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Archive for the ‘Produce’ Category


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Everything You Need to Know About Thanksgiving!

We know Thanksgiving can be a stressful time with family in town, holiday parties to attend and schedule, large meals to cook or host. This year, we’re bringing back the joy of Thanksgiving and taking away the stress, because we believe there should be less hassle, more holiday! In order to make navigating this Thanksgiving as convenient and easy as possible, we’ve got the answers below to your most frequently asked questions and then some, from all the logistics including how much turkey you need, our complete meal solutions, as well as how to give back and help others in need this Thanksgiving.

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When are you open?
We’re open seven days a week 9am-9pm leading up to Thanksgiving Day, closed Thanksgiving Day, and back open at 9am on Friday, 11/25. Plan your trip in advance: you can now pre-order via our convenient NEW e-commerce website for in-store pick up because, you know, the internet never sleeps.

How do I place a turkey or holiday menu order without having a meltdown in the wine aisle?

  • Pre-order at your leisure on our fancy new e-commerce website shop.biritemarket.com! *(Deadline for pre-orders is Tuesday, 11/22 at 4pm)
  • On the phone: 18th Street – (415)-241-9760, Divisadero – (415)-551-7900, no elevator music, we promise!
  • In person at our 18th Street or Divisadero Markets during regular store hours.

captureI’m trying to prevent Thanksgiving from being a hassle, still please my in-laws, and impress my really cute downstairs neighbor. How do I preorder like a boss?
Our e-commerce website is live, and our complete Thanksgiving menu is ready for pre-orders from here on out, from Friendsgiving-in-a-box to host gifts, we’ve got you covered! Heritage turkey and wine are guaranteed to please the in-laws (you can even customize a case of wine according to their tastes!) and vegan wild mushroom stuffing for that cute downstairs neighbor.

Other “good-to-knows” to make sure your Thanksgiving order isn’t in shambles Wednesday night:

  • Order pick-up dates are Friday 11/18 – Saturday 11/26 (except Thanksgiving Day, 11/24). You will be able to choose your pick-up window.
  • We sell out of specific sizes and types more quickly than you’d imagine so order early! Online ordering for Thanksgiving ends on 11/22 at 4pm, better to not procrastinate!
  • A 24-hour pick-up preparation time will apply for all orders, i.e. you can’t place a pre-order on Saturday 11/21pm for Sunday 11/22 10am pick up. Give us the time and we’ll give you some truly Good Food.

How and where do I pick up my Thanksgiving preorder?
You can choose which Market (18th or Divisadero), and specify your pickup date and time during the checkout process on shop.biritemarket.com or over the phone.

If I ordered something for Tuesday and can’t make it till Wednesday, is that ok? What do I need to do?
No problem! Simply log into your account on shop.biritemarket.com and update your preorder with the new date.

I have a lot more questions that this blogpost doesn’t even begin to cover, can we chat?
Of course! Contact us at shop.biritemarket.com/contact-us or call us at the markets!

turkeyspread3webI’m envisioning a spread that is equal parts traditional, exciting and deeply delicious, like your hip cousin’s artisanal beer meets my great-aunt’s snickerdoodles, with no drama or burnt eyebrows involved, what do I do?
That’s what we’re here for! Our Complete Dinner Solutions (aptly titled Friendsgiving in a Box) come in three sizes, small, medium, and large. We’ll handle the turkey, stuffing, gravy and pie, you add on the fun stuff like salads, sides and ice cream! PS: we make a mean Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream (it’s what we’d recommend to the thrifty great-aunt AND the really hip older cousin).

I want a really good turkey, a responsible bird, you know? The kind I can take home to my parents.
Our BN Ranch Heritage Turkey is the best turkey we know, with intensely flavorful meat and the highest standards of sustainable ranching to its credit. We also have BN Ranch Broad-Breasted Turkeys for folks that want the benefits of a BN Ranch bird but prefer more white meat. Lastly, we have a select number of Mary’s Organic and Free-Range Turkeys – a great, clean bird, at a more affordable price. All of our turkeys are always fresh and never frozen. Only responsible, tasty birds in our kitchens!

Could you just cook the darn bird for me?turkeysolo_web
Our Whole Cooked Turkeys are available only as part of our Friendsgiving in a Box complete dinner solutions. However, we do sell our Braised Dark Meat and Oven Roasted Turkey Breast in our entrees section, as well as in the deli case at the Markets, come on over!

How many pounds of turkey do I need to buy per person?
Plan for 1 pound of meat for each guest. Plan for 1.5 pounds of meat if you want leftovers and/or have growing teenagers on hand.

I bought my turkey, now what?
We trust the New York Times’ simple Roasted Heritage Turkey recipe for a beautifully cooked bird, time after time. Please don’t fry your beautiful bird, or stuff it with bacon in a duck, in a chicken, in an octopus. #Turduckenpus Or, try our deconstructed heritage turkey recipe.

How about a simple recipe for gravy?
Here’s our go-to recipe!

holidaybaking-8I’m trying to make a pie crust to rival my grandmas, host a cookie party AND make this really special dessert for my three different friendsgivings, where do I even start?
We have all the baking supplies that you need. Either come in to the Markets and peruse the aisles at your convenience or have all your holiday baking supplies delivered to you via Instacart!

Do you have premade pie crusts?
Yes we do! We have two kinds of frozen pie crust and they’re both great and available at the markets or delivered to you via Instacart!

Speaking of which, are y’all any good at making pies?

Heck yeah, we make a darn good pumpkin, apple and pecan pie! Pro tip: pair them with our seasonal ice creams for an exceptionally festive dessert course!

How do you know when a popersimons_verticalmegranate is ready to eat?
Ripe pomegranates will be heavy for their size, and/or have cracked skin. They’re also very fragile fruits, so be gentle with them! Here’s our guide on how to deseed a pomegranate!

How do you pick a good persimmon? Do they get soft?
Fuyu’s (flat and stout) are delicious when firm and crunchy like apples. Hachiya’s (bigger and hefty) are ready to eat when soft and pulpy! Eat ’em with a spoon like pudding!

What cheeses can I bring to parties and friendsgivings? The pilgrims definitely weren’t pairing burrata wi
th their harvest turkey, right?
For us, the holidays are about celebrating the seasonal Alpine cheeses that our Cheese Buyer works so hard to bring us this time of year. The incredibly unique, 250-pound wheel of Slow Food designated Gotthelf Emmentaler – an intense and nutty cheese that puts the industrially-produced emmethatlers of the world to shame is special staff favorite. But really, anything on our Cheese Course has been curated to pair beautifully with your holiday meal.

What wines do you recommend? How do I pair wines with my Thanksgiving Meal?
We’ve curated a wonderful selection of wines on our e-commerce site but what we’re *most* excited about is our #BiRitePicks custom wine service! You tell us what you like, what you’re trying to pair with, and we’ll customize a case of bottles that best fit your tastes! A personal sommelier service, because you’re worth it!

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Do you do custom holiday arrangements?
Yes, we do! We use all California grown, sustainable, usually farm-direct flowers in our custom holiday bouquets and centerpieces!

What else do you have up your floral sleeves?
We’re so proud of all the Californian floral farmers we get to work with year-round, you can always stop by the Markets for beautiful bouquets to celebrate the season and make someone’s day with flowers!

4061a39f-cc70-40e2-9d7c-e6ca1cbe8dc4How does Bi-Rite give back to the community during the holidays? How can we be a part of community giving this Thanksgiving?
Supporting our community is a year-round pillar of our business. Every time you shop with us, you are helping us make a difference by empowering our youth, strengthening  the community and creating resilience. This Thanksgiving, you can help us donate nutritious meals to families in need through our online donation page, as part of your preorder.

 

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Simon

Digging Deeper – The Story of the Bi-Rite Farm

For the past 13 years the produce section at Bi-Rite has been a dynamic portrayal of the incredible seasonal fruits and vegetables that are being harvested throughout Northern California. Today, we are so lucky to grow our own produce on a three-acre plot in Sonoma and a gorgeous one-acre orchard in Placerville.  In so many ways, starting the Bi-Rite farm was a natural continuation of our investment in food, agriculture, and the community we are feeding and being fed by.

cultivating-more-than-produce-1Building relationships with all the farmers we work with is at the heart of everything we do. However, the missing link has always been our own connection to the soil. Until we began the farm, we had experienced just about every part of the Good Food movement except actually getting our hands dirty. In 2009, we finally broke ground on a small third of an acre in Sonoma. That first summer we set up all of our drip irrigation on timers, planted crops that needed minimal attention, and just crossed our fingers! We had an incredible first summer of tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, and eventually added a chicken coup and bee hives to the mix!

That same year, Sam’s folks purchased a small piece of land in the foothills of the Sierras. This one acre orchard supplies both the Market and Creamery with blueberries, apples, peaches, figs, and much more all through the summer and fall!

cultivating-more-than-produce-5In 2011, we partnered with 18 Reason to offer “Farm School,” a 10 class program that gives folks in our community the opportunity to learn how to grow their own food. In its fifth year now, we love seeing students transplant baby tomato plants into the ground in May and then harvest beautiful, vine-ripe fruit in August.  As we grow, we’re excited to deepen our education programs to get more kids in the dirt, stay tuned!

In 2013, we hired Layla, who beyond giving the farm the attention and care it needs and deserves, has been dialing in the crops that grow best, and the crops that our chefs love to work with in the Market kitchens, improving the systems for planting, irrigating, and harvesting in ways we couldn’t have imagined. We soon realized it had become increasingly difficult to properly rotate the crops and give areas of the farm the rest they needed on one single acre. So in the 2016 farm season we expanded our production into the entire three-acre parcel.  We’ve since begun planting perennial crops like hops, raspberries, and flowers, and upped our production of high-demand produce for the Markets in a big way!  Layla has built up her farm crew and with the hiring of Anna, Anton, and Michael the farm is now being run by a fantastic group of next-generation farmers.

Throughout the month of September into October we’ll be celebrating the wonderful fruits and veggies from both of our Farms. Look for veggie crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, and fruit crops like apples, figs, and melons.  The produce will be highlighted in the produce section at both Markets with Bi-Rite Farm signage and the Market kitchens will be preparing and serving the veggies in their Deli dishes.  Our farmer will also be taking a break from their daily farm work, coming down to meet our guests, and tell them more about the farm. Come “Meet Your Farmers” at 18th on Mon 9/12 and Tues 10/4 at 18th and at Divis on Mon 9/19 and Tues 10/11, always from 4-7pm!

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Simon

Put A Fig On It!

DSC_0630It’s that perfect point of summer where fig season is really taking off and we’re finding every which way to #PutAFigOnIt!

At Bi-Rite we realize that the best tasting figs are the ones that sit on the tree longer to fully develop their sugars, and are harvested just when the jelly-like flesh of the figs is about to explode out of the skin with sugary goodness. This means never biting into under-ripe, extra-firm, underwhelming figs. Only tree-ripe, mouth-full-of-goodness fruit will do!

The fresh fig selection at the Markets changes every day depending on which varieties our favorite farms are harvesting and delivering to the Markets.

Black Mission Figs are the most common grocery store fig since their thick skin makes them good for shipping long distances. However, if grown to the perfect level of ripeness as they are at Cloverleaf Farm, their dark purple flesh makes them one of the very sweetest varieties. It’s strawberry-colored flesh makes it perfect tossed in an arugula salad or atop pizza where its flavors caramelize and intensify.

Brown Turkey Figs are similar to the Black Mission in appearance, but a little lighter in color with green skin next to the stem. They’re known to be the largest growing fig and have a beautiful rose-colored flesh.

The green fig varietiesAdriatic, Kadota, and Calimyrna bring a lot of excitement to Bi-Rite each season with their lime green skin and beautiful reddish pink flesh. These are usually the some sweetest varieties of the season and a perfect dessert fig.  They’re on the shelves now from Knoll Farm and when wrapped in smoky, salty prosciutto or even bacon, make a stunning appetizer.

Our final and most awaited varietal every year is the Candy Stripe Fig, with bright yellow skin and green stripes – it’s always a Fig_Sign_8ways_8_waysmain attraction in the produce department in late August! The flesh is crimson-colored and they taste like raspberry or strawberry jam. Let’s just say they’re always dressed to impress.

We’ve got handy #PutAFigOnIt signs throughout the markets right now to help you pair your figs with everything from Benton’s Hickory Smoked Bacon, to a rustic Canestrato di Moliterno cheese, to a rich whole milk Ricotta just begging to be slathered onto a crispy baguette.

Get figgy with it at the Markets through September or directly to your doorstep from our online store via Instacart.com!

And if you’re still on the fence about the venerable fig, we loved this wonderful ode to it in the New Yorker, on the history of the botanical world’s most under-appreciated yet essential little fruitLove the Fig.


Simon

Late Summer Mouthwatering Melons

Vacation is defiantly the highlight of the summer months; for some of us, fresh-picked summer fruit is a close second.  In June we had fresh local sweet red cherries, July saw big, juicy yellow peaches, and in August mouthwatering melons.   Everyone has a fruit from their childhood that screams summer – for me hands down it’s watermelons! Unfortunately, for most of my youth I only knew watermelons, Cantaloupe, and Honeydew. Luckily at Bi-Rite Markets, we spend a majority of the late-summer months celebrating all the mouthwatering, vine-ripe melons that come from our favorite local farms, with anywhere from 7 to 10 varietals on our shelves at any given time!

OrchidwatermelonFull Belly Farm is nestled in the heart of Yolo County and they grow a wide range of organic veggies, fruit and flowers.  Melons happen to be one crop that they love to grow, and it shows in their flavor and texture.  Each week we order up to 5 different varieties (each with something unique to offer) to share with our guests and let our chefs get creative in the kitchens with their melon salads. The Orchid watermelon makes heads turn: at first glance it looks like your everyday watermelon, but when you crack this bad boy open a bright yellow/orange flesh brightens your day.  It’s a very juicy melon with a sweet sherbet-like flavor.

SharlynwcaptionFor folks who prefer a cantaloupe-like variety give the Sharlyn melon a try. This cantaloupe/ honeydew hybrid has a soft light-orange flesh and nicely balanced sweet/floral flavor.  It will take any fruit salad to the next level of goodness.  The green-fleshed Galia melon is a muskmelon hybrid with a succulent flesh and a sweet tropical flavor.  Full Belly just started harvesting the Canary melon.  The bright yellow skin almost looks like a winter squash, but once you cut it open the pineapple/banana aroma takes over.  The flavor of this melon is a balance of pairs well with ginger, citrus and pretty much all other summer fruit! Sweet/tangy and the crisp flesh!

PielDelSapoHappy Boy Farms located just in the heart of Watsonville is known for their greens and tomatoes, but their melon game has been on point the past five years.  The two melons they are growing right now might be the best of the season and easily the most interesting.  The Piel De Sapo “Toad Skin” melon is football shaped with a bright green-yellow striped skin.  Its visual appearance defiantly stands out, and the extra-sweet and smooth flesh with a little bit of crunch is what makes it a Bi-Rite Staff favorite.  The Charentais melon is a gourmet French variety that’s been farmed for over 100 years.  Usually the size of a grapefruit, the Charentais has a tan-green skin with dark-green seams when perfectly ripe.  Don’t let this melon fool you, the uglier it get the better is tastes.  The aroma that comes off this melon is almost as enjoyable as the rich, sweet flavored orange flesh.  This is the ideal melon to wrap in prosciutto.

The past couple years we’ve even dialed in our melon growing on the Bi-Rite Farm in Sonoma.  Since we work directly with a handful of local farms that grow delightful melons, we’ve decide to grow more unique varieties on our farm.  The Ginkau melon is a small, oval shaped Korean melon with a golden skin and crispy, smooth white flesh.  The Lambkin melon is an early Peil De Sapo variety with very sweet, crisp white flesh.  Later this month will be harvesting the Crane melon which originated in Sonoma County and is a super sweet, fine flavored melon.MelonLineup

How to Pick and Store your Melons:
One of the main reasons we buy our melons straight from local farms is that they let the melons ripen on the vine, and pick them at the prefect level of ripeness. Most of the larger farms grow varieties that can handle being shipped long distances and are harvested early, before the sugars have fully developed.  At the Bi-Rite there’s always a melon that’s ripe and ready to eat.

Picking out the perfect melon can be a challenge. For muskmelons and other specialty varieties, smell the butt-end of the melon were the stem was attached and if it has a sweet and/or floral scent its ready.  Also, when you are looking at a display of specialty melons the ones that have brighter color skin coming are ready (usually the greener skin indicates a less ripe melon).

These techniques do not work for watermelons – it’s much harder to pick a ripe watermelon.  Try tapping on the side of the watermelon and if it sounds hollow when you tap, it’s ready (a not hollow sound usually means it’s unripe).  Your best bet is to ask the produce clerk which watermelon tastes best! If you purchase a melon that is ripe and ready to eat, either take it to the park and eat that moment or take it home and put it in the fridge for a few hours to chill the flesh before you eat it.  When you bring a melon home that is still a bit green, let is sit on the counter at room temp until it ripens up.  If you’re not ready to eat your ripe melon store it in the fridge.  However, watermelons store best at room temp. Cold temperatures can turn the flesh of watermelon to mush!


Simon

Your Berry Best Friends are Back

BlueStrawBlackFINALMid-Summer in the Bay is the peak of local berry season.  The last of the local blueberries will be harvested through July and the blackberries and raspberries are starting to taste really good.  Strawberries have the longest season of any of the local berries, with the harvest lasting from April to October depending on the weather. Summer strawberries can be the sweetest with the cool coastal nights and warm days, but farmers are always wary of a heat wave that melts the berries in the fields! Berries always taste the best when they are harvested ripe and eaten as soon as possible, and we are so fortunate to get all to get all of our summer berries straight from the farms within 24 hours after harvest. With all of these sweet treats coming on at once, it can be hard to decide which berry to choose!  So we’ve decided to make the decision simple with our mixed berry 3-pack, so you can enjoy the best of them all!

The organic red raspberry market has been monopolized by Driscoll’s over the past 15 years, making it very difficult for small farmers to compete with the low costs.  With the resurgence of folks who want to know where their food comes from and consumers’ desire for high-quality fruit, we are starting to see more small growers planting raspberries in the Northern CaliforniaYerena Farms, located in Watsonville, is a family-operated farm growing berries on around 13 acres.  Poli Yerena and his brother came to the states to work in the Driscoll’s fields in the early 80’s, and after 12 yrs decided to start their own farm.  We are so lucky to work with a small farm like Yerena, who know how to grow a perfect organic raspberry and are committed to bringing the local raspberry market back to the small farmer.  Yerena’s neighbor in Watsonville, Live Earth Farm also grows raspberries are known for their organic gold raspberries.  Gold raspberries are an extremely delicate berry with super sweet flavor and a hint of tartness.

berry pedigrees largeBlackberries grow like weeds throughout the Bay Area! However, the flavor and texture of the wild blackberries doesn’t quite compete with some of the varieties the local farms are growing.  Toby at Free Spirit Farm in Winters grows the “Triple Crown” blackberry, a thornless berry plant with super juicy fruit that is sweet when ripe.  We love these berries so much that we are making our Public Label Blackberry Jam with them this month!  There are some pedigrees of berries that are very similar to blackberry like the Boysenberry and Olallieberry.  We get these varieties from time to time at the market, but they are so delicate and juicy it’s hard for the farms to get them to us before the turn to mush.

Throughout the summer we get strawberries directly from over 10 different farms.  Live Earth Farm and Swanton Berry Farm are a couple farms who have mastered the art of strawberry growing.  Learn more about strawberries at Bi-Rite here. Whatever your pleasure, your locally-grown berry best friends are back for summer!


Simon

Summer Lovin’: Stone Fruit Season

Bi-Rite Crew at Balakian

Bi-Rite team at Balakian Farms

The month of May is all about local cherries, but as they start to slow down in the middle of June, crops like peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, and pluots start to taste really good.  Bi-Rite’s selection of stone fruit during the summertime is a showcase of the many different local varieties and the world-class farmers who grow them.  There’s truly nothing better than sinking your teeth into a peach that was picked at the perfect ripeness so that sugars have developed into the sweet juicy goodness that makes us nostalgic for summers from childhood.

This spring the Bi-Rite Produce and Marketing teams took a field trip into the heart of Central Valley to visit a few of our favorite  organic farms, and learn more about what it takes to grow amazing organic fruit!

Mas Masomoto

Mas Masumoto, Masumoto Family Farm

Located just over 200 miles south of San Francisco in the heart of California’s conventional, industrial agriculture there are three family farms doing their best to keep organic stone fruit alive. Masumoto Family Farm in Del Rey, CA is a beautiful, 80-acre orchard of land purchased by the Masumoto family in 1948. A third-generation farmer and celebrated author, Mas Masumoto has mastered the art of building soil to support the growth of his trees.  The Masumoto family is in love with the tang of the yellow flesh fruit and seeks a sugar and acid balance that screams WOW! They’re just about to start harvesting the Flavorcrest Peach, a popular variety for conventional growers who like a firm piece of fruit that can ship.  Next up is everyone’s favorite, the freestone Sun Crest Yellow Peach, a large peach with a red blushed skin and juicy texture – this is the peach that put the Masumoto Family Farm on the map.  The last variety of stone fruit we will see from the Masumoto is the clingstone Le Grand Yellow Nectarine.  The Le Grand is a large piece of fruit with a rich sweet flavor and firm flesh which makes it awesome for making nectarine ice cream.

Peaches and nectarines are categorized in two ways, freestone and clingstone. When the flesh of the fruit is attached to the pit you have a clingstone variety. They can be the best to eat but are harder to work with in the kitchen. The meat (flesh) freestone varieties are completely detached from the pit which makes them easier to work with for canning, freezing, and cooking.

Stella Balakian

Stella Balakian, Balakian Farms

Stella Balakian moved to Reedley from Boston almost 50 years ago, and she is the heart and soul of the fourth generation Balakian Farms. For the past 15 years the Balakian family has been driving 3 ½ hours one-way to deliver fresh-picked stone fruit to the doors of Bi-Rite Market. The Balakian’s farm sits on just over 40 acres. They have diversified to grow one of the best pomegranates, which we celebrate in the Markets every fall. As far as stone fruit goes, Balakian focuses largely on early season stone fruit , but keep an eye out for the Flavor Grenade Pluot.

One of the biggest challenges facing these organic stone fruit grower in Central Valley is the limited local market for them to sell their premium organic fruit. These farms rely heavily on the markets in the Bay Area to bring them the financial return needed to survive as a small farm and pay their workers a living wage.  Most of the farms that grow us all these amazing fruits and veggies that we see at Bi-Rite are in low-income communities that can’t afford the prices for specialty organic fruits and vegetables.

Blossom Bryce and Dad

Ted & Bryce, Blossom Bluff Orchards

Blossom Bluff Orchards is located on a “bluff” overlooking the King River in Reedley, CA, and it’s one of the most stunning landscapes in the area.  As we walked the orchard it was so good to see all the wildlife taking advantage of the diversity on the farm.  The Loewen family farms on about 80 acres and grow a wide variety of stone fruit, citrus, and persimmons.  Bryce and his father, Ted, operate the farm together and they have so many different fruit varieties that Ted has to keep a little black book just to remember the locations of the each varietal.  Two of the crops the Loewen’s have mastered is plums and pluots, which are just getting underway. We are finishing up the last of the unique Black Splendor Plum with its dark purple/red skin and meaty flesh, which will be followed shortly by the Yellow Dolly Plum with perfect, yellow skin and juicy flesh.  Soon after the Dolly, the Catalina Plum will be harvested, with its dark amber skin – it is one of the sweetest plums of the season and just a taste of what you’ll see at Bi-Rite from Blossom Bluff Orchards this summer.

If biting into a sweet and juicy piece of stone fruit doesn’t get your taste buds fired up, we have a terrific recipe for Peach Cobbler from our Pastry Chef Keri,  and of course Bi-Rite Creamery & Bakeshop is taking advantage of all of the amazing stone fruit to create all sorts of summer treats like Masumoto Peach Ice Cream and Peach Frangipane Galettes.

StoneFruit_Recipe_web


Simon

Cherish California Cherries

California stone fruit season usually gets going in the beginning of May with the local cherry crop.  The lack of a robust cherry crop the past few years in the Bay Area due to warm winters and drought summers has really slowed down production of one of the best fruit crops know to humankind. With this being said, this year’s local cherry crop is off to an amazing start and we are so excited to celebrate these amazing farms and all different cherry varieties they grow.

BingCherries_HiddenStarOrchardsFrom now until July, Hidden Star Orchards in Linden brings us organic cherries straight from their orchard twice a week.  Johan at Hidden Star is like the “Cherry Whisperer,” he always harvests beautiful cherries right when they are peaking in flavor.  Hidden Star just started harvesting the Brooks cherry, a dark red cherry that is super juicy. This will be followed by the firm Bing cherry, which is considered one of the sweetest red cherries, but also with a little tang to the flavor.   The yellow and red-skinned Rainier cherry just hit our shelves and this large but delicate cherry has a sweet white flesh and is always a special treat.   Hidden Star will finish out the cherry season with lesser-known varieties like the Larian and Red Lac cherry.  Now is the time for cherry lovers to come by the Markets and sample this special crop.

CoralCherries_ChinchioloAt Bi-Rite we pride ourselves on building relationships with the farmers who grow our food, so whenever we have the opportunity for a new relationship we get very excited! This spring, we’re fortunate enough to start getting local cherries from the Chinchiolo Family Farms in the San Joaquin County.  This is a fourth-generation family farm that focuses on apples and cherries. Just this past week we received our first delivery of Red Coral sweet cherries and they did not disappoint!  The Chinchiolo family grows a firm cherry that has a sweet tangy flavor with plenty of juice.  This week they are harvesting the Bing cherry which will be at both Markets for the next week.

This is a really fun time of year at the Bi-Rite Creamery and Bakeshop with all local stone fruit and berries to cook with.  One of the most labor intensive crops to work with in the kitchen is cherries! Team Cream organized a couple group cherry pitting days where 500 pounds of cherries were hand pitted and cooked down in less than a week.  All this hard work will be turned into the seasonal release of the Cherry Almond Ice Cream, available only at the Creamery and Scoop Shop within the next couple weeks – keep an eye out for this once-a-season treat!


Waverley

Happy Passover from Bi-Rite!

FINALSederPlatewGoblet The celebration of Passover is an ancient and rich tradition, and we are happy to offer wide range of grocery, produce, and butcher items to complete your seder preparations, as well as a complete, house-made Passover menu so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with friends and family.

Our produce department will be featuring fresh horseradish root and organic, curly parsley for seder plates, while our Grocery team has a collection of Passover essentials and guest favorites, like the extremely limited-production, handmade Vermatzah. Made by Julie Sperling and Doug Freilich in Middletown Springs, Vermont, who carry on a 5,000-year-old tradition of baking matzah on an open fire.

BrisketOur butchers are showcasing beautiful, 100% Grass-Fed BN Ranch Beef Brisket for your Passover table. If you’re cooking for Passover, try our Zinfandel-Braised Beef Brisket recipe and shop it conveniently from our online store to have the ingredients delivered to your door! If you prefer lamb for Passover, we have two wonderful lamb producers supplying us with the season’s finest, tastiest lamb.  Learn more about what makes our lamb program so special here.

BlueberryCheesecake_InstacartIf time is tight, our chefs have crafted a complete, house-made Passover menu for your dining convenience, including old favorites and new, seasonal specialties. It wouldn’t be a holiday meal without desserts from Bi-Rite Creamery, like our Flourless Cheesecake – creamy, luscious and topped with the season’s finest blueberries! Our house-made Passover menu will be available in the Markets and for order on Instacart April 18 through April 30, for delivery within an hour.

To round out your meal, our wine team has curated standout kosher wines that go above and beyond the traditional Manischewitz (though we have that, too!).  Try the Domaines Bunan Côtes de Provence Rouge 2012, a full-bodied Cabernet Suavignon with savory notes of black fruits and spice, or the Golan Heights “Yarden” Sauvignon Blanc 2014, a classic Bordeaux-style Sauvignon Blanc from a cool climate site in Israel with herbaceous character and complex fruit.

Short on time? Let Instacart shop for you – find everything you need for Passover from our online Passover aisle and have it all delivered to your door!


Simon

Give Peas a Chance!

When the springtime rolls around in the Bay Area most folks can’t wait to sink their teeth into a juicy local strawberry. After eating California citrus for the past four months, we’re all ready for some delicate sweetness.  Strawberries aren’t the only sweet produce treat that comes with the cool spring weather. This is time to give peas a chance!

Peas are the perfect crop to grow in the spring because they like the cool weather and farmers can get plant them in the late winter so they have a crop to harvest in the early spring.  At Bi-Rite, we love to celebrate Sugar Snap Peas and English Peas throughout April and May when they are eating the best, because they go so well other spring crops like spring onions, green garlic, wild mushrooms, and baby lettuce.

IMG_6554Sugar Snap Peas are the most common peas and much easier to grow than English Peas.  Farmers harvest Sugar Snaps when the peas are crunchy and sweet.  Snap Peas are a great snack for kids since the entire peas and shell can be eaten raw.  English Peas, on the other hand, are a little more challenging for the farmer to grow because no matter how big and beautiful the outer shell might be it all depends on the size and flavor of the peas inside.  If a farmer harvests the English Peas too early the peas inside are too small and if they are harvest to late the peas lose their tenderness and become starchy.  The outer shells of the English Peas are too fibrous to eat, but peas are also a great snack raw. The Produce buyers at Bi-Rite are always shopping around to find the best eating peas because the quality can change drastically from one farmer to another.

Sugar Snap and English Peas are very easy to prepare.  They can both be blanched for 1 to 2 minutes to brighten the flavor and get rid of any starchiness that might be in the pea. It’s very important to rinse the peas you have blanched with ice water to prevent them from over cooking. English Peas can be tossed on top of a salad or risotto and make great puree.  Sugar Snap Peas don’t puree well but chopped up can be used as substitute for English peas when needed. Sugar Snap Peas are great for stir fry and are a lot harder to overcook compared to gentle English Peas. The pea itself isn’t the only part of the pea plant that is a joy to eat – we also have pea shoots and tendrils, which offer the fresh, grassy flavor of green peas and are beautiful in salads, for sautéing, or adding to pastas and risottos.

The kitchen at Bi-Rite is also celebrating this delicious spring crop, with a brand new summer pea hummus in the pre-pack case! It’s delicious and perfect for park picnics. While you might find peas at grocery stores year round,  spring is when they local peas are have the perfect texture and flavor – next time you’re in the Market ask the produce clerk for a tasty sample, and try our Eat Good Food English Pea and Green Garlic Dip recipe to savor the flavor of spring:

English Pea and Green Garlic Dip
Eat Good Food page 118
Serve with crostini or fresh spring veggies as a dip, or spread it on sandwiches.

1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oilIMG_6015
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
Kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
1 cup chopped green garlic (2 stalks)
3/4 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 1/2 cups English Peas
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano
2 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
6 large mint leaves, coarsley chopped

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, a pinch of salt, and a grind or two of black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the green garlic and thyme and cook until the garlic is wilted and fragrant, another 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool. Bring a small pan of well-salted water to a boil. Add the peas and cook until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes.  Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again.

Put the peas in the bowl of a food processor along with the onion mixture, pecorino, lemon juice, mint and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse a few times to blend, and with the motor running, pour in the remaining 1/3 cup oil, blending just until combined. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice as needed.


Simon

Strawberry Sensation

DSC_8332Throughout the month of March it was pretty exciting to see the rainy weather continue, though the rain didn’t bring complete joy to the local farmers and those of us who love local berry crops.  The strawberry fields took a hard hit from the rough weather – most of the fruit on the plants were damaged and the flowers knocked off.  Strawberry plants like to drink their fair share of water, but most of the growers use drip tape and get the water directly to the root systems. Now that this beautiful weather is upon us, April is setting up to be a sensational local strawberry month!

There is an abundance of strawberries in almost any grocery store you walk into this time of year, so what makes the strawberries at Bi-Rite Markets so special? The answer is simple: the farmers who grow them. We are fortunate to work closely with about 12 different local farms that will be harvesting extra sweet, juicy strawberries from April until October – the types of strawberries you usually find only at farmers’ markets and restaurants. Most of the strawberries that are sold at supermarket chains are harvested before they peak in flavor so that they are sturdier and can travel long distances, but farms like Tomatero Organic Farm and Live Earth Farm in Watsonville harvest their berries when the fruit has its most delicate texture, offering the ultimate sweetness.  It’s true that perfectly ripe berries might have the tendency to breakdown quicker than under-ripe berries, but these strawberries are delivered to Bi-Rite within 24 hrs of harvest so our guests can get them home in the looking – and tasting – beautiful.

The most common strawberry grown in California is the Albion variety; commercial growers love them because the plants produce large, firm fruit and when harvested a bit early they still have the high sugar content. Bluehouse Farm in Pescadero also grows Albion strawberries, but the combination of the perfect coastal climate, healthy, rich soil, and farmers that touch their plants every day leads to extra sweet flavor and a big juicy berry that melts in your mouth.  One of the benefits of working with a bunch of different growers in the Bay Area is that it allows us get a fresh delivery almost every day of the week and to taste how the same variety of strawberries grown in diverse climates and soil can differ slightly in texture and flavor.strawberry_coroplasts_webSwanton Berry Farm, located in Davenport, is a leader in workers’ rights; Swanton started growing organic strawberries in 1987 and has been growing high quality strawberries ever since. One of the things that makes Swanton unique is that they mainly grow the Chandler variety, an exceptionally flavored berry with a delicate and soft texture, not typically seen on the commercial market because they are so delicate. Most of the farmers we work with have a specialty variety or two that they bring us so that we treat our guests.  Oak Hill Farm in Sonoma grows everyone’s favorites, the Mara De Bois Strawberry.  This variety is small and tantalizing with a bright sweet flavor that seems to change from one berry to the next.  This berry usually doesn’t hit the Bi-Rite shelves until mid-summer.

BalsamicStrawberryAnd don’t forget the Creamery! Every year we eagerly await strawberries to come into season so that the Creamery can begin its  production of Balsamic Strawberry ice cream. We only make this flavor when strawberries are in full season and coming to us from our local growers such as Swanton Berry Farm and Live Earth Farms. We roast our strawberries at a low temperature with sugar and organic balsamic vinegar to reduce the water content and to intensify the flavor of the berries. We then add the berries to our organic ice cream base and turn it into this eagerly anticipated flavor. Balsamic Strawberry pairs perfectly with Ricanelas, Basil or Chocolate – look for Balsamic Strawberry returning around April 15! It may just be the beginning of local strawberry season but the flavors are already sensational! Stop by the Markets to taste the freshest, highest-quality strawberries of the season.