Inzana Ranch: If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to see persimmons at their peak harvest season, you know just how incredibly stunning they look! Their bright reddish, orange contrast against the cold, winter skies leaves nothing to be desired. Add the sweet, custard-like taste of the flesh and chances are you’ll be hooked. However, knowing when to harvest persimmons is not an easy task. The picking must be right on point to ensure the best flavor with the lowest tannin level. Bella Viva Orchards’ organic persimmon providers are proof our persimmons don’t fall far from the tree before they hit our shelves. In fact, they’re so close, they’re literally our neighbors; Inzana Ranch is just a stone’s throw away to BVO’s property! Tony and Joye Inzana have been farming an array of organic crops for over 30 years and they’re no strangers to identifying when the time is right for each one to be harvested – including the persimmons. “Hachiyas love the winter! The ripeness comes with maturity and they need the cold,” Tony said. “On the other hand, Fuyus are best harvested before it gets to cold, around October, otherwise they’ll get mushy.”
Tony grew up in Ventura County, CA and obtained a work permit at the young age of 12. He used it to work in the fields, picking a smorgasbord of crops including strawberries, green beans, peppers, avocados, lemons and much more! Once old enough, Tony enlisted in the air force as a pilot and served for many years. Yet it is the memory of working outside amongst the varying produce that he seemed to fervor. It is because of the passion he has for what he does that Tony says he’s never had to work a day in his life. “I flew in the air force then started farming right after. It’s not work if you enjoy what you do.”
When 1985 rolled around, he and his wife, Joye, purchased their ranch in the small farming town of Denair, CA, but it needed a lot of TLC. The couple had a plan and a vision they knew were worth working toward, so they went for it. The property was a dairy farm at the time and it stayed that way while it was being renovated. Sitting on the land still to this day are multiple original barns and structures – some dating back to the 1800’s. Tony and Joye understand what a gold mine the soil of the Central Valley of California is when it comes to agriculture. That’s one reason why after 12 years of dairy farming, they switched over to cultivating crops.
It was at this time they started focusing on becoming involved in farmer’s markets and now they take part in 14 different markets throughout California, geographically stretching from San Rafael to Monterey and places in-between. While at these markets, they provide varying items year-round. The determining produce is dependent on what’s in season. “That’s one thing unique about (our ranch). We have a multitude of different crops with a few acres here and there instead of hundreds of acres of just one crop which you see often these days,” Tony explained. “Too often we’re lacking places that have diversity (of crops) now and it messes with the nature of things, including the animals.” Today, Inzana Ranch consists of over 200 acres and employs 18 team members. They also provide for numerous restaurants and caterers in the bay area.
Mixed in with the medley of crops are the pleasant organic persimmons in which Tony takes great delight. He’s been quite pleased with the 2017 persimmon harvest. “It was a really warm fall so they needed more time, but they ended up a beautiful color and nice size because of it,” he said. “In fact, this season was one of the best ever.” That’s a great thing considering the majority of the nation’s commercial persimmon crop is from California (01).
When asked if he personally likes eating persimmons, he enthusiastically responded by saying, “you bet! I love to cook with them and have persimmon cookies, persimmon pudding, persimmon bread…” and the list went on. He explained how versatile they are and how he loves to eat them fresh or dried. “Fuyus are great to eat fresh and Hachiyas are the ones you want to dry.”
For Bella Viva Orchards, we are so grateful to have our providers so close to home for many different reasons. It’s a wonderful feeling to not only know where but also who our product is coming from and have a relationship firsthand with those that put their time and passion into their produce. Both our natural dried and our organic dried persimmons are full of a sweet, robust flavor that are perfect for snacking on straight out of the bag! Do you have fresh persimmons? Check out our featured persimmon pudding recipe!