Author Archives: Veritable Vegetable

The History of Halloween Pumpkins

With Halloween just a couple weeks away, the pumpkin mania is at its peak. Every grocery store, coffee shop and bakery has pumpkin displays, drinks, and baked goods prominently promoted. But did you know that the association of pumpkins with Halloween is a relatively recent phenomenon?

Halloween comes from the Irish festival Samhain, (pronounced sow-win) a celebration that marked the transition from the summer harvest season to winter. It was believed that spirits of the ancestors lurked in the shadows during the festival. To distract the spirits, people would carve faces into large turnips and set candles inside. They would place the turnip lanterns on roadways and next to gates to light the way for travelers.

The celebration of Halloween in America is traced back to the mid-1800s when Irish immigrants began arriving. The first mention of pumpkin carving was in 1866 in a children’s magazine. This tradition grew more and more popular and by 1920, Halloween was embraced everywhere in the country. As pumpkin carving grew into a lucrative industry, American farmers bred new lines of squash specifically for carving. Massachusetts farmer John Howden developed the Howden pumpkin in the 1960s, and it is still the most popular carving pumpkin in America.

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

There’s no shortage of heirloom apples right now. We’re seeing some not-to-be-missed varieties! King David is a lesser known variety with sweet and tart flavor with spicy nuances of wine.  Northern Spy offers a bit of tartness with sweet, pear-like flavor. Check out our full list of heirlooms! Smitten is winding down. Rosalynn, Jazz, Kanzi and Mutsu (aka Crispin) have arrived. In Japan, the Mutsu is known as the “Million Dollar Apple” and is revered for its delightfully sweet, crunchy and spicy flavor. Fuji, Gala and Honeycrisp are in good supply.

Pears are plentiful with many delicious varieties on the scene from local and Washington growers. Bartlett, Bosc, Orca, Red Comice, Red D’Anjou, Red Hailey, Seckel, and Starkrimson are all available now. New Century, 20th Century, and Kosui Asian pears are steady.

Avocado

California grown Hass should continue for three more weeks. The oh-so-creamy, nutty flavored MacArthur is limited. Get ‘em while supply lasts!

Berry

Strawberry production from local growers is winding down this month. We’ll  start to see more fruit from the Santa Maria region before Mexico grown berries come on in November. California supply of blueberries will be spotty until December when production improves. However, South American blueberry season has started and should keep supply steady. Mexican grown raspberries and blackberries should start this month. Cranberry will be steady from now through December.

Citrus

California lemons are tight due to rain in the desert growing regions. Overall supply should be steady with plenty of fruit from Mexico to supplement. Meyer lemons are back in supply and should remain steady for the next few weeks. We’re seeing strong volume of California limes have beloved biodynamic grower, Beck Grove. This small, family-owned farm in San Diego County grows some of the best citrus in the state! Valencia are almost done and will gap until the winter season starts up. Grapefruit is limited.

Fig

Brown Turkey is winding down. Black Mission are steady. Supply has tightened; fig prices are up.

Grape

Grapes are continuing until the rains come.  We have seedless red, green and black from various growers in paper totes, pouches and with different berry sizes depending on variety. Ask your Account Manager for guidance. The big-flavored seeded Concord and seedless Thomcord will keep going for several more weeks.

Kiwi

California grown green kiwi is expected to start any day now. We should see California gold kiwi in a few weeks.

Mango

Narango mango is available for a bit longer. Ataulfo from Ecuador should come on mid-month. We’ll see Tommy Atkins towards the end of the month.

Melon

Overall, the California melon season is winding down. Cantaloupe is steady from Rundle Family Farm. Canary melon will continue for another week or so. Honeydew is limited; we’re getting all we can. Mini seedless watermelon is done for the season. Mexico grown melons are expected to come on in November.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate is continuing with steady supply. Many sizes are available, including bins!

Specialty Fruit

Fresh jujube is ending soon. Quince is in good supply. Although inedible raw, when cooked, quince is transformed into a sweet and delicate treat. Quince is high in pectin which makes it perfect for baked goods when paired with other fruits. It also releases a wonderful vanilla-apple fragrance when ripening. White dragon fruit and passion fruit are limited. Magenta fleshed dragon fruit are in steady supply, for now. Rambutan from Honduras is coming soon, a rare treat. Native to Indonesia and similar to a lychee, Rambutan have delicate, perfumed white flesh with a soft shell. While lychee have a smooth shell, Rambutan have crazy looking red-spiked shells and are sweeter than lychee.

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

Artichoke supply is plentiful. Prices are expected to go down.

Bok Choy

Baby bok choy (mei qing) and bok choy are back in steady supply.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli is readily available; prices are up slightly. We may see some tightness in cauliflower supply in the next week or so.

Brussels Sprout

California grown Brussels sprouts have strong volume. Quality is high.

Cabbage

Green and red cabbage are steady; prices have increased. Price remains up on Savoy. Napa should be steady through October.

Celery

Celery is in good supply but prices have been ticking up.

Cucumber

Domestic cucumbers are just about done, locally. Product from Mexico is limited; prices are up as the impact of Hurricane Sergio remains unknown. The market is tight!

Eggplant

California grown Globe and Japanese eggplant are steady. Mexican grown eggplant is about a week out.

Greens & Lettuce

Boxed savoy spinach and bunched spinach are readily available. Green kale has good volume. Dino aka lacinato kale is limited. Collards are steady. Rainbow chard remains limited. Red and green chard are in better supply.

Demand is outpacing supply on romaine, green leaf and red leaf. Supply will continue to be limited, but improving slightly. Iceberg has better availability. Romaine hearts continue to be tight.

Pea

Sugar snap pea is in better supply; but not yet consistent. We should see English peas soon as well. Snow peas are still not available.

Pepper

Red and green bell peppers are plentiful. Prices are sharp. Orange bells are very limited. Yellow bells are in better supply than orange. Domestic Jalapeno are winding down. Red Jalalpeno are readily available from local growers. We’ll start to see Mexican grown chilies available soon.

Root

More and more growers are coming on with roots. Colored turnips are still not steady. Purple daikon is back! Red, gold, Chioggia, and Forono beets are all in good supply.

Squash

Red Kuri is limited. Butternut, Delicata, Acorn, Sugar Pie, Kabocha and Spaghetti are in good supply from local growers. Straight pack and mixed squash bins are also available for pre-order. Don’t forget to order your Jack O’ Lantern pumpkin bins for Halloween! Local zucchini and gold zucchini are still going strong.

Tomato

One- and two-layer slicer supply remains very tight. In efforts to keep up with demand, growers are harvesting early. Tomatoes picked early may be light in color, but will develop color as it ripens. Tomatoes-on-vine (TOV) are readily available. California grown Roma availability seems to be picking up; supply is steady. Sungold and Mini Charm are extremely limited. Prices are up. Hurricane Sergio is expected to hit Baja California before turning into a tropical storm. This will likely affect some of the tomato growers in the Ensenada area. Prices have increased on cherry and sugar plum tomatoes as supply tightens. Local heirlooms still have good volume for a couple more weeks.

 

Nuts

Chestnuts are in steady supply in both jumbo and large sizes. 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. Check out this creamy chestnut soup with crispy prosciutto. Fresh chestnuts are tough to crack, but this soup is worth it!

 

Floral

Dried floral bouquets and dried wreaths from Full Belly Farm are starting! We wait all year for these unique handmade arrangements—no two are alike! Thomas Farm is continuing with Sunflowers and Dahlias for a bit longer. The last day to get your Thanksgiving floral orders in for Thomas Farm is Monday, November 12th. Only bouquets will be offered for orders during the week of Thanksgiving.

 

Grocery

Eggnog is coming! Eggnog is coming! Preorders start October 17th. Save the date! You don’t want to miss out on this rich and creamy seasonal treat.

We are now carrying organic dairy products from Alexandre Family Farm. This family-owned and -operated farm is located in Crescent City in California’s 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

Pumpkins, Squash and Roots

With the drop in temperature, all thoughts turn to fall and fall produce such as pumpkins and hard squash. Now is the time to bring in those bins of Jack O’ Lanterns and other festive squash like Turban, Carnival, Hubbard and get into the swing of the Halloween/Fall season. Although most people wait until right before Halloween to carve their pumpkin, most want to pick out their perfect specimens now to take home to show off and admire for weeks before the carving date. Don’t wait too long or you’ll miss out on the perfect window time to maximize your Jack O’ Lantern and other decorative squash sales.

Besides looking to decorate for fall, shoppers are looking to switch up their eating habits to fit with the changing seasons. Make sure you are offering abundant supply of the favorites like yellow onions, sweet potatoes, specialty hard squash, Brussels sprouts, root vegetables and hearty greens. Soups and roasting tend to be at the forefront of shoppers’ minds. Hard squash and root vegetables are key ingredients when customers are shopping for soup and roasting meals. Squash such as Butternut, Red Kuri, Delicata, Kabocha and even the little Sugar Pie pumpkin are very popular squash for soups. Butternut will always out sell the others but it’s a good idea to provide some if not all of the fancier culinary hard squash. Providing a nice selection for soup making will help promote sales in other product category areas. Shoppers will generally be looking for garlic, bunched herbs, onions, ginger, greens, peppers and mushrooms to combine with or to complement soups.  Displaying printed recipe cards that have multiple produce ingredients is a sure way to boost your hard squash sales. Try this creamy roasted pumpkin soup recipe and see how this strategy helps sell not only the pumpkins but other items in your department as well.

While beets and carrots are always in great supply, at this time in the fall season, we are seeing more root vegetables such as parsnips, celery root, rutabaga and turnips. Keeping their appearance fresh is key to their success in the department. Check your set daily for soft or shriveling roots. Remove undesirable roots from the set and try rehydrating in lukewarm water to see if they can be brought back to life If not, discard and replace with new fresh product. Keep the roots well hydrated throughout the day while on the rack to maintain freshness. Nothing will slow down your root sales more than rubbery roots. Customers are looking for firm crisp product. Daily rotation and hydration will help keep your roots fresh and moving. Don’t forget recipe cards for your roots! We love this simple roasted root vegetable dish that lets the flavors of the veggies shine. Try these seasonal tips and get ready to take on the beginning of the fall eating season.

 

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.

 

 

Mushroom Month

September is National Mushroom Month! So for all you mushroom fans out there, it’s the perfect time to let the mycopia mania begin! Ancient Egyptians believed mushrooms were the immortality plant. In traditional Chinese medicine, mushrooms are believed to have medicinal value. Although there is no concrete evidence for such uses, mushrooms are very nutritious and contain substantial amounts of Vitamin D. Mushrooms are also used in various studies as possible treatments for diseases. The magic of mushrooms is still a mystery.

If you’ve ever thought about expanding your mushroom set beyond white button, Portabella, and crimini, now’s the time because we have a diverse selection of local mushrooms including Trumpet Royale, Maitake Frondosa, Beech, and more!

With nearly 50% of all consumers purchasing mushrooms, it’s clear they have a very broad appeal. As we head into fall, take advantage of the wide mix of varieties available and build up your mushroom display.

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Biodynamic Red Gravenstein from Mount Hood Organics have arrived! Pink Pearl are readily available. Look for Cox’s Orange Pippin and Cortland heirlooms next. California-grown new crop Fuji have started. Supply will be light to start but improve as more growers come on throughout September. Washington Fuji are expected to start mid-September. Gala are readily available. California supply is steady. Prices are coming down on Washington Honeycrisp. Rosalynn have started. Look for a new hybrid, Smitten coming soon.

New crop pear season is officially underway and there are lots of varieties to choose from! Bartlett and Bosc are steady. Abate Fetel have arrived.  Beautiful green and red Orca are available. This variety is named after Orca Island in Washington. Starkrimson are in good supply. We love Seckels. These pears are petite, crunchy, and ultra-sweet—perfect for snacking and canning or poaching whole. Asian pears are readily available. Shin-Li offer wonderful crisp, spicy flavor while the Shinko are sweet and juicy with a brandy aroma and crisp, firm texture.  Kosui offers juicy, crisp, sweet flavor with hints of vanilla. Kosui does not brown when sliced, so it’s great for salads, cheese platters, and sampling.

Berry

Blueberry production out of the Santa Maria, California region will be low the next several months. No word yet on when the South American season will start. Local strawberry is becoming less available as cooler weather returns. Prices are going up. Raspberry is very limited. Blackberry should remain in good supply.

Citrus

Valencia orange are still going and should last through September. Mexican lemons are steady. California lemons are starting up next week.  Lime availability is improving. Prices on finger limes are expected to come down. Grapefruit is ending soon. Prices are up.

Fig

Black Mission fig prices are going up. Adriatic and Kadota supply are limited. Brown Turkey are winding down a bit.

Grape

Thompson grapes are readily available. Biodynamic Thompson from Marian Farms has just started. Bronx grapes are almost over, a bit earlier than expected. We love the lush, candied flavor of this lovely pale green-pink variety. The super popular classic grape jelly flavored Concord have come on, from Hienke Family Farms, and they are in environmental paper totes! Flames and other red seedless are steady, and prices seem to be firming up.  Thomcord, a seedless concord flavored grape, are in good supply, as well. In general, plenty of red, green, and black options to meet your needs. Talk to your Account Manager about which varietals are right for you. Retail wisdom is that the more varied the selection you offer, the more you will sell.

Kiwi

Kiwi berries are here! These adorable grape-size fruits are a small variety of kiwi with smooth (fuzz-free!), edible skin. Eat these when the berry is soft—when they are at their sweetest!

Mango

Kent mango supply from Mexico should last through next week. These mangoes are non-treated, which means they do not require chemical or hot water treatment. This ensures natural ripening and delicious flavor. After next week, expect a gap in supply until November when Ataulfo and Tommy Atkins from Ecuador come on. Narango are still available.

Melon

Mini seedless watermelon is readily available. Prices are competitive. Mixed melons are plentiful—Cantaloupe, Canary, Honeydew, Galia, and Piel de Sapo are in steady supply. Check out Sugar Kiss melon—this specialty varietal has creamy netted skin, orange flesh, and refreshingly sweet honey flavor.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate season is off to a delicious start with the Purple Velvet variety. The arils have beautiful deep purple color and satisfying sweet-tart flavor. Get these on the sample table and show customers how to open and eat a pomegranate!

Specialty Fruit

Dragon fruit is back, much to everyone’s delight, but we don’t know how long the surge will last! Sapote have arrived. This exotic fruit is distantly related to citrus. It has green to yellow skin outside and custardy flesh similar in color and texture to avocado. The flavor is sweet and mild—with notes of banana and mango. Sapote can be enjoyed fresh—just cut in half and scoop out with a spoon. Watch out for the seeds! Fresh Li jujube (also known as red dates) should be available through September. This variety has a round shape, light texture, and refreshing sweetness. Quince have arrived just in time for fall. This relatively unknown fruit is related to pears and apples since it grows on trees, but the similarities end there. Quince fruit is knobby and irregularly shaped with gray fuzz on underripe fruit. Ripe quince is golden in color with smooth skin. Quince is completely inedible raw due to its tough and spongy flesh inside. When cooked, quince is transformed into a sweet, delicate, and fragrant treat. This specialty fruit also boasts another secret—its aroma. When left to ripen at room temperature, it releases a delicate fragrance of vanilla, citrus, and apple

Stone fruit

Stone fruit is winding down rapidly. California’s yellow nectarine, yellow peach and white peach season are done. There is some limited supply from Washington. Black and red plum are coming from California and eating great. We should see availability for a few more weeks before we start pulling plums  from Washington. Pluots are getting closer to the end but should last another month. The next variety of pluot we expect is the Flavor Fall, also sometimes sold as a red plum. Washington has fruit already, and Dapple Dandy are available if you love the mottled look and sweetness of them.

 

Vegetables

Bok Choy

Baby bok choy (mei qing) is in better supply. Bok choy is gapping.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli is in good supply and prices are holding steady. Cauliflower availability is expected to improve this week.

Brussels Sprout

Brussels are a little bit limited; prices are up.

Cabbage

Green, red, Savoy, and Napa are in good supply.

Carrot

New crop bunched Nantes carrots from California growers are not expected to arrive until late September. Fortunately, supply from the Northwest will keep up going until then.

Celery

Supply is steady, but prices are a bit all over the place.

Corn

Bicolor corn is coming to an end. The last of the supply is in-house. White should continue through mid-October.

Cucumber

The slicer cucumber market has been fluctuating daily, but our supply has been pretty steady. Mexican-grown cucumbers are extremely limited and prices are high.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

Bunched kales are in better supply. Chard prices are up as supply has tightened. Bunched spinach is limited but available. Boxed spring mix and arugula are more limited due to quality issues. Red leaf lettuce and romaine have been limited due to slow growth and delays in harvesting. Cilantro and Italian parsley remain in good supply.

Pepper

Green bells are plentiful. Orange and yellow bells are limited. Red bells are steady on choice and large sizes. We’re seeing steady volume on chili peppers at great prices. Check out our selection of Anaheim, Jalapeno, Padron, Poblano, and Serrano. For a little less spice, specialty peppers like Sweet Jimmy Nardello, Shishito, and Italian Frying bring all the flavor without the heat. Sweet peppers have good volume. We love the medley pack from family-owned Veliz Organic Farm, located in Hollister, California.

Root

Bagged beets are steady and plentiful. Growers are coming back on with turnip, parsnip, and rutabaga. Local volume has not picked up just yet.

Squash

Zucchini prices are going up. Our supply of Gold Zucchini is just about done. Sunburst are in good supply. More growers are coming on with hard squash. The market is plentiful with supply and variety. Green Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, Kabocha (green, red and orange!), Spaghetti, and Sugar Pie are all readily available. Looking for a hard squash assortment? Check out our mixed squash boxes which include Acorn, Orange Kabocha, Carnival, Butternut, and Festival.

Tomato

Tomato on the vine (TOV) are extremely limited. One- and two-layer slicer tomatoes have steady supply. Local supply on Romas has picked up again. We should not experience any gaps. Cherry tomatoes are still going strong. Sungold are very limited. Heirlooms are readily available.

 

Merchandising Corner

Merchandising Grapes

There is no shortage of grapes right now, so don’t be shy about ordering and showcasing all the variety the season has to offer. A large display with colors and variety will increase your grape sales. Alternate reds, greens, and blacks for a gorgeous display customers cannot resist. Start with quality grapes and regularly cull through for any that are breaking down.

Sampling is a great way to boost sales. Set up a demo area near your grape display to supplement engagement. Once you draw in customers with the eye-catching colors, offer them samples of all the varieties. Tasting a delicious grape will entice customers to buy a bag, especially when it comes to lesser-known varieties.

It’s also very important to cross-merchandise grapes during this time. Help customers envision all the ways grapes can be prepared and enjoyed. Scoop out the center of melons and fill with grapes before wrapping and stocking in your cut fruit display. Display next to Brie and assorted cheeses with crackers for easy cheese platter shopping. Sample out Waldorf salads and stock walnuts, grapes, apples, pre-chopped lettuce, and ready-made dressing nearby so customers can pick up everything they need.

 

 

 

Mother of Dragon Fruit

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.

 

Fruit

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.

Avocado

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.

Berry

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.

Citrus

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.

Fig

Black Mission fig has great supply; prices are promotable. Adriatic and Kadota are more limited. Brown Turkey is slowing down.

Grape

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.

Mango

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.

Melon

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!

Specialty Fruit

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!

Stone fruit

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!

 

Vegetables

Broccoli/Cauliflower

The broccoli market is starting to slide and prices are coming down. Cauliflower is really limited.

Cabbage

Green, red and Napa cabbage have steady supply.

Corn

Bicolor and white corn are in good supply. Bicolor corn will end in September, while white is expected to go to mid-October.

Cucumber

The cucumber market is tightening as local supply winds down. Prices are increasing.

Eggplant

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.

Onion

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.

Pepper

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.

Root

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.

Squash

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.

Tomato

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.

 

Merchandising Corner

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!

Melon Mania

What is summer without sweet, fragrant melons on a hot day? At the peak of their season, melons are available in all shapes, sizes, and colors! Aside from the familiar watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew, there are delicious specialty varieties available. Look for Ambrosia, Canary, Galia, Goddess, Piel de Sapo, Sensation, Sharlyn, and more!

The melon (Cucumis melo) can refer to either the plant or fruit from the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae). Yes, melons are related to cucumbers, gourds, squashes, and pumpkins! The melon plant is native to central Asia, but its many cultivated varieties are grown in warm regions around the world.

Then comes the age-old question: how do you choose a good melon? In general, melons will not change significantly once they’re harvested from the vine. They are considered non-climacteric fruits. This means knocking on them really doesn’t help much! Rather, visual clues on the melon itself will tell you a good from a bad one. Soft rinds, brownish colors, or excessive spotting or scarring can all indicate bad fruit. A good watermelon will have a firm and shiny rind and feel heavy for its size. It will also have large deep gold or yellow spot on the outside rind, where the melon rested on the ground. During the growing process, these spots start out white and gradually change color as the sugar content increases. For cantaloupes, look for a green indentation towards the top or bottom of the melon—the stem end where it fell off the vine. Other clues? The best cantaloupe and honeydew will have a nice aroma you can smell without cutting it open.

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Braeburn supply is winding down. Cripps Pink are still available. Fuji are more limited than before. California Gala has come on. However, the recent heat has delayed early starts from some growers. We’re seeing sharp pricing on smaller size Granny Smith fruit and bags. Typically, the California Gravenstein season would have started by now but this year is proving to be unusual. Our local grower, Solana Gold is starting up this weekend. Early reports indicate the apples are smaller this year. Hopefully we will see some larges sizes soon. California Gravenstein are expected to last between 3-4 weeks.

California Bartlett has started. They are from the Sacramento Delta growing region. In mid-August, they will transition into the Lake County area. Asian Hosui pear will arrive soon.. We love the crisp, juicy flavor of this early-season variety.

Avocado

Hass prices are going up again as California fruit runs out, and Mexico is getting tight on supply as well. Supply should continue until October.

Berry

Northwest blueberry production has been affected by a heat wave last week. Supply will return next week but prices are up on blueberries. Blackberry availability is back with good numbers. Local raspberry supply is limited. Strawberry supply is steady but prices have increased. At this time in the season, strawberry crops often ripen faster, which may result in smaller berries at harvest. The flavor is still just as sweet and delicious, though!

Citrus

Lime supply is tightening up slightly. Prices are ticking up. Meyer lemon is done for now; we may see some occasional small shots of fruit. Mexican lemons should be available again next week. It’s unclear how long this supply will last; prices remain high. Valencia orange prices continue to creep up with tightening supply. We should  see Valencia fruit through September, possibly longer. Peruvian Satsuma has good availability and is competitively priced. Get your tangerine fix now: California citrus season is still months away!

Grape

The market is flush with supply. Growers are starting to have other varieties of red and green seedless such as Krissy, Red Rosa and Magenta red and Timcot green. Flame is still readily available, and very competitively priced. Green Thompson and Ivory have arrived. Muscat and Champagne have started with limited supply. Summer Royal and Black Emerald black seedless varieties are going strong and  full of juicy sweet flavor. Bronx and Concord are still three weeks off. Thomcord and Valley Pearl, two other specialty varieties are coming soon. Prices are expected to be high on the Bronx this year

Mango

Kent mango is available in steady supply. We love the sweet and rich flavor with juicy, tender flesh and limited fibers. After a brief delay, fair trade Kent are now available. We should start to see some untreated Mexican mango in about a week. Unlike most other imported mangoes, these mangoes do not require chemical or hot water treatment—a requirement that disrupts the ripening and compromises the integrity (and taste) of the fruit.

Melon

Mini seedless watermelon is in good supply. Lots of bins available! Cantaloupe has strong volume. Honeydew and Galia are both steady. Piel de Sapo is back in supply. Ambrosia, Canary, Orange Honeydew, Muskmelon, Sensation, and Sharlyn are readily available.

Specialty Fruit

Magenta fleshed Dragon fruit has started! Select fruit is smaller than premium fruit and does not differ in quality, grade, or appearance other than size. Full of antioxidants, dragon fruit is a superfood! The amazing Gold Line white peach from Naylor Organics has a thin gold line running vertically through each piece of fruit. They will be available for a few more weeks. As well as being a great conversation starter, they are juicy and delicate like most white peach. Sadly the Spice Zee nectoplum from Ferrari Farms is done for the season.

Stone fruit

A big heat wave in Washington and Oregon has accelerated the peach season in the Pacific Northwest. This sudden increase in availability may impact the local California market. Our star peach growers Masamoto and Naylor are almost wrapping it up for the season, but still have fruit on the tree, but not for long. Rival apricot will be wrapping up soon, but look for other varieties of regular orange apricots coming soon such as the Gold Rich. One of our staff favorites, the white apricot from Harmony Orchards in Washington are done harvesting for this year.  White nectarine is readily available, although consistently high temperatures have slowed harvesting down. Red Head yellow nectarine are finally in the house—also delayed due to heat. Grown by Ferarri Farms, this sweet, meaty nectarine has heavy streaking of red in the flesh.  Plenty of white peach varieties are coming down the pipeline. Yellow peach production is still limited (mostly due to the heat wave in California) and prices are somewhat lower than previously; the Northwest prices don’t seem to have clobbered the market. Black and red plum have strong volume. Prices are promotable—lots of varieties available. Pluot is starting to pick up—look for Dapple Dandy, Flavor Grenade, Flavor Punch, Crimson Red, Flavor Queen and other delicious varieties coming on.

 

Vegetables

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli supply tightened at the end of this week and prices are trending up for the coming week. Cauliflower is in better supply. Cheddar and graffiti are steady.

Cabbage

Green and red cabbage are in steady supply. Savoy and Napa cabbage remain limited.

Corn

We’re hearing reports from several growers that a heat wave has been impacting the harvest. Extreme hot weather can lead to dehydration of the silks and tassels, leading to poor pollination and kernel set. High temperatures in July have significantly decreased crop volume. We expect supply to improve over in a week or so as Northwest corn crops begin to trickle down to California.

Cucumber

Slicer cucumbers are abundant. All other thin-skin cucumbers are very limited. Mediterranean cucumber is gapping for about three weeks. English Hothouse and Persian cukes will be very limited for the next three weeks; but supply should be steady after that.

Eggplant

Globe eggplant has steady availability but prices are a bit sporadic. Now is the time to build up your eggplant displays with beautiful varieties of specialty eggplant. What’s hot right now? The Neon eggplant is teardrop-shaped and has pink-purple neon skin. The flesh is smooth and creamy. Rosa Bianca is round in shape with rosy-lavender skin shaded with white. The delicate, mild flavor with no bitterness is delicious in all preparations. Listada de Gandia is a popular heirloom variety with lovely bright purple stripes. Chinese eggplant is long and thin—perfect for a quick stir fry! We love how the flesh becomes creamy and luxurious.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

High temperatures in the Salinas Valley region recently have caused ideal conditions for mildew development and dehydration for the delicate baby greens, particularly baby spinach. Once temperatures begin to come down, we can expect to see improvements in the condition of many boxed green items. Dino aka lacinato kale has been limited and prices are up. Romaine is limited. Red leaf is in good supply from our local producers. Local basil is readily available. Oregano is gapping due to quality issues.

Onion

Red and yellow onions have good supply on mediumsand jumbos sizes.  White onions are slightly limited on larger sizes. Shallots are steady. More growers are expected to come on with shallots in mid to late August, which means the return of peeled shallots!

Pea

Snap pea availability is improving, but English and snow pea are still unavailable.

Pepper

Green bell pepper availability has become more steady. Red and yellow bells are in better supply. Orange bells are more limited. The heat is on and we’re not talking about the weather! It is the peak of chili pepper season. Check out our hot lineup of flavorful scorchers! If you’re looking for a kick, check out the Habanero at 100,000-350,000 Scoville—this variety is legitimately HOT. Serrano is the next hottest at what we would call medium hot (10,000-23,000 Scoville.) Fresno, Cherry Bomb, and Jalapeño are more on the mild-medium heat range at 2,500-10,000 Scoville. Anaheim, Poblano, and Padron provide all the flavor with just a little heat at 500-2,500 Scoville. Let’s not overlook the seasonal non-spicy peppers. Shishito is flavorful and is delicious grilled with a pint of salt and citrus. Gypsy yellow and Gypsy orange peppers are terrific for frying or slicing up fresh for salads. Pimento pepper is sweet and very mild. The most popular use of pimentos is in pimento cheese aka “the caviar of the South.”

Sweet Potato

New crop Garnet and Jewel sweet potato have started. Prices are up at the start of the season. New crop Japanese, Hannah, and Purple Stoke are not yet available.

Squash

The California hard squash season is just starting up. Delicata is very limited but availability should pick up soon. Butternut is plentiful.  Kabocha and Spaghetti have come on. Look for more varieties this month. In soft squash land, zucchini is readily available. Sunburst is limited; we’re getting all we can. Check out other delicious varieties such as Gold Zucchini, Crookneck, and the Mixed Medley, which we fondly refer to as the summer fun pack!

Tomato

Tomatoes for everyone! California-grown Roma is plentiful. One- and two-layer tomatoes are a little bit limited but as more growers come on, supply should ease up. Cherry tomatoes have strong volume. Build up your display with beautiful Sungold, Mini Charm, and Juliette! We love the sweet flavor on these varieties—great for eating fresh! Mixed heirloom is in good supply. Straight pack heirlooms also readily available. Check out the Purple Cherokee, Brandywine and Marvel Stripe. Dry-farmed and non-dry-farmed Early girl tomatoes are steady. Look for these under the “Saladette” tomatoes on our list.

 

Merchandising Corner

How to Keep Produce Fresh & Cool

Summer provides us with many of our seasonal favorites. These amazing products also tend to be a little more on the delicate side and need extra TLC when handling and displaying.

Chilis and all other pepper varieties are coming on strong at this time. Shriveling is a common problem you might experience with peppers. If you are displaying your peppers in a cold case, air flow is the most likely cause of shrivel. Finding a way to display your peppers and protect them from the harsh cold air flow is easy. Create barriers from the air flow by using deep baskets, wooden crates or even using plexi bins with lids. Another option is displaying the product on a non-refrigerated table. This will work for your store whether you move a high or small volume amounts of product. As long as the product does not sit for more than a day and turns over quickly, this is a great solution. Protection from air flow exposure will prolong your pepper shelf life and prevent issues.

Zucchini and other summer squash are also prone to the same issue, and the same solutions apply to them as well. However, yellow squash varieties are susceptible to other issues like browning/bruising. Yellow summer squash does not like to be handled much or to be stacked on top of each other. If you are finding that you have a significant amount of browning, sometimes just putting out a smaller amount will solve this issue. Whatever you can do to limit handling and added friction from other product will help lessen the scarring and bruising.

Bunched herbs need some extra love to protect them from the ambient heat and air flow at this time of year. Herbs like basil and cilantro actually do very well displayed in containers of water. Some varieties of basil are very sensitive to any kind of cold and wilt very quickly once pulled out of the box. Basil and cilantro both hold up well unrefrigerated and do quite well cross-merchandised in displays with avocados, tomatoes, and garlic. Other herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage also hold up well in containers of water. Not only is this a great way to store them, but it is also a way to add a little fresh décor to your department!

Flower bouquets are probably the most fragile and heat-sensitive of all the products you will carry. Most stores have their flower displays located in the front of the store to be the first thing seen when customers enter the store.  This is not the ideal location for many reasons. The hot air that enters the store every time the door opens is damaging to the bouquets. Most flowers come with some kind of protective wrapping, but this does not completely protect bouquets from hot gusts of air every time the doors open. Since flowers are highly perishable, every precaution should be taken to preserve their integrity. If flowers are displayed up front, you also risk the chance of customers dripping water throughout the store while shopping, creating potential slip-and-fall accidents. Lastly, if customers are carrying flowers around while shopping there is the chance of the bouquet getting damaged while in a basket or cart with other product. The ideal location for flowers is close to the register as an impulse buy. They are generally protected in this area of the store from outside heat and there is less opportunity to have water dripped throughout the store.