Eckert Cold Storage is celebrating 50 years of making IQF peppers (1951-2021)!

We are Peppers

Harvested at the peak of freshness

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Since the plant will continue to produce more mature fruit at different times as it grows older, growers have two different considerations to harvest the pepper from the plant. One way is to harvest by hand. If harvesting by hand, growers have the opportunity to come back more than once to harvest their crop because the plant will continue to produce fruit. However, after the first harvest at peak production the plant cannot sustain enough energy to continue at the initial levels and fruit production falls rapidly with each pick. The other solution is to harvest mechanically by machine. When harvesting mechanically, the machines pull the plant out of the ground, which creates total destruction of the plant and all pieces of fruit at that time are collected. The tradeoff between mechanical harvest and hand-picked is the availability of labor and the growers need to prepare the ground for the next crop in their rotation cycle. Today, we are about 50% mechanically harvested, the remainder being hand-picked. 

Peppers require a lot of sunlight, warm days, and soil temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, which is why California is still the largest growing region in the U.S. for bell peppers. Green peppers are actually a premature fruit. When left on the plant longer they will turn a different color depending on the variety. The most popular colors are red and yellow. While some varieties are direct seeded, most bell pepper plants are transplanted from seedlings that were germinated for an average of 55 days in a greenhouse. This allows for healthy plants and enables us to start the growing season 4-6 weeks sooner than a direct seed. Seeds will not germinate if the ground temperature is not a consistent 75 degrees or above. From transplanting in the fields to the first pick of fruit can be as long as 90 days for green peppers and 130 days for red and yellow peppers. Like any fruit or vegetable, many factors come into play during the growing cycle, such as location, temperature, moisture, and variety.

As with growing any premium fruit there is an art involved that only comes from many years of experience. Our grower partners operate family farms that have been in business for many generations. The variety and the art of farming are key to growing a premium fruit. However, just as important is how it is frozen and handled afterwards. If fruit is not flash frozen quickly, cell structure can be negatively impacted. If frozen product is not kept at sub-zero temperature during storage the fruit cells can actually continue to age. After being in business for almost 80 years, we have perfected the art and the science of producing the highest quality IQF bell peppers available in the industry today. Peppers are an annual crop which means the plant will complete its full life cycle from seed germination to harvest in one growing season.