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The Good News Grows
in All Things Berry

Let’s start off with berries!

When it comes to strawberries from California, it’s been challenging to say the least.  Excessive heat has been really wreaking havoc with the shelf life of those berries – they’re as sweet as can be, but they don’t hold up for very long. I think the organic strawberries actually do better, and have been the better choice over the past couple weeks. With hot weather blasting the growing areas now, we’ll have to keep a close eye on new arrivals.

When it comes to blueberries, we’re now hitting the peak of the California season. You’ll see us shift our attention to these blue babies in our Produce Markets for the next couple weeks. Look for Oregon blueberries to be early this year – early June!

I’ve got more good news …. California’s red raspberries are showing up good and tasty – and the eating quality continues to improve with every delivery. But even better is that the Northwest raspberry crop is looking great. According to our grower Jake Sterino of Sterino Farms in the Puyallup Valley,  the season should start in early July and be a good one, barring any unfortunate weather event (fingers crossed).

And in Other Fruit News

As far as other fruit in California, the season is off to an early start for cantaloupe, seedless grapes, peaches, nectarines and apricots. In the stone fruit world, all indications are for the California season to unfold two weeks earlier than in years past. So look for some of the best varieties of yellow- or white-flesh peaches and nectarines to arrive sooner than you may have expected.

I’d especially like to call attention to the organic cantaloupe from Goldie Farms, which should arrive just in time for Memorial Day weekend. We have a few in the Markets already and they have excellent flavor, which will only get better with each delivery. Speaking of melons for the holiday, if the cantaloupe doesn’t float your boat, we do have those great tasting seedless watermelons from Pasque Farms in Arizona. This year we will also offer the seeded version of the Pasque watermelons for those who still like to spit seeds!

As far as cherries go, we have a few from California but their season is expected to be short and sweet. The good news (I’m full of it today!) is that it looks like the Northwest season will arrive early. Talking with Hanz Groenke of Bigfork Orchards in Mattawa (just east of Ellensburg) today, he said the crop looks great so far and that he’ll likely start harvesting in early June. Now we need everyone to cross their fingers – NO RAIN PLEASE, between now and then.

Corn, Garlic Spears, Onions

So now let’s talk about corn for the coming week. As you may know, we have had plenty of G&S Farm’s sweet corn from the California’s Coachella Valley. Because it started early, sadly, it will end early. We have secured corn for the coming holiday weekend and will transition to G&S Farm’s northern growing area in Brentwood, Calif., around May 28.

We’ve learned to not shop around for corn for a couple of reasons – for one, we know Glen simply grows the best- tasting corn in the state of California; secondly, we want to know exactly where our corn comes from. As the Coachella growing area winds down, it gets hot – very hot! That heat factor raises the risk of getting tough, dry corn. Glen has always kept us right on corn when it counts. Once he moves to his Brentwood area, we’ll start with the white variety and then add the bi-color followed by yellow about 10 days later.

Elephant garlic spears may arrive in the Markets as early as this Saturday, May 17. Garlic spears are a by-product of elephant garlic. In the spring, the garlic sprouts this spear when sunlight reaches a certain point thus triggering the seeding response. The spear grows rapidly and must be harvested in order to force the plant to send energy into growing the giant elephant garlic bulb. This is true of all garlic, but it is the elephant garlic that produces the largest, most flavorful spear. Garlic spears are harvested once and come and go quickly. We expect to have them available for no more than two weeks.

For you Walla Walla Onion lovers we now have the spring bunched salad onions in the Markets. These are only harvested in late spring while young, sweet and tender, and are available for a short time only. Regular cured Walla Walla Sweet onions should arrive in early July.

Potatoes? Seriously? Absolutely!

Last but not least, summer is not always the best time for talking about potatoes, but I need to make an exception in this case. We have a new crop of the petite Honey Gold, Ruby Sensation and Sunrise Medley potatoes from Tasteful Selections. They’re bite size and perfect for quick cooking. These little beauties would go great with asparagus and fresh salmon on the grill. The Medley in particular fits with the red, white and blue theme!

Have a great day – Joe

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