Market Notes September 15th, 2023



    The term “a bad seed”, often refers to a family member with unfavorable behavior. If you search the progeny of the expression, it goes back to agriculture referring to a seed that does not provide the expected product. It’s not like you plant turnips and get carrots, the genus is correct, it just does not yield a marketable crop.  This is exactly what happened to our premier domestic baby beet grower. All geared up to harvest the new crop baby gold and baby Chioggia beets, this harvest yielded no discernable volume. Once noticed the current fields were turned and replanted with different seeds but the use of the bad seed was too widespread and caused what will essentially be a two-month gap. There are other more boutique type growers with Farmers Market product, but it won’t come close to the demand this gap will create.  Mexico is another opportunity, but they will be overwhelmed as well. We recommend baby red beets which are of sound seed and readily available.  For those who need the gold and the candy stripped, order early and expect to pay more.


   We know you have been tirelessly waiting for this year’s information on paw paws. We feel your pain and are now prepared to ease it.  Like the goofy weather at last year’s end and this year’s beginning that affected most crops, paw paws were no exception. In this case It was a late season frost that damaged a good percentage of the crop, so volume is limited. Some growers are reporting mature fruit ready to ship early next week.  The season usually begins mid-August and would be done by now.  Pricing, as expected ain’t cheap. A ten pound box (only way they are packed) involves a digit you are not used to using, much less saying. Paw Paws are unique. They are the only non-subtropical fruit in the Annona family (cherimoya, atemoya, soursop, etc.), part of American history (staple of the Lewis & Clark Expedition), and taste like natures custard.  Paw Paws ripen like a banana and when they are soft their flavor is that of crème brulee.  Call if you want.  


   Like the onion, I have been around for so long (9000 years at least) that my mother, the original wild plant is gone.  I have learned to adapt to many different growing conditions in the same way that I have learned to respond to many different names.  From my immature leaves and shoots to my white, cream-colored, or purple-gray flesh, most of me can be consumed.  My prolific cultivation and harvest easily explain my use as a staple food throughout one third of this planet.  Just to show off, we proved we could yield over 1,000 bushels on one acre of rich damp soil in just two years!  That ought to be a challenge for the rabbits.  Although I have over 100 siblings and appear in shapes from oblong to round, we all come with thick brownish ringed skin that is rugged and hairy.  I do require caution as I contain toxic crystals of calcium oxalate, a sticky juice, just beneath my skin that can produce an allergic reaction if direct contact is made.  A simple solution is to use gloves or running water when peeling my skin.  You will have to put on the heat to consume me as my leaves and roots contain an indigestible starch that is neutralized when cooked.  I have a high starch content, a sweet taste often considered to have an artichoke-chestnut flavor, and can be used in the same way as a potato.  I have been boiled and ground and fermented into poi, sliced, dried, and smoked as a traveling food, and wrapped in banana leaves when cooked in an umu pit.  My leaves can be pureed, mixed with minced onion and coconut milk for umukai.  I am rich in thiamin, Vitamin C and Potassium.  Low in protein but rich in starch I am easily digested.  

The answer to last weeks quiz was…Lemon Cucumber… Congrats to all winners.

Call 908-789-4700 –Lisa or Richard– Fax 908-789-4702 Visit us at “like” us @ Culinary Specialty Produce on Facebook© Culinary Specialty Produce, Inc., 2020