pro­duce varieties

  • Peace, Love & Pears

    Gin­ger­bread and hol­i­day spices are warm­ing from the inside out. Take com­fort and joy to the next level by includ­ing pears in those fes­tive prepa­ra­tions.

    Maybe the best part of pears this time of year is their acci­den­tal orna­men­tal nature. The sen­su­ous shapes and var­i­ous sizes and skin col­ors sug­gest end­less culi­nary pos­si­bil­i­ties. They pro­vide a fresh fruit com­po­nent in baked goods, sal­ads and entrees, while all at once insert high drama and art on the plate.

    Pears are very ver­sa­tile. In addi­tion to being served raw in almost any­thing, pears bake, poach, sauté, roast and grill very nicely. They can be made into pre­serves, jams and chut­neys which can be a sea­sonal boost to pan­cakes, waf­fles and toast.

    Whole, sliced, chopped or chun­ked, pears offer great fla­vor in addi­tion to tex­ture and visual inter­est to many recipes.

    Firmer vari­eties like Bosc, Anjou, or Con­corde are best for heated appli­ca­tions— poach­ing, bak­ing and grilling. Because their flesh is denser, they hold their shape bet­ter. Their inher­ent fla­vor is not over­pow­ered by other cook­ing ingredients.
  • Peaches & Cream

    The taste of sum­mer might best be summed up in one bite. That’s if that bite is a juicy, ripe peach.

    One of sev­eral so called stone fruits, they fall into one of two dis­tinc­tive cat­e­gories. Cling­stone and free­stone are the peach camps.

    Cling­stones are known for their firm flesh that stub­bornly clings to the stone, mak­ing it hard to sep­a­rate with­out man­gling the fruit.

    Free­stone vari­eties, on the other hand, are easy to sep­a­rate the pit from the flesh. Cal­i­for­nia cling­stone peaches are best used for can­ning and freez­ing. Har­vest for these go roughly from mid-​July to mid-​September. Fresh mar­ket free­stone types are har­vested from April through Octo­ber.

    Both free­stone and cling­stone peaches have numer­ous vari­eties that dif­fer in skin color, flesh color, firm­ness, and juici­ness. Two of the most pop­u­lar vari­eties of yellow-​fleshed free­stone peaches are Ele­gant Lady and O’Henry. Other vari­eties include the Empress, Elberta, and Rio Oso Gem.

    Semi-​freestone or semi-​clingstone is a newer hybrid type of cling­stone and free­stone. It is good for using all around for both fresh and canned purposes.
  • Pep­per Picks

    Late sum­mer to early fall is a per­fect time to pick and high­light bell pep­pers. They tend to thrive in the hot Cal­i­for­nia sun, so the recent heat wave was not a deter­rent to these col­or­ful beau­ties.

    Orig­i­nat­ing in South and Cen­tral Amer­ica, Colum­bus brought them back to Europe in the 15th cen­tury. They soon became culi­nary stars across the globe.

    Bell pep­pers are part of the chile fam­ily. Unlike their spicier coun­ter­parts (ser­ra­nos, jalapeños and habaneros), they do not con­tain cap­saicin, the com­pound that gives chile pep­pers their heat.

    At their peak in late sum­mer and early fall, bell pep­pers are avail­able in a rain­bow of col­ors. Their mild fla­vor and sat­is­fy­ing crunch make serv­ing them raw a pop­u­lar choice. Sal­ads and fresh veg­gie plates are dressed up with bright bell pep­per rings or juli­enned strips.

    Roast­ing, grilling, bak­ing, or stir-​frying them brings out a deeper, sweeter taste. Their hol­low cav­ity and sturdy walls makes them ideal for stuff­ing. This menu appli­ca­tion seems to fit right in with the tran­si­tion of sum­mer to fall.

    There are two major fac­tors that deter­mine a bell pepper’s color. One. The time of har­vest­ing and the degree of ripeness at har­vest time. Two. The pep­per vari­etal.

    All bell pep­pers start out green and change color as they mature. If it’s not picked, a green pep­per may become yel­low, orange, or red, depend­ing on its vari­etal. The longer the fruit stays on the vine, the sweeter it becomes. Addi­tional time on the plant also means that more nutri­tional value is gained.

    Since they were less ripe when picked, green bell pep­pers have a longer shelf life, but are less nutrient-​dense than bell pep­pers that have matured to other colors.
  • Per­sim­mons & Pome­gran­ates


    What to look for; fuyu vs hachiya; how to peel a pomegranante.

  • Picker’s Choice

    Enjoy­ing newly har­vested apples presents a wide range of deli­cious options. Pick­ing the right one depends on how we want to enjoy them.

    Four excit­ing eat­ing apples are Wash­ing­ton grown Swee­T­ango, Cos­mic Crisp, Lady Alice and Lucy.

    Swee­T­ango is crisp and sweet, with a lively touch of cit­rus, honey and spice. The tex­ture is amaz­ing, too— per­fectly crunchy and sat­is­fy­ingly juicy.

    Swee­T­ango eats great on own, but also stands out in recipes, and pairs per­fectly with a vari­ety of wines, cheeses and more.

    Cos­mic Crisp® apples are a cross between the Enter­prise and Hon­ey­crisp vari­eties. This large, juicy apple has a remark­ably firm and crisp tex­ture. The fla­vor pro­file is sur­pris­ingly sweet, mak­ing it an excel­lent eat­ing apple.

    Cul­ti­vated with nat­u­rally higher lev­els of acid­ity and sugar, the Cos­mic Crisp® fla­vor packs such a sweet punch that in bak­ing recipes, added sugar can be reduced. In addi­tion to being sweet and crisp, it is nat­u­rally slow to brown when cut and main­tains its tex­ture and fla­vor when stored in the refrig­er­a­tor at home.

    Lady Alice® apples have a dis­tinct pink stripe over a creamy-​yellow back­ground. This highly attrac­tive vari­ety dis­tin­guishes itself in other ways, also. The back­ground color deep­ens to an orange-​yellow after har­vest.

    The actual parent­age of this apple is a mys­tery. It’s pre­sumed to have some golden deli­cious her­itage given the yel­low body undertones.
  • Pineap­ple Glow

    Fresh pineap­ple can be cut, cored and peeled in a vari­ety of ways. Once we learn how, we adapt our meth­ods to how the fruit will be served.

    A recent social media sen­sa­tion fea­tured a pineap­ple hack that had hun­dreds of thou­sands of pineap­ple lovers doubt­ing their tech­niques.

    The Japan­ese Twit­ter share makes eat­ing pineap­ple as easy as peel­ing away each bite as if peel­ing away an arti­choke leaf.

    There were many naysay­ers who went on to chal­lenge the hack with failed video ver­sions of pineap­ple rolling, cut­ting, carv­ing and pulling. It turns out, the smaller, snack pineap­ple ver­sions in the orig­i­nal video may be more accom­mo­dat­ing than what we typ­i­cally find in our local mar­kets.

    In any event, its ter­rific to have such wide atten­tion paid to pineap­ples this time of year. Easter cel­e­bra­tions, along with upcom­ing grad­u­a­tions, Mother’s Day and other spring menus put pineap­ple in the spotlight.

  • Plu­ots


    What are plu­ots and how do they differ?

  • Plu­ots


    Learn all about Pluots!


  • PPP…Peppers!

    Pep­pery foods have been a part of the human diet for more than 8,000 years.

    Long before the ancient Greeks and Romans gave mon­e­tary value to pep­per­corns, South Amer­i­can Indi­ans were eat­ing fiery hot wild chili pep­pers.

    Chilies were eaten in Mex­ico, Brazil and Peru 6,000 years B.C. and were one of the first domes­ti­cated plants in the New World.

    The love affair with chili pep­pers con­tin­ues. Most of us asso­ciate chili pep­pers with vary­ing degrees of heat. Super­hot chili pep­pers go beyond habanero pep­per heat and sur­pass 350,000 Scov­ille Heat Units.

    Any num­ber of vari­eties of these super­hots have sur­passed two mil­lion Scov­ille Heat Units. Treat these pep­pers with the utmost respect when han­dling or cook­ing with them.
  • Pump­kins


    What to do with pump­kins besides carve them for Halloween.
  • River Bartlett Pears — Red & Green


    All about River Bartlett Pears.


  • Run­ner Beans (Mann’s Ten­der­bite Beans)


    These long, ten­der beans are a vari­ety called run­ner beans. Mann’s Pack­ing is re-​introducing them to the US as Ten­der­bites beans.


  • Rus­set Pota­toes


    Back to the basics: every­thing you need to know about Rus­set Potatoes.

  • Sat SUE muh

    Cal­i­for­nia cit­rus vari­eties are so worth the mar­ket­ing hype. Navel oranges in par­tic­u­lar have been the stead­fast fruit we’ve come to rely on for healthy win­ter snack­ing.

    Out­side the navel mar­gins are so many juicy cit­rus hand fruits that excite the food world.

    Sat­suma man­darins are a Cal­i­for­nia lovely. Believe it or not, they may have first arrived here 700 years ago from Japan via Jesuits who planted them on the banks of the Mis­sis­sippi River in New Orleans.

    Grow­ers in the Golden State took it from there. This loose-​skinned, sub-​acid fruit has a zip­per peel and is seed­less. What more can one ask for except the minia­ture size is per­fect for sin­gle serve snack­ing.

    Com­pared to oranges in gen­eral, man­darins tend to be smaller in size, have a looser peel, and are less tart. They orig­i­nated in the Far East and were orig­i­nally exported through North Africa, where they were all tagged with the name “tan­ger­ine,” from the city of Tang­iers.

    The name “tan­ger­ine” has become less generic and is now usu­ally applied to only one kind of man­darin orange. Retail­ers have come to mar­ket the dif­fer­ent cul­ti­vars by so called brand names. While all tan­ger­ines are man­darins, not all man­darins are tangerines.
  • Seduced by Sour

    Food trends come and go. Some which are started in metro cities like San Fran­cisco and New York may com­pletely skip over the entire mid­dle sec­tion of the nation.

    One trend look­ing to accel­er­ate this year is the seduc­tion of sour. Adding a punch of sour can bal­ance rich or savory dishes.

    Global cuisines heav­ily influ­ence our own restau­rant offer­ings and choices. Take a page from Per­sian, Korean, Fil­ipino or even Ger­man menus to inspire new twists on fla­vor pair­ings.

    Sour tast­ing foods are indica­tive of higher acid­ity, along with tart­ness or tangi­ness. Bit­ter foods are mostly attrib­uted to unpleas­ant, sharp and some­times unde­sir­able foods. Sour cov­ers pop­u­lar Greek yogurts, kim chees, sour krauts and other fer­men­ta­tions.

    Sour fla­vors have piqued our col­lec­tive inter­est, on par with the spicy food addic­tion. Con­sumer demand toward tangy fla­vors has more to do with a move­ment toward well­ness, arti­sanal foods, and eth­nic cuisines.
  • Shal­lot Woes

    Anthony Bour­dain cov­ered a lot of ground in his book Kitchen Con­fi­den­tial.

    One hot topic that res­onates with all line cooks is the Mise-​en-​place. The orga­nized work sta­tion, unique to each cook, keeps the kitchen ready for every order mov­ing smoothly through the line.

    It houses all of the essen­tials– sea salt, rough-​cracked pep­per, cook­ing oil, wine, but­ter, gar­lic, pars­ley, and so on.

    One item in par­tic­u­lar that Tony claimed as a Mise-​en-​Place essen­tial for all pro­fes­sional kitchens is shal­lots. His kitchen staff used about twenty pounds daily.

    A “take-​away” from Bour­dain to home cooks look­ing to ele­vate dishes, is to keep shal­lots on hand for turn­ing out tastier ver­sions of most any prepa­ra­tion.

    Shal­lots are one of those fresh ingre­di­ents that we notice parked next to fresh gar­lic and the onion sec­tions at the gro­cery store. We fre­quently see them, but bypass them for reg­u­lar onion vari­eties.

    Their del­i­cate, mild onion fla­vor (with a hint of sharp­ness) is pre­ferred for clas­sic dishes, vinai­grettes, sauces, soups and fry­ing when a hot­ter onion isn’t the right fit.
  • Size Does Mat­ter

    In the land of fresh mar­ket sum­mer pro­duce, size does mat­ter. We can quan­tify cases by weights and by piece counts.

    Cal­i­for­nia sum­mer stone fruits and mel­ons are poised to spoil con­sumers this sea­son. It’s impor­tant to know the value of size and how to pur­chase.

    With an abun­dance of rain in most major grow­ing areas, we’re see­ing a larger-​size pro­file on early apri­cot, cherry, peach and nec­tarine har­vests. The plea­sure of eat­ing a nine or ten row cherry over, let’s say a twelve row, is super obvi­ous.

    The row count, sim­ply put, is how many of the same sized cher­ries will fit lined up in a row across the car­ton. Nine across the box is a nine row cherry. Cher­ries mar­keted as “Nine Rows” mean that not more than 5 per­cent of the cher­ries may be smaller than 7564 of an inch. That is a very large bite of juicy cherry flesh.

    Think of the visual impact of a large, plump cherry, glow­ing in gar­net, ver­sus a smaller, not even a mouth­ful (dare we say puny?) piece of fruit. Larger fruit implies higher qual­ity and typ­i­cally com­mands a higher price. Stone fruits like peaches and nec­tarines, will run the full gamut of sizes. Case weights reveal the net weight of the box. Fruit will be tray packed or vol­ume filled.

  • Spring Gar­lic


    Spring gar­lic: What it is, how to select, store and use it.
  • Sub­lime Times

    What’s a sip of mojito or slice of key lime pie with­out the bright­ness of fresh lime juice? Lack­ing for starters.

    Lucky then that limes are avail­able year round to impart their aro­matic, tangy good­ness.

    Under­stand­ing the vari­etal dif­fer­ences in limes might be use­ful for the best choices in culi­nary appli­ca­tions.

    Although there are other cit­rus species that are referred to as “limes”, the Per­sian lime is the most widely cul­ti­vated lime species com­mer­cially grown. It accounts for the largest share of the fruits sold as limes.

    Extremely fla­vor­ful, Per­sian limes are a key ingre­di­ent in regional cuisines world­wide. Also known as Tahit­ian or Bearss, Per­sian limes deliver an intensely tart fla­vor to your dishes and cock­tails. Typ­i­cally sold while still dark green, they become light green to a mild yel­low as they ripen.

  • Sugar & Spice

    ‘Tis the sea­son for serv­ing up spe­cial treats for every hol­i­day fes­tiv­ity. Snacks, drinks and baked goods have per­mis­sion to go a lit­tle hol­i­day crazy.

    Ordi­nary bev­er­ages and plain Jane snack foods get a waver on being one hun­dred per­cent healthy this time of year.

    The addi­tion of alco­hol, sugar and but­ter adds up over the extended hol­i­day period. From din­ner par­ties and open houses to office potlucks and neigh­bor­hood gath­er­ings, con­sump­tion of those off limit ingre­di­ents is off the charts.

    Good news then that pro­duce offer­ings give us a chance to include some fla­vor boost­ers that are rel­a­tively harm­less. If not for calo­ries alone, their wel­comed pos­i­tive affects seem to present “magic pow­ers”.

    The peels of cit­rus fruits such as oranges, man­darins, tan­ger­ines, lemons and grape­fruit con­tain potently scented nat­ural oils that release into the air when the peel is bro­ken. Their scent has been proven to be a pow­er­ful mood booster.