pro­duce varieties

  • Dam­asco is the Por­tuguese name for apri­cot. The Wesley/​Patterson area of Cal­i­for­nia is con­sid­ered one of the prime apri­cot grow­ing regions in the entire coun­try.

    Once named the “Apri­cot Capi­tol of the World”, the Mediter­ranean cli­mate and well-​drained soils make this loca­tion an apri­cot par­adise.

    This arid land­scape is also still home to many Por­tuguese farm­ers and fam­i­lies who set­tled there to make farm­ing a way of life.

    Every sum­mer, the Pat­ter­son Apri­cot Fiesta cel­e­brates the stone fruit that has a rich Cal­i­for­nia his­tory. This year, the fes­ti­val will run June 2nd4th.

    Apri­cots debuted in Cal­i­for­nia in the orchards and gar­dens of the Span­ish mis­sions. Cal­i­for­nia farm­ers grow more than 95 per­cent of the nation’s apri­cots. In a typ­i­cal weather year, har­vest begins in Kern County and moves north­ward through the San Joaquin Val­ley to the Westley/​Patterson area.

  • What are “Jimmy Nardello” sweet pep­pers and how are they used?



  • David John explains the his­tory and cur­rent state of Apple Hill apples.



  • Selec­tion, usage and stor­age of arugula.
  • Once a har­bin­ger of spring, aspara­gus is now avail­able nearly year round with imported prod­uct from Peru and Mex­ico.

    Even so, when fields in Cal­i­for­nia begin to sprout up ten­der tips, by early April, it’s indica­tive of a sea­sonal shift in local eat­ing habits.

    An ele­gant veg­etable with long, ten­der shoots that are gen­er­ally cat­e­go­rized as white, pur­ple and green vari­eties, all belong­ing to a plant in the lily fam­ily.

    The shoots of the green and white vari­eties are usu­ally hand-​harvested when the stalks reach a height of around eight inches and are one quar­ter to half inch thick. The com­pact, tightly packed leaves (resem­bling scales) at the top of the stalk are prized for their soft, to crunchy tex­ture and mild, provoca­tive fla­vor.

    Green aspara­gus is tra­di­tion­ally the most com­mon vari­ety grown in the United States. Pur­ple or white aspara­gus is usu­ally avail­able on a lim­ited basis in spe­cialty and farm­ers markets.
  • Eas­ily rec­og­nized, yams and sweet pota­toes are some of those ugly fall and early win­ter root veg­eta­bles that are found on the side of the plate this time of year.

    Roasted, stuffed and on occa­sion, marsh­mal­low topped, the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of sweet pota­toes and yams has pushed their demand to become a year-​round thing.

    Baby yams and sweet pota­toes, avail­able sea­son­ally from August through Decem­ber, make it eas­ier to enjoy a single-​serve sweet gem.

    Com­pared to their larger coun­ter­parts, the smaller baby ver­sions allow for a petite, ten­der vari­ety to daz­zle the dish with color and fla­vor. With an edi­ble skin, the baby size have a sig­nif­i­cantly faster cook­ing time.

    Well known named vari­eties, sim­i­lar to their larger and jumbo cousins include Gar­net, Jewel, Japan­ese and Sweet Potatoes.
  • Apples and oranges are great.

    No one refutes their solid nutri­tional value or culi­nary ver­sa­til­ity.

    By the time June rolls around, it’s time to mix things up in the fruit depart­ment. We crave the taste of sum­mer in all its stone fruit and berry glory.

    Every trip to the gro­cer or farm­ers mar­ket is a delib­er­ate pur­suit for what’s new in the sea­son.

    Early Cal­i­for­nia cher­ries have found their way to the stands. The sea­son looks to be a short and sweet one with a lim­ited crop this year. North­west cher­ries will quickly fol­low. No need to pout with Rainiers and red vari­eties like Chelan, Teiton and Bings rushed to mar­ket upon harvest.

  • Dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing basil in appear­ance, fla­vor and usage.

  • A few crisp days strung together and sweat­shirts get pulled out of the closet. So too, do the recipes we love that cel­e­brate fall.

    Ingre­di­ents begin to shift and the land­scape changes in the mar­ket­place. There is more to autumn days than pump­kin spice and pump­kin lattes.

    Apples and pears are now being har­vested. It seems impos­si­ble, but true, new vari­eties seem to appear each year. Ver­sa­til­ity finds them a role in starters, sal­ads, entrees and desserts. Savory to sweet, scout out a fall favorite to switch up main menu plan­ning and lunchtime snacks.

    Tex­ture and taste give apples and pears the green light for pair­ing with cheeses, nuts, fresh greens and other part­ners. Both fruits com­pli­ment meat dishes and offer veg­e­tar­ian swaps in grain, pasta and rice prepa­ra­tions.

    Figs, pome­gran­ates and per­sim­mons are sig­na­ture fruits that fol­low apples and pears . They like that lit­tle cold snap that fol­lows hot weather. Cran­ber­ries will make an appear­ance by the end Sep­tem­ber. Once they debut, kiss sum­mer goodbye.


  • David John dis­cusses avail­abil­ity, prepa­ra­tion, usage, fla­vor and his favorite way to eat Black Radishes.
  • Nes­tled between Mount Dia­blo and the Sacramento-​San Joaquin Delta in the East Bay, Brent­wood, Cal­i­for­nia is renowned for grow­ing excep­tional fresh mar­ket pro­duce.

    In par­tic­u­lar, sum­mer cher­ries, peaches and delec­table sweet corn are what local mar­kets and chefs cel­e­brate.

    Hot Cen­tral Val­ley days and cool, off-​shore breezes at night make it the per­fect loca­tion for grow­ing sweet corn.

    The cobs are picked dur­ing the early milk stage of ker­nel matu­rity, when sugar con­tent and mois­ture lev­els are high. This is in con­trast to field corn, which is har­vested in the dry, starchy dent stage. Over the last cen­tury, sweet corn pro­duc­tion in the U.S. has increased as farm­ers and geneti­cists have devel­oped hardier and sweeter vari­eties.

    To clar­ify, most of the corn grown in the United States is the com­mod­ity crop known as field corn. It is used as ani­mal feed, ethanol, whiskey and goes into all kinds of processed foods and food ingre­di­ents. High-​fructose corn syrup, corn starch, and corn oil.

  • Color affects both emo­tions and mood. Win­ter is no rea­son to for­feit bright col­ors. It may well be the absolute best time of year to strut the most vibrant hues on the color chart.

    Cit­rus is at peak of sea­son in avail­abil­ity and taste. Use the many vari­eties to lift spir­its, boost immu­nity and improve menus.

    Out of hand snack­ing is made con­ve­nient with portable “easy peel” vari­etals. This includes navel oranges, man­darins and tan­ger­ines.

    Navel oranges have a sunny fla­vor with a touch of acid­ity. These seed­less fruits are per­fect for mak­ing any dreary day a bit cheerier. A fan favorite, they are burst­ing with unreal juicy sweet­ness.

    Cara Cara oranges are very sweet with pinkish-​red fruit flesh. They have hints of berry and flo­ral fla­vors for a cit­rus change of pace. Con­sider seg­ments added to yogurt, com­potes and desserts.

  • David John III explains how to pick, clean, eat and use the cac­tus pear.



  • Dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing apples in appear­ance and flavor.

  • Cal­i­for­nia pear farm­ing areas are arguably in some of the most desir­able and beau­ti­ful places in the state.

    The beauty of his­toric pear orchards con­tributes sig­nif­i­cantly to the appeal of com­mu­ni­ties such as Court­land and Clarks­burg, located in the Sacra­mento River Delta grow­ing region.

    Lake­port and Kelseyville rep­re­sent the Lake County pear grow­ing dis­trict. Ukiah, in the Men­do­cino grow­ing dis­trict, rounds out the real estate.

    Together these grow­ing areas pro­duce approx­i­mately 150,000 tons of pears each year. The vol­ume of pears pro­duced in Cal­i­for­nia has declined in recent years, as has the num­ber of pear farm­ers.

    Even so, the Cal­i­for­nia pear indus­try remains a lead­ing sup­plier of pears to the world.

  • The National Mango Board has launched a new mar­ket­ing cam­paign, renam­ing the Ataulfo mango vari­ety to Honey mango.

    Over the years, the Ataulfo name has been repeat­edly reported as hard to pro­nounce for United States con­sumers, retail­ers and food­ser­vice users.

    They’ve had a bit of an “iden­tity cri­sis” with other names attached to them as well. Cham­pagne, yel­low, young, baby and Adolfo are all name tags placed on this beloved sweet piece of fruit.

    Dif­fi­culty with the name has cre­ated some missed edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­ni­ties for this pop­u­lar Mex­i­can cul­ti­var.

    A main dif­fi­culty in the name has been a bar­rier to pur­chas­ing for those U.S. mango lovers con­fused about the mango. Using Honey mango is a consumer-​friendly way to improve the honey mango aware­ness and purchases.

  • David John dif­fer­en­ti­ates this ver­sa­tile apple regard­ing taste, uses and advan­tages. You’ll want to try it!



  • What’s new in Cal­i­for­nia grapes.


  • Chilean Navels are in sea­son and bet­ter than ever!



  • Cock­tail Avo­ca­dos: What they are, when and how to use them.