(Photo: Dan Gunkel, left, and me in the Gunkel Orchard overlooking the Columbia River in Goldendale, last week.)
(July 30, 2012) We had a great visit with Dan Gunkel at his orchard near Goldendale last Thursday. Over the years, you might have been enjoying Dan’s “Maryhill” brand peaches we carry during August and September. This year looks to be one of the best in recent years.
The first couple of peach varieties got off to a slow start – partially thanks to hail damage from those thunder storms we had a few weeks ago. But from here on out, it looks to be 100% of normal supply with great tasting varieties still to come. On Thursday Dan was into his first picking of the “July Flame” and “Sierra Rich” peaches. He is so excited about the Sierra Rich that he has two plantings in this variety at different elevations to extend the season. As the first planting finishes up, the second one will be ready to start where it left off. These varieties are rich in traditional peach flavor with a sweet, juicy delivery.
Dan prides himself on being able to grow, harvest, pack and ship all of his fruit himself. This allows him to manage and maintain the freshest fruit possible. Each tree of each variety is harvested three or four times over during a 10-day period to ensure that each piece of fruit is picked at the peak of perfection. The peaches are then sorted, packed and off to our markets within hours. No fruit is kept in storage at the farm. This is what makes the difference in peaches from Gunkel Orchards. We expect great-eating fruit over the next several weeks. And don’t give up on peaches and nectarines in September! Some of the best eating white- and yellow-flesh peach and nectarine varieties of the year arrive after the Labor Day holiday.
Cherry Tomatoes at Their Peak
Durst Farms organic variety cherry tomatoes are at their peak! We currently have about nine varieties to choose from – of those, the Mini Charm, Sungold and the new Black Cherry varieties are my personal favorites from this California farm. We expect this crop to peak for the next three weeks and begin to wind down as we move into September.
If you would like to try them all, we also have a “Mixed Medley” available for those who want to experiment. Our Deli also offers the mixed medley varieties of cherry tomatoes on the Salad Bar during this season. And these tomatoes are on our Big Board Buys starting Aug. 1 – we’ve got them at two pints for $5 because we really want you taste how good they are!
Turlock variety melons also out of California are now in full swing – I believe that the Turlock family is the best of the best in getting melons right. The flavor in all these melons is outstanding! We now have Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Heirloom Cantaloupe, Orange Honeydew, Galia, Sharlyn, Casaba, Crenshaw, Canary and Hami. Each of these varieties has its own unique flavor profile! Our staff would be more than happy to share a sample of any melon you would like to try. Watch for our “Big Board Buys” on these melons starting Aug. 8.
Keitt Mangos – The Best of the Best
Keitt Mangos have started to arrive this week. In my opinion, this is the best variety of mangos we get for the entire year. It is extra-large in size and virtually stringless, not to mention the outstanding tropical flavor! This mango is not a red variety. It has a nearly all green skin with possibly a light blush of yellow. The fruit arrives on the firm side and is held at room temperature, “conditioned,” until ready. Mangos ripen from the inside out, so select a mango that is slightly firm. Try Keitt Mangos on salads, in salsas, or just all by itself (below is one of our videos on how to slice them – they can be a pain if you don’t know how to approach it!). I like them diced and served on a bed of cottage cheese! Our staff would be more than happy to provide a sample if you would like.
Just a couple more thoughts:
- If you are into pickles, the weeks of Aug. 8-21 should be the best window to do your pickling!
- We expect fresh figs to slowly pick up over the next couple weeks with hopefully the opportunity to offer a great value later in this month!
Have a great day!