‘Tis the season for challenges when it comes to fresh produce.
A couple of heavy rain events in California and Arizona have created challenges in row-crop vegetables like lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cilantro and more. Also affected significantly are packaged salads.
When so much rain falls so fast, flooded fields make it virtually impossible to harvest until the water recedes.
Two other crops hit hard by rain at this time of year are California strawberries and organic satsumas. For the berries, significant rain means growers must strip off all the damaged fruit that was close to harvest. This encourages new growth and brings back the quality we expect. For the organic satsumas, rain can cause “clear rot.” This appears like blisters on the fruit and causes rapid decay. That wouldn’t be a problem if it could be easily detected. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to see clear rot.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. I assure you we’ll have product available. We are just going to have to work extra hard over the next several days to ensure we have the quality we all expect.
Now for Some Good Produce News!
The conventional satsumas are in great shape. Growers were able to load their fruit up just ahead of the rain. So we’ll be putting fruit out regularly over the next several days for the holiday. We also have the four-pound container of satsumas with stems and leaves still on at a great price next week in time for the holiday. These make excellent gifts and fill up the toe of a stocking very well! Another excellent idea for last-minute gifts is the three-pound container of Rockit Apples. Sweet and crunchy and the perfect snack-size apple.
In general the entire citrus category is ramping up and hitting its stride. Look for the eating quality to just get better and better as we move through the rest of this month.
A new crop of Kent variety mangos should arrive early next week. This is no Keitt variety when it comes to the eating experience, but pretty darn close. Personally I rate the eating experience on mangos in this order… Keitt (my favorite), followed by Yellow Champagne and close behind that is the Kent.
We do have some new-crop cherries, imported, arriving for the holiday. We actually waited about two weeks to avoid the early varieties to get what we think is the better eating varieties now available.
We had an excellent season for conditioned Bartlett pears. Unfortunately, they’re finished and we’re on to the Comice pear. Again, we’re having these pears conditioned at the packing shed in Mount Hood, Ore. In this process, the pears are slowly brought up in temperature over a period of five days to trigger the ripening process. Then they are quickly cooled and shipped to the markets. The result is a sweeter flavor and creamier texture. I personally think is the best eating pear of the year. The skin can be eaten, but I personally like to peel them. If you like pears you will love these.
Of course, we’ll have Hass avocados and I’m happy to report that the supply issues that challenged us over the Thanksgiving holiday seem to have vanished. It looks like we’ll have the volume to be able to offer a sales price on these as we inch toward New Year’s. Something new this year is the Hawaiian-grown Sharwil avocado. This avocado can range pretty widely in size, we’re have to sell them by the pound. That’s actually a good thing, because if you want to spend a little less you have smaller ones from which to choose.
These are harvested closer to maturity, flown directly into Seattle, picked up by our distributor and they make it into the market the very next day. Our first delivery arrived on Tuesday Dec. 11. The supply is very limited right now – we could only get 30 cases. We have 60 cases in the next delivery, which we expect this weekend, and 90 cases following that. So it looks like it is getting better. January is the month this variety will peak. This avocado does not turn dark when fully ripe, but does soften to the touch. It has a very high oil content giving it a super creamy texture. If you have been to Hawaii and had them, you know what I mean. We are hoping this variety from Hawaii will become an annual event that we all look forward to.
Last but not least is the Tasti-Lee variety slicing tomatoes now in the markets. I believe this is the best tasting slicing tomato all winter long! This is a proprietary variety with full red color, meaty interior and great flavor!
May you and your family and friends have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season. Thank you so much for all your support all year long. We will chat again next year!