Almonds – Farm to Table – Placerville Natural Foods Co-op and Nick Koretoff Ranches

Nick Koretoff Ranches Photo by Christine Koretoff

Nick Koretoff Ranches Photo by Christine Koretoff

Placerville Natural Foods Co-op Buys Almonds from Nick Koretoff Ranches

Almonds from Placerville Natural Foods Co-op this month were grown by organic grower Nick Koretoff of Nick Koretoff Ranches located in Kerman, California.  Purity Organics acts as the grower’s handler and distributor.

Nick Koretoff Ranches

In the 1960s, Nick Koretoff planted his first almond orchard in Kerman, California. At that time the surrounding farms were mostly cotton and alfalfa. Today almond orchards are everywhere.

Nick Koretoff   Photo credit Christine Koretoff

In the 1990s Koretoff turned to organic almonds and today he has nine organic farms totally 550 acres. Nick has been a farmer for over 47 years and still works the fields, when he gets a chance. His daughter, Christine, works in the farm office while sons, Steve and David, manage the packing and processing operations and the almond ranches.

At the Almond Ranch with Nick Koretoff

At the Almond Ranch with Nick Koretoff Photo by Christine Koretoff

Almonds are harvested in late August through September. Harvesting involves shaking trees, collecting almonds, hulling, freezing for 21 days to kill any insects or larvae, grading, sorting, pasteurization (organic almonds involve steaming and generally flash pasteurization) cold storage and shipping.

To maintain quality the Koretoffs developed processes and procedures by which they know which field each almond harvested and boxed came from. They drill and disk compost into the soil immediately after each harvest so that the compost is well decomposed by the time of the following harvest. Since Koretoff became organic their insect damage is less problematic with nature balancing the “good” vs “bad” bugs.

The majority of their almonds are Nonpareil, an almond which blooms early, has a soft shell, brown color, with a medium, flat smooth shape; and the Butte, which is harvested thirty days later and has a hard shell, is small, short and wide with a wrinkled surface.

For more on the Koretoff family history visit  Who’s Your Farmer?

Nick Koretoff Ranches Photo by Christine Koretoff

Today, Nick Koretoff and other organic almond growers are fighting for the right  (currently before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals) to sell unpasteurized almonds in the United States.

Unfortunately, the only way consumers can buy unpasteurized almonds is to buy limited amounts from narrowly defined sources under the “Roadside” or Farmers’ Market Exemption to the “Almond Marketing Order” or buy such almonds from oversea sources.

Update: February 22, 2013 re Mandatory Sterilization of the Raw Almond.
Three judge Court of Appeal panel rules against organic growers finding that questions regarding the USDA’s authority to issue the almond pasteurization rule were waived because no one raised these questions during the 45-day comment period. Other avenues still remain open, including the right to ask the full appellate court to consider the case.

Ending the Label Confusion

Pasteurized almonds are now considered ”raw“ and are labeled as “raw” regardless of whether that pasteurization process uses chemical or heat. Only almonds labeled as unpasteurized are not pasteurized. Pasteurization generally involves both chemical (conventional not organic almonds) and heat (organic and some conventional almonds).

The organic almonds from the Nick Koretoff Ranches are steam pasteurized.

High5Kitchen Likes

To learn more about farming, growing organic almonds, how to build the soil, the difference in taste between almonds grown in California and Europe, where almonds are often dry farmed, as well as how “shakers”  and “sorters” work, check out these videos.

If you want to share your position on whether all almonds should be pasteurized or not and what you’d like to see on labels post on High5Kitchen Facebook.

And send your comments to

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack
United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave SW
Whitten Building – Suite 200A
Washington, D.C. 20250
Kurt J. Kimmel
Regional Manager, California Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order Administration Branch,
Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA
2202 Monterey Street, Suite 102B
Fresno, CA 93721

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