Sweet potatoes are a major staple of Thanksgiving, and for good reason, they’re delicious! They’re also incredibly versatile, with a variety of types, and a unique history.
Sweet potatoes originated in Central and South America. The natives called the plant batatas, which eventually became patata in Spanish, patae in French, and potato in English.
Even though sweet potatoes had been in Europe since Columbus, the term ‘sweet potato’ didn’t exist until the 1700’s. American colonists wanted to distinguish between the white or Irish potato, and what we now call sweet potatoes, so they coined the term. Before that they were all just called potatoes!
There are five main types of sweet potato that are commonly consumed today—Garnet, Hannah, Japanese, Jewel, and Purple Stoke. (At least here on the West Coast, other varieties are grown in the Southeast, like the sweet potato capital of the world, North Carolina.) While all are delicious, each variety has its own distinct flavor and texture that lends itself to a variety of cooking applications. They are also high in vitamin A and potassium and are a low glycemic food! And not to be confused with yams, which are a completely different vegetable! Read our blog to learn more about these distinct types, and what makes them different from yams.
No matter which variety you prefer, add sweet potatoes to your Thanksgiving celebrations for a guaranteed delicious and nutritious holiday!
Planning For a Successful Thanksgiving
The busiest time of year for retail produce is here—Thanksgiving. Called the “Super-Bowl of Produce,” it can be a stressful, all-hands-on deck type situation. But we’ve come up with a few simple ways to make this season a little easier on you.
- Plan ahead. Everything comes down to planning, and the better prepared you are, the smoother things will be.
- Schedule extra staff. You will need extra hands to keep displays fully stocked, your department clean, and to provide the volume of customer service that goes along with working a holiday rush.
- Communicate your product needs ahead of time. Ideally you would have already given your account manager projections for the product you will need, but it is also highly suggested to also do an early morning daily check in order to make sure your product is in good supply. Things happen overnight with produce supply, and it’s a good habit to make sure the product you are counting on is coming. If, for some reason, plans fall through, you will then have more time to source products.
- Save time and skip the presentation. Most products will be flying off the shelf on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so skip prepping the greens and celery since they will be selling as fast as you can put them out. Same goes for potatoes, hard squash, sweet potatoes, and apples; it’s okay to go from box straight to the rack this time of year. These displays are being shopped down so quickly that keeping them full will be quite a chore. Just focus on keeping the displays full and the customers happy.
- Adjust your banana orders. Bananas are the #1 selling produce item in the US, but not at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Don’t get stuck with too many bananas on hand.
- Practice good mental health. Relax, breath, be kind and patient, take a break if you need to, and don’t forget to have fun. The busiest days can be the most fun in a retail setting.
New & Exciting!
Aloe Vera: California-grown aloe is back! Great for fruit salads, smoothies, and juicing. Aloe is chock full of vitamins and does wonders for digestion!
Bagged Roots: Root season is in full swing, with a wide variety available including Burdock, Celery Root, Daikon, Parsnip, Turnip, Rutabaga, Red, Gold and Chioggia Beets.
*Bacon Avocado (Left) Green-skinned with buttery and creamy flesh. Less oily than Hass avocados, but equally as delicious. Smaller crop this season so get ‘em while you can!
Chilies: Mexican-grown chilies have arrived. Jalapeno and Serrano available now, with Poblano coming soon.
Carnival Grape: Seedless green grapes with a fun name, unbelievably sweet taste, and crisp texture.
Gold Kiwi: This kiwi has a sweet, tropical flavor with notes of mango and strawberry and is less tangy than the green variety. It has distinctly smooth, fuzz-free skin, with golden yellow flesh.
Holiday Herbs: Try the Holiday Mix pack (rosemary, thyme, sage and savory), and Poultry Mix (rosemary, thyme, and sage). The perfect mix of herbs and seasoning to give all your holiday meals a delicious flavor.
Mango (Tamopan) Persimmon: Heirloom variety shaped like “a tomato with a cap.” Similar to Hachiya, eat or use when soft and ripe.
Meyer Lemon: Cross between a citron and a mandarin/pomelo hybrid. Tangerine-like flavor without the acidity and puckery finish of a regular lemon. Bonus: Meyer lemons produce more juice!
Pineapple Quince: Golden-yellow skin with white flesh, which tastes like a mix of apple, pear, and pineapple. Hint of acidity.
Purple ‘A’ Potato: Mildly sweet, almost wine-like in taste. They tend to be starchier than traditional potatoes.
*Satsuma Tangerine (Right) Citrus season is just starting! These satsumas are very juicy, with a balanced sweet, yet tart flavor.
*Starry Night Squash (Left) Buttery and nutty, with just the right amount of sweetness that comes out as subtle notes of caramel. Dark green skin with a unique speckled color pattern. Great for roasting and stuffing; the skin is edible. Learn more with our Winter Squash Guide. And download our Winter Squash Variety Chart.
Susan Avocado: Small egg-shaped fruit with green edible skin! Great for small kids.
Walnut: Halves and pieces are here now from local grower, Ferrari Farms. Roasted, crumbled onto your dessert, or baked with your best banana bread recipe, these walnuts are sure to delight!
Apple: Excellent supply of apples with great color, and even better prices! Pink Lady apples are a good mix of sweet and tart, with a crisp bite. Bags have sharp pricing. Granny Smiths are the quintessential pie apple. Check out the Robin’s Nest label for the best tasting Granny Smith around! One taste of the Smitten apple and you’ll be a believer! It’s a unique mix of Gala, Braeburn, Falstaff, and Fiesta breeding lines. We love the complex sweet-tart flavor!
Asparagus: Steady supply. Try this highly versatile vegetable steamed, roasted, or stir-fried.
Blueberry: Peruvian-grown fruit is coming on strong.
Cabbage: Green, red, Napa, and Savoy are all in good supply. Perfect for coleslaw, dumplings, soup, and more!
Cucumber: Slicer, English Hothouse and Persian readily available. Sharp pricing on both local and Mexico-grown product.
Holiday Bins: Are you stocked up for the Thanksgiving holiday? Save time and pre-order bins of the high demand items! We have bins of straight and mixed hard squash, onions, celery, and Fuyu persimmon available for pre-order now.
Leek: Competitive price, stock up for holiday celebrations. Leeks offer sweet, oniony flavor that add depth to soups, stews, pastas, and more!
Lemon: Volume remains steady; promotable price on combo size pack.
Onion: Yellow, red, and white supply is expected to remain flushed through the Thanksgiving holiday.
Shallot: Plenty of shallots on hand—whole or chopped in a variety of sizes and pack types. Check out the 12 x 10-ounce paperboard clamshell from Peri & Sons for an environmentally-friendly option!
Artichoke: Going to be gapping for about a month
Belgian Endive: Remains limited with occasional gapping
Chopped Salads: Asian, Lemon Herb, Cole Slaw
Delicata Squash: Very limited
Pomegranate: Growers are reporting low crop yields this year due to a variety of climate-related factors. The pomegranate trees suffered from the draught and bore less fruit than previous years. More recently, the atmospheric rain on the coast cracked 50% of fruit that was on the trees.
Red Bell Pepper: Red large bell peppers are gapping. Choice is very limited.
Red Cherry Tomato
Red Kuri Squash