Chocolate Covered Strawberries by CY Chocolates

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It’s Valentines week and the wonderful smell of warm chocolate coming from our CY Chocolates kitchens permeates the air. We’ve been extra busy dipping thousands of strawberries to send to our customers’ valentines. They’re sure to be delighted when they open their gift boxes, and especially when they bite into our premium, real chocolate enrobing a fresh, sweet and juicy berry.

At A Gift Inside, we are passionate about chocolate, and obsessed with maintaining premium quality and flavor using only real, premium milk, dark and white chocolate. Sure, it would be a lot easier to use compound “chocolate” confection as many dipped strawberry retailers do. While compound confection simply needs melting before dipping, real chocolate (defined by its ingredients: the inclusion of chocolate liquor and use of cocoa butter instead of oil) requires a process called tempering, which involves raising the temperature to certain level, “seeding” it with more chocolate pieces, then reducing to a narrow range of temperature putting it “in temper.” It’s a specialty process but worth the effort for the resulting exceptional flavor, melt-in-your-mouth texture and beautiful, glossy finish.

cy-logoBefore we launched CY Chocolates (tag line: Confectionately Yours) we undertook a long process of trying many types of dark, milk and white chocolates; it was a dirty job, but someone had to do it!  With the help of numerous panels of blind tasters, we discovered chocolate formulations that taste as delicious on a berry as by itself.  Naturally, it must also taste delicious enrobing pretzels, chocolate cookies, caramel pecan turtles, and much more…not too sweet, not too bitter, just perfection on the palate!

We’re just as picky about our berries. As fruit growers and packers, we truly understand the importance of starting with a fresh, firm strawberry. We have the packing know how to ensure quality arrival to our customers.

We hand dip every berry, and then specially decorate for every occasion and holiday.

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This year, we have made an exciting new addition to our Chocolate Strawberry offerings – Berry Bites!  We added additional sizes to our berry collections, so that consumers who desire a slightly smaller indulgence—and more of them— can enjoy these exquisite offerings.  Packaged in sets of nine and eighteen, because sometimes more is better than bigger!

Given the very perishable nature of strawberries, our customers know how important it is to shop with a company that cares about arrival.  We guarantee each delivery—and considering some of the wild weather experienced across the nation lately, it’s a good thing that we stand behind our product!  You’re always safe trusting us to make it right if something goes awry.

There’s only one downside to working in a place surrounded by the delicious smell of chocolate: it’s triggering a craving! I think I will head over to our berry packaging area and perform a “quality taste test.”  Ah, the sacrifices I make for our customers!

Enjoy your berries everyone!

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THE “INSIDE” STORY…

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Our loyal Golden State Fruit customers may have noticed that something has changed on our website recently. Our Golden State Fruit brand is now a “shop” on a larger site called “A Gift Inside”. Why the change? Because over time, we have grown to so much more than just fresh fruit gifts. Here’s the “inside story” of why we launched A Gift Inside.

After over 50 years of growing and packing our own pears and cherries, we created Golden State Fruit in 2009 to bring the handpicked fruit of our California orchards direct from our fruit packing house to doorsteps nationwide.  And thus began our delicious journey into the gourmet-gifting world. We have traveled many miles in search of the best pairings for our fruit. It was natural to develop some of these delicious sweets and savories into offerings without fruit included.

In 2013, we purchased a gourmet company located in the heart of Pennsylvania farm country and created Farmstead Gourmet to expand our line of delicious handmade cheeses, premium nuts, dried fruit assortments, traditional as well as unique candies, and sweet and savory accompaniments, all presented in artfully arranged gifts for every occasion.

One of our best selling categories is our luscious, giant California strawberries hand-dipped in real chocolate.  As lovers of chocolate, this became a natural direction for expansion. Recently, we purchased a small artisan confections company, which became CY Chocolates (Confectionately Yours). We sought out chocolate experts, who handcraft many of our chocolate offerings using real premium tempered chocolates. We now have a large chocolate kitchen and amazing staff who create our ever-expanding variety of decadent treats.

While Golden State Fruit has been offering gourmet foods from each of these brands, they otherwise only existed on separate web sites. The launch of “A Gift Inside” combines the collective vision and experience of all of our brands to bring an incredible variety and improved gourmet gift shopping experience to you, all in one easy-to-use website with one easy checkout. Now each brand is available as a “shop” within A Gift Inside.

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Our fruit tab features Golden State Fruit gifts where we continue to offer our creamy, tender pears and other fresh fruit, hand-picked from our own and neighboring California orchards. We offer an abundant variety of just-fruit gifts and baskets as well as an expanded selection of fruit and gourmet gifts combining gourmet foods and chocolate accompaniments (many from our own kitchens) with our premium fruit. All fruit gifts are packed the day they ship for optimal freshness.

cy-logoOur Chocolate tab features CY Chocolates where we offer small batch, hand-dipped real chocolate covered strawberries and creations fashioned by our in-house artisans. We specialize in real milk, dark and white chocolate berries, gourmet chocolate barks, dipped pretzel and cookies, pecan turtles, amazing assortments and much more in beautifully presented gifts.

farmstead-gourmet-logoOur Gourmet tab features Farmstead Gourmet offerings of specialty cheeses crafted from small, sustainably-farmed dairies, deluxe nut assortments, hand-packed dried fruit gifts, and beautifully presented towers, tins, and baskets.

We’ve also expanded our corporate gifting program to offer all of the above as well as executive gifts for office sharing and client appreciation, all devoted to creating a memorable professional impression.

Whether you are saying “Thank you” or “Thinking of You,” or celebrating a birthday or holiday, A Gift Inside delivers the quality and care that our Golden State Fruit customers have come to expect and rely upon.  We invite you to explore our enhanced offerings at www.AGiftInside.com!

 

 

Bing Bing Bing! They’re on the Way!

Bing Cherries


Now Harvesting our 2015 Bing Cherry Crop

Here in Northern California, the cherry harvest has begun. In a few days, our Monthly Fruit Club customers will be receiving the first shipments of the biggest, crunchiest, and juiciest of our cherries, Bings, fresh from our own orchards. Due to weather conditions, this year’s harvest is one of the earliest on record.  However our cherries are huge and the flavor and quality is spectacular.

These deep red gems are handpicked from our orchards, packed with ice and specially insulated packaging, then delivered right to the doorstep of our customers.

Fruit clubs featuring our Bings and our Bing Cherry gifts have been a popular way to treat Dad on Fathers Day or to congratulate a favorite Graduate.

Click here to see our selection of Bing Cherry Gifts.

A beautiful day in our Northern California orchards.
A beautiful day in our Northern California orchards.

 

A beautiful Bing crop.
A beautiful Bing crop.

 

Ready to eat! Yum!
Ready to eat! Yum!

 

It’s Time to Shop for Business Gifts!

Corporate Gifts 2014

2014 Corporate CatalogThe 2014 Holiday Season is fast approaching and now is the time to plan for your corporate gifting. Golden State Fruit is ready to make giving easy and efficient, while delighting your recipients with memorable gifts. Our priority is to achieve your total satisfaction year after year. And it shows, with our long list of returning corporate customers who count on us to help them show their appreciation to their clients, employees and business associates.

Our corporate customers enjoy the benefits of:

  • Volume Discounts
  • Personalized card enclosures with your company logo
  • Custom printed ribbon
  • New! Custom printed sleeves on our nut and chocolate gift tins
  • Logo hot stamping available on all wooden crate gifts
  • Company provided gift enclosures
  • Complimentary gift consulting services – we help you every step of the way

(Minimum quantities required for some personalization options)

We keep your corporate account information is still on file and are able to provide returning customers with your previous recipient list and gift selections if needed to make the process easy.

At Golden State Fruit, we work with our customers to choose the right gifts to impress, ensuring beautiful presentations and timely deliveries. Our fresh fruit and gourmet gifts are hand packed the day they are shipped and sent throughout the U.S. by 2nd day air service for only $5.95 each. Free Shipping is available with our most popular gifts.

While some of our new line of corporate gifts are not yet available on the web (but will be soon!) they can be viewed in our printable PDF catalog launching our 2014 Corporate Gift Line, which includes many new and updated selections.

Download our Printable PDF 2014 Corporate Gifts Catalog

Show your recipients how much you value them with premium gourmet gifts featuring orchard-fresh fruit, artisanal cheeses, gourmet treats, exceptional dried fruit and nuts, California wines and new this year – hand made chocolates! Our gifts are packed in beautiful gift boxes, keepsake baskets, designer towers and charming wooden crates. We offer something special for every budget.

We guarantee your complete satisfaction!

To see more of our growing line of Corporate Gifts (with more being added daily), learn more about our program, or download our recipient address template, visit:

http://www.GoldenStateFruit.com/corporate

 

Presenting our new line of hand dipped chocolate and nut tins with customizable Sleeves with your logo and message! (Shown CY4220 - Currently available only in our Printable Corporate Catalog.
Presenting our new line of hand dipped chocolate and nut tins with customizable Sleeves with your logo and message!
(Shown CY4220 – Currently available only in our Printable Corporate Catalog.

 

 

California Bing Cherries

California Bing Cherries

Bing! Bing! Bing!

Bing Cherries in Walnut Grove

 

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Sound the alarms—the California cherry season is in full swing and we’re harvesting our beautiful Bing cherries.

It’s a frantic race to get our cherries off the tree and to our customers. We begin harvesting at about 5:30 AM in Walnut Grove, California (about 25 minutes from our Lodi headquarters). By about 7:30, the first load of sweet, luscious dark red Bings is on its way to our packing shed.

After the short ride to Lodi, we immediately begin cooling the cherries. Cooling the fruit shortly after harvest prolongs the life of the cherry and makes for a much better eating experience. There’s nothing tastier than a crisp chilled Bing cherry!

Once the fruit is cooled, we sort and size each cherry to perfection. Our sister company, Rivermaid Trading Co., has some of the most advanced optical cherry sorting equipment in the world (see photo on left). This revolutionary sorting technology uses a series of cameras that take 30 pictures of EACH cherry. The photographic data is analyzed, categorizing each cherry by its size, firmness, and color. Our Golden State Fruit customers receive only the largest, firmest, and the most richly colored cherries.

By around 3:00 PM, the cherry orders are safely tucked into insulated boxes with ice, and are ready to be shipped directly to our customers.

From the branch to the box in less than a day, hand picked fruit paired with our modern sorting technology guarantees our club customers the most fresh, best-of-crop experience. Only the very finest cherries win the race to your table!

Golden State Fruit Bing Cherry Gifts

See All of our Bing Cherry Gifts at Golden State Fruit

Our Business is Growing, Literally!

Chelan Cherry Orchard

Only about 10 miles from our Lodi facility is one of the largest California cherry growing regions: Linden, California. What Napa is to grapes, Linden is to cherries. California has approximately 40,000 acres of cherries and about half of those acres are located in the Linden/Lodi area. Linden offers nutrient rich soil, mild temperatures, and plenty of California sunshine with which to grow the perfect cherry. This region is home to many of our Golden State Fruit cherry orchards.

Cherry Tree

Just this March, we planted another 25 acres of cherries in Linden. The newly established 25 acres include only Chelan variety cherries. The Chelan cherry has dark red skin, is large in size and is very firm. These cherries harvest about two weeks before Bing Cherries, making Chelan cherries one of the best early harvest varieties around.

Our cherry trees are not far from bloom. This means our delicious cherries are only about 60 days away! Our fruit club members, as well as our Fruit & Cheese club members, can get excited for some colossal Bing cherries coming to you in early June. Stay tuned for more cherry orchard updates!

A Passion for Delicious Cheeses: Our New Monthly Fruit and Cheese Clubs

December Fruit and Cheese Club Selection

 

One of the best parts of being in the gift basket business is the exposure we get to exceptionally good gourmet foods. Especially the cheeses, for which we have all developed a passion. We are lucky enough to live in a region where many wonderful artisanal cheeses are made. During our 5 years in business we have discovered several area cheese makers who have made their mark by specializing in unique, award winning cheeses that have even the pickiest critics raving. From Fiscalini cheddars to Point Reyes blues and Toma, Cypress Grove chevres and their to-die-for Midnight Moon to Vella’s dry jacks and Italian style cheeses, we have been on a delicious mission of discovery. The journey has been a rewarding one: we feel we’ve found some of the best and most delicious cheeses available.

With our love of cheese and the success of our popular fruit clubs, we decided it would be a natural fit to introduce fruit and cheese clubs to our line-up, pairing amazing cheeses with fruit like red and green grapes, multiple varieties of apples, figs and of course our own varieties of pears and bing cherries from our orchards.

Expanding beyond the best cheeses made in our own backyard to add an even greater variety of offerings, we turned to our very favorites from literally hundreds sampled at gourmet food shows. We attend these shows regularly to be sure we are up to date with the latest food trends and of course to do the dirty work – tasting to make sure they meet our high standards to be included in our gift baskets. Always on the top of our priority list is to make our way through the cheese sections. We know we have a winner when we conspire to flip over our badges, put on or take off our glasses and otherwise try to change up our look so we can pass by again for a second or third sampling! In addition to domestic wonders, here is we have also discovered a few amazing imports too good to ignore. Beemster Aged Gouda from Holland is so wonderful paired with Point Reyes blue cheese in our December club. A slice of Comice pear, topped with a sliced of the Beemster, and topped with a dollop of the blue is utopia. Tickler Aged Cheddar from England – one of those amazing cheddars that has actually formed flavor crystals – paired with the rich flavor of Clover Creek Cellar Galens Farmstead Cheese and sweet Honey Crisp apples in our January club is a taste sensation. And from our friends up north, the Canadian Celebrity Cinnamon Apple Coated Creamy Goat is a unique flavor combination that knocked our socks off, paired with the amazing Fiscalini San Joaquin Gold Cheddar and Fuji and Granny Smith apple combo in our November club.

This year marks an exciting change to our business, in addition to adding our fruit and cheese clubs. We have recently opened a second gift packing facility in the heart of Dutch Farm country in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in order to better serve our east coast customers. We plan to do another blog post about all the wonderful gourmet items we have discovered in this region that we will soon be adding to our offerings. Among them are some fantastic small production handmade cheeses that offer cheese lovers yet another dimension in tasting – including the aforementioned Galens starring in the January club. Additionally, the rich flavor of Shephard’s Hollow Farm’s Sheep Milk Cheese is not to be missed, especially paired with the light and creamy Sierra Nevada Organic Jack and sweet yellow peaches in August. Also from Pennsylvania Dutch Farm Country, Smooth Clover Creek’s Royer paired with our Italian-style table cheese favorite, Bellwether Farms Carmody, are perfect partners to Taylors Gold russetted sweet pears.

Our Premium Monthly Fruit and Cheese Club features two exceptional cheeses every month, each enhanced by an optimal pairing of fruit creating the best flavor combinations. We also offer a Light Monthly Fruit and Cheese Club with one piece of cheese each month. As with our regular fruit clubs, these clubs are completely customizable with your choice of cheeses in the Premium Club – choose one of each cheese or 2 of the same one. The Light Club offers your choice of one cheese from the two offerings. And as with all our Monthly Fruit Clubs, select to send any or every month of the year (with a two month minimum). Warning: after trying the sensational cheeses in our clubs, you will never be able to go back to ordinary grocery store cheese ever again. That’s the only drawback of tasting the best cheeses available, hand picked, packed, and delivered to your doorstep!

See all of our customizable Monthly Fruit Clubs

June Fruit and Cheese Club

Dried Fruit Fields

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We offer the best dried fruit under the sun- pun intended. In today’s post, read about my visit to the drying fields to see our pears!

We handle much of our dried fruit (including dried pears) from the tree, to the drying fields, and finally to the gift. Today I visited the drying fields where our pears have began the drying process.

The perfect dried pear begins with a quality fresh pear.  All Golden State Fruit pears are harvested with a high sugar level, large size, and vibrant green color. After harvest, the pears are washed and ripened for about 8 days.  At peak ripeness the pear is soft, bright yellow in color, and as sweet as can be.

The next phase is slicing. The pears pass through a machine that slices the pear right down the middle, creating two pear halves. The slicing machine also removes the core and seeds. From there, pears are placed on a tray facing up, and the drying process begins!

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With ideal conditions, the pears are sun dried for up to 18 sun hours. This time-frame is subject to the angle of the sun, outside temperature, and humidity. Once the pear is fully dried (and passes the taste inspection) they are re-sorted and soon assembled into a dried fruit gift.

After all that, the result is a beautifully arranged dried fruit tray.

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These are our dried pears – grown on our orchards – assembled, and shipped directly to the doorstep of a friend or loved one. This type of vertical integration allows us to provide our customers with the absolute best dried fruit. Prepear yourself for the Holidays, and click the link below to order a dried fruit gift for someone special in your life.

Visit Golden State Fruit for more Dried Fruit Gifts.

Farming from the Sky

Today I took a look at the orchards where we grow much of the fruit for Golden State Fruit from my favorite view- the sky.

I come from a family of pilots. My grandfather, George “Tim” Wilson, started flying at the age of 20, and remained an active private pilot for 60 years. Grandpa Tim was the founder of the UC Davis Flying Farmers Club, which still operates today. Grandpa Tim was passionate about flying, and throughout my childhood he encouraged me to learn to fly as soon as I was old enough. I began my flight training in high school and received my private pilot’s license in 2012.

I wasn’t the only person that Grandpa Tim influenced—many of my cousins and friends have also earned their pilot’s licenses. Besides passenger transport, aviation helps farmers in a number of ways. First and foremost, flying is a great way to see the overall health and growth consistency of an orchard. It makes it easy to spot sick patches, areas of dead trees, or obvious nutrition deficiencies. Using an infrared camera attached to a plane, farmers can identify nutrition imbalances that aren’t visible to the human eye.

Gauging a crop-yield is also possible from the sky. After walking a few orchard rows on the ground, and then sighting the same orchard from a bird’s-eye view, we can get a better estimation of how many tons-per-acre we will yield. Rows that are light, as well as rows that are heavily loaded with fruit, are clearly defined from above.

In years past, flying farmers have literally saved our cherry crop. The most devastating thing that can happen to a cherry crop is rain just before harvest. After the rain, the cherry absorbs the drops of water, which cause it to swell and split open—therefore making the cherry undesirable and unmarketable. To prevent the cherries from splitting, they must be quickly dried—and this is where the pilots come in. Using a helicopter, the pilot flies several feet above the tops of the trees, and dries the cherries using the wind generated by the helicopter blades. If the cherries are dried in time, the damage caused by the rain can be greatly minimized- and the crop is saved.

Aviation plays an important role in agriculture. I feel pretty special to be a part of it, and Grandpa Tim is to thank. Grandpa Tim is gone now, but I think of him and his legacy—whenever I take to the skies.

Donating to Second Harvest Food Bank

Second Harvest

As you may have read in a previous blog post, a couple of months ago our team at Golden State Fruit loaded an entire truckload of pears, and donated it to the Feeding America Foodbank in San Diego.

We decided to continue giving by donating between 2-4 bins of pears (2,000 lbs – 4,000 lbs) per week throughout the California pear season to the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Second Harvest serves San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties. Since it began in 1974, Second Harvest has since grown to distribute more than 40 million pounds of pears per year to counties in our area. We are excited about supporting them in their efforts and commitment to feed the hungry. Although they’re able to purchase some fruit using state grants, they rely heavily upon donations. We thank our customers whose support enables us to keep on giving.