I recently had an opportunity to visit a partner farm in Peru. I should preface that with the assurance that we are very committed to locally grown produce. It’s our practice to not go any farther from home than we have to in order to get high quality, fresh products. We always move back closer to home as soon as possible! In the case of the winter supply of fresh asparagus – from late October through December – Peru is the best source for high-quality asparagus.
I am happy to say that the farm where we get that asparagus continues to grow, and is able to support its local community...
The Northwest row crop continues to wind down fast. The transition to the southern growing areas is always a little bumpy – it may be that way for the next few weeks. Demand is exceeding supply in row crops like lettuce, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, cabbage, eggplant, etc., because California is also approaching the end of its season and the winter growing area around Yuma, Ariz., is behind by a couple of weeks.
We also are seeing unusually wet weather hitting growing areas in Mexico, which only compounds the problem. The good news is that in general, fresh produce is very forgiving when the weather comes back on line and a region comes into production. So, it will be bumpy for the next few weeks but we hope – and expect – to see improvement as we move into November.
Other vegetables that are in transition from our summer sources are the tomatoes, English cucumbers and peppers. Canada is all but done on these hot house products and mainland Mexico is now expecting yet another tropical rain storm to hit this week. So again, supply is falling short of demand, but I do not expect this to hold for long. If the weather will settle down, these markets will correct quickly...
(2013) The true sign that fall has officially begun is the arrival of our variety pumpkin displays at the front or our markets. We offer one of the widest varieties of Northwest-grown pumpkins in the area.
All of our stores are receiving their initial deliveries of the Sterino Farms (Puyallup) Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkins this week. We’ll be adding all the other Northwest varieties over the next several days. The varieties include Knucklehead, Pink, Cinderella, Ghost, Sugar Pie and Long Island Cheese pumpkins. Sugar Pies are exactly what the name suggests – they’re known for their sweet, thick flesh that’s great for making pies.
But, if you really want to experience the ultimate in pumpkin pie, try the Long Island Cheese pumpkin. It is a member of the Butternut squash family and truly makes a wonderful pumpkin pie, among other great things (we have it in both conventional and organic). Our culinary resource folks developed a pie recipe just for those Long Island Cheese Pumpkins – check it out in our Recipe section.
In addition to those pumpkins, you’ll see a wide variety of ornamental pumpkins, corn and gourds along with corn stalks everything you will need to complete your Halloween decorations.
Need more signs that fall is really here? By early October, you won’t see any more of those berries, melons and stone fruits – they’re slowly disappearing and being replaced with a new crop of Northwest apples and pears.
Other Northwest fall items that are coming into full production as we move into October are hard squashes, chanterelle mushrooms and potatoes.
The chanterelles are having an exceptional year. Look for an excellent value on this wild and wonderful mushroom Oct. 2-8. Chanterelles, which look almost like an exotic flower, have a distinctive, and pleasing, aroma – often described as similar to apricots or peaches. Their season usually runs from September into November. They keep well in the refrigerator if wrapped in waxed paper or a brown paper bag until they’re cleaned. Cleaned ones can stay in the fridge for a few days. ...
(Sept. 11, 2013) With Labor Day behind us, summer is winding down fast. I know the weather doesn’t say so … yet. But out in the fields, the transition to fall is already upon us.
We have had a fantastic Northwest berry season this year, but all good things must come to an end. The blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries are finishing up fast. On a more positive note, we do have fresh “wild Mountain Huckleberries” available, but I wouldn’t wait too long to freeze up your needs for the holiday season. To freeze simply rinse, drain, throw them into a freezer bag and place them in the freezer.
Fresh figs have peaked, although they should be available for a few more weeks. The supply will shrink each week but we will keep fresh figs available as long as possible.
The Turlock melon varieties are all but done, but we will have cantaloupe and honeydew for several more weeks. The orange honeydew (the best tasting of all) will end soon without notice. I’m hopeful we will have them through Sept. 20.
But all that winding down doesn’t mean you have to give up fresh and seasonal! Northwest apples have started and new varieties arrive each week. Galas started a few weeks ago and we added the Honeycrisp and Jonagold apples over this past week or so. The new crops of Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Fuji all arrive this next week....
(July 30, 2013) I just returned from a quick visit with our melon growers at Turlock Farms in Turlock, Calif., and I’m happy to announce that the melons are coming into their peak of perfection!
Four generations have grown melons on this farm, which brings nearly 100 years of experience into growing the finest eating melons to be found. It all started with Don’s dad, known as “Cantaloupe Smith,” in 1918. Don Smith, the second generation, was born and raised in Turlock and even though he’s now well into his 80s, he still has his hands in the farm. Steve Smith is th...
What a great week- nothing like warm, sunny weather to whet your appetite for fresh meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Sterino Farm’s berries are picking up steam with all this great weather. I’ll admit I was a little worried a week or so ago when we had all that warm rain, but Jake Sterino was able to swim his way out of the mud. This week starts the best two weeks of the Northwest red rasp
I had a great visit with Jake Sterino on Friday, May 31, at his Puyallup farm. We have a great eating season ahead of us. Unlike the past two years we have had an excellent spring season for planting and growing Northwest berries and vegetables and we are looking forward to a great year!
(Above: A bee goes to work on a gold raspberry plant at Sterino Farms in Puyallup Friday – raspberries require several visits from bees, so thanks bee!)
We expect to see our first gold raspberries, red raspberries, tayberries and gooseberries arrive in our markets on or before the weekend of June 29-30 – just in time for the Fourth of July holiday. I took a couple pictures while I was there to give you an idea where these berries are currently. If you look closely you can see one of the many thousands of honey bees that are working diligently to pollinate these berries. Thank goodness for bees!! It takes several visits from a bee to properly pollinate raspberries and bees need nice weather to do their best work. So far so good this year and it looks like berries will be early too!...
I just got back from Sakuma Brothers Berry farm near Mount Vernon yesterday. Richard Sakuma expects an early start to this year’s strawberry season. With this incredible and unusual warm weather trend this week and over the next several days he thinks we could have fruit as early as the May 20!
Until then, here are some other great-tasting fruits and veggies you might want to try.
New crop New Zealand Kiku and Gala apples arrive in the markets later this week. New Zealand provides us with sweet, crisp apples well into the summer months thanks to its being in the opposite hemisphere.
While we support the Northwest region as long as possible, there are some apple varieties that become inconsistent in texture after extended storage. The Gala happens to be one of those apples that harvests very early in the fall of the year and therefore risks becoming mealy as we move into April and May.
Washington asparagus continues to come on SLOWWWWWWLY … The cold nights over the past couple of weeks are just not helping! Cold nights mean cool ground temperatures, which slows growth and reduces supply. When demand exceeds supply, cost remains high. The good news is that the slower growth and cooler temps mean sweeter flavor. And those cool nights cannot last forever. The long-range forecast is for warmer weather so we should see promotional opportunities soon. We also are glad to report the recent arrival of Washington-grown organic asparagus from Inaba Farms of Wapato in the Yakima Valley....
What a great citrus season we have had over the past couple of months – the variety, taste and eating quality has been excellent! Now that we are moving into the second half of April, many of the varieties are winding down fast.
The grapefruit from Florida and Texas is still outstanding, as are the other citrus varieties; but this will not last much longer. Three-pound bags of late-season Nugget mandarins are set to arrive next week. This fruit is grown and packed by the same growers that brought us the Sumo Mandarins – which we all loved and that we have to wait another year to get!
First-of-the-season Washington asparagus arrives this week and this year’s early harvest seems to be sweeter than ever. There is still asparagus in the market from both Mexico and California, but in keeping with our commitment to move closer to home as the seasons unfold, we have made the move north. We are working with Columbia Valley growers for our asparagus – the same growers who produce our Washington-grown pickled asparagus and green beans, which customers have loved. Hopefully, as the Northwest growing season progresses, Mother Nature will cooperate and we’ll be able to bring you some special values on those in the coming weeks.
Vidalia sweet onions arrive this coming week – a clear sign that summer is just around the corner. Vidalias are a variety of onion accidentally discovered in the 1930s in Georgia, where they are now the official state vegetable, and they’re celebrated by chefs as sweet, flavorful, and mild. These onions are even protected by the federal government, and legally, they can only be grown in a 20-county region of Southern Georgia (people do try to get around the law, and people are caught – in 2001 a Florida produce company was fined $400,000 for putting Vidalia labels on Peruvian onions).