Does anyone have any advice or tips for buying good, inexpensive fruit in Los Angeles? I want to get started with summer jam and jelly making but I'm finding it hard to get fruit that isn't going to bust my budget.
re: Das Ubergeek
You can also go to many Ralphs, Vons, Pavillions, etc. and ask to buy their blemished and overripened fruits as well. Just talk to a store manager.
And like Das Ubergeek said, many ethnic markets will have cheaper fruits than the American chains.
And, if you want apricots, come over to my place ... you can have all you want and then some ...
In general I'll agree, though if the same ingredient falls into both Mexican and Asian cooking, it's almost always cheapest at the Mexican market. Case in point -- cilantro. It's usually $0.99 a bunch at Ralphs, $0.59 a bunch at 99 Ranch and often it's 4 bunches a dollar at Northgate.
Go to an Asian supermarket. Generally, their produce is much cheaper than other markets.
Try 99 Ranch, which is most convenient since they have many locations.
If you live close to San Gabriel Valley, the markets below have really cheap produce:
1) [ ] Superwarehouse in Rosemead at the corner of Rosemead Blvd./Garvey Ave
2) Arcadia Supermarket on Duarte Ave by Baldwin Ave
3) Valley Supermarket in Alhambra by New Ave on Valley Blvd.
4) Shun Fat in Monterey Park on Atlantic Blvd by Garvey
If you really want cheap fruit, go to the Grand Central in Downtown LA. You can park in their building (entrance is on Hill I think) and it's free as long as you spend $10 or $15 and get validated by the vendor and at the main desk. Produce is always always cheap!! I end up going there 3 out of 4 weekends a month. I can usually get blueberries 3 for $2, when it's expensive $2 per small containers. Strawberries are 79 cents per pint (or bigger), blackberries are $2 per rectangular containers. The selection varies, so sometimes they won't have all the fruits you want. There are about 4 or 5 produce vendors with different prices and varying selections. Sorry my figures aren't exact... I don't know what sizes the containers are, but whatever their size, their produce is routinely half the cost of what any of the other chain grocery stores sell the same items for. The only thing is that you'll hardly ever see organic produce, and sometimes you have to eat the fruit right away because they're so ripe. It probably wouldn't be a problem for you since you'll be making jams and jellies.
I think (I have no idea if this is true) that the vendors get their wares from the Wholesale LA produce market and grab the leftover stock that never sold in the auction. There's one lady whose produce is either already starting to spoil or right before spoilage, and you can grab 8lbs of bananas for $1 (I made a lot of really delicious banana bread that week).
Super King Market on San Fernando by the 2-fwy has had really cheap berries the past week or so (75-99 cents a container)