Local corn is the latest casualty of our early fall. Sterino Farms, our long-time partner who grows a lot of corn for us in the Puyallup area, is pretty much done with corn for the season. Jake Sterino said he hopes another of his fields, a small one, will mature this week. But we’re not holding our breath.
If we get too much rain over the next few days it may not even be worth harvesting. We did try some corn out of Willamette, Ore., recently, but it just didn’t meet our standard of quality. So we asked our supplier to check out another grower in Mount Vernon, but we had to reject that product due to poor quality as well. The growers are not at fault here. The fault likely lies with that fierce early storm we experienced at the end of August – it could be why the local corn season is ending early. We will bring back the Gloria – a four-pack, bi-color sweet corn that our distributor finds from various places – to carry us through the rest of the autumn and winter seasons.
We have opted out on all peaches and nectarines as of this weekend. What you see in our Markets now is it for the year. While there is still fruit available in storage, we just don’t have the confidence in its eating quality and would rather lean toward ending the 2015 season on a good note.
Variety melons also have come to a rapid end. Domestic cantaloupe and green honeydew will be all that is left by early next week. We did take a look at another brand of the personal size mini seedless watermelon, but here again, the consistency was not reliable.
California’s seedless grapes have been awesome this year and are now at their peak. The grape industry has been hard at work to raise the bar in flavor, sugar and texture. Virtually all seedless grapes are varieties that stem from Old World seeded varieties. Some of you may be as old as I am and remember the days when grapes had more than just sweet to offer. Today’s new varieties have everything you are looking for – size, flavor, sugar and a crispy crunch! I also will be looking at a few newer test varieties that will come and go over the next few weeks. These varieties are very limited and so new that they have yet to be named. I predict that over the next several years we will see some exceptional fruit coming available in the grape category.
Of course with the arrival of autumn we have seen the Northwest apples, pears and hard squashes ramp up. Today I am heading down to Sterino Farms to check out the variety pumpkins as we get ready for our seasonal displays, which will begin to show up in the markets during the week of Sept. 28. We will have a wide selection of gladiator jack-o-lantern, warty goblins (formerly known as knucklehead – these are the pumpkins with big bumps all over), ghost, Cinderella and sugar pie pumpkins to choose from. Jake also wants me to take a look at his crop of Brussels sprouts. He thinks they will be early this year (shocking!) and wants to be sure they meet our quality and size expectations before he harvests. It is likely we will have Northwest Brussels sprouts trees within the next several days. I took this picture of Jake today measuring his Brussels sprouts trees.
The latest on the chanterelle mushrooms is that the initial bloom from that late August weather has flattened out, but the recent weather has been perfect and they are starting to sprout in abundance. Chanterelle mushrooms need just the right balance between moisture and temperature to flourish. Not too cold, not too hot, not too dry and not too wet and right now the weather has been providing perfect conditions. The forecast is for an excellent year on this wild mushroom and we should see enough that we can offer them at extra value during October. So far, so good!
Have a great week – Joe