All Hail the Mighty Cabbage

Often overlooked, cabbage is one of the healthiest and most versatile vegetables available. It’s mild, sweet, delicious and plentiful year-round. As a member of the Brassicaceae family, it’s related to other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, collard greens, and brussels sprouts. Not only is this multi-layer vegetable high in vitamins and nutrients, it has anti-inflammatory properties and has been attributed to a number of health benefits.

The exact origin of cabbage is difficult to trace thanks to the many varieties of leafy greens classified as brassicas. Cabbage was likely domesticated somewhere in Europe before 1000 BC and believed to have been brought to the Americas in 1541-42.  It is now widely grown and used worldwide.

Cabbage comes in several types from purple and smooth to green and crinkled. The most common and popular varieties include Savoy, Green, Red, and Napa. Savoy is characterized by crimped or curly leaves with mild flavor and tender texture. Green varies from light to dark green with slightly pointed heads. Red has smooth red leaves that are packed tightly. Napa has long, light green leaves and mild flavor with a peppery kick.

Along with the variety of cultivars, cabbage can be prepared in many ways. Whether pickled, fermented, steamed, stewed, sautéed, braised, or raw, you can’t go wrong with cabbage this season!

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Most Washington growers are done packing Honeycrisp apples. Get them while you can! Pink Lady apples from Cuyama Orchards are starting to wind down but supply is expected to last through the end of March. Opal is done for the season. There are great deals on Braeburn. Gala are plentiful; price is sharp and promotable. Fuji is steady. Granny Smith is in good supply and will start to wind down in a few weeks.

We have Bartlett pears from Argentina! Look for Red Bartlett in a few weeks. There is also some Washington fruit still available.

Avocado

Fuerte are just about done for the season so grab these last few cases while you can!  Whitsell Hass are readily available. This “heirloom” variety looks just like a Hass with similar delicious flavor.  The next green skin varieties will be Ettinger and Gwen, both good eating avocados. So many great choices! Hass are steady, with good supply from several different California growers.

Berry

Rain and stormy weather will likely shut down California strawberry production. Mexican product should keep supply steady.

Citrus

Rain may affect availability of citrus next week and some items may gap. Limes are getting really tight and prices are on the rise. Meyer lemons have strong steady supply.

B&J Ranch is finishing up with their Rio Red grapefruit. Ruby grapefruit from B&J Ranch is still plentiful. African Shaddock and Thai Sweet pomelo are still available.

We have California grown Valencias! Although Navels are winding down, our diverse mix of growers will keep supply steady for a few more weeks. The last of Zulan are on hand. The bitter flavor makes this the perfect marmalade orange!

TDE tangerines are winding down. However, we have several delicious citrus varieties starting up. Murcotts are coming on a lot earlier this year and will likely not be around in late April as in previous years. Golden Nuggets are also starting up. Expect to see Pixies at the beginning of March. Tangos are readily available. We love this exceptionally juicy variety. The skin is packed with citrus oil—great for muddling or using as an aromatic. Minneolas are in good supply. The sweet tart flavor makes this a season favorite!

Mango

Ataulfo prices have down significantly. Tommy Atkins are expected to come on in a couple weeks.

Melon

Mini seedless watermelon supply is steady. Harper melons should be back on a week.

Pineapple

Pineapple supply is tightening and prices are increasing.

 

Stone fruit

It’s still early, but California’s recent freezing temperatures will likely impact early stone fruit production and may result in reduced harvests similar to 2017 levels.

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

Prices are up as supply continues to tighten. With the recent freezing temperatures in California, artichokes available during this season are “frost kissed.” When temperatures drop below 32 degrees, the artichokes’ skin darkens and produces a nuttier flavor. The brown outer layer falls off once cooked but the delicious flavor remains. Don’t miss out on this seasonal treat!

Asparagus

California asparagus supply is very limited due to unfavorable weather. Prices are up.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

The broccoli market is tightening and prices are rising. Desert production appears to have slowed. Local production for broccoli and baby broccoli has started but the frosty temperatures in the Bay Area are causing some purpling on the heads. Cauliflower supply is also tight and the market is active with production in the desert affected by weather and pest damage. Salinas Valley production has slowed due to cold temperatures.

Cabbage

Green and red cabbage are in good supply. Savoy and Napa are steady. Keep this veggie stocked as we get closer to St. Patrick’s Day for festive celebrations and dinners.

Celery

Desert production of celery is limited due to quality concerns. Check out celery from Fresh Venture Farms, growing in the Central Coast region. The color is greener than what we normally see from the desert this time of year.

Cucumber

Slicer cucumbers have steady price and supply. Persian clamshells are in good supply. Bulk Persians are expected to gap for another two weeks. European cucumber prices are down.

Greens & Herbs

Local supply of bunched greens is expected to slow as a result of cold temperatures in California. Desert operations are struggling with aphid pressure. Boxed greens are set to transition back to the Salinas region starting mid-March. Iced and bunched herbs are in good supply.

Pepper

Orange and yellow bell pepper prices are coming up. Green bell pepper has strong supply and sharp pricing.

Root

Parsnip prices are going up. Jicama supply is coming on mid-March. Supply will not be steady at the start of the season due to curing time.

Squash

Acorn squash and Delicata are winding down. California grown butternut is steady. Red Kuri is gapping until mid-March. Kabocha and Spaghetti are readily available.

Tomato

Roma prices remain low. One and two-layer slicer tomatoes are steady. Del Cabo tomatoes-on-vine (TOV) are winding down but product from Wholesum Harvest is continuing so we do not expect any interruption in supply.

 

Fresh-cut

Have you tried Organic Riced Veggie retail packs from Earthbound Farm? Riced veggies are precut vegetables that are “riced” into small rice-size pieces with a base of cauliflower. This new product satisfies consumers demand for healthy and convenient items that are also the perfect carb replacement. The packs are available in three mixes: Cauliflower Medley, Cauliflower & Broccoli and Cauliflower. Sold in 14-ounce bags (6 units per case), these packs will be available for preorder only.

 

Grocery

After challenging transportation issues from Wisconsin, our maple syrup products from Maple Valley Co-op are back on hand.  Order up!

Check out organic, soy free, pasture raised eggs from Rockside Ranch, based out of California’s Scott Valley. This 100-acre farm works with a variety of heritage breed hens to produce organic pasture-raised and soy free eggs. The hens live outside with easy access to shelter. They are moved multiple times each week throughout their pasture during spring, summer and fall. Rockside offers farm programs for at-risk youths and rehabilitated individuals to work on the farm and learn the trade.

 

Merchandising Corner

Gearing up for St. Patrick’s Day

St Patrick’s Day is a holiday that is all about the food. It is after all The Feast of Saint Patrick. The typical St Patrick’s Day meal is generally focused around beef, lamb, potatoes, cabbage. Retail wise this is one of the easier holidays to prepare for with the abundance of beautiful cabbages, long elegant bunched carrots and hearty potatoes.

A couple weeks before the holiday, display an end cap with green cabbage, red and Yukon potatoes in a highly visible and high traffic area. This will help promote and move those in-demand holiday items. Cross merchandising with some floor stacks of Irish beers is also an attractive addition and will bring more attention to these produce items. Promote less popular but still vital produce ingredients like garlic, onions, carrots and fresh herbs. Draw attention to these items with eye-catching St. Patrick’s Day themed signage such as “Key Ingredients for Shepherd’s Pie.”  Strategically placing just a few of these signs around the store items as well as providing recipes will pique interest and inspire the urge to cook. Providing extra information or guidance to shoppers will help increases your sales.

Recipes can help make or break a sale. Print and place copies of a few St. Patrick’s Day ones for customers next to your holiday themed end cap and other busy areas like the Customer Service desk or sample table. Include a couple vegan recipes as well as the traditional hearty ones. Here are a few delicious recipes that can be printed out and made available to customers:

Shepherd’s Pie– This pie is a favorite of many. With the combination of savory meats and vegetables like carrots, peas, corn, onions smothered in mashed potatoes, who could resist? Want to make it vegan? Just substitute mushrooms for meat.

Lamb Stew- This is a nice change of pace from the typically served corned beef and hash. Simple rustic stew with carrots, potatoes and lamb is delicious and easy to prepare.

Irish Colcannon Mac and Cheese- This is a great dish for the kids that maybe be joining you St Patrick’s Day feast. Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish that is most commonly made with mashed red potatoes, cabbage or kale, onions and bacon. This take on that traditional dish has a fun twist with the addition of pasta, cheese and bread crumbs.

Vegan Colcannon- This is a simple dish of red or russet potatoes, cabbage leeks, soy milk and seasonings.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef Cabbage Stew- This is a great easy recipe that has all of your favorite St Pat’s food in one pot. This stew has cabbage, potatoes, carrots, celery, white onion and of course corned beef.