The Northwest growing season is well under way – some things are wrapping it up for the year, while some others are just getting started.
The berry season is all but done. We are at the tail end of Northwest blueberry season, although blackberries should continue for a couple more weeks. Washington apples are right around the corner as are Northwest pears – is it really that time already?
Our yellow and white flesh peaches and nectarines are now all Northwest grown and some of the best-eating varieties of the year are becoming available. This week, my favorite peach variety, “Sweet Dream,” arrives in our markets from Gunkel Orchards in Goldendale, which I visited recently. Sweet Dream peaches have a heavy red crimson blush coloring with a deep orange flesh. What I like most about Sweet Dream peaches is their lack of acidity – just a great-eating, sweet peach!
Dan Gunkel and his daughter, Jenny, in their orchards last week.
Northwest green beans are underway but there are issues with quantities related to record-breaking heat. However, Northwest pickling cucumbers are available.
Walla Walla sweet onions are beginning to wind down for the year with only two to three weeks remaining. It’s been an excellent year for the quality of these onions, and I hate to see them go! If you haven’t tried our new Grilled Onions recipe, now’s the time.
On a happier note, we have transitioned to a new crop of Washington potatoes starting with Russet baking potatoes, as well as both red- and yellow-skin varieties.
Some of the best grape varieties of the year are just getting started and coming to use from Central California. Some of the varieties to look for are Sweet Surrender, Stella Bella, Cotton Candy and Witch Fingers throughout the month of August.
Our variety melons from Turlock Fruit Company in Central California have arrived! These are the best melons of the year with many varieties to choose from. My favorite is the “Piel De Sapo” variety. The name translates as “toad skin” and you’ll understand why when you see it. It’s a green , football-shaped melon that’s very sweet and (like honeydew) has a unique texture. It’s also called the Santa Claus melon or Christmas melon (the story is that the name comes from the fact that it keeps a long time, as in “until Christmas”). You’ll want to choose melons that are slightly soft on the ends. Wash, split the long way and scoop out eh seeds. Easy.
Keitt mangos are just getting started this week. I think this is THE best mango of the year. It has a wonderful flavor and smooth text. These should be available all month, into September.
Expect to see Hatch chiles in the markets by Friday, Aug. 7. Buy them by the pound or a 24-pound case. That makes it a great time to roast them, and freeze for the winter.
Have a great week! Joe