June 24, 2019

Chock Full of Cherries
& Buried in NW Berries

The summer fruit season is well under way as we move into the last week of June. The Independence Day holiday will be here and gone before we know! The good news is we are moving into peak-of-season season for California stone fruit and we’re on the brink of a whole variety of Northwest berries.

Local Cherry Season Short But Sweet

First and foremost let’s talk about cherries. The Northwest cherry season is only here for a short time and the peak of that short season is now upon us.

Rainier cherries on the tree.

Rainier cherries on the tree.

In Rainier cherries, we have opted to go with the biggest and best available. The Rainiers now in the markets now are measured at “9.5 row and larger, export grade.” What does ‘9.5 row’ mean? It’s a measuring standard for cherries – and represents the number of cherries that will fit in a standard space if lined up in row. The larger the number, the smaller the fruit.

Only about 5% of the crop will make the size, sugar and color required to meet this grade. Nearly all this fruit goes to overseas markets – but we requested that very grade this year!

Cherries being measured with a card with holes assigned a number, like "9 row," or even brtter, 8 row.

Cherries being measured.

The fruit we have in the markets today is spectacular – very high red blush in color, extra-large and sweet. A little tip for Rainier cherries – an all-yellow cherry has less flavor and lower sugar. Look for the ones with redder blush on that yellow background. We have only about two weeks left in Rainier cherry season. Once we see the red blush begin to fade, we will abandon ship. But for now the ship is under full sail – watch this Wednesday’s Big Board Buys for Rainier cherries!

Future Looks Bright for Red Cherries

We’re just now coming into the peak when it comes to red cherries. We should see great quality and supply through the end of July. Here again, we’re securing the biggest and best available. The red cherry season is longer than that of the Rainier, but still relatively short here in the Northwest.

Private Reserve red cherries at Gunkel Orchards.

Private Reserve red cherries at Gunkel Orchards.

We move through several varieties of dark red cherries over the next several weeks. The entire season generally starts around June 10 and is all but a memory by early August. Arriving in the markets as we move into the holiday week are Private Reserve cherries from Gunkel Orchards in Goldendale overlooking the Columbia River. This variety is exclusive to our markets and it is a good one. Enjoy them while they are here!

We have started receiving a trickle of a variety of berries from Sterino Farms in Puyallup. I expect this season will ramp up quickly as we move through the coming holiday. Look for the peak of season to be falling around the week of July 10. We do have some tayberries in the markets as we speak – this is an early variety and likely will be all done before July 10.

Sterino Berries Picked and Delivered Daily

Varieties you will see in the markets as we move into the second week of July are blackberries; red raspberries; golden raspberries; red, black and white currants; red and green gooseberries; and nectarberries (twice as big as blackberries, reddish-black skin, a few seeds – sweet with some tartness, these berries freeze and can well). Some varieties may be limited and/or subject to weather conditions. All berries from Sterino Farms are picked fresh and delivered daily.

Conventional and organic berries from Oregon have already started. Look for the Western Washington season to kick off within the next 10 days, give or take a few.

Brentwood Sweet Corn Great This Year

G&S Farms Sweet Corn from Brentwood, Calif., is in the markets and as always, it’s as good as it gets! G&S Farms is very specific about what he grows and how he harvests to ensure the best eating experience for our customers. As always, each ear is handpicked and packed and on its way to our markets within hours of harvest. The secret to tender sweet corn is to start with the right variety, grown by the right grower and get it to market as quickly as possible. And then the rest is up to you – don’t overcook it (less is more when cooking corn).

Turlock Melons Just Keep Coming!

A piel de sapo melon from Turlock Farms

A piel de sapo melon from Turlock Farms

Turlock Fruit Co. melons are here from Turlock, Calif., and they’re fantastic!

We have had the cantaloupe and green honeydew for a few weeks now and we are adding the orange honeydew this coming week. The orange honeydew is my favorite.

We will be adding galia, crenshaw, sharlyn, canary and peil de sapo as we move into July. All are fantastic and worth a try.

Sharlyn melon

Sharlyn melon

We offer Turlock melons because this fourth-generation family business prides itself on delivering melons that ripe and ready to eat. You don’t have to buy a melon and then take it home and wait … and wait … and ultimately guess when it’s time to cut into it!

Casaba melon

Casaba melon

We do have a few fresh figs in the market. June offers up a short fig season – but look for a better supply, more varieties and better value as we move into August.

Walla Walla sweet onions have arrived just in time for the Fourth of July – nothing better than a pile of caramelized sweet onions on a burger or steak right off the grill.

Have a wonderful Fourth! — Joe

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