Maple Madness

As the weather cools down, we turn our attention to fall favorites: apples, pears, winter squash, pomegranates, and more. But let’s not overlook one quintessential fall item: maple syrup.

We’re pretty familiar with the delicious golden syrup enjoyed with our pancakes, but what is maple syrup and where does it come from?

Maple syrup is the extraction and rendering of sap from a stand of maple tree known as a sugarbush. In February, a taphole is drilled out and a spout is put in place that feeds into a bucket or a tube. In March or April, the sap will begin to flow. This sap is clear and watery with only about two percent sugar.

Once the sap has been collected, it is boiled to evaporate excess water. The remaining liquid turns a golden color and thickens. Once it is ready, it is filtered and cooled. The syrup flavor and color is graded. Amber syrup is normally made early in the season and is lighter in color. It has a smooth buttery flavor. Dark syrup is usually made later in the season and has a darker hue. It has a stronger classic rich maple flavor.

Check out our full line of organic maple products including maple sugar candy, whipped maple cream, and maple syrup sourced from Maple Valley Co-Op, a producer co-op modeled after the famed Organic Valley. These are great items to stock as we head into fall and the holidays!

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Cox’s Orange Pippin and Cortland heirloom varieties have come on. Look for Arkansas Black, Orleans Reinette, and King David next! Heirloom varieties are older varieties that sometimes date back hundreds of years to when apples were grown for specific purposes such as cooking, baking, juice, or hard cider. These heirloom apples were diverse in shape, size, color, texture, and taste. We’re seeing promotable pricing on Gala 113 count. California-grown Fuji, Granny Smith, and Braeburn are steady. Rosalyn and Smitten have started. Smitten has complex aromatics, balanced sweet flavor with hints of tart, combined with phenomenal crunch. Rosalynn is a hybrid variety with mildly sweet, crisp flavor. When cut, the apple does not turn brown.

Now is the time to build up your pear display and switch out menus. Customers are looking for the freshest seasonal fruit. Bartlett, Bosc, Orca, Seckel, and Starkrimson are in good supply. Asian pears have abundant supply. New Century, 20th Century, Kosui, and Shinko are all available.

Berry

Strawberry production from local growers is winding down. We’ll see more fruit from the Santa Maria region as we head into October. Northwest blueberry season is winding down. Blackberry supply is steady. Raspberry supply remains spotty. Cranberry will be starting from Canada the first week of October. The first variety harvested is the Crimson Queen, followed  by the Stevens.

Citrus

California limes from Beck Grove are plentiful. We love any fruit from this San Diego County biodynamic grower! Lemons are steady. Prices are starting to come down on 140 count; 115 count remains high and somewhat limited.  Valencia orange are winding down and will be limited. Pauma Valley Citrus will still have Valencias through September. Grapefruit from Doc’s Organic have just started up and should have continued supply.

Fig

Figs are winding down. Black Mission are still going. Adriatic are extremely limited. Kadota are done. Brown Turkey are becoming more limited. Fig prices are going up as supply tightens.

Grape

Bronx are done for the season but Flame, Scarlet, and other red seedless are in good supply. Prices are a bit firmer. Green grapes are also in good supply. Biodynamic Thompson grapes from Marian Farms are a bit limited due to labor, but should continue until it rains. Plenty of black, Thomcord and Concord grapes are available as well.

Kiwi

Kiwi berries have strong volume. Don’t miss the chance to try these adorable mini kiwis this season! Sweet, easy to eat, and without the fuzz of regular kiwis. What’s not to love? Kiwi berries are also packed with Vitamin C—more than an orange!

Mango

Keitt mango supply from Mexico is ending soon. Remaining supply is non-treated, which means they have not been treated with chemicals or hot water, ensuring natural ripening and flavor. Ataulfo mango from Ecuador are expected to come on early this season! We should see them come on mid-October, so there should only be a short gap in supply. Tommy Atkins from Ecuador are still slated for November.

Melon

In October, our melon offering features Rundle Family Farm cantaloupes! Local mini seedless watermelon will continue to be in good supply for another couple weeks. Canary and Honeydew will also be in steady supply to round out your display.

Pomegranate

Purple Velvet pomegranate is ending but Early Wonderful is just starting. This variety is large, deep red, thin-skinned, and delicious! Let your Account Manager know if you’re interested in pomegranate bins.

Specialty Fruit

What better way to get in the fall spirit than to stock up on quince? This specialty fruit has a wonderful vanilla-citrus-apple aroma that is released when it ripens as room temperature. Although inedible raw, when cooked, quince is transformed into a sweet, delicate, and fragrant treat. Quince paste, anyone? White dragon fruit is sporadically available. Red (fuchsia flesh) dragon fruit is in good supply for now. Passion fruit is very limited.

Stone fruit

Stone fruit continues to wind down quickly. There is some limited supply of yellow nectarine from Washington. There is one more surprise pick of California white peach. Black and red plum are almost done. California pluots are becoming less available; Washington has limited supply of pluots.

 

Vegetables

Bean

Green bean availability is picking up. Prices are high.

Bok Choy

Baby bok choy (mei qing) and bok choy supply is improving.

Brussels Sprout

Brussels are steady. Stalks have arrived! These are a great eye-catching item for your fall display.

Corn

Bicolor corn is almost ending; we’ll have just one last shot. White should continue through mid-October.

Cucumber

Persian cucumber supply remains tight; prices are up. English cucumbers are back in supply. Slicer cukes are very limited on 36 count size. Fortunately, 42 count are in good supply.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

Chard prices remain high and availability spotty. Green and Dino (a.k.a. Lacinato) kale are in good supply and should remain steady. Lettuce is limited across varieties but improving slightly. Many growers are experiencing issues in the field and slow growth. Romaine supply will continue to be tight but prices should stabilize soon. Prices are expected to come down in the beginning of October. Red leaf lettuce is very limited. Green leaf has better availability. Cilantro and parsley have strong supply.

Leek

Leek supply has tightened and prices are increasing.

Pea

Pea production has slowed. We may see some gaps. Sugar snap pea supply is not consistent. Snow peas are not available.

Pepper

Green, red, and yellow bell pepper are readily available at sharp pricing. Orange are still limited; prices are up. Jalapeños are tight, but there is no shortage of peppers available to satisfy your chili needs. Check out our selection of hot Anaheim, Cayenne, Red Jalapeño, Poblano, and more. Red Jalapeño have ripened on the vine longer than Jalapeño, which means they’re spicier due to the higher amount of capsaicin in the pepper itself. Specialty peppers are also in good supply. We’re offering delicious varieties such as Lipstick, Shishito, and Italian Frying.

Root

Daikon supply is limited. Turnip availability has improved as more growers come on. Rutabaga has started. Beets are readily available. We’re seeing steady volume on red, gold, Chioggia, and Forono. It’s time to turn up the beet!

Squash

Hard squash season is upon us! Supply is strong and steady with many varieties available. Green Acorn, Butternut, Carnival, Delicata, Festival, Kabocha (green, red, and orange!), Spaghetti, and Sugar Pie pumpkin are all readily available.  Mixed squash cartons and bins are also here. Don’t forget to get your Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin orders in for Halloween! Zucchini and Gold Zucchini have good supply.

Tomato

Roma tomatoes are limited. One- and two-layer slicer supply is very tight. We’re getting everything we can. Tomatoes-on-vine (TOV) are in good supply. Saladette or dry-farmed has good volume. Open-pint cherry tomatoes are mostly steady. Sungold and Mini Charm are limited. California heirlooms are continuing for about two more weeks.

 

Nuts

It’s the most wonderful time of the year; chestnut season is here! Our chestnuts are from Heath Ranch in Orland, California and available in jumbo and large sizes. Their mild and sweet texture make them perfect for both sweet and savory dishes. Fresh chestnuts can be prepared in any number of ways—roasted, steamed, boiled, deep fried and even microwaved! Don’t forget to score the skin of a fresh chestnut before cooking to allow steam to escape and prevent exploding chestnuts. Keep this popular item stocked during the winter months!

 

Floral

Fresh flowers from Full Belly Farm are almost done, but that just means it’s time for dried floral bouquets and  dried wreaths! We love the delicate intricacies of these handmade arrangements—no two are alike! Thomas Farm is continuing with Sunflowers and Dahlias for a bit longer.

 

Grocery

Have you heard? We’re now carrying organic dairy products from Alexandre Family Farm. This family-owned and -operated farm is located in Crescent City in Del Norte County. The farm operates four grass-based organic dairies with crossbred cows that produce milk that contains A2/A2 beta-casein protein. This protein is present in human milk and is easier for most people to digest. The farm uses old-fashioned methods and simple ingredients combined with a holistic approach to farming to produce some of the most delicious dairy products we’ve ever tasted. Check out their 6% butterfat whole milk (yes, 6%!), flavored milks (vanilla, chocolate, ginger turmeric), cream-top yogurt, and pastured eggs

With the arrival of fall, we can officially say it’s maple season again! We offer a full line of organic maple products including maple syrup in various size packs, maple sugar candy, and whipped maple cream from Maple Valley Co-Op. All Maple Valley products are certified organic and free of additives, preservatives, and formaldehyde as well as being kosher certified and vegan.

 

Merchandising Corner

Transitioning to Fall

It’s time for the seasonal transition from summer to fall produce. Before we jump straight into winter squash and sweet potatoes, let’s take time and make space to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of the fall harvest. Apples, pears, and pomegranates are in full swing while grapes are still going strong. As stone fruit is exiting the stage, it’s time to switch up displays and highlight these new products. Customers are always looking for the new, best, and in-season fruit.

Apples are great to always have in abundant amounts to offer your shoppers. Promote sales by including pre-bagged paper totes of apples into your bulk apple display. This way, customers’ favorite varieties are bagged up and ready for quick purchase. It’s the fresh produce version of grab and go! This is a convenience that really moves product, and of course, you still have the bulk apples for the customers that want to select their own fruit. Apples are great and one of the ten top-selling produce items sold in any department. This is one item that you can always count on customers continually coming back and stocking up on. Fortunately, apples will be great supply and there will be many opportunities to offer them to your customer on ad or in-store special.

California grapes won’t be around much longer, but they still have some time and their quality is holding strong. Now is the perfect chance to highlight grapes in the department and give them a last hurrah before they are done for the year. Everybody loves grapes. Studies show the more grapes you display, the more likely it is that shoppers will buy! Let’s savor their season while they’re here.

Pomegranates and pears, on the other hand, are just starting. These late-summer beauties always get us thinking about fall. With all the varieties of pears available, the display options are limitless.  Display them all together on an end cap, or separate the Bartlett, Starkrimson, and Bosc from all of the round Asian varieties. Get creative and try cross-merchandising some cheese into the display. Brie is the obvious perfect match for pears but there are also hard dry cheeses that complement pears well, like Pecorino Romano and aged Gouda. Pomegranates are also a nice addition to the pear display. The color and shape stand out as a great color and texture break from the smooth, mostly earth-toned pears.

The change from summer to fall is always a welcome time of year. Everyone is ready for the change in the weather and seasonal food.