August already? But … wasn’t the Fourth of July only a minute ago?
August brings an end to the local berry season from Sterino Farms in Puyallup. We’ll see a few blackberries over the next few weeks and a trickle of currants for another week or so. We’ll have an abundance of Northwest blueberries, but the wind down has begun already and the end is in sight.
I’m also hoping for a few more strawberries out of Oregon, but I’m not holding my breath because the recent heat wave has forced us to reject the last couple of deliveries. Heat stresses the plant, causing the fruit to over-ripen and become soft. They don’t have time to cool down at night and fruit picked warm doesn’t “ride well” to the market.
The good news is that we’re seeing California strawberries and red raspberries pick up in volume and the eating quality is pretty good.
Turlock Fruit Co. Melons Mark Another Amazing Crop
Turlock Fruit Co. melons are at their peak! Don Smith and his son, Steve, and his family, who own and manage that operation, have done it again (“it” being a great job!). You can’t go wrong with any of the varieties they grow in the Turlock and Firebaugh areas of California.We have Cantaloupe, Green Honeydew, Orange Honeydew, Sharlyn, Canari, Galia, Crenshaw, Piel Del Sapo (or ‘Santa Claus’ melon) and Hami. Each of these melons have their own unique flavor. My personal favorite, as I remind you every year, is orange honeydew. The uglier the better for this melon, which gets blotchy spots when really sweet. But I’d encourage you to try any of the others. They all eat great and our Produce Market staff members would be happy to let you try a sample.
We love them so much, we even made a video about how to cut them without losing your mind (or a finger)!
Fresh Figs Have Slow Start but Ramping Up Now
It’s been a slow start for fresh figs this year because of excessive heat in California, but they’re slowly ramping up.
We’ll have a handful of Family Tree Orchards’ organic Desert Queen and Ruby Heart figs this weekend. I expect to see even more the following week. Look for Black Mission, Brown Turkey and Kadota figs to come on as we move toward the late half of the month.
We’ve developed 10 recipes that showcase these wonderful … flowers. They aren’t technically a fruit, but an “inverted flower.” A fig blooms inside its pod!
Keitt Mango Season Looks Promising and Plentiful
We’re getting our first deliveries of Keitt mangos next week. We’ll have extra-large sizes in both organic and conventional.
This mango is my definite favorite — virtually stringless, it has a very thin seed and thick, creamy flesh. The shell color does not indicate ripeness with Keitts. They can range from being all green to a slight yellow blush and still eat like a million bucks. Mangos ripen from the inside out so you want them to have a slight give but not too soft.
We are just getting started and it looks like we will have an abundance of fruit through the end of September. If you liked Champagne mangos, you’ll LOVE the Keitt.
Once again, we made a video about how to cut up a mango without struggling with the pit!
Cherries Give Way to California Seedless Grapes
Closer to home, Northwest Rainier cherries are finished and we have about two weeks remaining for red cherries. It’s been a great year – they’ve been big and sweet!
As cherries wind down, we’ll come into the best varieties of seedless grapes from California. We have new varieties coming next week that will be an improvement in size and eating quality. And they’re only going to get better and better as we move through August, September and October.
August is like a holiday in the fresh produce world where it’s peak harvest time in Washington – from peaches and nectarines to broccoli and beans and from lettuce to cabbage and more. Currently we have more than 150 Northwest-grown or produced items in our Produce Markets, and we haven’t even started the 2018 apple and pear harvest!
Have a great week! – Joe