Too Hot To Handle

Summer may be winding down but the chili pepper market is just heating up. Chili pepper is the fruit of the plants from the genus Capsicum, members of the nightshade family. Chile peppers originated in Mexico and can be traced back to the human diet in the Americas as early as 7500 BCE.

Chili peppers get their pungency from capsaicin and several related chemicals. The quantity of capsaicin varies by variety and on growing conditions. The intensity of the “heat” of chili pepper is reported in Scoville heat units (SHU). A bell pepper has 0 SHU while mild Hatch chilies have 1,000-1,500 SHU. On the other end of the spectrum, a very hot chili like Habanero has 100,000 – 350,000 SHU.

Chilies are used in many cuisines across many cultures. In 2014, 33.2 million tons of fresh green chilies was produced worldwide. Although chilies can add heat to dishes, they also add endless flavor and dimension. The chili pepper market is ripe with chilies of every variety, flavor and heat level. Don’t be afraid to try a new variety, talk to Account Manager about your pepper needs today!

*Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

The apple market is picking up with lots of varieties coming on for the season. We love Pink Pearl, an heirloom variety that offers a colorful surprise inside with its rosy pink flesh and sweet-tart taste. Gravenstein is another beloved heirloom variety grown in California’s Sonoma County. This apple has yellow-green skin with splashes of beautiful red coloring. It eats well with crisp and juicy texture and sweet flavor. Sweetie, aptly named, are sweet and mild with spice-like notes. This variety is perfect for apple-lovers who prefer sweeter rather than tart fruit.  It is a cross between Braeburn and Royal Gala. Supply is limited. Zestar are very limited but very delicious! This early season variety has crispy, juicy texture with zesty sweet-tart flavor that will have you singing its praises with just one bite. Fuji is limited and may see small gaps in supply until Washington fruit comes on in mid-September. Lots of classic varieties on hand including Gala, Granny Smith, Macintosh, Honeycrisp and Red Delicious. This season, we are your premiere apple resource. Check back often for new varieties!

Seckel pears have arrived! This adorable variety is one of the smallest of all commercially grown pears, but packs an enormous flavor profile. Seckels are chubby and round with exceptionally sweet flavor. Their petite size makes them perfect for little hands as snacks or added to lunch boxes. Bartlett and Bosc are steady in supply. Starkrimson have come on with good supply. Asian pears are plentiful with Hosui, Shin-Li and Shinko all on hand. Crisp and refreshing, Asian pears are perfect hand fruit or added to salads or slaws.

Banana

Happy GROW Month! We are proud to partner with San-Diego based organic banana grower and importer Organics Unlimited to bring awareness to the GROW (Giving Resources and Opportunities to Workers) banana program. The GROW program benefits underserved communities in banana growing regions of Mexico and Ecuador through the sale of organic bananas. Since 2005, GROW banana purchases have provided over $2 million in aid. A percentage derived from the purchase of each box of GROW organic bananas is earmarked for the GROW fund. These funds are used for youth educational programs, health clinics and dental and vision care in Mexico, clean water and early childhood educational programs in Ecuador; and environmental initiatives in the San Diego-Tijuana border region. Let your Account Manager know if you would like to join the GROW banana social justice program.

Berry

The record breaking heat wave that hit California has impacted strawberry production. Prices are on the rise as supply is in flux. Blueberry production from the North West is winding down. Blackberry supply is steady. Raspberry supply is limited until Mexican production picks up in November.

Citrus

California’s heat wave will likely impact the citrus market in the near term. Fingerlimes are in good supply. This unique microcitrus gets its name from the fact that it is about the size and shape of a finger (approximately 3 inches). The pulp is shaped like tiny balls rather than elongated teardrops common to most other citrus fruit. To enjoy, cut the limes in half and squeeze up from the bottom to release the flavorful pulp. California limes are in good supply. New crop lemons have started at great promotable price. Meyer lemons are plentiful. Prices remain high on Valencia oranges. Grapefruit supply is limited and moving quickly. Mammoth size Minneolas have arrived from Peru at sharp pricing.

Fig

Black Mission and Brown Turkey figs supply is tightening and prices are expected to increase. Adriatic figs are very limited.

Kiwi

New Zealand imported green kiwi is done for the season. There will be a gap in supply until California grown fruit comes on in October. Here’s your chance to try gold kiwi, which is steady in supply. Gold kiwi has bronzed, smooth and hairless skin with beautiful golden flesh. Its sweet flavor has notes of pineapple and mango.

Grape

Grape fans rejoice—there are many delicious varieties on the market. Thomcords are a hybrid variety that combines the popular Thompson seedless grape and Concord grape for an aromatic “labrusca” flavor mellowed by the Thompson’s mild sweet taste. Stella Bella, which means “beautiful star” is a staff favorite. This green seedless variety has large berry size, crisp texture, creamy color and clean flavor. Check out Biodynamic Thompson seedless grapes from Marian Farms based in Fresno, California. Marian Farms grows grapes using Biodynamic agricultural practices and hand picks the grapes at peak ripeness. The grapes are harvested when they are at their sweetest which ensures ripe, full, and attractive fruit. Look for Concord grapes from Heinke Family Farms coming on soon!

Mango

Have you tried non-treated Kent mango from Del Cabo? These mangoes are grown exclusively in the Los Cabos region of the Baja peninsula, which has uniquely been designated a pest-free area. Unlike most other imported mangoes, Del Cabo’s do not require chemical or hot water treatment—a requirement that disrupts the ripening and compromises the integrity of the fruit. The fruit is creamy in texture and offers a rich fragrance.  These mangoes are also Fair Trade certified which means a premium from each sale goes back to programs to support the workers.

Melon

Watermelon bins are limited and seeded watermelons are very tight. Honeydew from Rundle Family Farms is done for the season. Other growers are starting to wind down but supply should be steady for a little while longer. Piel de Sapo is gapping in supply but plenty of specialty melons for your melon needs. Anana melons have arrived. Similar to a Sharlyn melon, this variety has yellow netted skin and creamy white flesh that is sweet with hints of pineapple flavor.

Specialty Fruit

Jujubes, also known as red dates or Chinese dates, have arrived. Jujubes are small and similar in size to a grape or strawberry. They contain a single large seed inside and are red inside and out. The skin is edible and offers a crispy texture to compliment the sweet-tart apple like flavor of the fruit. Jujubes can be eaten fresh and are often dried. Dragon fruit supply is picking up on the pink flesh variety and should remain steady. White dragon fruit has started; volume is strong with sharp pricing to match. This beautiful and unique looking fruit has sweet kiwi-like flesh inside that varies from white to pink to red. We even have mixed colors in a ‘Rainbow’ pack! The fruit’s outer skin is cactus like (but no spines), resembling that of the scales of a mythical dragon. Passion fruit supply is still going strong with sharp pricing. The purple variety is the variety we commonly carry, which has purple skin and yellow pulp and black seeds inside. However, yellow passionfruit, a very rare variety with yellow skin has arrived in limited quantities. Its flavor is sweet, acidic and more tropical than its purple counterpart. Keep an eye out for quince and prickly pear coming on soon!

Stone Fruit

White and yellow nectarines have been steady from the Northwest. The fruit has been tasty and juicy with sharp pricing. Peaches have been in good supply, also from the Northwest. Prices are dropping fast. We’re winding down on red and black plums from California growers. Supply is dwindling but should hold for a couple more weeks. Pluots are in decent supply with the last of the California grown fruit. Pluots from the Northwest should be coming on soon.

 

Vegetables

Broccoli/Cauliflower

As we head into September, broccoli supply should increase and prices should trend down. Many growers are reporting improving production numbers. Volume is expected to improve by mid-September. ‘Purpling’ is a common occurrence on broccoli at this point in the season. This signifies the broccoli is at its peak and does not affect flavor or quality. Cauliflower supply has also improved and prices have dropped. Graffiti cauliflower is gapping in supply. While both broccoli and cauliflower are in better supply than previous weeks, recent extreme hot temperatures will likely impact quality.

Brussel Sprout

Brussel sprouts supply is very tight. Our main grower has labor shortages which has caused harvesting and production delays. There may be small gaps in supply.

Cabbage

Green cabbage is in good supply and prices are expected to remain low. Red cabbage prices may drop slightly.

Corn

The corn market is tightening up. Bi-color corn is gapping in supply. White corn is in better supply.

Cucumber

The cucumber market is tight and prices are on the high side. Slicer cucumbers are limited. English Hothouse are steady but prices are high. Specialty cucumbers are still available including lemon, Armenian and Painted Serpent.  Grab these tasty varieties before they’re gone!

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

Bunched greens supply has improved as more growers have come on. Collards, chards and kale supply should continue to improve through September. Romaine supply remains steady and relatively unaffected after California’s recent heat wave. Green and red leaf lettuce are in good supply. Green butter is steady but tight. Red butter has good volume. Iceberg supply is tight; we’re bringing in everything we can. Cilantro prices have increased as a result of the heat wave but supply is steady. Oregano is gapping in supply due to quality issues.

Pepper

Green, orange, red and yellow bell peppers are in good supply. The chili pepper market is hot hot hot! Hatch chilies are in season and in-house. This popular chili is named after the original growing region in Hatch, New Mexico. Hatch chilies grow in the Hatch Valley where intense sunlight and cool nights give these chilies their unique flavor. Hatch chilies range from mild-medium heat to hot. Cyklon peppers hail from Poland and have excellent flavor without too much heat. Use them for salsa, adding crunch to salads or drying to make Polish paprika! Hot wax peppers are similar in appearance to sweet banana peppers but have much more heat (hotter than jalapenos!) Don’t miss out on Sweet Jimmy Nardello peppers. This long, thin-skinned frying pepper dries easily and has great sweet flavor with no bitterness.

Roots

Purple top turnips supply is still limited. Hakurei white turnips are in better supply. This variety is mild and sweet even when raw. Watermelon daikon is steady but limited. Bunched breakfast radish and, red radish and Easter egg radish are gapping in supply due to the hot temperatures at the end of August. Gold bunched beets are limited as many growers are between plantings. Red and Chioggia beets are steady.

Tomato

Early Girl or Saladette are in good supply as the season is in full swing and plenty of fruit is on the market. Most of the fruit available is “dry farmed” which means the plant is not irrigated after an initial watering to concentrate the flavor. Heirlooms supply is strong with straight packs of popular varieties as well as mixed packs. Roma supply is tightening up and may become limited. One and two-layer slicer tomatoes are expected to be steady but may experience some supply interruptions from the recent heat wave. Mixed medley cherry tomato is steady with promotable volume and pricing.

 

Grocery and Dairy

Did you know we sell maple products? We are currently offering a full line of delicious maple products including maple syrup in various size packs, maple sugar candy, and even whipped maple cream (great on toast, pancakes, yogurt and more!) All products are certified organic and great to have as we head into fall. The products are sourced from Maple Valley Co-op, a producer co-op modeled after famed Organic Valley.  For the month of September, all maple grocery products are 15% off, bulk items are 10% and maple candy and maple cream are 5% off. Talk to your Account Manager for details.

We also offer Stueve Farm organic and biodynamic certified eggs, a variety cheeses from Sierra Nevada Cheese Company, organic milk and yogurts from Straus Family Creamery, tortillas from Mi Rancho, Hodo Soy tofu, Wild Rose Farms quinoa, Masa Farms brown rice, and Marian Farms raisins and almonds. Talk to your Account Manager to learn more about our certified organic grocery program.

 

Floral

We may be nearing the end of summer but there is no shortage of beautiful flower options from Full Belly Farm and Thomas Farm. Check with your Account Manager to subscribe to our weekly floral availability list for the most up to date details. Mixed bouquets from both growers are also available in various sizes as well as a rotating list of seasonal straight packs. Thomas Farm is offering Dahlia and Sunflower straight packs. Full Belly has added many new flowers to their offering including Cosmos, Broom Corn, Milo, Strawflowers, Cockscomb, Red ‘Hopi Dye’ Amaranth, Sunflowers and more! We love the unique Cockscomb which are named after the red variety which resembles the cocks comb on a rooster’s head. Cockscomb also come in orange, white, yellow and pink.

 

Merchandising Corner

10 Steps for Prepped Produce

Always handle produce with care as rough handling can damage product, decreasing product life and adding unnecessary product loss/shrink. Only prep the amount of produce needed to merchandise for one to two days. Prepping more product than needed contributes to more product loss because product may need to be re-prepped if not sold quickly.

  1. Gather necessary tools:
    • Trimming knife
    • Baskets or trays for draining items
    • Twist ties and bands
  1. Clean and rinse the sink.
  2. Fill the sink with water just slightly warmer than room temperature
    • Too hot cooks the product and too cold prevents water absorption.
  3. Gently remove bands (if applicable), damaged or wilted leaves and stalks. Trim problem areas.
  4. For items requiring hydration, trim very slim slice off the butt of the product.
  5. Place trimmed produce in sink and swish in water to wash.
    • Carefully place lettuce, spinach and greens in the sink stems down.
    • Submerge item in water; soak for 3-5 minutes.
    • Avoid tossing or piling produce. Hardy produce such as broccoli, carrots, beets and turnips can be fully submerged and soaked longer.
    • Change water as it becomes dirty, too cold, or if a particularly strong flavored or fragrant produce item (leeks, cilantro, etc.) was previously in the sink.
  1. Drain water off product thoroughly before repacking and storing. Excess water accumulation in storage bin causes breakdown and decay.
    • Allow items to drain 3-5 minutes before re-banding and storing.
  1. Re-band after product drains and place in storage bin; move to cooler.
    • Do not band product too tightly. Avoid twisting leaves into the twist tie.
    • Band lettuce and celery ¼ down from the top—any lower and the tops of lettuce may flop over and rip off; any higher and the leaves get scrunched up and are not as visually pleasing.
    • Cool the re-hydrated product a minimum of 45 minutes to allow for crisping time.
  1. Place prepped produce in storage tubs.
    • Place lettuce, spinach, cilantro and leafy greens stem side down.
    • Allow plenty of room for the produce to retain its original shape; do not pack too tightly.
    • Place so product lifts easily out of the container without tearing or breaking leaves.
    • Make sure produce is not sitting in water.
    • Label, date and initial prepped produce, so if issues are identified they can be addressed.
  1. Clean the sink and knives and store supplies when finished.