NBC's ' Produce Pete' sits down to talk about food access issues, the New York Green Cart Initiative and his own beginnings as a street vendor. He appears in the film THE APPLE PUSHERS (www.applepushers.com).
Pat and Produce Pete out for a fun day at Eden Garden Marketplace. Pat's getting better at picking fresh fruits and vegetables then i am.
Produce Pete and Hank inside the refrigerator at Katzman Produce at the Hunts Point Market in the Bronx talking vegetables.
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Most people want to know, are Zucchini and squash the same thing, the answer
They are the same thing. Zucchini is the Italian word for the fruit which the French call a courgette. ... In the US and Canada, we refer to most cucurbita pepo as“squash,” which I believe comes from a Native American word. So all Zucchini are squash but not all squash are zucchinis.
Squash was a food staple in the Americas for some eight thousand years before the first European explorers arrived here. Like melons and cucumbers, squashes are edible gourds that are indigenous to North, Central, and South America. The name comes from the Algonquin word askutasquash, which means, "eaten raw" and probably derives form the kind of summer squash encountered by early European settlers. The Native Americans taught them how to store and use winter squashes as a staple and demonstrated the curative and hygienic properties of squash seeds. Following the practice of the natives, the settlers ate whatever was available in the wild--fish, fowl, venison-which often carried parasites, and cured themselves by eating squash.
The squashes commonly found in the United States are divided into summer and winter varieties. Summer varieties are immature squashes, usually small in size, with a soft skin, white flesh, high water content, and crunchy texture. Summer squashes are 100 percent edible, seeds and all, and very perishable. Winter varieties are fully mature squashes that are usually larger in size, with a hard outer shell and a long shelf life. They are always eaten cooked. Most have an orange flesh that is sweeter and nuttier in flavor than the more delicate summer squashes and contain large quantities of beta-carotene. The larger, harder seeds of winter squashes are usually discarded, but they can be salted, roasted, and eaten like nuts.
Yellow squash and long, slender, dark green zucchini are probably the two most familiar summer squashes, but there are other good varieties. These include the chayote, which is pear-shaped, with white, pale, or dark green skin, the cocozelle, which is shaped like a zucchini and striped green and yellow, and the tiny scalloped pattypan, which has white, yellow, or green stripes and looks like a little flying saucer.
Summer squashes, especially zucchini, are generally available year round, but the peak seasons between April and September.
All squashes should have a solid, heavy feel. A squash that feels light for its size may be soft and dehydrated inside. Summer squashes should have a firm but tender, sleek, unblemished skin. A shiny skin on yellow squash and zucchini is a good indication that it was picked young and tasty. Choose small to medium-sized squashes, rather than large ones, for the best flavor and texture.
Summer squash: Store refrigerated in an unsealed plastic bag and use within three or four days. Handle summer squash carefully because the tender skin is easily nicked.
Summer squashes have high water content--never overcook or they will turn to mush. Overcooking is probably why so many kids hate squash! There are exceptions, but zucchini, chayote, crookneck, and cocozelle never need peeling. If the squash looks nice and tender, leave the peel on. Simply wash it and discard a thin slice from each end.
Summer squashes are terrific brushed with a little oil and cooked on the grill, and they can be steamed, sautéed, stir-fried, or baked in casseroles. Use very little water if you're going to boil a squash. Cut it into horizontal slices about a quarter of an inch thick, put in just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, add salt, pepper, and butter if desired, cover, and cook no more than three to five minutes. Turn the squash a few times to cook evenly and test frequently for doneness--it's done when it's easily pierced with a fork but retains some crunch.
To grill, slice the squash lengthwise, marinate or brush with an oil-based salad dressing or with olive oil, herbs, and perhaps some garlic, then grill over hot coals, turning occasionally so it doesn't burn.
Young, tender summer squashes, especially zucchini, are good raw in salads or with dips. They are delicious lightly steamed, stir-fried in a little oil, or fried tempura-style in batter. There are many Mediterranean recipes that call for squash--it's good in a ratatouille or baked with Parmesan cheese. Zucchini can also be used in zucchini bread--a sweet bread, almost like cake, that makes a good dessert--and muffins.
At home Betty makes a cold zucchini salad that's very simple, quick, and delicious. Slice the zucchini and sauté briefly in olive oil with a bit of garlic. Remove from the heat and, while the zucchini is still hot, splash a top-quality vinegar over it. It can be a good wine vinegar or a balsamic or herbed vinegar, depending on you preference. Add some salt and pepper and serve either warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
Because of its versatility, zucchini is a good staple to keep around the house. The other night we got home late, and neither of us wanted to bother with a big meal, so Bette sliced and sautéed zucchini and potato, added beaten eggs to the pan when the vegetables were almost done, and made a terrific frittata.
The wearing of the green is nearly upon us, and so the season of green beer, bagels and milkshakes has begun. While there’s nothing particularly Irish about shamrock-shaped cookies or green-frosted cupcakes, you might be surprised to learn that the traditional St. Paddy’s meal—corned beef and cabbage—is no more authentic. Like many aspects of St. Patrick’s Day, the dish came about when Irish-Americans transformed and reinterpreted a tradition imported from the Emerald Isle.
The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Dublin but in New York City, in 1762. Over the next 100 years, Irish immigration to the United States exploded. The new wave of immigrants brought their own food traditions, including soda bread and Irish stew. Pork was the preferred meat, since it was cheap in Ireland and ubiquitous on the dinner table. The favored cut was Irish bacon, a lean, smoked pork loin similar to Canadian bacon. But in the United States, pork was prohibitively expensive for most newly arrived Irish families, so they began cooking beef—the staple meat in the American diet—instead.
So how did pork and potatoes become corned beef and cabbage? Irish immigrants to America lived alongside other “undesirable” European ethnic groups that often faced discrimination in their new home, including Jews and Italians. Members of the Irish working class in New York City frequented Jewish delis and lunch carts, and it was there that they first tasted corned beef. Cured and cooked much like Irish bacon, it was seen as a tasty and cheaper alternative to pork. And while potatoes were certainly available in the United States, cabbage offered a more cost-effective alternative to cash-strapped Irish families. Cooked in the same pot, the spiced, salty beef flavored the plain cabbage, creating a simple, hearty dish that couldn’t be easier to prepare.
After taking off among New York City’s Irish community, corned beef and cabbage found fans across the country. It was the perfect dish for everyone from harried housewives to busy cooks on trains and in cafeterias—cheap, easy to cook and hard to overcook. It was even served alongside mock turtle coup at President Lincoln’s inauguration dinner in 1862.
Far from being as Irish as a shamrock field, this St. Patrick’s Day classic is as American as apple pie. Growing up in an Italian household with an Irish mother, Corned beef and cabbage was a must on St Patty's day even though my pop wanted to put tomato sauce on it. Actually my pop got to like it and in later years when he retired he would dress up in green and take his motorcycle, pickup the nuns's at my sister Lu Anne school and ride them in the St Patrick's Day Parade. I guess the old saying everyone is Irish on St Patty's day is true.
The Cabbage Story
One of the least expensive and most available of all vegetables, cabbage is a food staple in Europe and northern Africa and has been around for more than four thousand years. Long associated with boarding-house cooking and lingering smells, cabbage has been reinstated as one of the members of the important crucifer family--vegetables that contain important anticancer nutrients.
The problem with cabbage is the usual one most people overcook it. When it's cooked quickly and evenly, cabbage s a mild, sweet flavor and a pleasing texture, eaten raw, it has a spicier flavor and crunchy texture.
The difference between green and white cabbage is that the green comes straight in from the field, while the white has been blanched. In upper New York State, for example, growers cut the heads and then bury them in trenches to blanch the leaves and protect the heads from freezing. This method gives us cabbage all winter long. Many people think cabbage with a touch of frost on it is sweeter too.
Savoy cabbage has puckered, wrinkly leaves and forms a looser head. Red cabbage is a different variety altogether. Both are good simmered in vinegar and allowed to cool overnight, then served as a side dish with veal or pork.
Available year round at reasonable prices.
Select hard, round heads with crisp outer leaves that are free of rust or yellowing. Red cabbage and Savoy cabbage should be crisp and brightly colored. None of them should show black edges or other signs of rot.
Refrigerate in a plastic bag or in the crisper drawer. Cabbage will keep well for weeks. If the outer leaves turn yellow or dry out, just peel them off. The cabbage underneath will still be good.
Pull off and rinse the green outer leaves for stuffing. The head may be cut into wedges for steaming, sliced thin for sautéing, shredded raw and mixed with salad greens, or made into coleslaw. For a tasty winter salad, shred cabbage together with apples and carrots, then add raisins and nuts and toss with a dressing. Cabbage is excellent added to stir-fries, pickled, made into sauerkraut, or cooked and served with corned beef, smoked pork, or German sausage.
With over 4000 varieties of potatoes to choose from whats the best for my St Patty's Day meal, well I
do what mom always use to, she liked the Red Potatoes, and you know Mother Knows Best !!
Red-skinned potatoes (as well as round whites) are considered “waxy;” slice into one, the flesh looks translucent and firm. Though not all red potatoes are “new” (they can only be considered that if they were picked young) red potatoes, like all true new potatoes have a low-starch content and so can be used interchangeably. When boiled and sliced, they will hold their shape, which makes them perfect for potato salad; their low starch content means they only lightly absorb salad dressing, which makes a potato salad that’s chunky, rather than creamy. Red potatoes may also be mashed, but be careful: they easily turn gluey if over mashed; use them when you want a more rustic, lumpy mash smashed with a spoon.
Try to buy loose so you can easily evaluate them. They should feel firm and heavy for their size and never soft, wrinkled, or blemished. Avoid those with even a hint of green, which indicates the presence of solanine, produced when potatoes are exposed to light. This mildly poisonous alkaloid has a bitter flavor that can cause an upset stomach. If your potatoes turn green after you get them home, peel off all traces of the colored flesh before
Potatoes should be stored in a dark, cool (ideally 45° to 50°F), dry place. Never refrigerate raw potatoes. If the temperature is too cold, some of the potatoes’ starches will turn into sugars. Not only does this taste unpleasant, but the extra sugars also lead to overbrowning during cooking. If a potato winds up in cold storage, you can convert the sugars back to starches by storing it at room temperature for a few days.
Click on link below for ST PATTY'S Day show
These mini trees ( Broccoli) are notorious for being pushed off the plates of kids around the world, but broccoli's reputation as one of the healthiest veggies still rings true. Kids who call broccoli "trees" are imitating the Romans, who called it brachium, meaning "strong branch or arm." Their nickname for it was "the five green fingers of Jupiter," and they ate a lot of it. Broccoli is one of the cruciferous vegetables--in the cabbage family--that is packed with beta-carotene; the precursor to vitamin A that researchers believe has anticarcinogenic properties.Thomas Jefferson first brought broccoli seeds form Italy to Monticello. Although broccoli flourished there, Jefferson wasn't fond of it--probably because it was cooked to death. Broccoli didn't really catch on in the U.S. until the twentieth century; as Italian immigration increased, Italian farmers started growing it in California. They knew how to cook it, and by the mid - 1920's broccoli was becoming more popular. Although broccoli is grown almost everywhere, the bulk of the crop is still grown in California.
A cool - weather crop planted in the spring and fall, broccoli is available year round, but the peak of the season is March through November. It's usually very consistently priced, but when the price jumps up 30 to 40 percent, you know it's out of season and in short supply.
Look for a firm, clean stalk with tight, bluish-green florets. Check the stalks to make sure they're not too thick and hard--they will be a bit woody. Most important, the florets should be tightly closed and the broccoli should have little or no fragrance. Broccoli is eaten at an immature stage; left to grow in the field, the buds will open into yellow flowers. Buds that are starting to open and look yellowish will be mushy and have a strong cabbage taste. Use your nose when you're selecting broccoli: if a head has an odor, it's not good.
Broccoli will keep up to seven days if refrigerated and kept moist. You can break apart the stalks and put them in ice water or spread crushed ice on top. Or wrap broccoli in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel and place in the crisper.
Cup for cup, broccoli has as much Vitamin C as oranges and as much Calcium as milk.
The less you do to broccoli, the more it will do for you. Broccoli will lose up to 30 percent of its vitamins and minerals when it's cooked, so for nutritional reasons as well as good flavor, never overcook it. Broccoli is also very good raw on a platter of crudités, added to other vegetables in a salad, or served with dips.At certain times of the year, broccoli may harbor a bug or worm or both. When cleaning, soak the head in salted water about fifteen minutes, and the critters will float to the top.Broccoli can be prepared in countless ways. Sauté it with a little garlic and onion. Add it to pasta, or serve it blanched and cooled in vinaigrette. It's excellent simply steamed for a few minutes and serve with a dab of butter or squeeze of lemon--or both. To steam, put it in about half an inch of salted water, stem ends down. Don't let the buds touch the water--they'll cook very quickly and will get mushy and disintegrate. Cover and cook over low to medium heat for not more than four to five minutes--just until its fork tender. Check the pot once or twice to make sure there is adequate liquid in the bottom to keep from burning, and add a few tablespoons of water as needed. Properly cooked, broccoli has a delicate flavor and arrives at the table tender-crisp and bright green. If you're going to add lemon or vinegar, do it at the last minute because they tend to drab the color.At my house, we also eat broccoli in a stir-fry, with snow peas and pork. And in the wintertime I love Bette's Broccoli Soup.
A FUN FACT FROM PRODUCE PETE
President George H.W. Bush may have flip-flopped on a number of issues over his long political career,but when it came to a certain cruciferous vegetable, BROCCOLI , the 41st president of the United States displayed the kind of backbone usually reserved for dictators and communist insurgents: He refused all invitations to sit down and eat broccoli. I do not like broccoli,” Bush once said to the press, tongue somewhat in cheek. “And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m president of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!” Mere days after his edict, Bush hosted a state dinner to honor Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the prime minister of Poland. Reporters noted that there was not a single floret of broccoli on the menu despite the fact that farmers sent a “10-ton shipment of the vegetable to Washington in protest of his earlier comment,” according to a Washington Post story on March 22, 1990.
CHECK OUT MY MOM'S BROCCOLI SALAD AT BETTE'S RECIPES
Click on link below for Broccoli Show
If you haven’t heard of golden berries before, you’re not alone! Their season is short (usually late spring — mid summer), and they don’t usually show up on grocery store shelves. Your best bet of finding these little orange nuggets of goodness (that are native to South America) is either in specialty stores or farmers markets.
Known by a few other names (ground cherries, husk berries, inca berries, Cape gooseberries), golden berries are properly classified as Physalis, and are members of the nightshade family. They require a temperate growing climate.
One of the world's most exotic fruits, these sweet and tangy sun-dried berries are more than just a tasty fruit .
Golden berries grow on a small shrub, often just one to three feet in height. Its small, cream-colored flowers produce a large, marble-sized yellowish-orange fruit surrounded by a papery yellow husk, like you find on the outside of a tomatillo.
Golden berries, scientifically known as Physalis peruviana are small yellowish berries that have originated from South America. Oddly enough, goldenberries are more closely related to tomatoes and eggplants than other berries and are approximately the size of a marble.
Golden berries have been cultivated in England since the late 1700’s and in South Africa since roughly the 1950’s. Some sources claim that the popular name “Cape Gooseberry” has its origins in the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) however golden berries didn’t appear in any publications earlier than 1950. The name Cape Gooseberry, rather than being a geographical feature, most likely refers to the paper wrapper that surrounds the berry like a cape. The name is most common in South Africa, UK, Australia and New Zealand
Golden berries come wrapped in a paper lantern and are about the size of a marble (1-2 cm wide)
This husk protects each individual berry while it matures and is quite decorative in its presentation. The outer casing is green with dark vertical striations and eventually develops a golden-yellow color when ripe, at which stage it will easily fall off of the plant when touched. After harvesting, the thin sheath will turn a straw color and become somewhat veined and parchment-like over time.
The berries will continue to ripen off the plant and remain fresh within the husk for a shelf life of about 30 days at room temperature. They will then dry like raisins or can be dried immediately after harvest in a food dehydrator. Once it is removed from the calyx it can be consumed raw as a whole berry or used fresh in recipe
The berry is sweet and tart, which makes it a popular ingredient in various cakes, sweets, and baked goods, as well as salads and fruit salads. The berries can also be eaten by themselves, fresh or dried, as a healthy snack.
Golden berries like I said have a taste that’s anywhere from tart to sweet, but most of the varieties you can buy at farmer’s markets have a taste that can be described as a mildly acidic combination of a tomato and pineapple
Golden berries are considered a superfood, being low in calories and with moderate levels of vitamins and minerals. They are listed as being high in antioxidants, polyphenols and carotenoids. Many sources list golden berries as beneficial for treating weight loss, inflammation, diabetes, liver and kidney health and improving the immune system.
Other parts of the golden berry plant are known to be medicinally useful, including the leaves, stems and roots as well as the berries. However, the leaves and stems are traditionally used for external skin treatments rather than ingested. Golden berries are grown commercially in regions of Colombia and Peru, where they are dried like raisins and sold for international export.
PRODUCE PETE FUN FACTS
It is a known fact that the wild golden berry plant was a utilized food source of the Incan civilization, but to what degree is unclear. The Incas are believed to have been one of the first people to cultivate the plant from its wild origins
Click link below for Goldenberry Show
When I see a mango, I think of my father, Pete. He loved mangoes and had no problem eating them, but he could never stand next to a mango tree because he would break out in hives. Something on the tree while they were growing triggered that response. I guess we’ll never know!America’s awareness of mangoes has definitely been on the rise. I’ve lectured about different fruits and vegetables at schools for a long time and years ago, when I’d hold up a mango and ask the kids what it was, most would say an apple. But all that’s changed now based on the number of American children hailing from different parts of the world, as well as because of the mango’s increasing popularity.
ORIGINS AND BENEFITS
The mango originated in Southeast Asia, where it’s been grown for over 4,000 years, and since then has spread to many tropical and subtropical settings where the climate is conducive to the mango’s success. Mango trees are evergreens that will grow to 60 feet tall and require hot, dry periods to set and produce a good crop. Today there are over 1,000 different varieties of mangoes throughout the world. In India, the mango tree plays a sacred role as a symbol of love, and some also believe that the mango tree can grant wishes.A comfort food, mangoes really can make you feel better. Rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, mangoes contain an enzyme with stomach-soothing properties similar to the papain found in papayas, which acts as a digestive aid. Mangoes are high in fiber and are also an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and beta carotene.
SELECTION AND STORAGE
Handel a mango very gently, as it bruises easily. Pick it up and gently press your thumb against the flesh — it should have a little give and a really sweet smell. A very ripe mango will often have some black speckling outside; don’t worry about that or about a little bruising, but avoid mangoes that are black all over, as they’re beyond the point of no return. I think mangoes that weigh a pound to a pound and a half have the sweetest taste.Always use your nose when you’re choosing mangoes — 99percent of the time, a mango that smells wonderful tastes wonderful. If the stem end smells sour or acidic, reject it. If a mango is firm and green, it won’t have any smell, but if it looks good, bring it home and ripen it yourself.Leave a firm, unripe mango out on the counter for a few days until it colors, develops a sweet aroma, and “gives” when you press it very gently. But never refrigerate a mango. If you must have it chilled, you can put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes, but I think mangoes taste best at room temperature. In any event, storing a mango below 50 degrees for any length of time will take the flavor out
Mangoes are great simply peeled and eaten as is or with a squeeze of lime juice (but don’t eat the peel — it’s bitter). Unlike many fruits, they’re slow to discolor when they’re sliced, which helps them make and retain a nice presentation. They make a beautiful tropical salad sliced with pineapple chunks, kiwi, papaya, banana, or just about any tropical fruit; I like to add a little squeeze of lime and some shredded coconut, too. For a refreshing and very nutritious tropical drink, purée some sliced mango with banana, pineapple and a squeeze of lime and enjoy!Because mangoes have a large and nonfreestanding stone right in the center of the fruit that’s difficult to remove, people always ask me how to cut and eat a mango. Following, I’ve shared the results of my years of experience to help you get greater access to this fantastic fruit. Hope this makes it easier for you to enjoy this burst of sunshine!How to eat a mangoTo deal with the pit in the center, take two lengthwise cuts on either side of where you figure the pit is; if it’s a flattish mango, turn it up so a narrow side is facing you. The pit is large but fairly flat, so make the cuts no more than half an inch on either side of an imaginary center line. You’ll have three slices, the center one with the pit in it.Now take the two outside slices and score the flesh with the tip of a knife, getting as close to the skin as you can without breaking it. Hold the scored slice in two hands and gently push up from the skin side, which will pop inside out. The segments of mango will separate and can easily be scooped off the skin with a spoon or butter knife. Add a sprinkle of lime juice if you like.As for the slice with the pit, you can discard it if you have the willpower, but I personally find the flesh around the pit to be the tastiest part. All I can say is that the best way to eat it is to remove the strip of skin around it, pick it up with your fingers, stand over the sink, and enjoy!
KENT MANGO STORY
Kents tend to be softer when ripe than other round varietals seen in the USA. They can also be a bit more wrinkly when ripe, often a deterrent to the end user, so education is very important in their merchandising. It also tends to be more juicy or succulent in comparison to the Tommy Atkins or the Haden, probably an attribution of their yellow mango roots, which are often more juicy. These extremely succulent, juicy mangoes have a deep golden flesh when ripe, much more so than any other mango. They tend to be on the large size spectrum, and in terms of skin, they often exhibit slight red, yellows and eventually golden and orange blush tones. They have white speckles, as the Haden, but as the Kents ripen their speckles become more predominant.The Kent cultivar has certainly been passed around the world; it is the predominant mango produced in Ecuador and Peru for export to the USA, and one of the main cultivar produced in South Africa (another leading world mango exporter) and it’s the prized import mango in France and other European countries. Originating from Florida in the 1940's, Kents are ideal mangos for juicing and drying. FLAVOR: Sweet and rich TEXTURE: Juicy, tender flesh with limited fibers COLOR: Dark green and often has a dark red blush over a small portion of the mango SHAPE: Large oval shape RIPENING CUES: Kents have yellow undertones or dots that cover more of the mango as it ripens. Squeeze gently to judge ripeness. PRIMARY SOURCE COUNTRIES: Mexico, Ecuador, Peru PEAK AVAILABILITY: January, February, June to Aug, and December What are Kent variety Mangos like? Featuring a mostly dark green skin with small patches of red blush, Kent Mangos have gold to orange flesh that is both sweet and rich, and is less fibrous and less stringy than the Tommy Atkins.
The amount of redness on the skin is not an indicator of sweetness or ripeness with the Kent variety Mango. These Mangos do not give much in the way of visual clues to when they are ripe, so judge by the softness when you squeeze them. Ripen Mangos at room temperature. Squeeze Gently to Test Ripeness on Kent variety Mangos
Click link below for mango show
It seems hard to believe, but it wasn't so many years ago that red peppers were a rarity in the grocery store. You could find them only during a two- or three-week period each year, and you paid luxury prices for the privilege.
Now, of course, red peppers are available year-round, and if they're not dirt-cheap, they're certainly reasonable. For that, you can thank Israeli scientists.
In the past, red peppers were green bell peppers that had reached the final stages of maturity. As such, they were prone to a couple of notable shortcomings, not the least of which was that they had an extremely short season and shelf life. Their flavor was good, but their flesh was weak and prone to spoilage problems.
Today's red peppers, "bred to be red." They turn colors much earlier and, once picked, they stay firm and crisp much longer--up to two weeks. The trade-off is that the flavor is not the same. The new varieties are sweeter, without the earthy undertones of the old-time reds.
Le Rouge red peppers were introduced by Indio-based agricultural conglomerate Sun World International in 1983. The product of Israeli scientists at Ben Gurion University in Beersheba, Le Rouge is a cross of a regular blocky pepper with Bulgarian and cubanelle peppers.
"A blocky red bell is a green bell that is at the end of its life cycle. "Once picked, a blocky bell doesn't have a lot of shelf life. Le Rouge is bred to be red at peak maturity. That means you have another seven to 14 days of shelf life after it has been picked."
Red Peppers are green at first. Sweet peppers will mature to various colors with red being the most prominent color. The green pepper that we eat is the immature version. Like I said, most common varieties of bell peppers will turn from green to red, with other varieties turning yellow, purple, or even brown as the pepper matures. As peppers mature their sugar content increases. Some yellow varieties are the only color found in both immature and mature peppers. Red peppers have a real sweet flavor and green and yellow peppers have a mildly sweet, slightly spicy flavor.
Colored peppers are grown in open fields, greenhouses, and shade houses. The quality, size and profile of the pepper is much more consistent when grown in greenhouses and shade houses. The protected environment is more costly to set up but the final product is a much better pepper. When a pepper is field grown you run the risk of bad weather, decreasing yield and exposure to diseases.
Look for Red Peppers that are fresh, firm, bright in color, thick-fleshed with a bright green calyx (stem). Pick up the pepper and shake it. If you hear the seeds rattle inside, pass it by; that means the pepper is old. Soft, pliable, thin-fleshed with a pale color indicates the peppers are old as well.
Refrigerated in the crisper drawer, red peppers will keep for up to three or four days, but they will lose their crispness and turn limp in fairly short order. Left at room temperature, they'll lose their crunch in a matter of hours. Don't wash until you're ready to use them. Red peppers are low in calories, free of saturated fat, sodium free, cholesterol free, fat free, and high in antioxidant vitamin C. Red bell peppers are a versatile addition to any luncheon or dinner menu.
There are some really great deals on sweet red peppers available right now! Growers in Mexico are into their peak harvests fresh crop field-grown sweet red peppers. Sizing is big and prices are low compared to other times of year.
WHAT COLOR BELL PEPPER IS BETTER FOR YOU TO EAT ?
Choose red bell peppers for their high levels of antioxidant vitamins A and C which help protect cells from free radicals. One cup of chopped red peppers contains three times the minimum amount of vitamin C and nearly 100 percent of the vitamin A recommended for a typical 2,000 calorie-a-day diet. Green and yellow peppers fall short in vitamin A. All peppers are naturally fat free and low calorie, and they contain three grams of fiber per chopped cup, making them excellent snacks or mealtime fillers.
MY STORY , MOM AND HER STUFFED PEPPERS
When I was a youngster mom always made stuffed peppers, one of my favorite dishes, except for the anchovies, which was pop's favorite. She would put in black olives, bread crumbs, anchovies ( she would leave them out of mine), and meat if we were lucky and all her secret ingredients, boy I loved them. Now in those days they were made with green bell peppers or red bell peppers in the summertime , but mom she would make the stuffed peppers with what they called then, Italian Frying Peppers, now called Cubanelle Peppers. They were light green in color, with a very thin skin and not as harsh tasting as the green bell pepper which always gave me " AGITARE", an Italian - american slang word meaning to agitate, which it did giving me heartburn, indigestion, and an upset stomach. Starting in the mid 80's the RED LE ROUGE PEPPER starting hitting the stores, looking like a italian frying pepper but sweet. This made a great pepper for mom to use for stuffing. Now by then mom was getting on in years, so her stuffed peppers days was passed on to Bette, who took the reins and did a great job. It's funny and sad, moms gone a long time, but when I was thinking of what to do on this weeks show and I decided on RED LE ROUGE PEPPERS, mom's stuffed peppers came flowing out of me. Like I always say "FOOD AND MEMORIES,MEMORIES AND FOOD", they are just part of our being. Enjoy MOM and BETTE"S recipe, and I hope you have good memories that bring a smile or maybe a tear to your eye.
Click on link below for red pepper show from FOOD BAZAAR, FLATLANDS AVE,BROOKLYN, NY
Ever since I was a kid, I've always been a fan of football and Super Bowl Sunday. My father, not so much.
As an Italian immigrant, he worked hard at our family produce store in Bergenfield, N.J. and just couldn't understand the point of a bunch of guys throwing a ball around and getting piled on and shoved to the ground once they caught it.
I was a big kid in high school and I'll never forget one day when the football coach stopped me in the hallway and suggested I go out for the football team. I told him that I'd love to but that I had to work after school in my father's store, to which he said he'd call my father and tell him that I had my whole life to work.
I already knew what Pop's answer would be, but I told him to knock himself out anyway and gave him the store phone number.
Sure enough, a couple of days later the football coach informed me that he'd called Pop and that after asking him about my playing football, Pop asked him how much was he going to pay me.
That was Pop for you, born in a different country with a different set of rules. Back then, I thought he was always wrong, but you know what they say — the older you get, the smarter your parents get.
Pop's long gone and so are his way of life, his values and his willingness to work hard seven days a week, but boy do I miss him and those days. Pop, I hope you can try to enjoy the Super Bowl and eat plenty of avocados!
PRODUCE PETE'S FUN FACTS
There will be no shortage of avocados this year for your Super Bowl Party.
Avocado consumption in the United States has grown from 4 million pounds per week in 1985 to 50 million pounds per week in 2019, i guess americans love avocados
DID YOU KNOW ?
- Though people think that avocado sales peak on holidays like the Fourth of July or Cinco de Mayo, avocados actually experience their greatest demand on Super Bowl Sunday.
- In fact, In the four weeks leading up to the big game the United States will import from Mexico about 200 million pounds of avocados (about 400 million individual avocados) in the run-up to and on this year's Super Bowl Sunday, up from 2018
- This total would be enough to fill a football field end zone more than 53 feet deep with avocados — 10 feet over the goal posts!
- While many consider them a delicious but fattening treat, avocados contain healthy unsaturated fat, are loaded with vitamins A, C and E as well as beneficial antioxidants, and have one of the highest fiber contents of any fruit or vegetable.
Above the equator, the avocado fruit blooms between February and May but is harvested year-round. Unlike most fruits, avocados don't have to be picked at certain times and can remain on the tree quite a while.
Like pears, avocados ripen only after they're picked and the firm fruits ship well. Patented in 1935 by postman Randolph Hass, California's dark green-to-purplish black Hass avocado has since become the most popular variety in the U.S. and accounts for the vast majority of California's crop.
This time of year, however, 80 % of the avocados available here hail from Mexico, a 100% increase from a decade ago.
When selecting, choose an avocado free of scars and wrinkles and don't squeeze the fruit or you'll bruise it. If the avocado is ripe, the stem will pull right out, but the best strategy is to buy avocados when they're still a bit green and firm and then ripen them at home by simply leaving them out on the counter for a few days.
To hasten the ripening process, put avocados in a paper bag or a drawer (some people think they ripen best wrapped in foil), and don't refrigerate avocados, as they can turn to mush in as little as a day.
Finally, avocado flesh exposed to the air will darken very quickly. Some people think that leaving the pit in with the avocado meat prevents discoloration, but the primary factor in preventing discoloration is keeping air away from the flesh, so wrap a cut avocado in plastic, refrigerate it, and use it as soon as possible.
Peeled and sliced avocados should be sprinkled with lemon or lime juice to retard discoloration, and the citric acid will also bring out the flavor.
To peel, cut the avocado lengthwise around the pit and then rotate the two halves in opposite directions. You can easily scoop the flesh out of the shell of a ripe avocado with a spoon, but in many cases the avocado will peel like a banana — just turn it over on the cut side and pull off the skin with your fingers.
Avocados are great with a sprinkle of lemon or lime juice and salt. Mashed avocado is, of course, the primary ingredient in guacamole, and when you make it be sure to leave the pit in with the guacamole to keep it from turning brown; the pit is very effective in this application.
Avocado is also delicious served with slices of ripe red tomato or cut into slivers and added to tossed green salads.
For a pretty salad plate, cut avocados in half lengthwise, leaving skins on, and remove the pits; arrange on a bed of lettuce and fill the centers with crab, tuna, or chicken salad, garnishing with fresh raw vegetables and serving with bread if desired.
An avocado puréed with a little lemon juice, salt, other seasonings, and a dab of olive oil, makes a great creamy salad dressing for lettuce or other greens.
Avocados are also good on sandwiches — any combination of avocado, bacon, lettuce, tomato, turkey, or chicken makes a great sandwich.
Click on link below for Avocado Show
A lot of people understand that fresh oranges are best in the winter, but not many people understand that different varieties have particular seasons. You'll have better luck coming home with good oranges if you learn which varieties are in season when and keep a simple guideline in mind when you're selecting them at the market. Oranges and all citrus fruit should be heavy in the hand for its size. This simple test and it's your most reliable guide for citrus fruit.
A Childhood Remembrance
When I was a young kid I always loved oranges, I guess because mom would always put them in our Christmas Stocking. As I got older I always wondered why those oranges didn't taste and smell like the oranges I remembered as a child . When I tried the Heirloom Navel Oranges all those smells and that taste came back to me, so give them a try, I know you will love them too.
What Makes a Navel Orange a Heirloom?
The word heirloom itself means something that has been passed down from generation to generation. The heirloom navel is the same fruit that got California’s citrus industry booming. It’s the original or “old line” Washington Navel. The navel has been bred over the years to produce more fruit, easier, and faster without considering flavor. Heirloom navels are grown using certain farming practices. The grower gives special attention to the soil, just like it was done since navels were introduced to America from Brazil in the 1800s. The secret is to use the best root stock. The heirlooms grow best in a sour root stock. But these are not commonly used anymore because the trees don’t produce fruit as heavily or as quickly than in newer root stocks. Doing things the right way is what gives the heirloom navels there amazing taste. If you have tried one of these, I think you will be disappointed if you ever buy the grocery market standard navel again.
While these hybrids are brighter in color with increased per tree production number, they also contain less sugar in order to extend shelf-life at retail level. While improved farming practices have expanded both volume and availability, the trade-off for this success has also degraded the original flavor characteristics of this icon citrus fruit.
When are Heirloom Navels in Season?
Growing things the right way sometime takes more time. The first California Navels start to hit the market more than a month before the heirlooms. Around mid-January is when you can realistically begin expecting to see Heirloom Navels show up in your local store.
Sometimes you find find heirloom navels still with their leaves intact and sometimes you won’t. Unlike the navel you are used to, heirlooms aren’t in stores year around. They typically will find them in stores from December into late April/early May with the peak being in the winter months
California Seedless Navel Oranges remain in peak season and are great for snacking during late Winter and early Spring. But if you want to improve your likelihood of a great Navel eating experience – look for Heirloom Navels.
Whatever the variety, look for oranges that are shiny and heavy in the hand. It's a primary rule for a number of fruits, but it's especially important for oranges. Check the scent - the orange should smell good. Except for Robinson tangerines, the rind should never feel puffy - that is, it shouldn't feel like there's any space between it and the flesh. There should be no spotting, no signs of shriveling, no white patches on the rind, and no fermented smell.
Tangerines are the most perishable of the oranges. They will keep a day or two at room temperature and up to a week in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Other oranges can be kept out at room temperature for three or four days with little problem. Refrigerate them in a plastic bag or in the crisper drawer, and they'll keep well for one to two weeks.
Click link below for Heirloom Navel Orange Show
Artichokes are actually the giant, unopened buds of a flowering plant - an edible relative of the thistle. They've been a favorite in Spain, Italy, and other Mediterranean countries for hundreds of years, but many people here still think of them as fairly exotic. Although they take a little time to eat - there's no way you can wolf down an artichoke - they're actually fun to dismantle; and the tender flesh at the base of the leaves and especially at the heart has a distinctive sweet, nutty taste that's absolutely delicious. Artichokes can be prepared in dozens of ways, and I like all of them.
The largest crop of artichokes is still produced in Mediterranean countries, but California is the biggest supplier in the U.S. Castroville, located near San Francisco, calls itself the Artichoke Capital of the World; and the whole economy of the place revolve around the vegetable - there's even a statue of an artichoke in the middle of town. With its cool, humid, foggy weather, the area is perfect for growing good artichokes.
There are three basic types of artichokes, plus a new "thorn less" variety that's beginning to appear on the market. The globe type is the most common, with a large fairly round shape and smallish barb on the tips of the leaves. The oval artichoke is very thorny, with a longer, more pointed leaf. The taste of both is identical and they can be cooked in the same way, but I find that glove artichokes are usually more-tender.
The third type is the small, loose baby artichoke, which is often marinated whole in vinegar and oil after it has been washed and de-thorned. Most baby artichokes don't have many thorns in the first place, and they can be eaten whole, without removing the "choke".
Thorn-less artichokes are also available. I find them to be excellent if they're from California but unreliable if they've been imported from Mexico or Chile. The imports are difficult to cook properly because it's hard to get the timing right - some cook fast and tender, others take an hour and either stay raw or suddenly turn to mush. The imports are usually a paler green than the California crop, but it you're in doubt, ask your produce manager.
The peak of the season is in March, April, and May, when California producers ship nearly half the annual crop, but artichokes often show up in the fall. The worst time for artichokes is in the dead of summer (July and August) when growing conditions are too hot and dry for good artichokes. However, they are available year round.
Look for fat, firm-looking buds with dense, tightly packed leaves of a uniform dusty green. Lots of black spots tired color, or opened leaves indicate an older artichoke that will have a woody taste. An artichoke with one or two black spots, on the other hand, isn't always a bad risk. Don't worry if the artichoke is discolored on the stem end - you're going to cut that part off. When selecting an artichoke, gently pull back the central leaves, taking care not to prick yourself on the thorns, and look into the heart. If there is no black showing inside, the artichoke is good. At home you can be more aggressive - turn the artichoke upside down and give it a good whack or two on the counter to make the leaves open out more easily.
Artichokes that have developed purpling on the leaves have been exposed to too much hot sun and will be much less tender. An artichoke that shows some bronzing and peeling has had a touch of frost, which won't hurt the flavor and may in fact improve it. If you're unsure about what kind of discoloration is okay and what kind is not a good rule of thumb is not to buy discolored artichokes in the summer.
Artichokes are quite perishable. Use them as soon as possible. Refrigerate for one week only if necessary.
There are a thousand ways to cook artichokes, but one thing to avoid is to cook them in an aluminum pot since they will turn a gray-green color. To prepare them for the pot, rinse the artichokes in cold water, handling them carefully so that you don't prick yourself on the pointed barbs at the end of each leaf. The barbs are softer and easer to handle after the artichoke is cooked, but many people prefer to remove them beforehand by snipping off the tips of the leaves with kitchen shears or scissors. Remove the thorns from baby artichokes that you intend to eat whole.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
We had so much fun a couple of weeks ago at DeCicco & Sons in Armonk New York, that I went back for a second visit to this family owned chain of stores. What could be better then Artichokes for this Holiday Season and they had some real good ones.
Click on link below for Artichoke Show
Managed and operated a family owned farm/produce business for retail, wholesale, and fruit baskets. Pete has been in the produce business his whole life, and started out selling produce off the back of a truck at auctions and at his parents' roadside stand. Pete's family has been in business since 1953 at the same location in Bergenfield, New Jersey. From 1971 - 1997 Pete owned and operated this family "seasonal" business that includes at Christmas - Christmas trees, wreaths, and fruit baskets. During Easter we sell various plants, gourmet baskets and fruit baskets - Mother's Day - plants, fresh cut flowers, fruit baskets. At Halloween - pumpkins, corn stalks, etc. The produce store is open between April and December with retail, wholesale, and fruit baskets.
In January 1998 he turned over the business to his son Peter Charles making him the 3rd generation to own Napolitano's Produce. In April of 2006, Napolitano's Produce closed it's doors after 53 years, a sad day but everything comes to an end. I would like to thank all the faithful customers who shopped my family store over the past 53 years. It was a privilege serving you. In June 2000 - he started as a Fruit & Vegetable Buyer for S. Katzman Produce at Hunts Point Market, Bronx, New York.Pete comes from a large family with his father being the 20th child - "That's why we are in the food business".