July 02, 2012

California Trip Offers
Taste of Tastes to Come

(Photo: Above: That’s Glenn Stonebarger of G&S Farms in Central California, who hand picks his corn that we sell in our stores – and that’s the secret to consistently sweet and tender corn. Below: That’s me at G&S Farms last week.)

(July 2, 2012) I spent three days in California last week visiting a few of our grower partners to get a sneak peek – or a sneak taste – of what is on the horizon. And from what I tasted, the horizon is going to be quite flavorful!

Get Ready for Amazing Peaches, Pluots

We started in Dinuba – in the San Joaquin Valley of Central California – with Dave Jackson of Family Tree Farms. Dave has such a passion for growing terrific eating peaches, pluots and nectarines you can’t help but be inspired. We sampled several varieties of fruit, some of which are available in our markets today and a few that will be arriving over the next week or so.
The mission at Family Tree Farms is “to grow the most flavorful fruit in the world” and from what we experienced, they are doing it! Not only do the yellow flesh and white flesh peaches and nectarines eat exceptionally well right now, we discovered two new fruits that will be arriving just in time for the holiday week.
The first to arrive is the new “peach pie” Heirloom Peach. This peach has a flavor that reminds me of Grandma’s peach pie! Eat it out of hand or try a slice on a saltine cracker!
Right after that, you’ll see the Plum-O-Granite Pluot! A cross between an apricot and a plum, I believe this variety is the first great tasting pluot of the season with many other varieties that will follow in coming weeks.
Just a note here about the difference between the white and yellow varieties of peaches and nectarines – the yellow fruit is best eaten when slightly soft to the touch, while the white fruit eats best when still on the firm side.

The Key to Sweet Corn is How it’s Picked

We then moved on to G&S Farms in Brentwood to check out their sweet corn – where Glenn Stonebarger is as passionate about corn as Dave is about fruit.
We tasted all three colors (yellow, white, and bicolor) and wow – they all eat exceptionally well yet have their own unique flavor profile.
The key to consistently tender, sweet corn is in hand harvesting when at its peak, selecting only the first ear from each stock, chilling within minutes and shipping that same day. This why we have partnered with Glen and allow him to select the timing for harvest throughout the season of each variety. This is why there may be some days where we may not have one color or the other.
Last but not least we visited Jim at Durst Farms in Esparto to check out one of our favorite items of the summer season and we arrived just in time to taste a few – organically grown variety cherry tomatoes.
These tomatoes are so flavorful that you should probably pick up two pints because you may have eaten one before you even get home. The first three varieties were scheduled to arrive in our Markets July 2 – we’ll have 10 varieties all told as the season peaks from mid-July thru mid-August.
We would be more than happy to let you taste them before you decide which ones stand out for you … and if you’re not sure, we have a mixed assortment, our “medley,” which has nearly all varieties in it.

And lastly, I visited Sterino Farms in the Puyallup Valley June 29.  We are getting just a few variety berries as we speak. It looked then like we were just a few short days away from the spike in the local raspberry & blackberry season. I expect a good supply and excellent quality by the weekend following the Fourth of July if the weather will just cooperate with a little sunshine!

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