Just Peachy

 

What is summer without the lovely peach?  This summer fruit is versatile and can be enjoyed fresh or in any number of savory or sweet preparations.

Peaches belong to the Prunus family, which also includes cherries, apricots, almonds, and plums. Peaches and nectarines are actually the same species even though we consider them different fruits. Peaches have the characteristic fuzz on the skin, whereas nectarines have smooth fuzz-less skin.

Peaches are divided into clingstone and freestone, depending on whether the flesh sticks to the stone or not. Both can have either white or yellow flesh. Peaches with white flesh typically are very sweet with little acidity, and a more floral aroma. Yellow-fleshed peaches typically have more acidity coupled with sweetness, though this also varies. Some yellow peaches have been bred to have more sugar and less acid and are called ‘sub-acid’ varieties. Remember, the more acidic, the more Vitamin C is present, and the flavor is stronger.

The peach is believed to have originated in China as early as 6000 BC in the Zhejiang Province of China. It was later brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. Currently, China produces nearly 60% of the world’s peaches and nectarines. Georgia (also known as the “Peach State”), California, and South Carolina are also big producers.

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

We’re seeing good supply on large and small sizes of Cripps Pink. Crop failure in Europe may impact supply domestically and push prices up. Fuji supply is tightening; look for price increases. Gala pricing will remain strong. Sharp pricing is available on smaller Granny Smith fruit.

Overall, pears are winding down. There is still availability but mostly on larger sizes. Red Anjou are on hand now and we may see some Winter Bartletts soon.

Avocado

California avocadoes are expected to go until September at the latest. The crop is not huge, but the eating quality is terrific. Prices will go up as supply tightens.

Berry

Strawberry supply remains steady. Quality has been strong. Check out JSM Organic Farm strawberries, now arriving in 100% recyclable ReadyCycle™ cardboard containers.  The containers are unwaxed and use vegetable-based ink. We love this new sustainable packaging alternative designed for the existing cardboard recycling stream. Blueberry production from the Northwest is surging. Supply is abundant; prices are competitive. Raspberry supply from Mexico is ending soon. We’ll likely see an extended gap until fall. Blackberry supply is a bit spotty from the Santa Maria region. We may see a gap in the coming weeks when the bushes are trimmed back to clear the berries that are not sizing up.

Citrus

California Valencias are available now but limited and in high demand. Most of our growers are predicting having supply only through August. We’re expecting prices to remain high and increase even more as supply tightens.  Mexican Valencias won’t be coming on until November. Lemons are going to be very tight for the next couple weeks. California supply is winding down fast, and Mexican supply is limited and availability is spotty. Stronger supply of Mexican lemons will be available at the end of July. Meyer lemons are gapping for a couple weeks. Limes are fortunately in better supply and pretty steady. And they are fantastic right now, great flavor and very juicy. Satsuma tangerines from Peru have arrived; pouches and flats are both available.

Fig

The first short crop of figs is winding down. We’ll see a gap until the second crop comes on at the end of July or in early August.

Grape

Supply on black, red Flame and Green seedless grapes is steady. Our main grower has transitioned from the Coachella growing region to Bakersfield in the Central Valley. Other California growers in the Central Valley are starting up. Prices should come down soon.

Kiwi

California kiwi season has come to an end. However, New Zealand fruit is here and keeping supply steady. If you’re looking for something new to add to your shelf or menu, try the gold kiwi fruit. The flavor is sweet and juicy! Cut some open to show customers the beautiful color inside.

Melon

Goddess melon is in good supply. Although similar to Cantaloupe, the “netting” on the skin of the Goddess melon is not as raised as that of a Cantaloupe. The flesh is softer and very fruity. Goddess melon is delicious in smoothies! Galia, Honeydew, and Cantaloupe are plentiful. Orange Honeydew continues to be tight. We’re seeing strong volume on full-size seeded and seedless watermelon bins and on mini seedless as well.

Stone fruit

Blenheim apricots are plentiful. This apricot variety is delicious to eat right out of hand. The honey-like flavor has the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. Bing cherries are just about done, but Darksweet (all sweet red types) will continue due to cool weather in the Northwest.  Rainiers are a bit tight and their season will wrap up before the Darksweets are finished. Unreliable trucking from Washington and Oregon has made sourcing fruit from this region a little more challenging. White nectarines are in good supply. Yellow nectarines have been somewhat limited, but supply is improving. Yellow peaches are eating great, and prices have been firm, particularly on larger sizes. Washington’s cooler weather has increased demand on California product. White peaches are steadier, we are proud to offer Naylor Organics’ Babcock white peach which is heavenly! Red plums are in good supply this week but generally the crop is short. Black plums are less available than red plum, thus commanding higher prices. We’re going to have to wait a little longer for Dapple Fire pluots as they need more time to ripen. Pluots usually come on heavy at the end of July.

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

Supply is limited and prices are up. We’re getting all we can!

Bean

Green beans are steady but more limited. Expect prices to be higher. Fava beans are extremely limited. Yellow wax beans and French beans are relatively steady. Purple beans are gapping. Have you heard of Chinese red noodle beans? This stunning deep red-purple bean from Comanche Creek will draw lots of attention on your produce stand. The pods can grow up to 18” long! They are full of nutrients and even keep some of the color when cooked.

Cauliflower

White cauliflower supply is limited due to aphid pressure and heat related issues. Cheddar cauliflower is back in supply and available at competitive pricing.

Cabbage

Green cabbage continues to have strong supply. Red cabbage is still limited and prices remain high. Savoy cabbage is steady. Napa prices have spiked as a result of a decrease in production due to sizing issues.

Corn

We’re seeing an abundance of bi-color and white corn right now. Our growers have strong and steady volume. Quality is high!

Cucumber

Slicers are in good supply. Prices have been steady. Persian cucumbers are extremely limited and prices are high. We’re seeing small shots of English cucumbers but availability remains shaky. Lemon cucumbers are readily available. These are an heirloom variety named for its size and yellow color, rather than flavor. It has a mild, clean, crisp non-lemony taste.

Eggplant

Globe prices are up as supply has tightened. Japanese and Chinese specialty eggplant are on hand now.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

With the summer heat in the daytime and cool nights, this can be a challenging time of year for boxed greens. Fortunately, quality issues have been minimal and supply has been good. Bunched dino (a.k.a. lacinato) and green kale are steady. Romaine lettuce is steady, but other leaf and butter lettuces may be more limited. Our main local grower is expecting a gap in August after missing a planting this month. However, our diverse mix of growers should keep supply steady through this period. Basil, cilantro, and parsley are all steady.

Onion

Peri & Sons Farms will be coming back with their California crop of red and yellow onions starting next week. Phil Foster Ranches will also be coming on with their Pinnacle label onions soon.  Both growers should have good supply. Shallots are finally back in limited supply. Volume is small to start but should improve mid-to late July.

Pepper

Overall pepper availability is starting to ramp up as more California growers come on with bells. Prices are falling fast on both choice and large/extra-large green bell peppers. Supply is strong. Orange bells are very limited. Supply for red bells is improving. Yellow bells are limited; we’ll see a small shot from Mexico but may see a gap after that. Serranos, jalapeños and Anaheims are in steady supply. Cherry bombs are back! Still no availability on poblanos and sweet mini pepper medley. Gypsy yellow peppers are one of the first specialty peppers to come on. Don’t overlook the Italian sweet frying peppers! We love the sweet and mildly pungent flavor. Fried, stuffed, or pickled—these are perfect for summer soirées.

Potato

Yukon gold potatoes are done for the season. However, we’ll see Golden ‘A’s and ‘B’s starting up for those looking for a delicious yellow potato. Red potatoes have great supply. Now is the time to try specialty potatoes! Bi-color Mascarade, buttery German Butterball, beautiful Mountain Rose—you name it, we got it! Plenty of fingerling options on hand including rainbow fingerlings, French fingerlings, and Russian Banana.  Let your Account Manager know if you’re interested in a specific variety not on our list!

Root

The first trickle of specialty roots has begun with Scarlet Queen turnips. Daikon is in good supply. Celery root is still limited. Rutabaga, parsnip, and purple-top turnips still have availability. The beet market is a little erratic right now. Bunched beet prices are a bit higher than normal. Generally, there is good supply on all red, gold, and Chioggia beets.

Specialty Vegetable

Nopales (cactus pads), okra, and tomatillo are all in good supply.

Squash

Zucchini is readily available. Crookneck is going strong. We’re still seeing steady supply on mixed medley specialty squash. California hard squash season is picking up and we’ll have steady availability on most varietals. Kabocha squash is very limited.  Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, Spaghetti, and Celebration (similar to Carnival squash) are all in good supply.

Tomato

California is coming on with tomatoes. One-layer slicers are tight, but two-layers are in good supply with product from both Mexico and local California growers. Tomatoes-on-vine are steady. California-grown Romas are starting with limited numbers. Cherry tomatoes are plentiful in every size and color. We have Sungold, Sweet 100, Juliette, mixed medley, heirloom medley, and more! California heirlooms are picking up as more growers come on. Mixed heirloom packs have good volume. Straight packs are more limited right now. Early girl tomatoes have started. Look for these under the “Saladette” tomatoes on our list.

 

Merchandising Corner

Fermentation and Pickling

If you have a deli area or access to a production kitchen, pickling and fermenting fruits and vegetables, is a great way to enjoy summer’s bounty well through the colder months. It is also a great way to introduce delicious value-added products. Once considered just a side dish, pickles (which encompasses all types) and fermented foods are gaining popularity with chefs, home cooks and everday consumers.

Fermentation is a word we hear a lot these days but what does it really mean and what is the

difference between fermenting and pickling? Both fermenting and pickling are ancient methods used to preserve food. The confusion between the two happens because they actually overlap. Some fermented foods are pickled, and some pickled foods are fermented. Still confused? Let’s break it down a little more.

Pickling is a method that preserves food in a brine (salt or salty water) or an acid like vinegar or lemon juice. Fermentation is a technique that preserves and transforms food by using the benign bacteria that lives naturally on the surface of the food. The actual definition is the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and giving off heat. But what does that all really mean? During fermentation, the sugars and carbohydrates present in the food have been eaten by the good bacteria (often lactic acid bacteria). The bacteria then convert that sugar into other substances, like acids, carbon dioxide, and alcohol and those substances preserve the food and add to its flavor. So that is the secret to why fermented food is so tasty: all those active bacteria! Most fermented foods, like pickles, start out in a brine. Some items can be both pickled and fermented. While pickled items are still nutritious, fermented foods are the ones that provide amazing health benefits like beneficial enzymes, B vitamins, Omega‐3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.

Whether you make your own in-house or carry some ready-made brands, stocking pickled and fermented items is an easy way to increase basket size. Cross merchandise miso next to eggplants for delicious Nasu Dengaku. How about kimchi near your summer BBQ display for a quick and easy side dish? Pair sauerkraut with your favorite sausage. The possibilities are endless! Now is the time to help shoppers discover the deliciousness of pickled and fermented foods!