Let’s get cracking and enjoy what’s great in the markets now through the end of the year – since we were just talking about Thanksgiving. It’s nearly Christmas and Hanukkah already. As soon as we blink, it will be New Year’s.
We have several excellent Northwest apple varieties from which to choose. My favorite is the Fuji and we have brought in an extra-large size just for this holiday. They make great stocking stuffers (and take up lots of room, which Santa appreciates)! Other varieties that top my list at this time of year are the Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Braeburn, Opal and Granny Smith varieties. If you lean toward the sweet-tart side, I recommend you go with the
Honeycrisp, Granny or Pink Lady. On the sweeter side, try Fuji and Opal. And for those of you who land in the middle, the Braeburn might float your boat. We will have Crab apples available if you have a recipe that call specifically for them. We also have the Northwest-grown “Rockit” Apples, which got their start in New Zealand. These are a small, sweet and crisp variety that come tubes of five. A perfect apple for kids, they also make great stocking stuffers.
The citrus season is off to a great start this year beginning with the Heirloom and Cara Cara Navel oranges. Both are sweet and just the right size. We currently have a new mandarin orange called the Clemenule Mandarin. This hybrid of the Clementina family is very sweet, seedless and has a wonderful aroma as you peel the fruit. It’s winding down fast so don’t wait to enjoy. Satsumas are peaking as we move into Christmas week, but don’t let that fool you – we expect the Satsuma season to wind down quickly as we move toward the New Year.
But all is not lost as we will have new Mandarin orange varieties arriving throughout January and February, and each comes with their own unique flavors. We are working hard to find some blood oranges to arrive in time for the Christmas holiday, too. So far this week we have been up against rain and growers are apprehensive about harvests. But we still think we can get something into the markets before this weekend.
We should have a nice selection of berries for your holidays this year. We still have fresh cranberries from Cape Blanco (our favorite and Northwest grown). Blueberries have been excellent this year and we are timing our raspberry purchases to ensure freshness – at least our best efforts to do so (even with the best laid plan, stuff can happen this time of year). We are on the brink of a new crop of strawberries from Arizona and California – it’s all up to Mother Nature now. With a little sun and warmth in the growing areas, we should be able to get fruit loaded and into the markets by Christmas weekend. If that doesn’t happen, it’s not from a lack of trying.
In tropical fruits, of course we have Gold Pineapples and plenty of Kiwi. You might be surprised by our Kapoho Solo Hawaiian gold papaya. This non-GMO papaya eats like Hawaiian Papayas used to. The supply is limited, and we have to order two weeks in advance to get the fruit to the markets, so this is one of those “while they last” items.
Asparagus is a tough one this year. Mexico is done and Peru is struggling. We’ll have it but only if the quality meets our standards. A couple of alternatives would be Green Beans or French Beans as they look to be good quality. We also will have white, purple and orange Cauliflower for something fun.
If you’re looking for an appetizer in the fresh department, try our own Stuffed Mushroom. We have two varieties to choose from. Or consider making bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers. They’re easy to make – just cut jalapenos in half the long way, remove seeds, stuff with chive and onion cream cheese and wrap with thinly sliced bacon; place on a baking pan in the oven at 350˚F until the bacon is cooked – 20-30 minutes. They taste great warm or cold and they are not too spicy because you removed the seeds.
Last but not least we will have all the other traditional fruits and veggies to complete your holiday celebration.
I’d like to use take this moment to express my deep appreciation for all your support all year long and wish you happy holidays, whatever you celebrate, and a Happy New Year for you and yours. – Joe