Town & Country Markets

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Apples are Crawling,
Pears are Prepping,
Pumpkins are Plumping

The warm dry days of July and August along with the relatively warm nights well into September has slowed the apple season to a crawl. Apples need cool night-time temps to put the final touch on their color and crispness.

Now that we’re trending toward a more normal weather pattern, we’re seeing more varieties of this new crop of Washington apples.  We have had Gala apples for a couple of weeks. Golden Delicious and Honeycrisp apples both arrived this week. Reports are for a big Honeycrisp crop this year and the market is starting off with costs well below last year. So look for Honeycrisp apples to be on our Big Board Buys that starts Sept. 19. Next week we should see our first new Granny Smith apples in the markets.  

Fruit and Fall Make the Perfect Pear

Bartlett pears are here now.

Bartlett pears

Another clear sign of fall’s arrival is the expanding variety of pears in the markets.

We now have a new crop of Bartlett, D’Anjou, Bosc, Starkrimson, Concord and Asian Pears on the conventional side and we’ll soon have those same varieties in organically grown.

For those of you who enjoy preserving Bartlett pears, now is the time to get it done. We offer full cases if we have it on hand.

If we don’t have it right then, we can bring it in any day of the week with a day’s notice.  Just ask one of our produce clerks for a full-case quote.

Aussie Sweet Mandarins are Great, Mate

With a new school year just beginning, an item that really stands out for me are seedless Aussie Sweet Mandarin oranges. These are imported from Australia and they eat like a million bucks. They’re the perfect size for lunches or snacks and deliver a fair amount of Vitamin C. Just so you know, we don’t expect California-grown Satsuma Mandarins to eat this well until nearly Thanksgiving.

A sampling of pumpkins from Sterino Farms last year

A sampling of pumpkins from Sterino Farms last year

Veritable Plethora of Pumpkins Busy Plumping Up 

We’ll have even more varieties of pumpkins from Sterino Farms in Puyallup than last year: Jack-O-Lantern, Sugar Pie, Warty Goblin, Ghost, Cinderella, Blue Doll, Long Island Cheese, Red Eye and American Tondo will arrive the last week in September. For those strictly decorative varieties and options, we’ll have corn stalks and ornamental corn (for making that cornucopia on the Thanksgiving table), mini orange and white pumpkins, We-Be-Littles, Blaze, Tiger Stripe, Hooligan, Little Warty Goblins and gourds.

The quality and the sizes of this year’s crop is excellent in nearly all the pumpkins and ornamental gourds but be advised that the Jack-O-Lanterns are running slightly smaller than last year. Jake thinks the Kratos variety Jack-O-Lantern crop was affected by the unusually cool weather during June and was stressed further with the hot dry weather of July and early August. The good news is that the quality is excellent and every bit as good as last year. With the smaller sizes, we decided to reduce our retail price $2 on Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins – this  year they’re $3.98 each rather than $5.98 each (to be clear this applies ONLY to the Jack-O-Lanterns – others remain at last year’s price of $5.98 each).

The Livin’ is Easy; it’s the Squash that’s Hard

Fall also brings us our wonderful Northwest hard squashes. We now have the full line in both conventional and organic.

There are up to 12 varieties to choose from, each with their own unique flavor. Of course, Butternut is most popular, followed by Spaghetti, Delicata, Kabocha, Acorn and Carnival. But that barely scratches the surface of what’s available.

My personal favorite is the Delicata – and every year in this space, I recommend simply slicing it and roasting it. Easy – the skin is edible!

We still have Jake Sterino’s sweet yellow corn on the cob and it likely will be available through the end of the month. It eats fantastic. Jake has really done a good job keeping up with the crop as it matures and harvesting at its peak of perfection.

Have a great week – Joe

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