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Thoughts from category: fruit

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.

we like them pineapples

Pineapples are great. Not only do they put the ‘pina’ in ‘pina colada’, they also inspired the hairstyle our mum wouldn’t let us leave the house with in the 90’s. Oh, and they taste really great in our recipes too. Bonus.

We have a special team of people here at innocent who make sure that only the best quality fruit makes it into our bottles. So, last year, our George and Maria visited a pineapple farm in Costa Rica to learn more about how our pineapples are grown.

 

Costa Rica is the perfect place to grow our pineapples because, due to its proximity to the equator, it enjoys both a lot of sunshine and a lot of rain. Might not be an ideal mix if you’re there for a beach holiday but, luckily for us, it’s the perfect climate for growing tasty tropical fruit. The sun and rain combo also ensures that our pineapples can be grown and harvested all year round because the fields are planted one day and then harvested 12 months later in a staggered pattern meaning that there are pineapples on hand at all times (excellent news).

What George and Maria learnt about pineapples

When a pineapple grows, a ‘seed’ grows alongside the pineapple. These seeds are then planted six inches apart on top of small earth mounds:

 

The planters work as teams and, in an 8 hour shift, each worker can plant a staggering five thousand plants, which equates to over ten per minute.

 

When the pineapple grows, it grows on top of the plant:

 

From these baby plants the adult plants grow and, over twelve months, the pineapples grow to the size we’re used to seeing them in the shops.

Oh, and if you’re really lucky, you might even see a pineapple with a double crown. That’s as rare as a four leaf clover in the pineapple growing world (probably) so our George and Maria were pretty lucky to catch a glimpse of one on their travels:

 

We’re really proud of the pineapples we put into our drinks and think they’re definitely worth travelling all the way to Costa Rica for. In fact, let’s raise one of these to the toughest-looking yet sweetest fruit of them all. Like a Harley rider with a heart of gold. Or something.