Another Thanksgiving holiday is in the history books. I am so thankful for everyone who works so hard year-round to make it happen – my deepest appreciation, gratitude and thanks to all.
Picks of the Orchard – Cosmic & Sugarbee
Now a look ahead to the next several weeks through the end of the year.
Everyone’s abuzz over the new Cosmic Crisp apple. We hope it lives up to all the hype. The release is being strictly controlled at the grower/packer level and we were able to get a limited quantity Dec. 2. We’ve nearly sold out already and are waiting for our next allotment. The apple leans on the sweet-tart side. It was very crisp and, as promised, it didn’t turn brown after slicing like other varieties. It was bred by Washington State University and offered to growers in a lottery process. In an effort to support growers who invest in this variety, growers with three-year-old trees are allowed to release fruit sooner than those with two-year-old trees. So, we’re dealing with very young trees. The reports are that the fruit gets better as the trees mature to five to eight years old. Time will tell if this will pay off for the Washington apple industry.
The apple I think is a definite home run is already in its third year of production – the Sugarbee! It’s very crisp and leans to the sweeter side – somewhere between a Honeycrisp and a Fuji. This is the apple to watch over the next several years. We’re already seeing many customers make the switch from Honeycrisp to the Sugarbee for the slightly sweeter flavor and crisp texture.
These are Holiday Pear-fection
When it comes to pears, we’ve brought back the pre-conditioned Comice. The pre-conditioning process is one that slowly brings the fruit up to 63.5°F core temperature. Once at this temperature, they’re quickly cooled and shipped to market. The result is a creamier texture and sweet flavor. The Comice is one of the best eating pears of the year and pre-conditioning is the right way to bring them to market.
The citrus category just keeps getting better as we move through December. It’s the peak of the season for Satsuma Mandarin oranges. Super sweet, seedless and easy to peel – all in the perfect snack size. All fruit at this time of year is tree-ripened and available with or without the stems attached. As we move closer to January, look for the Heirloom and Cara Cara navel oranges to just get better and better. Early reports on the Sumo Mandarins indicate they’ll start in mid to late January.
In the berry world, blueberries and red raspberries are where it’s at. Their size, flavor and texture have been outstanding. We intend to promote these two berries all month long in support of your holiday celebrations. A new crop of California strawberries shows up, generally around Christmas to New Year’s. It all depends on the weather in the Santa Maria region.
All You’ve Avo Wanted from Hass & Hawaii
Also, in support of your holiday celebrations, we’re offering a great value on Hass avocados. You’ll have your choice of extra-large, conventional avocados or large, organic ones.
We’re also getting our first arrival of Hawaiian Sharwil avocados late next week after they’re flown directly into Seattle from the island and shipped to our markets. To get the best supply possible, we must take a range of sizes. Therefore, we need to sell them by the pound.
This can be to your advantage. If you want something on the smaller side it costs less. If you have never experienced a Sharwil Avocado from Hawaii, it’s known for its buttery texture and a relatively small pit. This season is just getting started and will peak in January and February, then wind down as we move into March.
More to Greens than Wreaths & Garlands
All our asparagus is imported from Mexico at this time of year. We work hard to keep it fresh and on the larger side. Thin asparagus is more fibrous while the large tends to more tender, contrary to popular opinion. Select asparagus with the least amount of white at the bottom of the stalk, as it’s woody and not very edible. The current growing area in Mexico is winding down and plant health is getting weaker by the day. Again, we’ll do our best to have the best quality possible for your holiday celebrations. New growing areas will open sometime in January.
A great alternative to asparagus is organic broccolini – often called broccolette. It originally was called asparations. Both asparations and broccolini are a proprietary names for the same product. It looks like baby broccoli with a 100% edible stock. Try it roasted, tossed in olive oil with a little salt and pepper. If you want to kick it up a notch, sprinkle with Parmesan at the finish.
Let’s wrap this up with my assurance that we’ll have all the fresh produce you’ll want to put together your holiday celebrations. From fresh, organic herbs to all sorts mushrooms and a slew of cherry tomato varieties and everything else!
Hope have a wonderful time with family and friends. Until next time – Joe