WOW. I just realized we only have seven weeks until Thanksgiving Day. I know we were just talking about the early end to the summer season, but it didn’t truly hit home until the drive to work this morning. Because today it got my attention – how late the sun is rising and how the colors of autumn have taken hold.
Now that we are in the peak of fall, we’re also in the peak of the Northwest apple and pear season. I think we have more variety than ever this year, especially with a few select heirloom varieties we’ve added to the organic section. In apples, the Spitzenburg, Golden Russet and Calville Blanc will last only a week or so and while they’re not the prettiest apples, they are worth a try. Overall we have up to 12 varieties in organic apples and another 12 in conventionally grown apples, so there are a lot of options there. In pears we have all the traditional varieties along with Forelle, Seckel and Asian pears.
We are getting offers on the new crop of California navel oranges, but have made the decision to stay in the Australian fruit for now while we wait for the sugar and flavor to improve in the California fruit. Being first into an area is not always the best decision, especially when it comes to citrus. An exception might be Florida grapefruit, which we should see in our markets in about two weeks.
Of course it won’t be as sweet at the grapefruit we’ll get in December and January, but should be better than what is left of the old crop. We should begin to see some Mandarin oranges start to arrive toward the end of the month, but we will want to check them out carefully to be sure they are at least an acceptable eating experience.
It looks like we are going to have a good quality supply of seedless grapes through the end of this month. The red and green seedless are sweet and crisp – I know crisp might not be what you think about when it comes to grapes, but these are actually nice and crisp! The one I am looking forward to this time of year is the Haunt’umn black seedless (the variety is actually called Autumn Royal but in October, they’re packaged in Halloween bags and called “Haunt’umn” … get it?). No matter what you call them, they arrive this weekend and they’re excellent!
In the tropical arena, organic Keitt mangos had an exceptional run this year, but we are seeing supply dwindle and the end is in sight. The fruit we have still eats fantastic, but soon it will be gone and then it is another year before the Keitt mangos return. This next week we will be into the traditional “Wonderful Variety” pomegranate. This is the best and last variety in the pomegranate season. The fruit looks great, and is heavy, which means “full of juicy arils.” By the way, we have cleaned, ready-to-eat pomegranate arils available.
Chanterelle mushrooms are waiting on some rain.
Berries are pretty much stumbling these days as the domestic season is all but done. The one shining light is the Cape Blanco cranberry, harvested at its peak through the next several weeks. Cranberries are no longer just for Thanksgiving! And this grower has a great website worth checking out for their story and ideas. www.capeblancocranberries.com/
Brussels sprouts trees from Sterino Farms in the Fife area are still rockin’! We are about half way through Jake’s crop (Jake Sterino). The quality is excellent and it’s a great value. I got one the other day that yielded nearly three pounds of cleaned Brussel s sprouts. Not that I can say they are all that full, but many are.
Get ready for pomegranates!
Chanterelle mushrooms continue to be up and down in supply. We have had plenty available, but we cannot get traction toward exceptional quantities, which would give us the opportunity to offer some savings on these jewels. I was certain it was just on the horizon a week or so ago and then another Northwest dry spell changed that. The rain yesterday and the forecast for the weekend looks perfect for chanterelles, so let’s keep our fingers crossed. If the weather holds in this pattern for another week or so, we should see an abundant supply with falling costs in about 10 days.
Varieties of Northwest-grown hard squash are still going strong, but this season is starting to show signs of winding down when it comes to some varieties. Remember this season started about three weeks early and likely will wrap up early. We are adding a new variety into the mix this week – Butterkin squash. A member of the Butternut family, the Butterkin has the perfect blend of sweet and buttery flavors. This new and delicious squash is great for roasting, baking and steaming and is a flavorful substitute for your typical winter squash and pumpkin.
Last but not least – now that California is done with Hass avocados, we have moved to Mexico and it looks like they will have a bumper crop this year. This should provide several promotional opportunities through the holiday season.
Have a great day! Joe