June 16, 2015

Still in the Berries
But Not for That Long

Our Northwest strawberries have been a huge hit this last week. They’re from Hayton farms near Mount Vernon, where they’ve worked hard all year to bring these berries to market for just a few short weeks each June. Sadly, we’ve reached the peak for Northwest strawberries and the supply will slowly wind down over the next week to 10 days. I hope to see some resurgence in August with the Albion variety that was planted at Hayton this spring. The bonus is these will be certified organic.

Speaking of organics and Hayton, Donny Hayton said he thinks we’ll get some organic Obsidian blackberries this week – and maybe organic blueberries around June 27.

Puyallup grower Jake Sterino called to tell me he has an abundance of conventionally farmed Obsidian blackberries and tayberries for us this weekend and well into next week. These are two of my favorite berry varieties and unfortunately they come and go quickly.  In other words, don’t wait too long as they’ll be all but gone by the end of next week.

Jake also said he picked a handful of red raspberries yesterday. That’s leading him to predict an early season on these, as well. Expect to see his raspberries to start trickling in next week with the peak coming around the Independence Day holiday.

And if you haven’t had enough on berries already, I am thrilled to let you know we’re working with another Skagit Valley blueberry grower to see if we can’t offer another conventional blueberry choice.  Grower Don Kruse called yesterday to say he thinks he’ll have some two-pound flats available around June 24. We should see the peak from the Skagit valley during that first week of July … again that’s early … So for those of you who preserve berries each year, I suggest you plan to do that one to two weeks earlier than usual. Early starts generally mean early ends, as well. 

Sizing Cherries Gunkel Orchards - Copy

I visited Gunkel Orchards overlooking the Columbia River by Goldendale last Thursday and the Robada apricots were being picked and packed as we arrived. We were able to get some of these picked up and into our Markets by Saturday and they have been awesome! Dan Gunkel said he thinks this variety will get two more picks by the end of the week – and then that will be it.  We also looked at his private reserve dark red cherries and it looks like he’ll be harvesting this Friday or Saturday, so we should have this fruit in our Markets by Monday, June 22, or Tuesday, June 23.  This is one of my favorite varieties of red cherries and Dan picks them right, waiting until they get a dark mahogany color and are still firm. When we were there, some were already approaching an 8 row size. Row count is how cherries are rated in size – the smaller the number, the bigger the fruit. Sizing in Washington can range from an 11.5 row to a 9 row.

On to a couple other stand-out fruits in our Markets today. The peach pie donut peaches have arrived. These are a yellow-flesh, flat peach that got its name from Daniel Jackson of Family Tree Farms – the flavor reminded him of his grandmother’s peach pie. These are not for making pie, but eating out of hand or, my personal favorite – grilling! Grill, set on top of a Snickerdoodle cookie from our Bakery and top with your favorite ice cream. Here’s a video of Daniel and his nieces making a variation of that, called Peach Pie in a Minute:  http://bit.ly/1HQAF2I

Family Tree Video capture

Don’t forget to check out the giant white-flesh peaches on the Big Board Buys that starts Wednesday, June 17. These are excellent, and we had Family Tree Farms sneak a few out for us as nearly all this variety is sold for export! A tip – white-flesh varieties of both peaches and nectarines are at peak flavor while they’re still on the firm side. This is because flavor comes from the acid level in this fruit and white varieties are already low acid. All peaches and nectarines lose even more acid as they soften and that’s what makes the sweetness come through in most yellow varieties, but when it comes to white peaches, the sweet is already there while firm.

If you enjoy nectarines, watch the Markets over the next two weeks for some of the best varieties that California has to offer.

Until next time, enjoy your fresh produce! – Joe

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