We’re only three weeks away from the first day of spring!
The other good news is that you really can’t go wrong with just about any citrus items this month. February and March offer the peak of flavor when it comes to citrus. The crazy-popular sumo mandarin orange hit the markets a few weeks ago and they’ve been flying out ever since! This fruit is sweet, easy to peel and seedless. That great mandarin aroma you smell as you peel it sets the stage for a great eating experience.
All grapefruit tastes great right now, but this weekend we have the melogold grapefruit from Rising C Ranch in California – at a great value – and it’s simply outstanding! This fruit is a cross between a white grapefruit and a pummelo (or pomelo) and could possibly be the sweetest grapefruit in the market today. I recommend peeling this fruit and removing the pulp segments from the membrane to get the full sweetness of the fruit. It’s only available for a very limited time, so please don’t wait on this one. As I write this, I’m not certain we can get more of this fruit.
The cara cara oranges are fantastic! This orange was originally discovered at the Hacienda de Cara Cara in Venezuela in 1976, and its origins were a bit unclear, leading some people to classify them as a mutation rather than a true cross – but then, navel oranges are themselves a mutation. By the 1980s, cara cara oranges had reached the United States, although they were only available in specialty markets. This orange has since become so popular it is now mainstream and available in most high-quality fresh markets. As in any navel orange, this fruit tastes best January through March and we offer them conventionally grown or certified organic – your choice.
Hass avocados continue to be excellent quality at great value! We will begin the process of transitioning from Mexico to California over the next few weeks as the season winds down in Mexico and the oil content improves in California. It’s the oil content in the Hass that gives it that smooth, creamy texture and flavor. We want to make sure the oil content is right before we make the move to California.
A new crop of blueberries from Family Tree Orchards in California is arriving this week. We’ve had just a few from their California blueberry fields, but these are a very limited picking of fruit that ripened early under covered tunnels. The bulk of their California crop will arrive in April and May. The berries arriving this week and through the month of March are from their plantation in Mexico. Five years ago, Dave Jackson of Family Tree Orchards envisioned creating a blueberry plantation in Mexico and it’s finally done. His vision allows us to offer a high-quality, firm, full-flavor blueberry in March and not have to live with Chilean berries that have been in storage and have really lost their luster. It also supports our commitment to buy fresh products from closer to home as soon as possible throughout the year!
This winter has been a challenge, to say the least, thanks to the deep freeze in Arizona and cooler-than-normal temperatures in the growing regions of California and northern Mexico. We will see some lingering effects on a few items over the next several weeks, but there is light at the end of this tunnel.
Iceberg and romaine lettuces will continue to struggle until we can complete the transition to the California growing region – probably toward the end of this month. Look for strawberries, artichokes and summer squashes to slowly improve in supply and cost over the next three to four weeks as warmer weather takes hold. The damage was done to these crops this past month with frost hitting the artichokes, “blossom drop” in zucchini and yellow squash caused by rain disrupting the pollination process, and just plain cool temperatures slowing down strawberries.
Have a great week!!!