Now that we are in the peak season for Northwest apples, there are so many available we are forced to edit varieties in organic and conventional – focusing on the best eating and most popular. The only variety we are still waiting for is the Cripps Pink, also known as the Pink Lady Apple. This variety is very popular and has earned the number three spot in demand, falling just behind the Honeycrisp and the Fuji.
A new apple – the Sugar Bee – arrives this coming week. We had just a handful last of this variety and it’s a good one. I think this apple may rival the Honeycrisp over the next few years – it’s sweet, with a crisp, firm texture. The flavor is more complex than the Fuji and sweeter than the Honeycrisp. This apple was created in Minnesota and has since been cultivated in Washington state.
The California citrus season is off to a slow start this year. We are currently running about three weeks behind the early season we had last year. We intentionally bought Australian navel oranges slightly ahead of usual so we could offer the best tasting seedless navel orange on the market. California navel oranges have started, but these early varieties barely meet minimum sugar requirements and the acid levels are so low they really do not offer a good eating experience. Unfortunately we will run out of the Aussie navels before the California navels eat well. The good news is that by then we should have California seedless satsumas that will eat great! Look for the California seedless mandarin season to get under way just before the Thanksgiving holiday.
The imported asparagus season seems to be off to a good start this year. We start the asparagus season in mid-October with asparagus from Peru. I know this is quite a distance from home, but it is spring in Peru and spring grass is best! We promise to move closer to home as the season progresses through the winter and into spring here at home. So, we will buy from Peru through early January. At that point we will move to the new crop of asparagus from Mexico. Although asparagus can be purchased from Mexico well into April, we will make the move north to California-grown asparagus ASAP, usually in early March. Finally, we will move to Northwest Washington asparagus as soon as possible in April.
A great alternative to asparagus is the organically grown broccolini now in the Markets. The quality is outstanding and a real value after several months of high costs due to short supply. Look for good values in vegetables grown on this side of the mountains over the next few months. Personally I like broccolini lightly sautéed in butter and garlic and finished with a light sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
We got off to a late start on the Brussels sprout trees from Sterino Farms in Puyallup, but they’re rockin’ now. Expect a good supply in this item for the next couple of weeks. Some other items still available from Sterino Farms are cabbages, celery and fennel. These should continue until we get a hard freeze in the Puyallup valley. Jake Sterino has had an excellent season this year and we look forward to working with him as plan for next year.
Chanterelle mushrooms started off slowly in September, but took off as we moved into mid-October. It looks like we should have a good supply through mid-November, barring any hard freezes.
The next event on the horizon is Thanksgiving. We are still receiving forecasts on availability as we speak. I should have solid information by the week ending Nov. 11 – so we’ll see the holiday is shaping up with an update during the week of Nov. 15.
Until then, have a great weekend! – Joe