Fall officially began at 7:29 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 22 – and luckily it opened with a long overdue rain.
I’m not normally so excited about rain, but we’ve had such a dry, warm September that it virtually shut down the wild Chanterelle mushroom harvest over the past 10 days. The good news is that it’s not too late and the rain that has fallen in the Northwest this week will bring new life to this special mushroom. It only takes a few days for Chanterelles to respond to a little drink of water.
Last we talked – in early September – I was looking for the mushroom harvest to ramp up as moist air typically moved into the area. Sadly, I was off by a couple weeks. But now that we’re reunited with the rain, we should see supply and cost improve quickly. October definitely looks better for Chanterelle mushrooms being on the menu.
On the flip side, the dry weather has been good for the wild Lobster mushrooms and we have Matsutake Pine mushrooms arriving in the markets this weekend.
NW Apple Season Expands
The Northwest apple season continues to expand and since we last talked we have added the traditional Jersey Golden Delicious and Jonagolds. Personally, I think the Jonagold is the best apple in our markets today, but I must admit that both the Honeycrisp and Fuji are right up there at the top of the tasty list. The Fuji is always on the sweeter side while the Honeycrisp offers a complex blend of sweet and tangy unique to its variety. If you would like to try a taste, we would be happy to make that happen for you. Please just ask a staff member!
Grapes Continue Exceptional Run
Seedless grapes continue to be exceptional. The green seedless will transition to another variety – the Autumn King – this next week. This is typically a large berry that is crisp and sweet. The Scarlet Royal red seedless and the Autumn Royal black seedless that are now in the markets will continue through early October. Of the three varieties I would go with the red or black seedless. They are not only crisp and sweet, but offer a more intense flavor profile than the green seedless, not to mention the darker color fruit naturally has more antioxidants. We also have these varieties available in an organic option, and the eating quality is every bit as good as their conventional counterparts.
New Bounty of Keitt Mangos
We had a nice surprise when we were offered a great buy on Keitt mangos recently. The Keitts, our favorite mango and simply the best of the entire year, was supposed to be winding down by now. But a partner shipper/grower in California contacted us and we jumped on their offer! Among the great things about this buy is that these are huge mangos – twice the size you typically see in the market; and then there’s the flavor, and the fact that they are grown in the USA, and they’re organic! The Keitt mango is virtually stringless and has a very thin seed resulting is more edible fruit per mango. The skin is not edible and if you are not sure how to cut a mango we would be glad to show you (or view our video and links to our favorite mango recipes here). Again, if you’d like to see – or taste I should say – for yourself just how great these mangos are, we’d be happy to share a sample. I believe we have secured enough to get through next week, but I wouldn’t wait too long. Once these are gone, we won’t see this variety again until next September. A whole year!
Stone Fruits All But Done
The summer stone fruit season is all but done. We are choosing to discontinue the organic peaches and nectarines as we’ve already started to see some inconsistency in the eating quality. Dan Gunkel, our partner grower in Goldendale, Wash., is on his last variety of peach this week and it is likely we will wind that up over the next few days. It’s been a great season and I am grateful for all the hard work our growers go through all year long to make this fruit available in our markets.
Pumpkins Arrive Sept. 30
Pumpkins will begin arriving on Tuesday, Sept. 30. They’ve actually been ready for market for several weeks, but I just couldn’t bring myself to let go of such the wonderful summer season we’ve had this year. As a general rule, I like making that seasonal shift during the last few days of September. When our variety pumpkin displays go up in the stores, it’s clearly a sign that the holiday season is just around the corner. Hard to believe, but true.
Florida Grapefruit Arriving
Another sign that seasons are shifting is the arrival of a new crop of Florida grapefruit this next week. We will start with the smaller fruit and a few larger sizes. Florida has been in a wetter-than-normal weather pattern over the past several weeks, which has been slowing the harvest. Expect supply and cost to improve over the next few weeks. As far as California citrus goes, we expect an early start this year – some growers are forecasting as many as three weeks early! Look for Satsuma mandarins to arrive in late October. As usual, we’ll try to hold off on California Navel oranges as long as possible to avoid those early varieties that just don’t eat well. This year Australia’s season is ending sooner than expected so we have to do our homework to find and secure domestic fruit that meets our standards for fresh and flavorful.
Have a great week! Joe