For me there are very strong ties between the current weather and seasons of fresh produce. The other day I was crossing the Mendota Bridge and it hit me – I’m not sure if it was the crispness of the air outside, but it suddenly felt like fall and it brought a smile to my face thinking of the delicious foods to come.
There are a number of produce items people associate with fall. Apples and squash are probably at the top of many autumn shopping list, but what I really want you to think about in the coming weeks and months are grapes.
Yes, I realize grapes are available all year round and are a staple for most people. However, during the fall season, California yields the best grapes in the world, hands down. This is when you can move beyond asking your kids if they like green or red grapes and instead ask if they want witches fingers or cotton candy; varieties that take eating grapes to a whole new level.
We have partnered with a premiere specialty grape grower, The Grapery, in order to bring you such delicacies. Owners Jack Pandol and Jim Beagle have a passion for exceptional flavor and possess a widely respected heritage of table grape production. Jack’s grandfather, Stjepe, emigrated from Croatia at the turn of the century and farmed his first vineyard in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The flat terrain and dry, hot summers proved the perfect environment for growing what is known as nature’s oldest cultivated crop. The Grapery holds a promise of flavor they take very seriously. By developing innovative varieties like the ones below, they consistently make good on that promise with their delightfully unique flavors.
Powerfully sweet with a long finger like shape, they’re a fun and tasty treat for kids. Limited availability, mid-August through late August.
When you eat it, you won’t believe it. It’s juicy, crunchy, cotton candy. I’m not kidding! Available from mid-August through early September.
This very early season seedless grape is available in early July to mid-August and is jet black in color. It is unique because of its mouthwatering plum-like flavor. The Grapery waits to harvest these grapes until every bunch reaches its fully vine ripened, sweet potential. Available August through early September.
This mid-season bright red seedless grape has a sweet flavor. It is notable because of its unusually large size and crispy, pleasing texture. Sweet Celebration is a “bet ya can’t eat just one” kind of grape. Available in September.
This late season seedless grape is named for its brilliant deep red color and has a distinctly sweet, rich flavor. The berries are of medium size and have a cylindrical shape, while the skin is medium in thickness and is firm and crisp. Crimson grapes from the Grapery are unparalled for their crispness and flavor due to their farming practices and long hang time on the vine that allows the full flavor of this grape to develop. Available Mid-September through October.
This fall, don’t settle for pea-sized grapes with brown stems. Come on in and tell your produce manager you want to try the best they have to offer. Ask for the Grapery and enjoy something different, something great! Let me know which one you like best.
Colin Lyons, produce buyer