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dried rainier cherries
Dried Rainier cherries from BellaViva Orchards. Photo by Melody Lan.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

BETH COLLINS is a contributing editor to THE NIBBLE™.

 

 

May 2006

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Fruits

BellaViva Orchards

Deluxe Dried Fruit From Sunny California



CAPSULE REPORT: BellaViva Orchards offers some of the most beautiful and meaty assortments of family-grown dried fruits that we have ever tasted. In 36 dried fruit varieties—all kosher, the dried fruits add the exciting finishing touches to sweet or savory dishes, and make a wonderful snack.

If you have ever been to the Ferry Building in San Francisco, you are well aware of its status as a culinary mecca. With artisanal breads and cheeses, fresh-from-the-Pacific seafood, gorgeous meats, delectable pastries, gourmet chocolate, and produce so intensely colorful it makes an artist’s palette look dull, the Ferry Building is 65,000 square feet—plus the extra outdoor space devoted to the farmer’s market—of culinary stimulation. So it goes without saying that for something to stand out there as particularly excellent, it has to be pretty noteworthy. It was at the sprawling farmer’s market that surrounds the building three days a week that we discovered BellaViva kosher dried fruit—boxes and boxes of apricots, nectarines, cherries, pears and other goodies that are also good for you.

It was these fruits that we found ourselves thinking of longingly in the days (and weeks, and months) that followed. Grown by the Martino family in California’s Central Valley, the fruits are cuts above other dried fruits we’ve found. What’s their secret?

Maybe it’s the high standard that leads to selecting only the best fruits, maybe it’s the Martino family’s more than 60 years of farming the same land, or maybe it’s simply that warm California sun. The truth is, we don’t know the answer; we just know that the BellaViva fruits are like no other dried fruits we’ve ever tasted: plump, moist, and intensely flavorful. Best of all, they taste and look like actual fruit, not a bone-dry, shriveled up, leathery version of it

The BellaViva dried fruits offerings are numerous. They’ll vary by season, but a sample includes:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Mangos
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Plums
  • Pluots (a cross between
    a plum and an apricot)
  • Pineapples
  • Raisins
Peaches, Pears & Nectarines
Clockwise from left: apricots, peaches and pears. Photo by Melody Lan.

Each is a thoroughly satisfying snack in and of itself, perfect for:

  • A morning or mid-day snack
  • Picnics
  • Kids’ lunches
  • Hiking or biking trips (since they’re dried, the fruits take up significantly less room than fresh fruits, making them perfect for packing)
  • Additions to cheese trays

But as good as BellaViva fruits are on their own, the fruits lend themselves so perfectly to other uses that it would be a shame not to experiment with them.

Try them:

  • Chopped up and stirred into yogurt
  • In your breakfast cereal (both cold and hot)
  • Over sorbet
  • In salads
  • As a base for a fruit compote (the cherries would be particularly delicious over pork, and the apricots would be perfect with duck)
  • Cooked down with wine, sugar, water and a little lemon rind to make a delicious dessert sauce
  • Chopped and incorporated into baked goods (scones and muffins come to mind; a dried-fruit bread pudding would be particularly irresistible with these)
  • Wrapped in bacon and broiled
  • Added to stews for a more intense flavor
  • As an ingredient for stuffings
  • Added to couscous dishes
  • Cooked into pasta sauces
  • Threaded onto skewers with lamb, beef or seafood and grilled
  • As an ingredient for granola bars
  • Dipped in chocolate
BellaViva fruits are wonderfully versatile, so the possibilities really are endless. In fact, they’re perfect for anyone who’s feeling stuck in a cooking rut: one taste of these, and you can’t help but be inspired to get creative in the kitchen.

BELLAVIVA ORCHARDS
Dried Fruits

Certified Kosher by Kosher Certification Service

  • Dried Fruit
    1-Pound Bag
    $4.00 to $8.00, depending
    on fruit
    5-Pound Box
    $11.50 to $36.25, depending
    on fruit
    6-Pack
    $66 to $217.50, depending
    on fruit
  • Dried Mixed Fruit
    1-Pound Bag
    $7.00
    5-Pound box
    $19.95
    California Gift Platter
    $17.00
  • Also available are Mix-Your
    -Own-Packs

Purchase online at
BellaViva.com

Shipping and tax additional. Prices and flavor availability are subject to change. Other sizes and containers are available. Also available at supermarkets nationwide.

dried fruit gift platter
The All California Dried Fruit Gift Platter, image above, includes a 24 ounce mix of California-grown Fruits: Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots, Pears, Plums and Dates. Below, beautiful bing cherries. The dried cherries you buy at the store can’t hold a candle to these. Photo by Melody Lan.
Bing Cherries

 

Raw Five-A-Day Fruit and Vegetable Cookbook by Maggie Mayhew and Christine Ingram Dr. Richter's Common Sense Diet
Your Natural Diet: Alive Raw Foods, by T. C. Fry, David Klein. Understand why and how you can eat natural foods to rejuvenate your health and maintain a delicious, yet heart-healthy diet. $15.00. Click here for more information. How to Get Your Five-A-Day: The Fruit and Vegetable Cookbook, by Maggie Mayhew and Christine Ingram. This collection of recipes aims to help readers consume their daily servings of fruit and vegetables without sacrificing excitement, variety, flavor or, time. $8.99. Click here for more information. Dr. Richter’s Common Sense Diet: A Complete Guide to the Fruits and Vegetables That Help You, by Dr Henry Richter M.D. A 28 day diet aimed at changing your eating and exercise habits by incorporating the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. $17.99. Click here for more information.

 

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