she too has ended work for the summer with us.

However this brings us to our most recent employee, Aidan Hackett, a graduate of CHS, he has spent his summer looking for a job and with our newly open position he jumped right in. Though its only been about a week he has show great enthusiasm and is an excellent sales man.

Oh, and of course there is me, Jenni Wilt, I work all year round for my parents, from driving tracker to working in the office. In the summer before our frozen market starts I am out front running the farm stand with Beka, and on Sundays once the frozen line is running.

I think its fair to say that we have excellent employees , that are hard workers, and we are lucky to have such a great group of young adults working for us, and we look forward to working with them in the future or watching them go on to do great things.

**In Picture is Beka Byland at the Saturday Market in Corvallis, in the summer of 2008**

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

Recipe via: Cooking Light

Extra Fiber and nutrition make this recipe a great way to use up the last of your 10 lb box of Fresh Blueberries (picked up at the farm stand last Friday) I'll have to go back tomorrow to restock.

1 2/3 cups quick-cooking oats
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (about 2 1/3 ounces)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fat-free buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 large eggs
2 cups blueberries
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place oats in a food processor; pulse 5 to 6 times until oats resemble coarse meal. Place in a large bowl. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add flours and next 5 ingredients (through salt) to oats in bowl; stir well with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk, oil, rind, and eggs in small bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Toss berries with 2 tablespoons flour, and gently fold them into the batter.

Spoon batter into 16 muffin cups coated with cooking spray; sprinkle batter with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove from pans immediately. Place on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Choosing and Care of your Fresh Blueberries

When buying blueberries, first check to see that the berries aren't hard, purple (as opposed to blue) which will indicate they were picked before they were ripe, and be sure to see that they're not moldy. Fresh, ripe blueberries should not be hard to the touch, but should be firm with just a little bit of give, and a lovely, brushed blue color. This indicates that they are picked at the peak of ripeness.

The wonderful nutrients in blueberries are best sustained by keeping them cool, so purchase from a refrigerated section in the market and put them in your own fridge as soon as you get them home, and keep them there when you're not eating them. (Better yet, pick them ripe, and then put as many in your mouth as you put in a pail.) And never wash a blueberry until you are ready to use them.

You can freeze your own fresh blueberries. Do not wash them, but put them straight on a cookie sheet straight into the freezer. Once frozen, you can put them in a plastic freezer bag. You don't need to defrost blueberries to use them in baking, but if you need to, it's best to thaw slowly in the refrigerator and drain well if you are using them uncooked.


How We Control the Quality

Quality is an important part of what we do .
In our packing house we wash, destem, color sort, and pick out all the bad berries, then the good ones go into 30 pound boxes for cold storage.

Who oversees the quality of all this?
Who makes sure that the water levels and all the regulations are being met?

I do, Jenni Wilt. I make sure everything is running smoothly and oversee the maintenance of the facility, meaning that I check our cold room temperatures, that the metal detector is working properly. I also take grades of our berries every 10 minutes, which means I take a pound of berries off the line and sort out all the ones that don't meet our quality standards. If there are too many below grade berries, we correct the machinery. If the berries all are surpassing grade, then we know we can speed the line up (the grades have standards that are regulated by the USDA). Our farm standards exceed USDA standards.

At the end of the day I oversee line clean up and do an in house self audit, along with loading and inspecting the truck that takes our berries from our cold rooms (once in the 30 pound boxes) to a cold storage facility.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Are organic blueberries better for you?

A collaborative project between the US Department of Agriculture and Rutgers University attempted to determine the nutritional difference between organic and conventional blueberries.
By Yun Xie | Last updated July 7, 2008 6:59 AM CT

Blueberries, one of my favorite fruits, have a wonderful combination of tastiness and nutritional benefits. They are low in calories and have high antioxidant content, enabling them to scavenge radicals that might otherwise damage the body. Blueberries in general have health benefits, but are organic blueberries even better than conventionally grown ones? A collaborative project between the US Department of Agriculture and Rutgers University attempted to answer that question, and the results came in the form of a recent publication in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry...

click here to read the full article:

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Health Benefits of Blueberries - Nutrition and more Nutrition

Recent studies show that of all fresh fruits and blueberries provide the most health-protecting antioxidants. Blueberries are rich in Vitamins A, C, E and beta-carotene as well as rich in the minerals potassium, manganese, magnesium. They are very high in fiber and low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.

Sunset Valley Organics Blueberries are even more nutritious than most. Independent testing shows that our berries have double the Vitamin A and C, and more Calcium and minerals than other organic berries and wild blueberries.

The properties of blueberries cross the blood brain barrier to effect these benefits. Antioxidants help to stop the production of free radicals. Free radicals are groups of atoms that impair the cells and the immune system which leads to disease. Anti-oxidants bind the the free electrons in free radicals.

Anthocyanins create the blue color in blueberries. They are water-soluble and will bleed into water (or on mouths and clothes). Anthocyanins are antioxidants, known to reduce heart disease and cancer in humans. They are found throughout the plant world, but blueberries are the highest of any fruit or vegetable. This substance is believed to combat E. Coli.

Chlorogenic acid is another antioxidant which may also slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream after a meal. Chlorogenic acid's antioxidant properties may help fight damaging free radicals.

Ellagic acid also appears to bind cancer-causing body chemicals,rendering them inactive.

Catechins are the phytochemical compounds that helped make a nutritional star out of green tea which is so rich in them. Current belief holds that their antioxidant effect diminishes the formation of plaque in the arteries. Further research is being done to see if they combat and/or suppress cancerous tumors and cell proliferation, but to date no evidence is solid.

Resveratrol is a substance that is produced by several plants. A number of beneficial health effects, such as anti-cancer, anti-viral, neuroprotective, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and life-prolonging effects have been reported for this substance. It is found in the skin of red grapes.

Pterostilbene is yet another antioxidant found in blueberries. Current belief holds that it may fight cancer and may also help lower cholesterol.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Heat Doesn't Impact our Blueberries too much

We're still reeling from last weeks record heat, but remarkably enough, our blueberries didn't suffer much.

We think that's because our organic, biological farming techniques help protect the plants and keep them healthy and more robust for all kinds of threats and conditions. During the 105 degree weather, we only lost about 5% of our blueberries, mostly the top ones on the plant, which took the full brunt of the sun. All in all, we think our loss was less than a fourth of conventionally grown blueberries.

Why are our plants stronger?
Because of their root system. The way we dress our rows with compost, and the way we treat the leaves with compost tea, encourages our plants to put out wide and deep roots. These roots can then absorb more of any available moisture. We also think the measurably higher level of calcium in our plants, which also shows up in our berries, strengthens the cell walls and skins, offering more protection from dehydration. As a result, in a heat wave, we lose fewer berries, the ones that we pick are plump, round and juicy. And in normal conditions, we've got amazing healthy, nutritious berries with extra vitamins, calcium and other minerals.

The proof is in the berries.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sunset Valley Organics Blueberries Featured on KMTR TV

We had a great day on Tuesday talking with Kelli Warner of KMTR news in Eugene about:
Biological farming, managing soil composition for maximum plant health and nutritition
Making our own compost for quality and consistency, with high mineral density and about
Growing our delicious, nutrient dense blueberries so that they are tastier, sweeter, longer lasting and healthier than anything we've grown in the past 50 years.

Organic, Biological farming has changed our lives and our blueberries.

We hope it can make your lives sweeter and healthier too.

What a great crew, and they did a really nice story. Check it out!
(apparently it's now offline)...sorry you missed it.


Monday, August 3, 2009

The Power of Powder!

One of our many products includes Blueberry Powder, that is we send our berries to Oregon Freeze Dried, the freeze dry them, crush them, and send us the resulting powder.

Our powder is purely blueberries, no added sugar, no preservatives, and no additives of any sort. Thus making is very concentrated and a little will go a long way.

A commonly asked question is "How can I use this blueberry powder?" Well you can use it just as a spice in baking, add it to your everyday baking, in all of your favorite recipes for a new twist on them. You can put it in yogurt, add it to jello, on top of ice cream, and whatever else you can think of, just have fun with it!

With our powder you get all the anti-oxydants and minerals that are in our berries from this powder, just becasue they have been freeze dried dosent mean that they have lost their nutritinal value.

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