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Pittman & Davis: Consistently the Best Fruit

Pittman & Davis - Our Groves

Have you ever been frustrated by the fruit you buy? You see it in the produce section, and it looks great, smells great, even feels great – but when you buy it and bite into it, the flavor is…well, disappointing. Maybe it’s not sweet enough (like a super-tart red grapefruit), or maybe it’s too sweet (like an orange with hardly any tang). Maybe the flesh is dry instead of juicy, or spongy instead of firm. You sigh and think how hit-and-miss fruit can be, but that’s the chance you take when you buy it because there’s no way to tell if the inside of a fruit will live up to the promise of its outside.

Or is there?

5 Reasons Why Fruit from Pittman & Davis is so Good

There actually are a number of ways to ensure the fruit you eat is always the best available. Pittman & Davis uses all of them – and more – because bringing the best fruit available to our customers is our passion. When we say our fruit is superior to fruit found in chain grocery stores, that’s not an ad slogan… it’s the truth. The reviews from our delighted customers bear this out. But why is our fruit so consistently extraordinary? What do we do that’s so different?

There are several excellent reasons as to why our fruit stands out from the rest. Let’s turn to our citrus (including our famous Rio Ruby™ Red Grapefruit) as an example:

1. We Start with the Best Growing Conditions

Pittman & Davis - Our Growing Conditions

What does it take to get great fruit?

Quality trees, certainly, but it takes more than good genes to get great-tasting fruit: seasonal sunlight, ideal temperatures, farming practices, growing conditions and when the fruit is harvested all factor in. Our famous Ruby Red Grapefruit, for example, comes from the two best geographical locations for growing such fruit in the world: the Texas Rio Grande Valley and the Florida Indian River area. The trees that produce these big beauties tend to be temperamental when it comes to soil, light, and temperature, and these areas suit them best – along with the tender loving care they receive from our family farmers as regards watering, feeding and pruning.

We also don’t rush our fruit crops. Citrus fruits in particular are at their best when allowed to fully ripen on the tree, so they can soak up every drop of sunshine.

You might also be interested to know that less than 5% of our total citrus crop passes our rigorous standards. Just hours after picking, we inspect each fruit for size, quality, and ripeness by hand to be sure it’s the best possible for our customers. If it’s not, it doesn’t make the cut.

2. We Hold Our Fruit to a Higher Standard

Pittman & Davis - Our People

There’s a science to sweetness when it comes to fruit, and we have ways of measuring for that.

How sweet a Rio Ruby™ Red Grapefruit, Navel Orange, or other fruit will be is determined by the level of natural sugars in its juice. We know that mature, carefully tended trees raised in a healthy growing environment are most likely to produce the sweetest, best-tasting fruits. We also know that allowing our citrus fruits to ripen fully while still on the tree (as opposed to conventional fruit sellers who harvest the fruit as soon as it reaches the minimum standard required by their state) will also result in fruits that are higher in natural sugars.

Growing conditions aren’t quite enough, however… fruit sellers must also use test instruments to measure degrees Brix in their fruit as required by the USDA. Degrees Brix refers to a scale of measurement that estimates how much sugar content is in the juice of a fruit crop. Most states require a minimum of 8.0 degrees Brix in citrus fruit sold, which is good enough for most conventional fruit sellers. But our standards are higher, so we make 10.0 degrees Brix our minimum standard, while our “sweet spot” is 12- or 13-degrees Brix – significantly higher than that of conventional fruit sellers.

3. We Pick our Fruit at Peak Season

Pittman & Davis - Our Fruit

Let’s say you have a hankering for Ruby Red Grapefruit in October. You select some from the produce section at your local grocery store, but later find they’re not very sweet. Remembering the amazing quality of the Rio Ruby™ Reds from Pittman & Davis your boss sent you last holiday season, you go to our website to order some. To your disappointment you find your order won’t arrive until November, and you can’t help wondering why that is, since you’re already seeing USA-grown grapefruit in stores.

Conventional grocery stores provide you with whatever fruit is available, as soon as it’s available (when it reaches around 8.0 degrees Brix). Because our goal is to provide you with the best fruit available, we wait until a bit later in the season to start picking. The reason for this is because early fruits usually aren’t as sweet. The earlier the fruit is picked after ripening, the higher it is in acidity and the lower on the Brix scale. As the season progresses, the maturing fruit’s juice sacs continue to fill and its Brix level rises. As stated in the last point, we prefer to wait until our fruits’ Brix level reaches at least 10.0 on the scale before we start harvesting it. This is especially noticeable in our famous Rio Ruby™ Red Grapefruit. Many people equate grapefruit with tartness, but ours is nice and juicy and pleasantly tart with an overall sweetness so intense, you never need to add sugar to it.

Just as we don’t harvest our grapefruit too early in the season, neither will we harvest it too late. As the season progresses, the fruits’ acids (which act as a natural preservative) fall off, leaving the fruit to become overripe and lacking in that characteristic, sweet-tart flavor balance preferred by citrus-lovers. Citrus fruits harvested at this stage also have a lower shelf life. That’s why our fruit seasons seem to start later and end sooner than the national average – we’re chasing that sweet spot to bring you perfectly textured fruit

4. We Select Fruit from Mature Trees

Pittman & Davis - Our Trees

Just as a master carpenter is more likely to build a better house than an apprentice carpenter, so is a mature tree much more likely to produce higher-quality fruit than a young tree. Why?

In the last point, we talked about how early-season fruits tend to be more acidic and lower in natural sugars. Fruit from young trees is typically harvested first because these trees lack the extensive root systems of mature trees, limiting their ability to produce high-quality fruit. The crop yield from a younger tree also tends to be much smaller than that of an adult tree, and its fruit is not as tasty. Therefore, harvesting fruit from young trees early allows them to focus their energy on tree growth, so that they can later become the type of trees capable of producing fruit that meets our high standards.

Conventional fruit sellers don’t make a distinction between fruit from young trees and mature trees at harvest time… they tend to include the fruit from young trees in with the rest of their inventory. Not us – we earmark our most “experienced” fruit trees, following them throughout the season as their fruit slowly ripens so we can provide our customers with the highest-quality fruit available.

5. We Get Our Fruit to You Faster

Pittman & Davis - Our Warehouse

You may have noticed we talk about “farm-to-table freshness” a lot. That’s because we’re proud of the fact that, to get fresher fruit, you’d most likely have to pick it yourself.

Conventional fruit sellers send their harvested fruit to a distribution center, where it’s kept in a temperature-controlled, low-oxygenated warehouse to keep it from ripening further until it’s called for. By the time it reaches your local grocery store’s produce section, it’s typically three weeks out from harvest, sometimes longer. (Sometimes a lot longer – most out-of-season apples and pears available are from last year’s crop. Apples and pears can be kept edible for months when stored in a controlled atmosphere at around 30-35°F, and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, there’s simply no way such fruits will taste as fresh as those that are enjoyed closer to their growing season.)

We do things differently. First, we harvest to our orders. That means that we pick only what fruit we need for the orders placed that same week – your fruit is still on the tree when you place your order.

We handpick our fruit and scrupulously inspect it by hand to ensure it’s as perfect as possible. Next, we send your fruit to one of our packing houses, where it’s kept in a cooler until it’s carefully packaged (again, by hand) and rushed out to you or your gift recipients. This typically happens within three to five days of the fruit being picked, which means you and your gift recipients generally receive your fruit within seven to twelve days at most. We strive to take as little time as possible to get the fruit from the tree to you, and when you taste it, you can tell the difference!

Pittman & Davis - Our Gift to You

To Sum Up…

Our fruit is consistently the best because our standards are higher than those of conventional produce growers. As we said above – the fruit you’ll find at a chain grocery store is chosen by what’s available; but we offer you only the best available. Picked during the peak of the season from mature trees, our fruit is higher in natural sugars for the finest flavor and never, ever sees the inside of a distribution center, meaning it comes straight from our farms to your table. This means you get gift-quality fruit, every time.

That’s our story!

Pittman & Davis - Our Story