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September’s Organic Fruit

By James Parker, August 30, 2011  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by James Parker
September is officially Organic Harvest Month because that’s the month we generally see the highest percentage of organically grown produce in our stores. That may come as a surprise since many of the fruits and vegetables we have enjoyed all summer start to go out of season! The reason is simple: September is when we see the most significant harvest overlap of the seasons. In mid-August, the fall harvest season starts and by September, apples and pears start coming off the trees in earnest. Slow growing fall vegetables like winter squash make their debut and cooling temperatures also bring a return to leafy greens lost to the summer heat. And although we are well past peak harvest for most summer fruit, there is still plenty of late harvest fruit to tempt us. My September favorite organic fruits are grapes and raspberries. At the top of the best of the season list are organic grapes – there is no month that comes close to besting September for flavor and variety. Grapes harvested in September have been hanging on the vine all summer and there are few crops that benefit from the long days of sunshine and warmth more. Red and black grapes are large and sweet but it is the green where the seasonal quality is most noticeable. The light green we commonly associate with the Thompson Seedless variety gives way to a golden yellow. This “amber” coloring of the fruit is the seasonal signal that the grape is the sweetest it will be all year. In addition to the common varieties, September is also harvest time for a wide selection of regional varietal grapes. The iconic Concord and Muscat varieties, in addition to regional favorites like the Scuppenong and Muscadine, are in peak production. Wine grape varieties are also coming off the vine and some producers out west have started packing some for fresh sale as well. Raspberries are at the top of the berry heap in September. Domestic blueberries have finished, blackberries are in decline, and strawberry production has fallen to barely half the peak numbers of June. Raspberries are the only berry that sees an improvement in available supply in September and though the total volume output doesn’t match early summer volumes, the autumn raspberry is among the most flavorful of the season. By September the main domestic production will have reversed from the Northern California fields of Watsonville, to the fields surrounding Oxnard in the south. Both areas will be producing so available supplies are traditionally very strong. When selecting raspberries, grapes and remaining summer fruit (like melons) this time of year, it is important to note that what makes this fruit special also makes it more fragile. Most of the summer fruit harvested this time of year will have a higher concentration of natural sugars and will not store as long because of this. Be sure to inspect your fruit carefully for signs of damage or decay and try not to hang on to fruit for more than a few days. Fall harvest fruit is good now but some of the last offerings of summer are spectacular. As the vacations finish and kids and young adults start heading back to school, we all experience the gradual changes that come with autumn. One of these changes is the overlapping transition from summer to fall in produce – a time of incredible organic abundance.
Category: Food & Recipes, Produce

 

11 Comments

Comments

Tony Long says ...
Thanks for the post. Our grapevines are full of grapes this year. Our favorite is the muscadine which seems to make the best homemade wine.
08/30/2011 12:51:34 PM CDT
jennie says ...
It's great that you sell organic produce, but shipping organic apples to Oregon from New Zealand is ridiculous at this time of year (or any time, actually) when apples are ripe at nearby farms. I wish you would make more of an effort to sell local products - shipping produce around the world is the opposite of sustainable in every sense.
08/31/2011 5:08:55 PM CDT
Barbara Hruz says ...
Have you heard Bel Air is getting a Wegmans? How about a Whole Foods next??
08/31/2011 8:27:41 PM CDT
Joanne K-J says ...
I walked into my local Whole Foods last week and there was not a single loose apple in the store - organic or otherwise. Evidently one regions production ended early another's is late to start and overall, as I was told, organic apples will be sporadic at best. I certainly hope that isn't true. Without apples there is not much to get through the winter with.
08/31/2011 10:18:38 PM CDT
Bethany says ...
Thank you!
09/01/2011 6:22:15 AM CDT
parkerj says ...
Hi Jennie- I could not agree more that we should do everything we can reduce the distance our produce travels. New Zealand is the summertime source for new crop fall harvest fruit and that season is nearly finished. Many domestic sources of hard fruit have experienced harvest delays due to the cool wet summer (otherwise we would be seeing more fruit by now). Harvest reports this morning indicate more product is coming off now in the Pacific Northwest so we will definately be transitioning into domestic (local for you)fruit. Love Oregon fruit- Cherries from the Dalles, pears from the Medford area, and apples from the Columbia river gorge. You also have raspberries and blackberry varieties that don't typically go out of state that are incredible. My sister lives in Riddle and her fig tree produces much beter than mine. JP
09/01/2011 2:23:33 PM CDT
parkerj says ...
Hi Joanne K-J, The Import apple season did in fact end but at the normal time. What is different this year is the domestic apple season was delayed so we are in a supply gap currently. Fruit is being harvested now though so depending where you are in the US, you should see OG fruit anywhere from two to 7 days. This happens some years- inport shippers do not want to have fruit in the US marketplace when the domestic harvest season starts because they know no one wants it- normally we would have lots of OG fruit from California and Washington State by now but the fruit is just starting to mature- we will see, Gravensteins, Golds, and Galas first- By Late Sept we will be swiming in domestic fruit
09/01/2011 6:08:34 PM CDT
Angela @ Momethis says ...
Wow that's great information. I'll be stocking up on my fruits and eating them quickly now. I'm ready for some leafy greens to come into season. Thanks for the post!
09/01/2011 8:16:46 PM CDT
janejohnson says ...
@Barbara Thanks for your obvious support of Whole Foods Market. We appreciate your desire to have one of our stores located in your area. For information about how we select new store locations, and to submit a location request, please visit: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/company/realestate.php For store opening information and store locations visit our website at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores
09/02/2011 11:08:09 AM CDT
Tania Reid says ...
This is awesome advise on what to buy this time of year! I'm so glad I read this!
09/02/2011 12:03:22 PM CDT
Victoria says ...
I just bought a whole bunch of organic fruits at my whole foods. The fruit is incredibly fresh but not very sweet though. I still love whole foods, though!
09/21/2011 10:47:38 PM CDT