Dragon fruit or pitaya is easily one of the most unique looking fruits out there. It is egg shaped with pink, red or yellow skin and covered with scale-like leaves. It’s no wonder where it got its name! Dragon fruit refers to the fruit of the genus Hylocereus, part of the Cactaceae family. It is indigenous to the Americas and is currently cultivated in Southeast Asia, Florida, the Caribbean, Australia and various parts of California during the late summer season. The flesh can vary from white, pink or red with tiny black seeds. It tastes mildly sweet–a blend of kiwi and pear with a slightly crunchy texture.
Not only is this tropical fruit beautiful, it’s one of the healthiest to consume. It’s loaded with antioxidants, Vitamin C, calcium, lycopene, and omega fatty acids—needless to say, this super food is very good for you!
To store, keep dragon fruit in a refrigerated space to slow down the ripening process. Be sure to seal in a bag or container as the flavor can be affected by other foods and odors in the refrigerator. Dragon fruit can also be kept at room temperature if you plan on enjoying in the next few days.
To enjoy, slice dragon fruit lengthwise. Cut into quarters and peel back the skin. Only consume the flesh containing seeds as the leathery skin can be bitter.
Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.
Apple and Pear
As we ease into apple season, varietal release dates may vary up to 2-3 weeks due to weather. In the heirloom world, Gravenstein are going for another week or two. Look for Biodynamic Red Gravenstein coming soon from Mount Hood Organics. Pink Pearl have arrived. California grown new crop Fuji has started. Supply will be light to start but improve as more growers come on throughout September. Washington Fuji is expected to start mid-September. California Gala is steady. Washington Gala are coming on strong. California Granny Smith has also started. Prices will start to come down on Washington Honeycrisp. We’re seeing sharp pricing on Pristine and Jonafree. Look for Rosalynn, Smitten and Tsugaru coming soon!
Bartlett and Bosc are in good supply. Washington Starkrimson are available now. Columbia Gorge is expecting a shorter crop this year, but supply should pick up in September when we start to see more from Bridges Produce. Local vendors are moving out of the Hosui Asian pear and into the Shin-Li and Shinko varieties. Shin-Li has greenish-yellow russeted coloring and wonderful crisp, spicy flavor. The Shinko is sweet and juicy with a brandy aroma and crisp, firm texture. Look for the Kosui variety from Columbia Gorge next week.
Hass prices are going up again, particularly on 48, 70 and 84 count fruit. 40 count is more readily available. Greenskin Reed has started from Southern California. Unfortunately, these won’t be around for long as a heat wave has led to an unexpectedly short crop.
Blueberry production is starting up out of the Santa Maria, California region. Quality is strong—the berries are big and beautiful! Supply will be uncertain going forward. Local strawberry is becoming less available as we head into the fall season and supply winds down in September. Blackberry has strong volume. Raspberry supply is steady.
Valencia orange is expected to last through September and into October. Grapefruit is ending in about a week and will gap until the winter season starts up. Supply is very limited. Mexican lemons are in good supply. California lemons are starting up. Supply will be spotty for a few weeks. Finger limes are available via pre-order.
Black Mission fig has great supply; prices are promotable. Adriatic and Kadota are more limited. Brown Turkey is slowing down.
Chinese tariffs are pushing the market down on red and green seedless grapes. Increased pricing on organic grape export to China has caused a reduction in imports from California and resulted in oversupply. Bronx, Valley Pearl and Thomcord are going strong. Concord grape should be available in about a week. Muscat are available for a little longer. Look for Biodynamic Thompson seedless grapes from Marian Farms coming soon. These are a summer favorite. The grapes are handpicked at peak ripeness ensuring full, sweet flavor and attractive clusters that range in color from translucent green-yellow to golden-amber.
Kent mango supply from Mexico is steady. These mangoes are non-treated, which means they do not require chemical or hot water treatment. This ensures natural ripening and delicious flavor. Mangoes are larger this time of year and prices are higher.
Mini seedless watermelons are back in steady supply. Specialty melons from Riverdog Farm and Full Belly Farm would continue for at least another week. Ambrosia, Charentais, Haogen, Sharlyn, Tuscan Lope—we have ‘em all!
Fall is coming, which means magenta fleshed dragon fruit is here! Supply is steady. Select fruit is smaller than premium fruit and does not differ in quality, grade, or appearance other than size. The flavor is mildly sweet, like a blend of kiwi and pear. The vibrant pink color makes for gorgeous smoothies, fruit salads and more! Biodynamic passionfruit has started. Gold Line white peach from Naylor Organics is still available for a bit longer. This variety has a thin gold line running vertically through each piece of fruit. They are juicy and delicate like most white peach. Fresh jujube is coming! The Li variety will be available through September. This variety has a round shape, light texture and refreshing sweetness. As the fruit browns, the sweetness also increases!
The weather is turning colder in the Northwest and stone fruit season is wrapping up rapidly. White nectarine are just about done. Yellow nectarine supply is winding down. White peach should last about another week. Yellow peach supply is tightening up. Black plum supply is steady. We’ve loving the Friar and Black Kat. Red plums are readily available. Dapple Dandy pluots are almost over, but not too worry as more pluot varieties are coming!
The broccoli market is starting to slide and prices are coming down. Cauliflower is really limited.
Green, red and Napa cabbage have steady supply.
Bicolor and white corn are in good supply. Bicolor corn will end in September, while white is expected to go to mid-October.
The cucumber market is tightening as local supply winds down. Prices are increasing.
Globe eggplant is limited; prices are up. With supply of Mexican-grown eggplant available, we do not expect to see any gaps. Specialty eggplant is plentiful—lots of varieties available such as Black Beauty, Gretel, Listada, and Machiaw.
Greens, Lettuce & Herbs
Rainbow chard has been a bit limited; prices are up. Green kale supply is tightening. Dino aka lacinato kale is in better supply. Green leaf, red leaf and Romaine are in good supply. Dill is still gapping. Oregano supply remains unreliable.
We should see promotable volume on onions in a couple weeks as one of our main onion grower moves into full production. Supply should be good going into the Labor Day holiday weekend and the next few months. Shallots are steady.
Orange and yellow bell pepper are still extremely limited and expensive. The season is winding down on both varieties. However, Sweet Spanish yellow peppers have steady volume. Green and red bells have good supply.
Chili peppers are plentiful—lots of delicious varieties to check out. Hatch chilies from New Mexico are readily available. We love the earthy flavor and heat (which ranges from medium to hot!) Looking for a real scorcher? Orange Habanero are one of the hottest on our list. Red Jalapeno have all the flavor of a green Jalapeno with that extra bit of heat from ripening longer on the vines. Specialty peppers with less heat are also readily available. Pimento pepper is sweet and very mild. The most popular use of pimentos is in pimento cheese aka “the caviar of the South.” Italian Sweet Frying are sweet and delicious. Great for frying, stuffing and pickling! Shishito is flavorful and is delicious grilled with a pint of salt and citrus.
Watermelon daikon availability will be improving soon and should be steady. Parsnip will gap for a couple weeks until fall plantings are ready. Turnip are limited as well and rutabaga are winding down. Bagged beets have strong supply in all colors and sizes. Bunched red beets from the Northwest have good volume and quality. We’re seeing clean roots and beet tops.
Zucchini is becoming more limited as local supply tightens up. Prices are going up. Sunburst and Gold Bar have steady volume. It’s starting to look a lot like hard squash season! Sugar Pie and Red Kuri have come on. Prices are on the higher side, as it is the beginning of the season. Both green Kabocha and orange Kabocha are available. Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, and Spaghetti are steady. Can’t decide which squash to order? Check out our mixed squash boxes which includes Acorn, Orange Kabocha, Carnival, Butternut and Festival.
Roma supply is tightening as local growers wind down. Tomatoes-on-vine (TOV) are very limited. Cherry tomatoes are abundant with lots of varieties on hand. Heirloom tomatoes are in good supply. Dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes are readily available. The sweet, vine ripened flavor is downright addicting. Get these now before the season is over! Look for them under “Saladette” on our availability list.
The Importance of SOPs
No matter the size of your department, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) is essential to your success. SOPs are daily operating guidelines that state expectations for staff along with how and when tasks are to be performed. Not only does this help the department run smoothly when managers are not around, but it also serves as a training manual for staff to reference. Depending on the size of the department, SOPs can be broken down into Morning, Afternoon and Closing shifts or more detailed outlines for larger departments. You can make them more specific like Opener 1, Opener 2, Prep, Mid-shift, Receiving, Closer 1 and Closer 2. The more specific you are, the easier it is to keep the department operating consistently. Having consistency means fresh, well rotated product, full beautiful displays, timely breaks and a clean department as well as back room. SOPs are also important training materials for new hires. Departments should strive to train employees to work at the same skill level and with the same level of quality control and consistency. With these guidelines in place, you can be confident your department is looking its best with well-maintained displays and the freshest produce.
If you don’t have SOPs in place and would like to create some for your department, start by observing what goes on in your department daily. Make notes about what works well, what does not and how could you make things better and more efficient. Then, map out how you need the day to flow by listing opening tasks that need to be completed before opening, other tasks to be completed throughout the day with a timeline line of when those tasks need to be done before the next shift begins. Do the same for closing and any other shifts in your department. Having good materials available for new clerks during training is more than just a useful how-to but also helps with frustration and confusion new staff may have about what to do. The clear expectations are also a great tool to help keep staff accountable. In the end, these tools are all put into place to make your job of running a successful department easier.
If this sounds like something you would like to implement in your department, reach out to your Account Manager and they can get you in touch with Veritable Vegetable Merchandising resources to help you get started!