US cranberries

There is always a lot going on here in the summer months, when the US fresh produce season is in full swing.

At this time of year, NPD and exclusive, innovative ideas abound. One of the perks of the additional space, and different approaches to retail price and waste, is that they can afford to experiment more. I have been attempting (with mixed success) to get my family to try new produce that they may not have experienced before, and I will share a few of them with you.

Baby pineapples are gorgeous, though sadly my four-year-old insists they are too spikey so I will save it for my Carmen Miranda hat.

Pink lemonade is usually made with a splash of cranberry juice, but the ‘pink lemons’ on sale here currently do the job just as well. Americans love fresh lemonade and merchandise it in produce. A pink lemonade from pink lemons must be next?

I am smitten with mini bell peppers – not the ‘sweet mini peppers’ in the UK, but a real miniature bell pepper a third of the size, in all the same colours. It comes merchandised in a three-colour three-pack just as you get for standard bell peppers.

You may think I have just fallen for the old trick of a miniature version of something being ‘cute’ and therefore I bought it (this works with pineapples, desserts, puppies etc) but the main reason for my excitement is this: have you tried stuffing the sweet baby ones? These are just as adorable and so much easier!

Aubergines (or eggplants) are, specification-wise, usually a little larger/older/seedier/rubberier but currently they have three extra varieties on the shelf. Graffiti, which are the stripy skinned, smaller and creamier fleshed variety; Indian eggplants are the smaller 4-8cm length eggplants that are perfect in curry; and Italian eggplants are what I would expect to find on a UK retailer’s shelf.

In salads, apart from interesting sweet and heritage-style tomato varieties, they also have watermelon radish. It is pretty, but the specification here may be an issue in the UK – one in my pack was 16cm in diameter and definitely looked more like a turnip!

Living lettuce in multiple varieties also adds great theatre to the fixtures as wholehead is not the staple commodity product that it is in the UK. I haven’t seen a Little Gem since I arrived.