September has started out with a bang and the late harvest season will make this month a bountiful harvest for all Bay Area farmers.
The stone fruit season is winding down, and most produce retailers in the city are selling fruit that is from the Northwest. However, we are fortunate to still have amazing peaches and nectarines from Marchini Ranch in the Sierra foothills. Stone fruit that grows in the mountains is so flavorful and juicy due the length of time it takes the fruit to ripen on the tree with all of the cold nights. If you haven’t had a peach this summer that truly satisfies your taste buds, this is your last chance.
Local specialty melons are finally on point with their flavor and texture. Matt our produce buyer loves the Sharlyn melon from Full Belly Farm in Capay Valley. The Sharlyn looks like an elongated cantaloupe with pale green flesh and a perfume-like fragrance. Melon season is so exciting–we’ll have over six varieties for the rest of the local harvest season.
Throughout the month of August, local strawberry production was down, but Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport is back and will be supplying us with their extra flavorful Chandler strawberries through October. We’ll also have plenty of the Albion strawberries from Mariquita Farm.
Table grapes from Hidden Star Orchard in Linden took a while to ripen up this summer but are coming on strong and tasting sweet. Johan just started harvesting some of his late season seedless varieties like the Red Scarlet Royal and Green Princess.
Hidden Star Orchard has been the backbone of our local apple selection for the past few years and they just started harvesting a new September Sweet Fuji variety. We look forward to celebrating this sweet and crunchy piece of fruit for years to come. We also have their wonderful Gala apple on the shelves and are expecting the NY Special (Braeburn crossed with Gala) by the end of the month.
At the start of every apple season we reach out to the handful of local growers trying to build new relationships. This year we finally got over the hump and are getting weekly deliveries from Devoto Gardens & Orchard in Sebastopol, CA. Stan Devoto loves to grow unique apple varieties that are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Most of these heirloom varitieties have been forgotten about by the average American farmer because they are not always incredibly sweet and crunchy and can’t be stored for months at a time. Stan just dropped off the Jonathan heirloom apple; sweet and acidic, it’s one of the best cooking apples of the season. Within the next couple of weeks we’ll get the Idared (tart & juicy) and Green Mutsu. Devoto is also a terrific flower grower, and with every apple delivery we get some flowers to display in front of the store.
Oops – I forgot to mention figs! Local fig season is in full swing and the Candystripe from Capay Farm is living up to its name. We will also have the Brown Turkey from Knoll Farm and the Black Mission from Capay until the middle of October.
Local pears are just coming on and Frog Hollow always starts off the pear season with the sweet and buttery Warren. This is one of those pieces of fruit that make you think you’ve never had a good pear until you bit into one of these. Frog Hollow also grows the Taylor Gold pear which will battle the Warren for title of local pear of the year. All this hype around Frog Hollow’s pears accompanies our excitement about Gabriel Farms’ awesome Asian pears. Torrey grows at least 6 varieties of Asian pears in their Sebastopol orchard. We’ll have the Shinseki (light skin) and the Hosui (dark skin) for the next couple of weeks before we switch into other varieties. The local Asian pear season is short, so come taste!
All of this amazing fruit can start to overshadow the veggies, but not so fast: tomatoes are everywhere right now and we love to celebrate this season with a bunch of local basil in hand.
Dry farmed Early Girls from Tomatero and Two Dog Farm are the talk of the town! The unique growing conditions lend to an extra flavorful piece of fruit. We’ll have a large case stack in the produce department through October.
We also have San Marzanos from Mariquita Farm for all of the folks that want to do some canning. The heirlooms taste perfect right now and we’ll have a nice selection of Bi-Rite Farm tomatoes for the next month and a half.
Our wet-rack rack is packed full with over 6 varieties of local peppers from sweet to hot. Also, the specialty eggplants from Full Belly and Bi-Rite Farm are so tender and yummy.
Catalan Farm in Hollister is having a great sweet corn season and will be harvesting through October.
The little gems and baby arugula from our friend and farmer Martin are the best salad greens we’ve had all summer. He will continue to plant and harvest these amazing greens until Thanksgiving time.
Local potatoes are coming on strong, and we’re waiting on David Little in Petaluma to start harvesting his dry-farm crop. In the meantime, we have a big display of Bi-Rite Farm’s Rose Finn Fingerling potatoes–a terrific potato for roasting!
Fall is just around the corner! Full Belly gave us the word that they’ll start harvesting winter squash by the end of the month…stay tuned!