Falling for Freshness

It used to be that spring and summer menus had the monopoly on fresh fruits and vegetables—especially in restaurants north of the sunbelt. But with imports on the rise and the burgeoning farm-to-table movement, the quantity, quality and variety of produce available in fall and winter has increased. That’s good news for chefs, operators and the customers they serve—all of whom are seeking healthy, seasonal and sustainable foods.

Crop Updates

Apples: Expect a record fresh Washington apple crop of about 108.8 million cartons this season, about 5 million more than last year. Varieties include Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Gala and Granny Smith. The Washington Cameo apple crop is projected to be about 1 percent of the total state; it’s one of the highest quality crops on record.

Avocados: In the fall, all three major avocado-producing areas—California, Mexico and Chile—are getting product into the hands of vendors. Supply of buttery Hass avocados is high this time of year, making it a good time to buy.

Broccoli: Growing conditions have been very favorable for broccoli, notes Ocean Mist Farms, a leading vegetable grower. Quality is exceptional, although supply is a little lighter than usual.

Brussels sprouts: Stalk sprouts are available through December, as well as bulk packs, net bags and clamshells. Heads are coming in tight and firm with a brilliant green color, reports Ocean Mist Farms.

Grapes: Harvesting of the California table grape crop was delayed by about two weeks but all varieties should be in good supply through January. The California Table Grape Commission lists more than two dozen red, green and blue-black grape varieties.

Pears: The USA Pear Bureau reports a pear crop of roughly 385,000 tons this fall, down from last year’s bumper crop of 440,000 tons but still ample. About 84 percent of fresh pears are grown in Oregon and Washington; varieties include Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, Comice, Concorde, Forelle, Seckel and Starkrimson.

Potatoes: Quality is good and yields very high, with a whole range of specialty potatoes coming into market, states the US Potato Board. There’s a wider selection of petites, purples and fingerlings, although the foundation potatoes (russets and reds) are still strong. The Idaho Potato Commission reports nearly 12 billion pounds of Idaho potatoes will be harvested this fall. The majority are russets (Burbank, Norkotahs, etc.) but about 6 percent of acreage will yield niche varieties. These include Yellow Finn, Yukon Gold, Russian Banana, Purple Peruvian, Cal Red, Huckleberry and French Fingerling.

Sweet potatoes: The harvest is underway in North Carolina and elsewhere, and will continue into the latter half of October. Acreage is up about 9 percent in North Carolina and throughout the U.S. to meet the rising foodservice demand for fresh and value added sweet potatoes, such as fries.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has replaced a fajita bar in one of its dining halls with a superfoods bar, Tommie Media reports.

Aiming to provide more options for athletes and students with dietary restrictions, the new bar offers diners a choice of protein with a variety of toppings, such as beans, fruit, couscous and quinoa.

The superfoods bar has made a few appearances on campus since it was first tried for the school’s football players last summer.

“Word of mouth is getting out, and every day I get a few more people,” Ryan Carlson, a cook at the...

Sponsored Content
gluten free diet

From Stouffer’s.

A large part of menuing allergen-friendly cuisine is deciding which gluten-free items to serve.

In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

According to FoodService Director , 77% of college and university operators purchase their gluten-free...

Industry News & Opinion

Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

FSD Resources