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Cheap(er) Fruit

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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.

Thanks!

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  1. If you're making jam, go to farmers' markets, offer to take the ugly pockmarked blemished fruit off their hands, and ask for a discount. Or else go to Mexican (or Asian, depending on the fruit) markets.

    5 Replies
    1. 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 ...

      1. re: ipsedixit

        I am standing in Line with a paper grocery sack.

        1. re: ElissaInPlaya

          Me too! Oh and my mom will be there with two sacks!! ;-)

      2. re: Das Ubergeek

        Asian markets or so much cheaper than american markets for both fruits and veggies:

        One head of organic cauliflower at Ralph's: $3.99/lb = $8.75 total
        One head of the exact same organic cauliflower at Hannam Chain = $0.98 for the whole thing.

        1. re: MeowMixx

          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.

      3. 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

        1 Reply
        1. re: WHills

          I find that the price of fruit at 168 (corner of Valley Blvd & New Ave) is darn good, as well.

        2. 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).

          1. 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)

            1. How about free/fallen fruit?

              http://www.fallenfruit.org

              :D r

              1. You don't mention where you live but you should definitely check out the 99cent Only stores in your area. They vary tremendously but I came across quite a find recently at the 99cent Only store on Sepulveda and Parthenia in Van Nuys - this place is like a fruit superstore. It's absolutely INCREDIBLE. I've bought peaches, nectarines, plums, mangos, asian pears, kiwi fruit, bananas, oranges, watermelons, honeydew, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupes and more - and that's just the fruit (there's tons of veggies too). The produce is just gorgeous and looks better than much of what I've seen at the regular grocery store and TJs. Go check it out, you will not be disappointed at all. Have fun :)

                1 Reply
                1. re: Erika RollerGirl

                  I was just going to recommend the same - I got really nice, large strawberries (for chocolate covered strawberries), blueberries and blackberries there last week!

                2. Good prices at the fruit/veggie stand on Balboa, right by the 101.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Emme

                    Balboa or Hayvenhurst?

                    1. re: running pig

                      My bad, Hayvenhurst, sorry.

                    2. re: Emme

                      Good prices? That's surprising. Tapia Bros. is usually pretty expensive for fruit.

                      A couple of options, though it depends on the fruits you are seeking.

                      I was at the Ralphs in Encino tonight. Strawberries are being sold at 10 packages for $10. Cherries were $2.49/lb.

                      There is a truck at the top of Mulholland that sells various fruit. The cherries have been 3 lbs for $10. I don't know if that is too expensive, but after seeing cherries at Whole Foods and Gelsons for $5.99/lb.

                      Also check out Costo and Smart & Final for bulk fruit.

                      1. re: Jwsel

                        I live right by the Mulholland place, and the quality really varies.

                        I've always found Tapia reasonable, especially because the quality is really good. I've always felt I've gotten what I pay for.

                        1. re: Jwsel

                          Cherries were 99 cents a pound at the Chinese grocery stores when I made my periodic tour last week.

                      2. Last weekend, I had really good luck with the farmers market. I was buying apricots. I filled up my bag with some juicy apricots and I was paying, I asked the farmer some question about jam. She got excited and started loading up a bag with all the over-ripe apricots that wouldn't sell and gave them to me for free. If you ran the numbers, I bet I got the apricots for less than a dollar per pound. I cannot promise that you'll get this same response from every farmer, but I bet you'd have pretty good luck if you asked around. Sometimes, the farmers will set aside some of the blemished or over-ripe fruit for you and you can pick it up the following week.

                        (I shop at the Santa Monica farmers markets, if that's of any help to you.)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: glutton

                          what about Stan's produce on Pico?

                        2. Sunland Produce is terrific. They do wholesale and retail. It's a huge grocery store with an enormous produce section and the prices are very good. Big meat department, too. Also fun to shop for other things.

                          Sunland Produce
                          8840 Glenoaks
                          Sun Valley
                          (818)504-6629

                          1. Another thought... I've gone down to the central produce market (off Alameda and Olympic, downtown) on a Saturday morning and gotten really good deals. This fruit does not compete with the high quality fruit we get at most farmers markets, but it's the same stuff you'd get at Ralphs. The prices are very low and you can negotiate in some cases. It's a wholesale market. When I want to make tons of tomato conserva or something like that, that's an option I usually consider.

                            1. the farmers market on third and fairfax has two fruit stands in the front. i usually shop from the one that's inside the market as opposed to the one outside, and it's really cheap and good. i've also learned that you must eat the berries the same day or they go bad... perhaps why sometimes they are only $1 a basket.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Clyde

                                awesome topic. von's on santa monica has 2# limes for 2 bucks versus the 2 for a dollar at pavillions.

                                1. re: xdrixn

                                  Holy cow -- thanks to everyone for the tips. I'm jonesing to do some canning this weekend. I'm actually in Pasadena but will drive anywhere. Anyone else done some recent canning/jam/jelly-making?

                                  1. re: Dafina Girl

                                    I've been making jars and jars of apricot jam. Been spreading it on everything, Pop-Tarts, bread, pretzels, crackers, Clif Bars, Snickers, even Twinkies.

                                    Almost makes me wanna chop down my apricot tree ...

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      Apricot, strawberry, pepper, nectarine, blackberry... it's time to jam.

                                    2. re: Dafina Girl

                                      If you're in Pasadena you should try Fresno Produce on Washington just west of Altadena Drive. Delicious cherries for 2.89 a pound, super sweet peaches for 59 cents a pound (or 69 I don't remember), good inexpenisve apricots, and..well I actually wrote a post about it a couple of weeks ago:
                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/409791

                                2. elat market
                                  Elat Market, 8730 W. Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90035, (310) 659-7070
                                  they are closed on saturdays.