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Winter citrus, red currants, and more

Which produce varieties get a holiday boost this season?

When we think of produce that tends to be popular for the holidays, cranberries and chestnuts may come to mind. “Around the holidays we also typically see a lift in Brussels sprouts, fresh herbs, baby vegetables and potatoes,” says Donald Russo, category manager, produce, Baldor Specialty Foods. “We do see a lot of similarities between Thanksgiving and Christmas menus. Sweet potatoes are more popular for Thanksgiving, but we see strong sales on these items and greens for both holidays.”

Historically, both chestnuts and Brussels sprouts come to mind as popular holiday foods. 

However, what else is proving popular this season? Sure those greens have a strong interest, but so do their red counterparts. “We’re seeing more interest in Italian radicchios such as Castelfranco, tardivo, radicchio del veneto and radicchio di Gorizia, as well as Spanish frisee, red currants and colorful edible flowers. We also have been seeing more sales of Lucy Glo and Lucy Rose apples because of their beautiful interior color,” says Russo, noting that overall while Baldor is generally not seeing as much interest in apples this year, it is however seeing growth in winter citrus items. This includes heirloom navels, Cara Cara oranges and different mandarin varieties.

Colorful plates for the holidays
After all, incorporating color into menus for the holidays continues to be a popular trend--particularly for Christmas. “Anything with red or pink color does well,” says Russo. “We see great sales and beautiful creations from the many different winter chicories and radicchios we carry, both domestic and imported varieties. We also see some great bright colors coming from different winter citrus items coming into season.”  

The Lucy Rose apple and winter citrus such as these stem and leaf mandarins are brightening up plates this holiday season. 

Greens aren’t also simply relegated to salads anymore, though the chicories are generally seen in salads with warm vinaigrettes. They’re also topping pizzas, being incorporated into risottos and pasta dishes or even being roasted. “The slight bitterness goes very well with rich-tasting fatty meats,” says Russo.

Other trends are emerging as well, including more and more compostable packaging housing product items. “Our fresh-cut products have also seen 30 percent growth in Q3 year over year,” says Russo, who notes that Baldor has 400+ items that are cut, chopped or diced in its Bronx, New York-based facility. “We attribute this to the labor shortage that is plaguing the industry. Buying prepared items save some of the labor needs in the kitchen.”

For more information:
Baldor Specialty Foods