All Hail the Persimmon

Persimmons

With the arrival of fall, comes the arrival of many new fruits including a less common favorite: persimmon. In Latin, persimmon means “food for the gods.”  Persimmons originated in Japan and made its way to the U.S. in 1856 where it’s been gaining popularity ever since. In general, there are two types of persimmon fruit: astringent and non-astringent.

Hachiya persimmons are the most common astringent variety. They are round and slightly elongated and acorn shape. This variety will turn a beautiful deep orange when it ripens and should feel soft and full. Astringent persimmons have high levels of tannins and are unpalatable if eaten before completely ripened. Hachiyas are creamy in texture and very sweet with hints of spice. These qualities make this an obvious choice for baking.

Fuyu persimmons are the most common non-astringent persimmons. These are short and squat and resemble an orange tomato.  Because of their low levels of tannins, they can be eaten when firm and crisp. Fuyus have the subtle taste of cinnamon and are great for eating raw (peeled) or adding to salads, pizza, cocktails and more. No matter which variety you try, persimmons offer tons of nutrients, vitamins and flavor!

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

In the wonderful world of apples, there are many delicious varieties in season. On the heirloom front, Ashmead’s Kernel have come on. This variety originates from the 1700s in England and is characterized by green skin with brown russet and unique pear-like flavor. We’re seeing strong supply and promotable pricing on Gala, Honeycrisp and Red Delicious. Braeburn and Cameo are also readily available. Washington grown Granny Smith are on their way—just in time for caramel apples and pies! Ambrosia, Crimson Gold and Kanzi are coming on in a couple weeks.

The pear market is ripe with delicious, quality fruit. Lots of variety to choose from! Bartlett and Bosc have strong supply. Comice are experiencing a small gap but more supply is coming soon. We thought the season had ended for Seckel but fortunately, the season is continuing just a bit longer. Starkrimson have great color and flavor but are limited to larger sizes only. We’re in good supply on Kosui and 20th Century Asian pears. Hosui is coming on soon—a excellent variety known for great flavor. Yoinashi brings a touch of butterscotch flavor while the Shinseiki offers juicy, crisp flavor with hints of spice.

Berry

Strawberry supply is pretty strong but prices are up slightly. Blackberries are still limited. Raspberry import season is expected to begin mid-November. Blueberries are still gapping in supply but expected to start any day now. Cranberry supply will be steady until it runs out. Overall, the crop is projected to be light again this year. Because cranberry dried fruit and juice markets are strong; prices are expected to stay firm.

Citrus

Navel oranges are slowly coming on; prices are starting high. Look for more supply soon!  Valencias are finishing up for the season. Lemons and limes are steady. Meyer lemons supply should start to pick up with some regularity. Prices are expected to come down. It’s still early in the season but we’re starting to see some Satsuma tangerines. Supply is very limited. The grapefruit market is tight with very little fruit available. The Rio Reds we’re able to get our hands on is limited and expensive but has good color.

Fig

Fig supply is winding down fast. High winds and colder weather are slowing down production from our main grower Maywood Farms, located in Corning, California. We’re expecting a couple more shipments of Black Mission figs before they’re done for the season.

Grape

Grape prices are on the rise on all varieties as supply becomes less available. Thomcords are winding down for the season. However, Autumn Royals are plentiful and should be steady for the next few weeks. This sweet black seedless grape has beautiful black-purple skin with translucent yellow green flesh. Firm, plump and ideal for snacking, desserts or savory dishes.

Mango

Tommy Atkins and Ataulfo mangoes from Ecuador are delayed until early November. Plenty of California grown Keitts to cover mango needs in the meantime! Keitts have greenish skin with an occasional yellow blush that remains the same even as the mango ripens. To determine whether your Keitt is ripe or not, touch the skin gently—it should generously give way to touch. Flavorwise—Keitt have a tangy sweet flavor with smooth fiber-free texture.

Melon

Mini seedless watermelon supply is nice and steady. We’re seeing sharp pricing on seeded bins—talk to your Account Manager if interested in preordering. Cantaloupes are done for the season and Canary melons are winding down.

Persimmon

Fuyu persimmons are becoming more plentiful but demand is high! We’re bringing in everything we can. Hachiyas are more limited but should be picking up soon.

Pineapple

After what feels like a very long period of tight pineapple supply, the market has improved. Pineapple is abundant and prices are falling.

Pomegranate

The pomegranate market has picked up and there is lots of fruit available. Check out the bins for a great volume deal. Clamshell packed arils are starting up—convenient and easy for delis and food service!

Specialty Fruit

Passion fruit is finishing up so expect limited supply until the season is done. Jujube is available in small amounts. Quince is a bit more plentiful than its specialty fruit counterparts. Guava is readily available and tasting delicious!’ Dragon fruit supply has tightened up and coming in as its available. Prices are up as a result.

 

Vegetables

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli is steady but given the high demand, prices are expected remain on the high side. Crowns are in better supply. The cauliflower market also appears to be pretty steady. Prices have dipped slightly.

Brussels Sprout

Brussels sprouts are plentiful and supply should improve as we inch closer to the holidays. Quality is strong with clean aphid-free sprouts.

Carrot

The carrot market has been tight due to Cal-Organic supply being limited and is expected to remain that way for the next few weeks. Our main grower for bagged rainbow carrots is done for the year, however we’ve sourced some alternate rainbow carrots with orange, yellow and white carrots (no purple!) Bunched carrots are faring better—lots on hand!

Celery

Celery is readily available but market pricing is scattered and prices are expected to trend up.

Cucumber

We’re seeing the last of California grown slicer cucumbers before we transition fully to Mexico grown product. From Mexico, we’re seeing beautiful, high quality Fair Trade certified slicer ‘cukes from Rico Farms. English Hothouse cucumbers are limited but should improve in the next couple weeks when Mexico growers are up and running. Persians are starting to come on but won’t be readily available for another two weeks.

Eggplant

It’s the time in the season when most dry vegetables transition from domestic grown to Mexico grown. Globe eggplant is currently in that transition so supply is very limited.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

Boxed greens have been relatively stable for this time of year. The growing region transition is just around the corner so we anticipate supply fluctuations coming soon. Bunched greens are also pretty steady in supply for chards and kales. Pricing remains stable. Lettuce production has been a little lighter, which is not uncommon for the season. Basil and oregano are in better supply. Tarragon is still gapping supply.

Pea

The pea market has been very tight as California snap pea and snow pears are winding down. Mexico peas are just starting up so the market should show some improvement. English peas are unavailable.

Pepper

Peppers will also transition from domestic growers to Mexico growers over the next couple weeks. California grown green bell peppers are plentiful so should continue steadily. California grown orange, yellow and red bell pepper are winding down. California grown chili peppers are in good supply but may change abruptly as cooler nights and potential frost are on the horizon. Mexico growers are starting on many chili pepper varieties. Sweet peppers are very limited.

Potato

Russet potatoes have strong availability and sharp pricing. Red and yellow potatoes are steady. We’re seeing some beautiful specialty potatoes right now. Looking for fingerlings? We have Russian Banana, French, Ruby Crescent, and mixed medleys. Our current favorite is the Amarosa variety. We have yet to meet a prettier potato. This fingerling variety has bright red skin and vibrant pink-red flesh. Not only is this potato chock full of antioxidants, but its sweet and creamy flavor is simply delicious. The wine-colored flesh does not fade during cooking—perfect for adding a pop of color to fall dishes. However, we can’t overlook the Huckbleberry Gold. This potato is purple on the outside and golden colored inside. It’s creamy, buttery texture and delicious flavor has earned it a cult following.

Roots

Beets are in abundance on all colors and sizes. Lots to choose from here! Purple-Top turnip supply is unstable due to quality issues relating to heat or pests reported from several key growers. Daikon is steady in all colors: Purple, White and Watermelon. Check out a new daikon variety from Riverdog Farm: Sweet Korean. We love the crisp texture and sweet peppery taste! Jicama has good volume and have been looking and tasting great!

Squash

Zucchini supply has improved—lots of California product available with great pricing. Ask about our pallet deals! Specialty squash has good volume on the mixed medley as well as straight packs of Patti Pan, Sunburst, and Scallopini. Prices are coming down. The hard squash market is steady and abundant on most varieties including Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, Kabocha and Spaghetti. Our favorite this week is the Butterkin—a cross between a pumpkin and a Butternut squash. It has the shape of a small flattened pumpkin but with the tan color of a Butternut. Inside, the flesh is a deep bright orange color with large seeds. Sweet and smooth, this squash is a fall favorite. Start thinking about hard squash bins for your holiday rush. Both mixed and straight packs available at sharp pricing. It’s not too late to stock up on pumpkins for Halloween. We’re offering Jack O’ Lanterns by the bin and Sugar Pie pumpkins by the carton. Don’t miss out on spooktacular deals—talk to your Account Manager about how you can get ahead by ordering pallets and bins.

Tomato

Tomato supply is starting to transition to Mexico growers. Domestic one and two-layer tomatoes are winding down. Mexico grown slicers are in good supply so there should be no gap. Romas are also transitioning to Mexico growers and should be steady going forward. Cherry tomatoes have stronger California supply so should continue although production is slowing. As the weather cools, heirloom production has also slowed. Prices are rising as supply tightens.

 

Nuts

One of our main chestnut growers reported entire crop failure due to blight. While we are also sourcing from other growers, we expect this to impact overall supply and pricing for the season. Our chestnuts are available in jumbo and large sizes. Their mild and sweet texture make them perfect for both sweet and savory dishes. Keep this popular item stocked during the fall and winter months!

 

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.

 

Floral

All fresh flowers from Full Belly Farm and straight packs from Thomas Farm are officially done for the season. Thomas Farm will continue to offer seasonal mixed bouquets. However, with the change of the seasons, we’re excited to reintroduce dried bouquets and dried wreaths from Full Belly Farm. Dried wreaths are sold individually—each one is unique and different! Dried bouquets are sold in 6 counts. Dried floral arrangements are great centerpieces and gifts for the holidays.

 

 

Merchandising Corner

Welcoming Back Roots

Fall not only brings us many varieties of new crop apples and hard squash, it also brings back some of our other favorites like hearty root vegetables. Seasonal favorites like celery root, rutabaga, parsnips and sunchokes arrive just in time for the cooler weather and are perfect for roasting and adding to soups. Keep in mind that many consumers may not be familiar with root vegetables so education is an important piece of effective sales and merchandising. Arm your staff with nutritional information, recipes as well as storage tips. As always, grower highlights are useful and can often sway a customer into selecting an item.

When bringing in these seasonal products remember they should be stored in a refrigerated section in an area that is misted or sprayed. Keeping roots damp and away from heavy airflow will prolong their shelf life. If you find that some of the roots have gotten soft or slightly shriveled, a little trim and a soak in lukewarm water will perk them right up. Checking roots daily for freshness and firmness as well as rehydrating will keep them in peak condition for sales.