Let’s talk about one of the most unique fruits of the fall and winter season: persimmons! The persimmons we are most familiar with are native to Southern China, and have been cultivated throughout Asia since ancient times. Although they have been grown in the USA since the 1850s, it wasn’t until the last fifteen years or so that they started to gain mass popularity. Another species, the American persimmon, was well known and appreciated by Indigenous peoples in Eastern North America. The word persimmon actually derives from the Algonquin name, meaning ‘dry fruit.’
While there are many varieties of persimmons available, Hachiya and Fuyu are the two most well-known varieties eaten today.
The Fuyu is round and squat with a firm, crunchy texture that enhances the pleasantly sweet, bright, and delicate flavor. Fuyus can be eaten at varying levels of ripeness, and their crisp quality makes them ideal for eating fresh, and using in cheese boards, charcuterie, and salads (wonderful alternative to tomatoes!)
Hachiyas, however, should not be eaten when firm and need to fully ripen so the texture is soft and juicy (think a water balloon). For eating fresh, it’s recommended to cut off the crown and scoop the innards with a spoon. But it’s much more popular to use them in cooking and baking due to their complex, cinnamon-sweet flavor and soft, gelatinous texture. Tip: freeze overnight and then thaw to speed up the ripening process. In Japan, Hachiya persimmons are traditionally made into hoshigaki, a delicacy that requires them to be peeled and hung on a string to dry for 4-6 weeks.
California-grown persimmons are coming in now, don’t miss out!
“Persimmons grow where mangos fear to tread.” farmer folk wisdom
Thanksgiving Merchandising Tips
The big T-Day is just around the corner! Now is the time to get your display and merchandising plans in order for the biggest produce holiday of the year! Here are some tips from produce managers from three California based retail co-ops: Bernadette Brogden from Sacramento Natural Foods, Tammy Graham from New Moon Natural Foods, and Paul Wright from North Coast Co-op in Arcata.
- Plan early and communicate well. It takes time to coordinate with local farm supply and wholesalers. The earlier you can get in your orders and projections, the easier it will be for suppliers to cover your product needs.
- Know what to promote, and what to cut back on. This may mean cutting back on apple varieties to focus on Thanksgiving staples like cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Also, try building spillover displays into floor stacks to make more space and get more product on the floor too.
- Have a backup supply for product. The weather around Thanksgiving is always tricky and sometimes can put a damper on your original plans. It is always good to have other sources to pull from in case your original plan falls through.
- Add more convenience items. Pre-pack more items so customers can just grab a bag and go. Not only is this easier for them, but some customers are still concerned about COVID, and pre-packed bags ensure customers that their food hasn’t been touched by others.
- Do all the work you can before the week of Thanksgiving. Whether it’s schedules, POS, pricing, or payroll – anything related to office or administration – get it out of the way! This will free up your time to work the floor and back up your team.
- Don’t band celery. This time of year, celery is in such high demand that it flies off the shelf. No need to waste valuable labor prepping or banding this item.
Weather continues to plague our fall crops.
- We’re hearing reports that the Washington-grown apple crop is lighter by nearly 40 million cases due to late snow during the bloom and excessive heat during harvest time. While we do not expect shortages in apple supply overall, prices will remain on the higher side. The Northwest pear crop, however, is extremely limited due to the same weather events.
- The recent hurricane in Mexico has severely limited supply and raised prices on all tomatoes, including: Beef Steak, Roma, Cherry, and Tomato-on-Vine (TOV).
New and Exciting
Coconut: Mature and Young Thai coconut will both be here by the middle of November. Young coconut is green / ivory colored, while the mature is brown. The flesh of young coconut has high moisture content with soft, jelly-like meat, and is easier to open. The mature coconut meat is dry and dense, with less moisture, but is rich in flavor and oil content.
* Granny Smith Apple (left): Stock up for the holidays! This classic pie apple is crisp and juicy with bright green skin. We offer a great price on large sizes. Check out the locally grown fruit from Robin’s Nest Farm, an exclusive VV grower.
Fun Fact: The name ‘Granny Smith,’ comes from the woman who discovered the apple in the 1800’s, Maria Ann Smith, who earned the name ‘Granny Smith’ in her advanced years.
Leek: Leek is available year-round, but is in prime demand during the holidays. The flavor is earthy, mild, and oniony-sweet, with a silky texture when cooked.
Navel Orange: Winter citrus season is about to start, and we will have early Navel oranges coming soon. With a thick, easy-to-peel rind, these oranges are sweet, juicy, and ideal for eating out of hand.
* Persimmon (right): Fuyu and Hachiya persimmons are both available now! Fuyus are mild and sweet while Hachiya are more intensely sweet with slightly spicy flavor. Enjoy Fuyus anytime, but Hachiya must be fully soft and ripe, like pudding, to eat or use in cooking.
Satsuma Tangerine: Perfect for kids and adults alike! Seedless, quick to peel, and famously sweet. Expect them the first weeks of November.
Specialty Squash: Don’t be afraid to offer your customers something unexpected for their hard squash needs. We have exciting varieties like Georgia Candy Roaster, Turban, and Jill-Be-Little. Ask your Account Manager for recommendations to spruce up your specialty squash display.
Tommy Atkins Mango: Ecuadorian grown fruit is here now! Tommy Atkins are round with a beautiful red blush and deep yellow flesh. Although somewhat fibrous, they are juicy and sweet.
Maple Candy: Just in time for Halloween! These delicious maple candies are made with only maple syrup, and the clever shape of each candy will make any display case stand out.
Celery: Sharp pricing on 24-count cases.
Cranberry: It’s time! Ask your account manager for guidance on pack styles.
English Hothouse Cucumber: Fresh from Mexico, these cucumbers are in great supply with promotional pricing!
* Hard Squash (right): Fantastic availability on Acorn, Kabocha, and Spaghetti with hot deals on Butternut and Delicata. Check out our squash guide to learn more about winter squash, and print our squash chart as a handy resource for staff and customers.
Honeycrisp Apple: Smart buy on US1 48-count! Honeycrisp has a good balance of sugar and acid, which gives it a satisfying sweet-tart flavor profile.
Lemon: Nothing to be sour about here! Great deals on Mexican grown choice-grade fruit and abundant supply of fancy-grade fruit!
* Pear (right): Strong volume on the Bartlett Pear, with extra juicy deals on the 110-count Bosc! Look for the Red Bartlett coming soon.
Fun Fact: Bartlett pears are the most popular pear in the USA and migrated to California during the gold rush in 1849.
Pink Lady Apple: Don’t miss this deal on 113-count fruit! Satisfying, crunchy texture with a tart taste and sweet finish. Pink Lady apples are slow to oxidize when cut, making them ideal for cheese boards and salads.
Russet Potato: Great deals on 50-pound bags (10 x 5-pound bags). Suited for frying, roasting, mashing, sautéing, and perfect for the classic baked potato with fixings. Get your projections in now for Thanksgiving!
Zucchini: Solid availability on this staple veggie, with competitive pricing.
Arugula: Limited due to yellowing caused by heat.
Blackberry: Limited until Mexican product becomes available. Mexico is expected to start in the first or second week of November.
California Melon: California-grown Watermelon and Honeydew are all dwindling as we wrap up the California season and start bringing in fruit from Mexico.
Lettuce: Limited for the next two weeks.
Pea: Limited for the remainder of the fall crop
Tomato: The recent hurricanes in Mexico, combined with poor weather, has limited supply and raised prices on Beef Steak, Roma, Cherry, and Tomatoes-on-Vine (TOV.)
Done for the Season
Apple: Jonagold and Smitten
California-Grown Slicer Cucumber