We’re gloriously knee-deep in berries! It was a rough start for locally grown strawberries last week. But we quickly moved into sunny, warm weather over the weekend and it really brought out the sugar and flavor. Sadly, local strawberries already are winding down.
But fear not – Northwest blueberries will arrive in our markets any day now. It looks like Washington and Oregon will have bumper crops in both organic and conventional blueberries. The Northwest season typically peaks in July and runs well into August.
Sterino Berry Harvest Begins
Jake Sterino of Sterino Farms in Puyallup, a long-time partner of ours, conducted his first harvest Tuesday, June 19, of (mostly) tayberries and gold raspberries along with a handful of currants and gooseberries. Tayberries and gold raspberries both are early varieties that taste great. Jake is set to bring his berries to our Kitsap-side markets today and to our Seattle-side markets tomorrow (Thursday, June 21). Then he’ll give the berries a break on Friday – followed by kicking off the season in ALL our markets Saturday, June 23. Keep in mind the fruit is very limited but look for the supply to ramp up over the weekend through next week.
What about obsidian blackberries? Our best guess right now is that there will be enough to be able to put them on sale on or around the Fourth of July, which is also when we expect red raspberries to begin tricking in, followed by enough quantity to place them on sale.
NW Cherry Season in Full Swing
The Northwest cherry season is in full swing as we near the end of June and look to July. In the last post, I talked about our Chelan variety red cherries from Gunkel Orchards in Goldendale, Wash., overlooking the Columbia River. We’ve already exhausted those and are into the Bing cherries now. But hold on to your hats – because arriving next week just in time for our Big Board Buys for June 27-July 4 (Big Board will be an extra day long because of the Fourth) will be Gunkel’s Private Reserve variety of sweet red cherries. These are going to be one of the best varieties of the season.
Dan Gunkel says these cherries are really big this year and so deep red in color they’re almost black. They’re also firm and sweet and – are you still hanging on to that hat? – they’re going to be a rockin’ deal.
I also talked in my last post about the decision to go with an export-grade Rainier cherry to be certain we’re getting the best fruit available. I think it has really paid off. We have had outstand Rainier cherries as far as size, color and sugar. We do have to pay a little more to secure this fruit because it’s limited and in high demand, but it’s worth every penny. Rainier cherries have a shorter season than red cherries – my best guess is that we have two or three weeks left of the 2018 Rainiers.
California Stone-Fruit Peaking
The summer stone-fruit season is peaking for California – I mean you really can’t go wrong with just anything out of that state right now. The fruit is big and sweet. Yellow-flesh peaches and nectarines are eating super well this week and should be that way for the next several weeks. I have a couple of favorites I’d like to call out, like the giant white peaches from Family Tree Farms. The fruit is big and sweet.
Remember, select white-flesh varieties that are on the firm side. Because it’s naturally low in acid and high in sugar, the softening means the acid is dropping further and it’s the acid that delivers the flavor.
My next favorites (can there be such a thing?) are Plumogranate Plumcots, Galaxy White Donut peaches and Peach Pie yellow donut peaches! All of these will be awesome as they arrive in our markets next week.
Also wanted to mention that the Gunkel Orchards’ Robada apricots that are on Big Board right now are at the peak eating quality and production. Dan Gunkel says the pollination was not good this year, so the fruit is big, but the season is going to end early. So don’t wait to enjoy this fruit.
Sweet corn from G&S Farms in Brentwood, Calif., is finally on a good track despite a bumpy ride in early June. The yellow and bi-color sweet corn is excellent and just in time for the holiday.
Finally, both organic and conventional Walla Walla sweet onions arrive in the markets next week. Makes for the perfect addition to that burger hot off the grill..
Have a great week! – Joe