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The Scoop on Summer Fruit

It’s been a weird weather year, so if the summer fruits you’ve been waiting for are a little tardy getting to the table, that’s why. But hang in there—good stuff is on it’s way to our markets. Here’s what to look for:

Discover berry treasures.

It’s been cool, so berries have been slow to ripen, but they’re finally emerging from hibernation, and our buddies at Sterino Farms are rushing all kind of them to us nearly every morning. We’re also getting as many beautiful organic berries as we can from our berry-obsessed friend at Hayton Farms in Skagit Valley. Family run since 1876, Hayton’s organic berries are legendary around here.

Pick up some of our sweet/tart tayberries, with that tangy bite that makes them such a perfect addition to ice cream. Beautiful organic blueberries that often come to us within 24 hours of being picked. Red raspberries, blackberries, nectarberries (they used to be boysenberries, but they’ve changed their name for some reason.) Currants in red, black, and white varieties. And gooseberries—the often overlooked secret touch-of-tartness ingredient in some of the best crumbles and cobblers.

The king of corn

Our partner Jake Sterino’s corn is that perfect, yellow Krispy King variety that really wows you at first bite. Its flavor is pretty much the essence of the word “fresh.” We think it’s the best out there. Especially when they pick it in the dark, rush it into the truck and zoom it over to our stores the same morning.

Insider watermelon info

Did you know that a watermelon won’t ripen off the vine? So growers need to pick them at the right moment. Then we have to make sure we get them to our customers while each one is at its peak, and give them lots of air while they’re here (ethylene gas that emanates from other fruits can ruin a watermelon.) So don’t wait to enjoy yours. It’s at its best as soon as you get it.

Try a deep, dark Midnight Seedless. We get these from a California grower who’s just ramping up—dark green rind, round, solid, beautiful—not the striped rind. It’s got that tight drum sound when you knock on it, and that’s what lets you know how sweet and juicy and ready-right-now it is. You have to be careful with watermelon. Other fruit will emit ethylene gas and overripen it.

We’re also excited about the super sweet neon yellow watermelons, which are only around for a short time. We have to be careful with all of them, and we send back a good bunch of them—we’re fussy that way. Because we know you are, too.

And more melons

Are you ready for the best cantaloupe of the year? Steve Smith of Turlock farms is the best melon grower there is. He doesn’t harvest until they’re ripe, so when we get canteloupe from him, we know they’re ready to go—and to give you that sweet, juicy, soft-fleshed melon experience that seems more and more uncommon these days.

Of course, if you’re looking for a crunchy melon, go for one that’s meant to be that way, like our Hami melons. They’re big, beautiful golden ones you can almost interchange with cucumbers for recipes, salads and appetizer platters.

And do yourself a favor. Try some of our lesser-known melons, like the sweet, soft, almost floral-noted Gallia. Rich orange honeydew. Or a pretty, green Piel de Sapo (you may remember it as Santa Claus melon.)

Rainier cherries are running a little late.

Cold weather means less fruit, later. The good news is, each of those precious cherries will be bigger, plumper and fruitier than usual. And as always, they’re only here for a short while, so get these beauties while you can.

Gunkel Orchard’s Private Reserve

Our produce guru Joe Pulicicchio, tried these cherries in the orchard and immediately said “I want them.” Dan Gunkel won’t tell us the secret behind them. But they’re big, they stay crunchy, and they give a high fruit-to-seed ratio. They’re perfect for baking, or just eating. And we get pretty much all of them, so you won’t find them anywhere else.

Peach watch ‘22

Pro tip: watch for Gunkel’s Sweet Dream peaches toward the end of this month. Dan picks them ripe, and he doesn’t have a warehouse, so he has to get them out to us right away. No time for them to get mealy or lose their juice. They’ll be here for about one week. (One very good week.)

Robada Apricots (the ones with the big pink cheeks)

Big, blushing, beautiful Robadas eat like peaches, and wow, do they look pretty in a fruit bowl. But you won’t keep them in there too long. They’re the juiciest, best-tasting apricots of the year.

Come in and take your pick.

Summer produce may be on an unusual schedule this year. But the quality is outstanding, and we get new and wonderful things for you to try every day. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Ask anyone in the produce department. We love to guide you toward the best picks of the day.

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