LOS ANGELES — Korean pears, guava, cocktail grapefruit, meyer lemons and kumquats are just some of the produce items you can expect to see in various dishes throughout the upcoming winter, said Robert Schueller, director of public relations for Melissa’s World Variety Produce Inc.
The company gave Southern California food writers, bloggers and chefs a peek at what’s in store for the world of produce in the coming months during a Dec. 28 get-together at the company’s headquarters.
Schueller also discussed some of the firm’s newest and most-popular items and shared trend information from the latest chef survey from the National Restaurant Association.
Of the 225 rankings included in the chef survey, nearly three dozen were produce-related. They included organics, a category that continues to grow; super fruits, a category that Schueller said is hard to define; exotic fruits; heirloom apples; black garlic; and heirloom beans.
One of the biggest winter food trends is citrus, Schueller said as he touted Melissa’s cocktail grapefruit, blood oranges and pink navel oranges, which he said are sweeter than regular navels and also known as cara caras.
Schueller said tangerines, mandarins and clementines are from the same family. They differ primarily in that clementines are derived from Europe, and mandarins came from Asia. Tangerines are a hybrid of mandarins and clementines.
Also new from Melissa’s are jeju mandarins, finger limes and Bordeaux radish, and three kinds of grains — organic red quinoa, organic faro and freekeh — which have been available in trendy restaurants and are making their debuts in produce departments. which have been available in trendy restaurants and are making their debuts in produce departments.
The company plans to introduce two varieties of chia seeds — black and white — early this year. The flavorless seeds were featured on the Dr. Oz TV show and are said to help regulate sugar levels.
Other tidbits that Schueller shared:
- Korean pears, now at peak season, don’t oxidize like other pears;
- You can tell the ripeness of a papaya by its fragrance and slight give to the touch but not by its color; and
- Unlike sweet potatoes, nearly all true yams are imported, are extremely hard to find, and are not sweet.
Finally, Schueller said the company plans to release its third book in December 2012 through San Francisco-based Chronicle Books. It will focus on wellness and feature the top 50 most nutritious fruits and vegetables.