June 29, 2017

Road Trip Forecasts
We’ll Soon be Swimming
in Local Berries

A quick update from the road to sweeten the upcoming holiday.

I visited Dan Gunkel of Gunkel Orchards near the Maryhill Winery along the Columbia River yesterday. Dan had harvested some of his Robada apricots Tuesday and I wanted to see them, as well as check on his Private Reserve cherries.

Robada Apricot on the tree.

These Robadas on the tree Wednesday might be in our markets by now.

The Robada apricots look fantastic and the first ones arrived in our markets this very morning. This apricot is large with a nice red blush. They are virtually a true free stone, meaning they’re not stuck to the pit, and they’re easy to cut in half (so easy to dry, if that’s what you’re into!). They have an excellent texture and flavor. I think Dan’s Robada are the best apricot grown. We expect a good supply through July 15.

As for the Private Reserve cherries, you won’t be disappointed. I know I wasn’t. I mean these things are off the chart, literally – many are larger than the sizing guides even went a few years ago. Most varieties simply didn’t grow this large.

The cherries are so thick on the trees this year they look like bunches of grapes.

Cherries so thick they look like bunches of grapes.

Less than 10 percent of this year’s cherry crop overall is expected to be this large. The best part is they also have excellent flavor and are only available at our Town & Country and Central Market stores. Dan plans his first harvest of this special sweet, dark-red cherry on Monday or Tuesday July 3 or 4 which means we could have them on our shelves as early as July 5 or 6.

That does miss the Fourth of July holiday but not to worry – we already have plenty of Rainier and Sweet Red cherries available in the markets for the weekend. And we always try to buy the biggest and best of the crop.

Sizing Gunkel's Private Reserve cherries, which are exclusively ours!

Sizing Gunkel’s Private Reserve cherries, which are exclusively ours!

Today (June 29) I made a quick run to Sterino Farms in Puyallup to see Jake Sterino and check out his berries and WOW do we have some fantastic berries on the way.  Jake already has been delivering tayberries and a handful of blackberries. Tayberries are a cross between blackberries and raspberries. It has a rich, unique flavor. This berry will peak over the weekend and Jake expects it to begin winding down by the end of next week.

Jake was starting to harvest golden raspberries today and expected to get a few red raspberries, which will make to a few of our markets tomorrow and Saturday. After looking at the Obsidian blackberries, red currants, black currants, white currants, red and green gooseberries,  it looks like we’ll be swimming in berries as we move into next week.

The Obsidian blackberries especially will be abundant during the coming week. After seeing all the berries today and reviewing the great weather we expect over the next several days, I think the week of July 12 with be the time to enjoy all varieties. So mark it on your calendars if you plan to preserve or freeze any of these varieties. That will also be a great week to try something you may not have experienced yet, like currants and gooseberries.

Blueberries. We finally have Northwest blueberries in the markets today. We have struggled over the past couple weeks with California ending early and Oregon being late. But we have them now. Just talked with Donny at Hayton Farms in Skagit Valley and he said it looks like organic blueberries will be available the week of July 15. Don’t forget we have Hayton Farms’ organic red raspberries starting Monday, July 3. Tuesday July 4 at the latest.

Lastly, just a reminder that all our local berries – from Hayton and Sterino farms – pare picked fresh and delivered daily for the best quality.

Have a great Fourth of July and be safe! Eat berries! — Joe

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