THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.
Thank you Blogher and Del Monte for providing me with the opportunity to visit the Del Monte peach canning facility in Modesto, California and two of the neighboring farms that provide Del Monte with tomatoes and peaches for their products.
It’s no secret how much I love the process of canning. While the art of home canning is tedious and creates for some seriously long days, I still make a list every summer of what I want to put up, crossing items off as I go. Dilly beans, pickled zucchini, various jams and preserves, boozy-vanilla bean peaches and my personal favorite, crushed tomatoes. I’m a glutton for a pantry full of Mother Nature’s bounty and I still say nothing beats a cupboard full of produce picked and put at up it’s peak. I guard my pantry like a hawk, monitoring what can be used and when as I treat it like precious cargo.
I know it might seem silly that I spend so much time putting up various produce only to use it sparingly but anyone who cans, knows what I’m talking about. Canning is one of those past times that’s high labor and low yield so I savor it as long as I can. (no pun intended.)
When asked if I wanted to visit Modesto a few weeks ago to tour the Del Monte peach cannery and a few of the farms that supply Del Monte with their tomatoes and peaches, I jumped at the chance. I always love getting to know the farmers growing our food and I’d never seen a large cannery operation so was excited to see how it compared to my one woman operation. I think it’s safe to say that Del Monte’s got me beat in the efficiency department.
We kicked the day off by visiting a peach orchard run by third generation farmers and brothers, John and Cliff Starn and their trusty, four legged sidekick, Cosmo. Once you get over the beauty and magnitude of the Starn Family Orchard, you can’t help but ponder the amount of work and attention to detail that goes into growing hundreds of acres of peach trees.
John and Cliff Starn, funny each in their own right, play different roles at the farm, yet come together in their commitment to growing the best peaches they can. They took the time to introduce us to members of their team and there’s no doubt the commitment they have to the employees that help them year round as well as the many that come on just for harvest time.
The peaches are hand picked (and trust me, that’s a lot of peaches) and delivered to the Del Monte peach cannery just about 20 miles away where they’re inspected and go through the canning process almost immediately. While all of Del Monte’s canned peaches are grown in California, most of them are packed within of six hours of being picked. If you think about the amount of peaches being processed, it’s absolutely amazing how efficient their system is. As we walked around the inside of the cannery (sorry for the lack of photos but we weren’t allowed to take our cameras inside the cannery for safety reasons), I couldn’t help but notice the parallels between the small batch canning I do at home vs the process of canning the mass quantity that Del Monte does on a daily basis during peach season. Obviously it’s done on a much larger scale and the work is done by automated machines rather than hands but it’s basically the same steps I do at home. The fruit is picked at its peak and then packed quickly, preserving nutrients and maintaining the integrity of the produce.
After an amazing lunch featuring Del Monte’s canned peaches and tomatoes, we headed out for a little road trip to visit another family run operation only this time we were talking tomatoes. Lots and lots of Roma-style tomatoes. The Pereira siblings (two brothers and a sister) are fourth generation California farmers and grow mostly tomatoes though they dabble in a little wheat as well. Row upon row of tomatoes as far as the eye can see: that’s the only way I can describe how it feels to stand in the middle of 400+ acres of tomato plants.
The Pereira’s grow many varieties of Roma-style tomatoes as their low water content makes them ideal for canning. (Even I knew that!) The Pereiras were gracious enough to send all of us home with a bag of tomatoes that I was more than happy to carry on two airplanes packed carefully away in my carry on tote.
I was struck by the Pereira’s work ethic. It’s nose to the ground during growing season, working their tails off in hopes that the hard work will pay off with a successful crop. It seems they reward themselves with a hunting trip during the off season. And how could you blame them? Farming is no joke and these guys work hard. They exude pride and their hard work shows in their tomatoes. The proof is the pudding so to speak- the tomatoes I came home with made a delicious sauce to go over some steamed spaghetti squash. Perhaps the saying should be the proof is in the marinara.
I’ve said it a million times before but I’ll say it again. One of the best parts of blogging is meeting the faces and learning the stories behind a particular brand. I feel truly blessed that I get to (or at least try to) bring that story to life for you guys. Food is such an important part of my life and being able to learn more about the products that I use in my kitchen is something I don’t take for granted. I know it’s not realistic for me to can all of my own produce. In an ideal world, I could make it happen but I’m a busy, working mom and it’s just never going to happen. When my canned goods are long gone, I’m thrilled that I can go to the grocery store and when I grab a can of Del Monte tomatoes or a can of peaches in juice, I know I’m not getting any artificial flavors only garden quality fruit picked and packed at its prime.
Once again, thank you Del Monte and Blogher for sponsoring my trip to Modesto and letting me part of such an educational and delicious day. Be sure to visit Del Monte’s website if you have any questions or want more information on the products their products. I spent the day with some extremely talented ladies as well. Be sure to visit each of the blogger’s sites where you can read their recaps as well! As always, thank you for reading!
And now for the giveaway details! For a chance to win a $100 VISA Gift Card you can answer the question, “What are your favorite peach or tomato recipe?” in the comment section below!
- Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
- Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
- Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
- For those with who do not have Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This is a sponsored post as I was compensated for my time and all expenses were taken care of when I traveled to Modesto. Please know that all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own. Del Monte products are ones that I use in my house and feel good about feeding my kids. Just saying.