Menu

Thoughts from category: fruit

fruit fishing in Costa Rica

A few weeks back, Mario and Easton from our Fruit Team travelled over to sunny Costa Rica in search of the best tasting bananas, oranges and pineapples to crush into our drinks.

 

First stop: bananas. Here they are growing upwards on the trees, casually defying gravity.

 

While a lot of plants are happy to sit about in the soil twiddling their thumbs all year, bananas are actually walking plants. In one banana plant there are three generations; the grandmother, who produces the first bunch of tasty bananas, the mother who gives the next bunch and several sons who grow at the bottom, next to the mother. The farmer will choose the son in the best location and the family will rotate every year. They end up walking about forty centimetres, which isn’t quite a marathon winning pace but is still pretty good for a plant.

Mario and Easton didn’t mess about when it came to their own walking either. One of the farms they visited was the size of 3000 football pitches, and contained 412,000 orange trees (we don’t think they managed to see them all).

And, if you thought that was impressive, another farm they stopped at was growing 46,800,000 pineapples at various stages of maturity. That's a lot of pineapples.

 

If you fancy getting your own pineapple population going, you can plant one in the garden by cutting off the crown, removing some of the lower leaves and popping it in the ground. The only downside is you’ll need warm and sunny conditions (good luck), and patience as they take about twelve months to grow.

So, unless you’ve got a spare pineapple sauna lying about and a bit of time to kill before next summer, it’s probably best to leave the growing to us.

saying hola to our strawberries

We use a lot of different fruits in our drinks. Pretty much all of them, actually (if you don’t count the weird ones you sometimes get with posh desserts). To make sure that we’re only ever putting the best tasting ingredients into our drinks, we go out and visit our farmers during the season of each fruit to make sure everything meets our standards and that the farm is ship shape from a technical, safety, quality and sustainability point of view. April means strawberry season in Spain so our Elodie and Lotte went over a couple of weeks back to pay a visit to our sunny Spanish farms.

 

While on their travels, they met with Pepe, one of our farmers. He has been working at the farm for more than thirty years and is really passionate about his work. Elodie and Lotte had the chance to try a few of his strawberries and can confirm that they were delicious (and would make a lovely pair of earrings). 

 

While the strawberries are in season, one plant will flower an average of eight times and it takes roughly twenty one days between the flower blossoming and picking an actual strawberry that we can use in our drinks. We don’t mind waiting around a bit for the perfect berry and we know they’re ready when they’ve grown large, orangey-red and sweet with a jammy flavour.

 

While we’re very picky about the taste of our berries, we aren’t picky about what they look like. We're happy to include all the weirdly shaped strawberries that the fresh market doesn’t want, which means there’s pretty much no waste.

Berry-illiant.

Kiwis. What came first – the bird or the fruit?

We travel far and wide to source the finest fruit for our drinks, which can take us to sunny places, rainy places, and, occasionally, downright explosive places. We stay as close to the fruit as we can to make sure it’s as tasty and responsibly sourced as possible, and our kiwis, odd-looking and slightly hairy as they may be, are no exception.

 

We make a purée from our kiwis to use in drinks like these. Because we don’t want to waste any kiwi, we actually use the whole fruit, from the seeds to the fuzzy coating. Nobody wants a fuzzy purée, so, to avoid this, we carefully wash the fruit and then sieve it several times which ensures that the purée tastes as delicious and hairless as a purée made from bald kiwis would be.

It’s important not to be ‘that guy’ who only bangs on about fruit, so we ask other important questions to our growers in New Zealand. Like whether the bird was named after the fruit or the fruit after the bird. We’re chuffed to confirm that (drumroll) it was in fact the fruit that was named after the bird. Ages ago, somewhere in New Zealand, someone decided to name the local birds ‘kiwis’. Then, the word ‘kiwi’ was applied as a nickname to things from New Zealand, the world largest producer of kiwi. One day, the Chinese gooseberry was renamed as ‘kiwi fruit’ for marketing purposes in New Zealand. The rest is history.

So that’s one of the big questions answered. Use it (in pub quizzes) wisely.

When life gives you lemons

Lemon juice. Useful for cooking (or baking a fine lemon drizzle cake) but you probably wouldn’t want to wash your lunch down with a bottle of the stuff. Which is why you won’t see an ‘innocent 100% lemon juice’ included in your supermarket meal deal. We know what the people (don’t) want.

While it’s not the best on it’s own, we do use lemon juice in some of our drinks (like these ones here). Lemon juice is excellent for it’s natural sharpness and helps give our recipes that zesty kick. But not too zesty or kicky. Just the right zesty kickiness.

photo: our lemons growing in the sunshine

What we don’t use is the skin. Lemon skin isn’t really suitable for smoothies. But luckily we know some people who will happily take the skins off our hands. You see, when you scratch an un-waxed lemon it realises essential oils and essences. These can be used as flavourings in food or as scents in perfume (so next time you’re down the shops buying a bottle of limone e’au de toilette, you know where it’s come from).

The skins can also be dried and used in teabags. Think lemon & ginger. And, if you like a side of jam with your tea and scones, then you’ll be pleased to hear that lemon peel is a key ingredient in pectin, the ingredient that sets the jam and makes it spreadable.

The rest is just leftovers. And who would want a pile of citrus-scented leftovers? Cows, that’s who. Those citrusy leftovers can be made into animal pellets and fed to cattle.

So, quite a useful little fruit really. We love it here at innocent and dedicate a lot of time to making sure we get the sweetest, least bitter juice for our drinks. Our fruit team have recently been in Europe making sure that we’re only sourcing the best tasting lemons (and occasionally making this face).

So, when life gives you lemons make lemonade. And innocent drinks. And perfume. And teabags. And jam. And cow pellets. As the old saying goes.

the dark side of the orange

 

You might have heard us mention it once or twice, but we’re really picky about the fruit we use to make our drinks. It’s kind of like when you have people over for dinner and you only put out the best condiments and use your fancy napkins. We only ever include the finest quality fruit we can find, and the tastiest possible blend of that fruit. We’re also keen to use rare and unique varieties in our recipes to make sure that our drinks are that extra bit special (especially if we can get our hands on a variety that our drinkers have asked us to try out). So, taking all of these things into account, you’ll probably see why we decided to start using the rare and deliciously tangy blood orange in our latest recipe.

We certainly set ourselves a challenge as blood orange is a unique fruit, predominantly grown on the foothills of Mount Etna, an active volcano in Sicily.

Our Maria recently visited Sicily to learn more about our blood oranges, mainly to find out exactly how they are grown and make sure we’re only using the best quality blood oranges in our juice.

 

She found out that our blood oranges aren’t just growing at the foot of an active volcano because they like to live dangerously - the rich volcanic soil means that the trees get all of the special nutrients that they need to grow big and bountiful. The weather in the area is also really important because the oranges need sunshine and warmth during the day and cooler temperatures during the night to develop that rich, deep, bloody red that they’re famous for. Trees that are tucked up in the shade of the volcano grow to be a rich red, while the oranges that sit out in the Sicilian sun catching a few rays stay a much more orangey hue.

 

You can give our extra special volcanically grown blood oranges a try by picking one of these up at Waitrose. From the first sip, we can promise that you’ll be instantly transported to the foothills of Mount Etna. Not mid eruption, obviously. That wouldn’t be good.