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  • Guava

    May 04, 2018

    With more than 100 species this tropical fruit, there's a flavor for everyone. We will focus on the most popular variety, the common guava, which is also known as the apple guava due to its color.

    Appearance & Flavor
    This smooth, spherical fruit gives off a tropical aroma and has a flavor like a mix of lemons and pineapples to match. When they are ripe, they are light green and may have some yellowness. Their flesh is the texture of a firm banana with the juiciness of an apple. To check for ripeness, gently press the skin-it should be somewhat soft and give slightly to pressure. Dark green ones that do not give to pressure are not yet ripe. Here's a little trick to quicken the ripening process: place them in a paper bag with an apple for 24 hours.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Of the many things you can do with guavas, we are definitely melting over this summertime jelly. Aside from that mouthwatering option, you can eat them raw, add them into desserts like cakes or custards, puree them, caramelize them, or enhance your typical juices with a few slices.

    Availability & Origin
    From spring to winter, these guavas are growing in the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Mexico.

    Storage
    When ripe, store your guavas at room temperature for up to five days.

  • Fiddleheads

    May 04, 2018


    Fiddleheads grow from ferns that arise from swamps and marshes-it's a true swamp thing.

    Appearance & Flavor
    These tightly wound button-like parts of the fern are a sight to be seen. Fiddleheads are light green with fuzzy scales. They are crunchy, but have a gelatin-like flesh with an earthy flavor and a mineral finish when raw. Cooking significantly reduces the mineral flavor and a pine nut/artichoke type flavor emerges in its place. If they are no longer rigid and are becoming gummy, then they are no longer edible.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Looking for a spring appetizer that will turn heads? These tarts are just the thing.  Steaming or boiling them is an option, but if you like your fiddleheads crunchy, this may not be your favorite way to prepare them. If you sauté them without water, they will hold their crunch much better.

    Availability & Origin
    Fiddleheads are available from April to late May. As mentioned before, they emerge in the swamps and marshes of Canada and the eastern United States.

    Storage
    They will last up to a week in your fridge. Since they have such a short season, you'll want to freeze your fiddleheads if you want them to last longer-and here's a video on how to freeze them.

  • Morel Mushrooms

    May 04, 2018


    Where other vegetation falls in the face of fire, these mushrooms love the flames. In many areas, morels will grow abundantly in the wake of a recent forest fire and can thrive there for up to two years after.

    Appearance & Flavor
    Morel mushrooms look like they could house bees in their honeycomb holes and inside, they are hollow from the stem to the tip. They range in color from light gray to dark brown-the darker they are, the stronger their earthy hazelnut flavor will be. They are a very meaty mushroom that gives off a wood smoking smell. When picking out fresh mushrooms, select the ones that are firm, yet spongy.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Never eat them raw. But not to worry, they don't need to cook long to release their flavor. Morels are great for creams, sauces, in pasta dishes, or as their own side. Here are two ways to prepare them; one recipe for fresh mushrooms and another for dried ones.    

    Availability & Origin
    Since they do not flourish well for commercial production, you can only get these mushrooms fresh in spring and as late as early June. They can, however, be bought dried any time of year. Remember how we mentioned they grow well in scorched areas? Most foragers will immediately visit areas that have experienced recent forest fires to seek these mushrooms out.

    Storage
    Store fresh morels on a tray in a single layer and cover them with a damp towel for them to last three days. When dried, you can refrigerate or freeze them in a tolerant bag and they can last from six months to almost a year.

  • Sunrise Papaya

    Apr 06, 2018


    This papaya variety is known as the sweetest of them all-and we have a sweet recipe in store for you below...

    Appearance & Flavor
    Sunrise papayas are long and pear-shaped with light green and smooth leather-like skin. Inside, each papaya has a cavity filled with inedible black seeds. The good news: these fruits allow for very easy seed removal since their cavities are not very deep. When they are ripe, the green skin turns a golden orange with small dotted specks. The flesh is firm, juicy, and is said to taste like a sweet combination of peaches and berries.

    Ways to Enjoy
    You'll want to keep this cool snack in mind for this summer! Is there anything that can outdo those popsicles? We don't think so, but you can still use this sweet fruit in smoothies, salads, salsas, and desserts, raw or even grilled.

    Availability & Origin
    Grown in the beautiful, tropical climates of Hawaii, Brazil, Jamaica, and Mexico, these papayas are available all year long.

    Storage
    If the papayas you brought home are not yet ripe, place them in a plastic bag at room temperature and you'll know they're ready when they turn mostly yellow. After they've ripened, you can take that plastic bag from the counter and place it in the fridge for about three days.

  • Savoy Spinach

    Apr 06, 2018


    In honor of National Spinach Day earlier this week on March 26, we are featuring this variety that is not your typical spinach.

    Appearance & Flavor
    Savoy and normal spinach are both dark green, but unlike the smooth leaves of the regular variety, the savoy type has crinkled leaves. Its flavor is strong and more earthy than regular spinach, and its tougher texture makes it chewier. Make sure to buy bunches that are dark green with crisp leaves. Avoid any with limp, wet leaves or those that have yellow spots.

    Ways to Enjoy
    In need of a quick and easy side dish for a get-together but don't know where to start? Try your hand at this simple savoy spinach side. Remember to wash the spinach carefully since they tend to be gritty. They are best when cooked down or sautéed and they hold their texture and shape better than regular spinach. Often, they are used as a substitute for chards, collards, and kales-so feel free to switch out your usual.

    Availability & Origin
    Savoy spinach is available all year long. California is the largest grower for the spring and summer months, but you can get your spinach fix from Arizona the remaining seasons.

    Storage
    Washing activates the breakdown process of savoy spinach, so don't wash them before you're ready to use them. To store them until future use, keep them unwashed in a plastic bag and they should last about three days.

  • Fava Beans

    Apr 06, 2018


    The fava bean is an old-timer, that's for sure. It's known as one of the oldest crops since its earliest remains in Israel dated back to the Neolithic period-a.k.a. the Stone Age.

    Appearance & Flavor
    Similar in looks to the lima bean, these plump yellow or lime-colored beans are cushioned inside the pod by what looks like cotton. The beans are tender, yet the texture can be creamy or starchy depending on the age of the bean and how they are prepared. The sweet flavor has a grassy undertone. When picking your pods, look for the ones that are firm and fully-filled. Small bumps indicate that the pod is younger and easier to shell. If you aren't a pro at shelling yet, we've got you covered.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Need a new dip for your March Madness get-together? We thought so. Check this out. Where else can you throw in some fava beans? Try them blanched, braised, or pureed with your salads, soups, and sauces.

    Availability & Origin
    These beans are available fresh from March until May. If you want them beyond those three months, you can always purchase them canned, dried, or frozen.

    Storage
    Fava beans will last almost a week if stored in a sealed plastic bag.

     

  • Red Cabbage

    Apr 06, 2018


    The color of this cabbage is so vibrant and lasting that it can be used as a dye for clothing. Who's in for a cabbage tie-dye session?

    Appearance & Flavor
    Red cabbages have large red-maroon oval heads and tightly-wrapped leaves with frilled edges, and they have pale, well-defined ribs. Make sure to choose a cabbage that is firm and bright in color. Avoid wilted and brown leaves. The flavor of red cabbage is milder and sweeter than that of other varieties.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Won't the guests at your next gathering be surprised when the dip comes in a cabbage bowl? Often used as a substitute for the Napa variety, red cabbages are generally more readily available. They will not lose their color when cooked, in fact, they tend to stain the other foods it's prepared with. Make sure to discard the outer leaves prior to preparation. The cabbage can be used in salads, slaws, kimchi, and filling for dumplings. Not to mention you can braise or pickle them.

    Availability & Origin
    These cabbages grow year-round and peak in the summer months. More than 70 percent of the American production comes from California, Wisconsin, New York, Florida, and Texas.

    Storage 
    If you're not using the cabbage right away, place it unwashed in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to a week. After cooking the cabbage, it will last one week in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in foil or plastic wrap.

  • Collard Greens

    Apr 06, 2018

    Collard greens, dating back to ancient times, are the official vegetable of South Carolina as of 2011.

    Appearance & Flavor
    The leaves are broad and paddle-shaped. Their color can range widely along the spectrum of green. You'll see they have distinct white veins and ribs. With a strong and bitter flavor, these greens have a 'bite' to them. They are not soft like spinach; in fact, the chewier the collard, the fresher it is.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Wraps can be healthy! Just wrap the contents with this versatile veggie. When braised or blanched, you'll taste the flavor of collard greens at its best. When raw, they are much more bitter than when cooked, yet can bring a new dimension to salads. Another popular way to prepare collard greens is to pickle them.

    Availability & Origin
    These greens are available year-round, yet they are said to have the best flavor and texture between late winter and early spring. They grow all over the US, however, southern states like North and South Carolina and Mississippi have the largest concentration and the highest production.

    Storage
    Do not wash your collard greens until you're ready to use them since water begins the decaying process. Place them in an air-tight bag in your fridge and they'll last almost a week. Need to keep them fresh longer? Freeze them for up to 10 months of use. However, they need to be blanched. After cooking, they last for five days refrigerated in an air-tight container.

  • Opal Apple

    Mar 05, 2018


    These unique, non-GMO apples are a cross between Golden Delicious and Topaz apples. What makes them so unique? The fact that they don't brown after cutting!

    Appearance & Flavor
    Opals are bright yellow, not to be confused with paler yellow parent the Golden Delicious. Their skin will show russeting, or yellowish-brown skin or patches. Their creamy flesh is crispy and soft, and tastes sweet and tangy. Getting a whiff of an opal's aroma will remind you of a floral bouquet.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Taco Tuesday normally spans lunch and dinner, but opal apples will  help you take it into dessert time. This doesn't mean that they can't be a great addition to lunch dishes such as salads, soups, and sandwiches. Or a snack, right out of the hand. And, obviously, they make delicious pies, cakes, and tarts. 

    Availability & Origin
    These apples are available from November to March. They were developed in the Czech Republic in the 1990's, but their debut in the United States came in 2010 by Broetje Orchards in Washington, which owns the exclusive rights to the variety.

    Storage
    Place your opal apples in a fruit or crisper drawer. If you don't have one, an uncovered container or bowl in the back of the fridge will do. Refrigerated, they'll last a few months at most. When stored at room temperature in a fruit bowl or on the counter, they will keep for three days or so.

  • Star Fruit

    Mar 05, 2018

    You'll be seeing stars with this unique tropical fruit that is also known as a carambola. 

    Appearance & Flavor
    The star fruit has five deep ridges that make the slices look like stars, which is how the carambola got its nickname. When ripe, they will be a yellowish green to a deep gold color depending on the variety and it is normal for some browning to appear on the ridges. The skin of the carambola is thin and waxy. The texture of the flesh is crisp, yet chewy, and its flavor is sweet and tangy. When picking them out, be sure to choose firm ones. 

    Ways to Enjoy
    Try out this unique appetizer when having guests over; a tropical spin on traditional bruschetta. The skin is edible, so feel free to eat star fruit just the way it is. Or, get starry-eyed over a fun way to garnish anything from salads to cocktails. They also add a nice new flavor to juices, smoothies, and dressings.  The shape is what makes this fruit so fun. Learn to cut it like a pro with these steps

    Availability & Origin
    Star fruits grow all over the United States; California, Florida, Hawaii, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. When imported, they generally come from Taiwan. They are available year-round.

    Storage
    Non-ripe carambolas can sit on your counter until they ripen, then they should be placed in the fridge in a covered container. This gets you about 10 days of use out of them.

  • Microgreens

    Mar 05, 2018

    Check out the smallest form of edible greens produced by vegetables, herbs, and other plants. 

    Appearance & Flavor
    You can eat the entire plant-stems and leaves. The flavor and appearance vary by variety, and there are more than 25 different varieties. Here's a breakdown of some of the most common.   

    Ways to Enjoy
    They are quite popular as a salad of their own. Kick that salad up a notch by adding curry like this. Not only do they serve as a good addition to soups, sandwiches, and omelets, they are also perfect for garnishing burgers, pizza, and fish, and make a good substitute for sprouts in many dishes.

    Availability & Origin
    You can find these microgreens growing year-round, though they peak in spring and into late fall in many parts of the United States.

    Storage
    If you refrigerate them in an open container or a loose plastic bag, you should get around five days' worth of use out of them.

  • Watermelon Radish

    Mar 05, 2018

    Don't judge a book by its cover. This radish is nothing special on the outside, but once you open it, you will be amazed by its color and depth of flavor.

    Appearance & Flavor
    The outer skin of the watermelon radish is a pale, creamy-white color with light green on the shoulders, but the pretty flesh inside is bright pink with white streaks. The pinker the taproot appears, the pinker the interior will be. The flesh is crisp yet tender, and also quite juicy. The flavor is like pepper with hints of an almond-like sweetness. Chose radishes with a smooth skin that is not soft or showing brown spots. Make sure they are heavy for their size. 

    Ways to Enjoy
    Bored of your typical salad or vegetables? Try a new veggie that will bring plenty of color to your next dish. They can be eaten fresh, cooked, or pickled in a variety of dishes, including salads, sandwiches, soups, and stir-fries. 

    Availability & Origin
    They are grown year-round in many parts of the United States, and they peak in the spring and into late fall. 

    Storage
    If you refrigerate them in a container or a loose plastic bag, you should get about five days of use out of them.

  • Fair Trade

    Mar 02, 2018


    Simply stated, fair trade is the process in which farmers and workers in developing countries are compensated fairly for their work. Fair trade certification ensures that producers work in safe conditions, protects the environment, and helps to support the producers' communities by bringing in additional funds. In order to become fair trade certified, businesses must comply with thorough ethical and environmental standards and pass various audits and inspections. 

    Fair trade impacts each group in a different way:

    Environment
    Fair trade standards aim to keep the planet healthy for future generations. With this aim in mind, all producers are prohibited from using harmful chemicals in order to protect natural resources.

    Producers
    Farmers and workers with little or no legal protection receive the pay they deserve and work under safe conditions. They can rest assured knowing their families will be taken care of.

    Community
    Fair trade items come with a premium on the price, and that premium is given back to the community of the product's origin. Known as the Community Development Fund, the people of the community decide how to spend it to meet their specific needs-such as improving their kids' schools, assisting with healthcare, or building parks and recreational centers.

    Businesses and Suppliers
    For every fair trade certified product sold, the business selling it pays an additional amount of money into the Community Development Fund, which makes a huge difference for the fair-trade communities. The companies can supply environmentally-responsible products and help producers and their families, all while attracting customers who prefer socially-conscious products.

    Customers
    When purchasing a fair trade certified product, the consumer gets a sustainably-sourced product of the highest quality that also aligns with their values.

  • Edible Flowers

    Mar 02, 2018


    Tired of the same old strawberries and chocolate for Valentine's Day? Switch things up by getting your sweetheart some flowers. Edible ones, that is, to top off a romantic dish, drink, or dessert.

    Appearance & Flavor
    There are more than 50 types of edible flowers of different colors and flavors. Flowers with heavier aromas tend to have the strongest flavor and taste the best. In general, the colorful parts of the flower are used while the white bases are avoided due to their less pleasing taste.

    Ways to Enjoy
    As promised, a special Valentine's recipe for a special someone; rose-flavored ice cream. Before you get crazy with the flowers, make sure to try a small amount first to ensure you do not get an allergic reaction or upset stomach, as these ailments are common with certain edible flowers. The sky is the limit with these fun frills; stuffed, fried, frozen into your ice cubes... Or top your soup, salad, pasta, or sandwich with a few. Some can even make an edible cup for other foods.

    Availability & Origin
    Just like other blooms, they are abundant during the spring and summer. Origins can be tough to pinpoint; they are found worldwide or localized to your backyard. A word of caution: avoid picking flowers that grow roadside, since they are more likely to have been exposed to contaminants or pesticides.

    Storage
    Eat your flowers as soon as possible after plucking-ideally the day you pick or purchase. Do not wait more than 48 hours to consume. If you must store them, an air-tight container (so they don't get crushed) in the fridge is best.

  • Jonagold Apples

    Mar 02, 2018


    Jonagold Apple = Jonathan + Golden Delicious. There are more than 60 strains of this popular dessert apple.

    Appearance & Flavor
    The color of this apple variety ranges from yellow-green to rosy-orange, and some show red spotting with striping. Its flesh is crispy, juicy, and creamy-yellow in color. After biting into this fruit, you'll taste its sweet-tart flavor and smell the honey-like aroma. Pick out apples that are firm and free of decay and bruising.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Try this Jonagold cake-it's delicious (see what we did there?).  Just like that cake, Jonagolds go well in any dessert. Pies, cakes, and muffins for example. Another option is hollowing the apple out, stuffing it, and baking for a unique dish. Just like any other apple,  they make good salad toppers when raw or make tasty jams and sauces when cooked down.

    Availability & Origin
    Jonagolds are available between September and June. Belgium is the fondest of the American varieties which was found at a New York Agricultural station in the 1960s. You can find them growing in several states, such as California, Michigan, New York, and  Washington.

    Storage
    Place your apples in a fruit or crisper drawer; if your fridge doesn't have one, place them in a container or bowl uncovered in the back of the fridge, a.k.a. one of the coldest spots in there. They will last you up to three weeks. When stored at room temperature in a fruit bowl or on the counter, they will keep for about three days.

  • Green Pasilla Pepper

    Mar 02, 2018

    Green pasillas are some of the most complex peppers in terms of flavor. People tend to confuse them with the poblano.

    Appearance & Flavor
    These peppers are dark green and long, usually between five and seven inches, and have a slight curvature and thick flesh. Be sure to choose the ones that are firm and have a smooth, unblemished skin. They range from mild to hot; somewhere above an Anaheim and below Hatch chilies on the Scoville scale. When cooked, they have a smoky, savory flavor. When dried, however, the flavor has more depth and they are slightly hotter. When eaten raw, they can taste similar to a raisin with a hint  of cocoa.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Running out of leftovers but still want a taste of the holidays? Try something new, like black garlic and pasilla pepper spread. Pasillas happen to make great guacamole by the way. They are also popular in sauces, salsas, stews, hot sauces, soups, and rubs. After being roasted, they have their best flavor and texture. Take advantage of that flavor with a stuffed or fried one. When dealing with any pepper, wear gloves since the oil can get into small cracks in your skin, which causes a burning sensation that could last hours. Also, do not touch your eyes while handling these peppers. Washing your hands after handling the pasilla will help to keep anything like that from happening.

    Availability & Origin
    These hotties are available year-round. Mexico is the main producer of pasillas, but in the US, California grows limited quantities.

    Storage
    Store fresh peppers in fridge unwrapped for up to ten days. When frozen, they can last up to six months. Stored in an air tight container in cupboard, dry pasillas will hold up for up to six months.

  • Fuyu Persimmon

    Dec 15, 2017


    This unique, tomato-looking fruit made its way to the United States via a naval fleet returning from Japan.

    Appearance & Flavor
    The Fuyu variety is rounded and squatty with a flat leaf on top. It is orange inside and out. Unlike other persimmon varieties, Fuyus do not have a sharp taste. When they're ripe, they taste similar to a pear with hints of dates and cinnamon. Their texture is crisp and juicy when new, but after they mature, they become tender and gelatinous.

    Ways to Enjoy
    We've got more ideas for your holiday dinners-like this green bean side with a twist. You can tell when a Fuyu is ripe when its skin is firm and a deep orange. And when they are ripe, eat them raw, put them in sauces, jams, and jellies, or top your pies, yogurt, and pizza with them. They will also make a great filling for cakes, breads, and pies. There are so many ways to incorporate this persimmon into your holiday celebration.

    Availability & Origin
    Grab them from mid-fall all the way through the winter months. The worldwide producer is China but in the United States, California is the predominant growing region.

    Storage
    Before ripening, you can leave them out in room temperature for up to three days before they ripen. When ripe, they will last around two days if placed in a plastic bag. Ripe or not, store them separately from apples and other Ethylene-producing produce, as the Fuyu is sensitive and will spoil quickly.

  • D'Anjou Pear

    Dec 15, 2017


    You might not know it by name, but the D'Anjou pear is one of  the top three consumed pears in the US. 

    Appearance & Flavor 
    This egg-shaped medium-sized pear never changes from its bright green skin as it ripens. However, some will have a red blush on only one side, which is the side that received the most sun while on the tree. Its flesh is white, dense, and, when ripe, very juicy. The sweet flavor has citrus undertones.

    Ways to Enjoy 
    It's the season for baking. You won't regret taking this spiced bread to the family potluck or serving it to your holiday guests. D'Anjou pears ripen from the inside out, so you know that they're ripe if they give to slight pressure. Did you know that D'Anjou pears are one of the best pears to cook with? Add slices to salads and make sauces and purees with them, or just enjoy them raw.

    Availability & Origin
    These pears are available from September to July and peak in the winter months. D'Anjou pears are all over the place; they're said to have originated in Belgium, are named after a region in France, and grow in Argentina. They made their way to the United States in the mid-1900s and today, they grow in Oregon and Washington.

    Storage
    When ripe, they will last in the fridge for a few days. When not quite ripe and stored in room temperature, the pears will begin to ripen within a few days.

  • Szechuan Buttons

    Dec 15, 2017


    Also known as buzz buttons, they are good cross between an edible flower and a nine-volt battery.

    Appearance & Flavor
    Szechuan buttons are round, bright yellow buds. They have an earthy, grass-like flavor and are slightly tart. Most folks are not in it for the taste, however, but for the electric sensation. It causes a strong tingling and slight numbing effect in the mouth. The more you eat, the stronger the sensation becomes and the longer it lasts. 

    Ways to Enjoy
    It's the holiday season and it's time for decadence-truffles, for example, shock your family and friends with this recipe. Eating small amounts is recommended due to its powerful sensation. Cooked or raw, the effect doesn't change. Shred them for use in sauces, soups, and dressings. Or you can get creative with your buzz buttons by topping your ice cream with a few or garnish a cocktail for that added zing.

    Availability & Origin 
    Szechuan buttons are available year-round. They are said to be native to Brazil and Peru, but their popularity grew in the United States in and around 2000.

    Storage
    It's best to keep them in the clamshells they come in. In the fridge, they tend last up to 14 days. When freezing them, don't be alarmed when they darken and go slightly limp, but don't worry, they will keep their zing. Some people say the sensation intensifies after freezing.

  • Garnet Yams

    Nov 20, 2017

    This yam is not what you'd expect. It's surprisingly a variety of sweet potato. The identification system in the U.S. requires all yellow-flesh sweet potatoes to include the name yam. The reverse is true; that all yams must include the name sweet potato.

    Appearance & Flavor
    They are thin, tube-like, and have tapered ends. The skin is rough and has a maroon-brown color. You'll see a dusty film coating them, but not to worry, that's a good thing. The flesh is orange and becomes more golden when cooked. They are the starchiest and moistest of all yam varieties. Their flavor is sweet yet savory, with a hint of earthiness. Like them sweet? Roast them. You can also eat the leaves-they're known to taste like spinach.

    Ways to Enjoy
    This will get everyone around the Thanksgiving table excited, especially the kids with this French-fry recipe. Or eat them baked, whole, steamed, mashed, and pureed. They're also great for soups, sauces, and curries. Try them as a savory filling for pies-perfect for the holiday season. 

    Availability & Origin
    They are available year-round, yet they peak in the fall and winter months. Garnet yams became commercially available in the United States around the mid-twentieth century and were called yams to market them differently than the white-flesh sweet potatoes. True yams are native to Africa and Asia.

    Storage
    Do not put these yams in the fridge, as this will speed up the breakdown process. Instead, store them in a cool, dry location. At room temperature, they will last three to five days. If stored in a cellar at 50 to 60 degrees, they can easily last a month or more. You can freeze them whole or cooked. Keep these tips in mind when taking care of garnet yams. 
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