Spring has officially arrived and it’s time to welcome all of her bounty including one of the most unique lettuce varieties, the Little Gem. This oldie but goodie is a true gem!
Little Gem lettuce hails from France and is a cross between Romaine lettuce and Butter lettuce. Even at full maturity, Little Gem lettuce resembles a miniature Romaine, each head measuring about 4 to 6 inches in length. It has become increasingly popular on restaurant menus in recent years because of its vibrant coloring, sweet flavor, and adorable petite size. Little Gems offer a satisfying crispness that is hard to find in a lot of other varieties, similar to Romaine. It tastes sweeter than most lettuce and never develops a bitter flavor. The inner leaves are tender and full of nooks and crannies to capture dressing or flavoring. Great in a salad or whole on the grill, it has become popular to halve whole heads, scoop out the inner leaves, and use it as a bowl for guacamole, hummus, or other dips.
Although Little Gems are available year-round, spring is the peak season. We will be carrying both the Red and Green varieties from local growers for the next couple of months!
Artichoke Displays for Spring
Artichokes are generally in season year-round but we tend to think of them as “peaking” in spring, and we expect to be fully stocked by April. They make a great addition to any display and are versatile as they can be displayed in a refrigerated case or at room temperature on a dry table. When selecting artichokes for display, look for firm ones that give only slightly when lightly squeezed. A little give is acceptable, but completely soft chokes should be moved out quickly. Check the globes for freshness daily; trim any dark ends and withered stems to keep the product looking its best. Here are some display ideas to get your customers excited.
- Display alongside olive oil, fresh bunched herbs, lemons, as well as salt and pepper grinders from the mercantile department of your store.
- A colorful red, orange, and yellow bell pepper display can be made more interesting by adding asparagus and artichokes, as color breaks.
- Sometimes a simple seasonal display can be bold, like a nice offering of large grapefruit and artichokes. The light orange of the grapefruit and the green of the artichoke complement each other well.
- As the weather warms up, creating a grilling display with artichokes, asparagus, onions, pineapple and mushrooms is a great way to get customers excited for the start of the upcoming grilling season. If you start your planning now you can coordinate with your grocery team and get some charcoal briquettes and skewers to work into the display to make it all come together.
New & Exciting
Boxed Greens: Heirloom Organic provides specialty baby greens, which are popular among restaurants for their rich flavors and high quality. Some of the more unique offerings include Beet Tops and Baby Dandelion – give them a try to wow your customers with something new! They also have a wide variety of kale and chard, if you’re looking for some old favorites! Ask your Account Manager for the full list of offerings.
Daisy Tangerine (right): This easy to peel tangerine is super sweet, wonderfully juicy, with very low acid. Perfect for lunchboxes and small hands (and adult hands too!)
Dutch Iris (below): Just arriving from Thomas Family Farm on the California Coast, these flowers are ready to bloom and will brighten your shelves with brilliant violet and yellow petals. Make sure to store them in your cooler when not on display.
Lettuce: Little Gem lettuce (green and red) and Batavian Red Lettuce are some of the most beautiful varieties of lettuce we’ve seen this season. The Little Gem is petite, 4 to 6 inches long. It has the crisp, juicy texture of a fresh Romaine, along with the succulent sweetness of Butter lettuce. The Batavian Red Lettuce is much larger, with a crisp texture and a juicy, sweet experience.
Mango: Ataulfo and Tommy Atkins have both come on and are ready for promotion! The Ataulfo (aka Champagne mango) has a unique lima bean shape and are vibrant yellow. They have a creamy texture and are less fibrous than most mangoes, but still have the classic sweet mango flavor. Tommy Atkins is round with a beautiful red blush – also sweet and very juicy.
Savoy Spinach “teen” size: Dark green leaves with a crisp texture. Generally preferred for cooking instead of eating raw. Savoy spinach has a slightly crinkly skin, as opposed to the smooth skin spinach. The teen size is as it sounds – not quite a baby, but not fully grown (and may or may not come with whole lot of attitude!) Fun Fact: the stems are the sweetest part of the plant, don’t snap them off, no waste!
Snap Pea: The California season has begun! Luna’s Farm, located in Hollister, California, is coming on with their sweet, crisp peas. Expect more growers to follow suit soon!
Asparagus: California grown asparagus is coming on strong and tasting great! Its mild, earthy flavor becomes nuttier when roasted or grilled with a little olive oil!
Blueberry: Excellent supply and sharp pricing on this Mexican-grown fruit. Quality is strong—the berries are plump and sweet. California-grown berries are expected to hit peak production mid-April.
Brussels Sprout (right): Readily available in volume from Mexico. These sprouts have nice coloring and are clean!
Fuji Apple: This classic apple variety has steady volume coming from Washington. Juicy with a nice crunch and extra sweet flavor, both 88 and 113 size WXFP are promotable!
Green Kiwi (left): Grown locally from Wild River Fruit in California’s Sacramento Valley. Volume-fill and single layer packs available for a few more weeks! This is the last of the California season, so get ‘em while you can!
Lime: The price is right on this Mexican-grown fruit. Take advantage before the fickle lime market changes course. They have a beautiful color and are sure to brighten your displays.
Meyer Lemon: Steady supply and great pricing for springtime promotions. A Meyer Lemon is a cross between a Eureka lemon and a mandarin orange. They are less acidic than other familiar lemon varieties, with a much sweeter finish.
Murcott Tangerine: Available through April, Murcott is a wonderful late season tangerine variety. Sweet and juicy with minor acidity that accentuates the flavor. We love that they are easy to peel and mostly seedless!
Navel Orange: Seedless and richly flavored, these have a great balance between sweet and acidic. Enjoy this “winter citrus” while it’s still available from California growers!
Persian Cucumber: Mexican-grown. Great supply with sharp pricing.
Valencia Orange: California-grown Valencia oranges from B&J Ranch are in good supply. The sweet-tart flavor and high sugar content make this variety perfect for juicing.
Bunched Red Beets
Celery: Desert crop is winding down on celery, leading to limited product availability.
Globe Eggplant: prices are up and supply is limited
Green Bell Pepper
Lettuce: Supply is starting to improve but production is not yet steady for leaf lettuces, Romaine and Iceberg.
Passionfruit: Very limited
Red Onion: very limited and high prices expected through mid-April
Watermelon: full sized watermelons will be gapping until early April. ‘Mini’ watermelon 6 count and 8 count are in a shorter gap.
Done for the Season
Onion: Cippolinis and Shallots from Peri & Sons
Scarlet Queen Turnip
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