Well, it’s already here… Merry Christmas! And then it’s Happy New Year! Wow, that was fast. So in the spirt of a happy holiday season, let’s keep this update on the positive side.
We have really been enjoying the Opal apples in the markets over the past few weeks, and we have more on the way. The apple I am most excited about is the Kiku which arrived this past week. This is a variety of Fuji that is specifically grown and harvested with high color and extra-sweet flavor. To top it off, they are also very crisp!
The next new crop we are buzzing about is California citrus. Remember those cold nights around Thanksgiving? Well, it turns out that the chill went deep into the California citrus fields and was perfect for the crops! The growers are saying that the brief dip to around 30 degrees in the very early hours of the morning was just what they needed. Not too cold for too long, and not too warm either—just right to bring on the acids and sugars that create great tasting citrus fruits. The Satsumas and Clementine mandarins have been excellent this year—I don’t think I have had a sour one all season. By the way, these also make excellent last minute gifts. The Heirloom Navel oranges and Cara Cara oranges are already eating as if it were January and they are just going to get better. The best news I got yesterday was that so far it looks like the Sumo mandarins will arrive around the third week of January.
The other good news we received yesterday was these cool night are also great for next summer’s tree fruit season. If you remember, last year California basically went without a real winter and the trees did not get enough chill hours to rest appropriately. This meant the trees were already tired before they even began to produce fruit. With a good rest over this winter I am hoping for a stellar summer fruit season in 2016. We also hear that the mountains in California are getting significant snowfall—this is the best news of all. I don’t think the growers can take another year of drought. One year will not bring them back 100%, but it is a step in the right direction. Let’s hope for more snow in the mountains over the next several months!
We have been having just a little trouble getting our fresh herbs due to flooding this past week, but it is just a slight interruption. We should have all the variety fresh herbs needed for the holiday. As with Thanksgiving, all the fresh poultry herbs like thyme and rosemary are sought out, but for Christmas we see increased demand for fresh chives to use with potatoes, baby dill for dips and salmon dishes, as well as mint, tarragon and sweet basil.
Mushrooms are another one of those fresh produce items that end up on holiday menus. The most popular is the Brown Cremini, but this year it looks like we will have a few Chanterelles available. Shiitake and Baby Shiitake mushrooms seem to be more popular these days. Because Porcini and Morel mushrooms are called for in some traditional holiday recipes and are not available fresh, we offer them dried. Keep in mind when using dried mushrooms—one ounce dried equals 10 ounces reconstituted.
We brought in the larger bag of Sweet Kale Salad for Thanksgiving and it was a great success, so we will have it at a great value through New Year’s Day. This is a great salad kit to precede a meal, or just add some large shrimp and it can be a meal by itself. The 28-ounce package will feed about six to eight guests. (Though I like it so much, I plan for it to serve four!)
If your menu is calling for mashed or baked potatoes I think the large size Yukon is best. Easy to peel and it or bakes nicely. I made mashed for Thanksgiving with these… added more butter than I should have, used half-and-half and puréed some roasted garlic cloves from our Antipasto Bar for the perfect garlic mashed potatoes (at least I think so).
Of course we will have all the fresh fruit and vegetables to serve all your holiday party and meal needs through the holiday season, including fresh veggie trays, fruit trays and stuffed Cremini mushrooms. These are great baked served warm, but I like them raw as well. We will even have fresh blackeyed peas available to bring in the New Year!
I wish all a happy and joyous holiday season with friends and family