Friday, October 28, 2011

Brix in our Processing Plant

Brix in our packing facility
Last week’s post was learning about what brix is and why it is so important.  On the farm we have two processes for using our brix. The first process was using the leaf of the blueberry plant, which was explained in the previous post.  The second process of brix testing is done in our processing plant when the production line is running.  A brix test is done on a regular basis. A random cupful of blueberries is collection and put into a mini food processor. When the blueberries are in a puree state they are put into a coffee filter. The coffee filter is then squeezed to access the juice from the berries. The juice from the blueberries is then extracted onto the prism of the refractometer (refer to last week’s post for information on a refractometer). The refractometer then needs to be pointed to a light source to take an accurate reading. Doing a brix this way will tell us the sugar content (nutrient density) of the blueberry sample. Again the higher the brix the higher the nutrient density which means mores minerals and flavor.



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Blueberry Maple Syrup

Blueberry Maple Syrup
1 cup frozen SVO blueberries
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Combine the berries, sugar, and ½ cup water in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Dissolve the cornstarch in 1 tablespoon cold water. Whisk into the berries. Bring to a boil and let boil while whisking for 2 minutes. Add lemon juice. Strain the syrup through a sieve into a bowl, pressing the berries with a spatula to extract all the liquids. Discard the solids and stir in the maple syrup.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Using Brix On the Farm

The brix is very important as it is a direct measurement of how the plant is performing. Brix is a measurement of sugar content in a substance. To read the sugar content of blueberry plant a refractometer is needed. A Refractometer is an instrument used to obtain a brix reading. The refractometer is a hand held tool that measures the amount of refraction in a beam of light that passes through the substance.

How to use refractometer:
· squeeze sap out of a plant leafs
· put the sap on the prism
· close the prism cover
· Point to a light source
· Focus the eyepiece
· read the measurement

Reading the Brix Number:
The brix number is also known as the sugar number.  The brix number is determined by the way the substance (sap) bends through the liquid. The brix number is actually the angle the light makes. The higher the number that it reads means the higher the sugar content. The lower the reading, the lower the sugar content. The higher the reading of a leaf brix the more the plants will be insect and disease resistant. Weak plants with low brix   numbers give off an electromagnetic frequency that attracts predators.

The sugars are part of the soluble solids. Another component of the soluble solids is the minerals. The minerals determine the health of the plant, and the nutritional value for consumption. The higher the minerals the better the nutrition, and the higher the nutrient density.
To increase the brix a soil food web (soil biology) is needed, which will solubilize the minerals including calcium, and phosphorus which will in the end make plant sugars.

To learn more about the brix process for different methods of use, visit this site


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blueberry- Banana Cornmeal Muffins

(Makes 1 dozen)
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
½ cup yellow cornmeal, preferable stone ground)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons all purpose flour
1 ½ cups mashed ripped bananas (3 large bananas)
½ cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon brown-rice syrup (or honey)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh or frozen of Sunset Valley Organics blueberries
1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar 
1.   Preheat oven to 375*. Line a standard (12 cup) muffin tin with paper liners; coat liners with cooking spray.

2.       Whisk tighter cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 cup flour. In a large bowl, stir tighter bananas, buttermilk, rice syrup or honey, lemon juice, egg, and vanilla. Fold cornmeal mixture into banana mixture just until combined. Toss blueberries with reaming 2 teaspoons flour, and gently fold into batter.
3.       Spoon batter into prepared tin, filling to brims. Sprinkle each muffin with sugar. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center of 1 comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. (muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days)


Friday, October 14, 2011

Healthy Halloween Treats for Kids

Halloween Rice Krispie Treats
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
½ cup SOV dried blueberries
2 tablespoons margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 – 10oz package of marshmallows
Food coloring
1. Spray a 13X9 pan with Pam
2. In a large bowl, microwave margarine until melted.
3. Add vanilla and marshmallows and microwave 1 to 1 ½ minutes, until melted.
4. Add food coloring to the marshmallow mixture. Use the package direction for orange. If using the classic drops, add 3 drops of yellow and then 1 drop of red. Stir. If you want it brighter, add 1 more drop of red coloring. Too orangey, add more yellow.
5. Add cereal and dried blueberries.
6. Press into pan using a spatula that has been sprayed with Pam or you can smear margarine on the spatula.
7. Refrigerate

Sweet Popcorn Balls
Easy to make:
1.Toss 12 cups pooped popcorn, 3 cups mix of SOV dried blueberries and cranberries together in a large, lightly oiled, heatproof bowl.
2. Oil 2 waxed paper-lined baking pans and a long metal fork.
3. Set aside.
4. Bring 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar, ¾ cup brown sugar, 1 cup corn syrup, and ½ cup water to a boil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer. Reduce heat to medium and cook until mixture reaches 260*F. Carefully pour the syrup over the popcorn mixture.
5. Stir with the fork to distribute. Let stand for 1 to 2 minutes
6. With well-oiled hands, form 3-inch balls, place on pans, and cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

To add an Halloween theme: Once popcorn balls have cooled and set, wrap them in orange or black colored cellophane and tie closed with a coordinating ribbon.


The Freeze Dried Side of Sunset Valley Organics

Sunset Valley Organics’ organic, freeze dried, blueberry slices has the most amazing flavor. One pound of freeze dried blueberries is approximately the equivalent of ten pounds of fresh blueberries. Our slices are a great whole food snack, providing excellent nutrition with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and amazing blueberry flavor. The origin of our slices arose when customers were asking for whole blueberries freeze dried so it would be lighter then dried blueberries when backpacking.  We had Oregon Freeze Dry in Albany, OR make our slices and our delicious powder for us, using our blueberries. Our blueberries were so big that they couldn’t be freeze dried. Our alternative was slicing the blueberries and that is how Sunset Valley Organic Blueberry slices were made.
Our Freeze dried blueberry powder is the best of our blueberries in concentrated form, with incredible flavor. One 4oz jar of our freeze dried powder is approximately the equivalent of 2.5 pounds of whole blueberries, and it takes 10 pounds of whole blueberries to make one pound of the freeze dried powder. Our powder is a wonderful whole food supplement, providing excellent nutrition with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Putting our powder on the market made a huge difference because of the fact that we are Organic. There are other companies that produce conventional freeze dried blueberry powder, but nothing like our Organic Freeze Dried Powder. You can enjoy using the powder in yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, and much more! When storing the freeze dried powder and the slices use an airtight container and keep them in the refrigerator/freezer.

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Raspberries, Blackberries and Strawberries! Oh My!

For the first time, Sunset Valley Organics is growing organic raspberries, strawberries and blackberries.Over the next two weeks here at the farm, we will be training our raspberries for next years crop. The raspberries will  be available mid to late June, weather permitting. All of our new berries are being grown organically and biologically. While our new berries our still growing, browse around the website and check out our new recipes.


Katherine's Trail Mix ( Gluten, Wheat & Dairy Free)

The perfect mix of sweet and salty...

2 cups Your favorite granola  (I use "enjoy life" brand, gluten, nut and dairy free)
1 cup Sunset Valley Organic Dried Blueberries
1 cup Sunset Valley Organic Dried Cranberries
1 cup dried pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup nondairy chocolate chips (I use enjoy life)

Add all ingredients together, store into an airtight container or bag.

Sour Cream Blueberry Coffee Cake

½ cup of sugar                                                  
½ cup butter                                              
2 Large eggs                                        
1 (8oz) container sour cream                 
1tsp. Vanilla extract                                      
2 tsp. grated lemon rind                   
1 ½ cups all purpose flour      
1 tsp. baking powder                               
½ tsp. salt                                           
1 pint fresh or frozen Sunset Valley Blueberries                               
½ cup chopped pecans             
¼ cup sugar                                                         
1 tsp. ground cinnamon           
1 cup powdered sugar                              
4 tsp. milk

Beat butter at medium speed with electric mixer for 2 minutes or until creamy. Gradually add sugar; beating 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and next 3 ingredients, beating until smooth. Combine flour; baking powder, and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Pour batter into a lightly greased 9-in spring form pan. Combine  Sunset Valley Organic blueberries and next 3 ingredients, sprinkle over matter. Bake at 350˚F for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Whisk together powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Drizzle over cake. 

Eat and Enjoy!