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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.
!!! Links to shows also available at bottom of page for shows listed !!!
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.
The world of produce can often be confusing. For example, we sometimes call sweet potatoes ‘yams’ and cabbage that looks purple ‘red cabbage.’ We also call the little oranges that we see in the stores this time of year ‘Halos’ or ‘Cuties.’ Whether they’re marketed by the Halo or Cutie brand name, however, they’re both a type of mandarin orange, a small, flattish citrus fruit with a loose skin and typically seedless flesh; kids love them and we often see these popular oranges in the store packaged in three-pound bags or boxes. Now wait a minute, did I say oranges?? Mandarins are not oranges, but a different species.
Oranges are medium to large round or ovoid shapes covered with a thick peel that can take time to remove. They are in the genus Citrus, with separate species (e.g. Citrus sinensis, the sweet orange group, includes the common sweet orange, blood orange, and navel orange). Sometimes they’re sweet, and sometimes they aren’t; you don’t know until you buy and try. Mandarins are small and roundish with flatness on the top and bottom, and a loose, easy-to-peel skin. They are in the genus/species Citrus reticulata. The ones from California are reliably sweet and usually seedless. That’s why we prefer mandarins like Halos.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT NAMES ALL ABOUT?
Why the different names? Branding! The names are not varieties, but trademarked names, encouraging the consumer to look for Cuties or Halos.
From late October to February, the most popular of the mandarin is the clementine The season for California clementines is November to January. A similar mandarin, the murcott, is available from February to April, and they substitute for Cuties and Halos clementines during that time. Non-branded murcotts are often called clementines at retail, because the name is more familiar to consumers .Halos are great fruits for after that big holiday feast and they make festive (and healthy!) Christmas stocking stuffers. I’ve always associated them with the holiday season and I can’t get enough!
Halo mandarin oranges (clementines) are Mother Nature’s perfect snack – 100 percent California-grown here in America, these treats are sweet, juicy, seedless, and easy for little hands to peel.
The origin of clementines is shrouded in mystery. Some attribute their discovery to Father Clement, a monk in Algeria who was tending his mandarin garden when he found a natural mutation; he nurtured the fruit tree and subsequently called it "Clementino." Others, like Japanese botanist Tanaka, believe that clementines must have originated in Asia and found their way to the Mediterranean via human migration. Whatever their origin, the fact is that clementines found their natural climate and soil in Spain, where they developed their particular aroma, sweetness, and taste.
Clementines are the tiniest of the mandarins. Imported from Spain, Morocco, and other parts of North Africa, clementines are a cross between a sweet orange and a Chinese mandarin. Most people think of clementines as small tangerines, but they're a different variety entirely and have their own distinctive taste. Clementines have been available in Europe for many years, but the market for them in the U.S. came about more recently, in the 1980s and 1990s, after a devastating freeze in Florida made domestic oranges scarce and expensive. At that time, a lot of oranges, including clementines, were imported from Europe, and clementines started to catch on. Over the past few years they've become increasingly popular and as their demand has gone up, so has their price.
The mandarin orange itself originated in the Far East and has been around since 2000 B.C. If you've never seen a fresh mandarin, you're in for a surprise -- the rind is a brilliant emerald green and the flesh is a beautiful deep orange. In the U.S., mandarins are grown in Florida and California, but they're not often available fresh because canners buy them up, though I think that the flavor of a fresh mandarin is much better than that of the canned fruit. A lot of people tend to pass them by in the store based on the perception that they're just green oranges – that is, until they taste them and then they come back for more. When mandarins are available in the fall, you'll find them in produce markets for two to three months; later in the season there’s heavy competition from the canners, so don't pass up fresh mandarins if you see them. April is the end of the season for the little mandarins we call Halos, if you see them after April they are likely imported.
SELECTION AND STORAGE
Whatever variety you choose, look for mandarins that are shiny, heavy in the hand for their size, and good-smelling. With little exception, the rind should never feel puffy or like there's any space between it and the flesh. Also avoid mandarins that have spotting, shriveling, white patches on the rind, or a fermented smell.
Most mandarins 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.
HOW TO USE HALOS
Mandarins are very versatile. The first thing anyone would think of is hand fruit. The term refers to fruits small enough to eat from the palm of your hand, such as apples, pears and stone fruits—but not pineapples or other fruits that need to be cut up. But why stop there? Use luscious mandarins: On cold or hot cereal. Sliced in a cup of tea instead of lemon. Juiced, or added to smoothies, cocktails and mulled wine. In fruit salads, green salads and Asian chicken salads. In stir-fries with proteins and/or vegetables. In cake batter or cheesecake batter, or as a garnish on top. Atop single crust pies or tarts, in segments or slices . In puddings, gelatin and other desserts. As a garnishes on desserts and beverages.
Bette , Produce Pete and my entire family enjoy them all season long.
A funny story comes to mind about mandarins and oranges. When I was young, money was always tight, but mom always would make Christmas special and put oranges, mandarins, or tangerines in our Christmas stocking, to my brother and me it was a great treat. So keeping this tradition and beautiful story I thought I would pass it on to one of my granddaughters. I sit Alexander down ( she was 16 at the time), and tell her this family story, her response, REALLY POPPY, yes Really I said. I guess times have really changed, Alexander is a great girl, full of love and respect, but i guess in this day and age she would be expecting an I phone or keys to a car. I guess Produce Pete is getting old.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON
Click link below for HALO SEGMENT
Ever since I was a little boy helping my father sell Christmas trees, the Napolitanos have been a Christmas family. I still remember Pop getting up from the Thanksgiving day table, changing his clothes, getting into his truck, and heading up to Canada and northern New York to get a load of Christmas trees – that ritual went on for most of my youth until farmers starting delivering to him.
Our slogan was “10,000 trees, $1.99, none higher,” and we sold out every year, but that was a long time ago and as trees started to be pruned and farmed, their prices rose.
Most of the trees that we sold grew wild and were “Charlie Brown” trees, but as years passed and cultivated trees came along, we still sold thousands each year. It was hard work standing in the cold by the fire barrel, roasting yams, potatoes and corn, but I have fond memories of those great days.
As the years passed and I took over our family store, Napolitano’s Produce in Bergenfield, we still carried on the tradition of selling trees and, of course, operating the fire cans – my customers loved the potatoes and yams we cooked as they picked out their trees.
I miss that Christmas tree business very much. Even now, though the store has been closed for years, I still drive my wife, Bette, nuts by stopping by as many Christmas tree stands as I can and just watching people experience the joy of picking out a Christmas tree. This weeks segment on Christmas Trees was shot at Goffle Brook Farm in Ridgewood New Jersey, a great family run business .
Christmas trees sold in America hail largely from Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Washington and Canada. The nation’s most popular varieties – and also my favorites – are Balsam, Douglas Fir, and Fraser Fir. The planting and growth of Christmas trees as an industry has positive effects on the environment, from improving soil stability to reducing greenhouse gases.
DID YOU KNOW ?
MYTHS AND TIPS
Here is an inexpensive solution you can make at home to help preserve the life and freshness of your tree:
PRODUCE PETE’S CHRISTMAS TREE PRESERVATIVE
1 gallon hot water
2 cups Karo syrup
4 teaspoons bleach (plain)
6 iron tablets, crushed and dissolved
For me and my family, Christmas and the holidays are a very special time – I guess I’m still a kid at heart. From the Produce Pete family to all of you, wishing you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday Season, and a Happy and Healthy New Year
Click on the link below for our Christmas Tree segment.
Did you know December is National Pear Month? No? Yes? You don’t care? Well, that’s okay, we don’t pay too much attention to fake food holidays either. But we do care about pears, and since the best time to eat them is now, December is a great month to talk about this juicy fruit.
Commercially, the United States harvests 10 types of pears, each with their own nuances and uses. Some are great to just munch on plain, others sing when paired with a soft, ripe cheese or sliced thin and put between bread with cheddar for a lovely grilled sandwich. You can also bake pears with warming spices for a festive dessert and toss some chopped fruit in a salad with pecans to give winter greens a nice, crisp sweetness.
During the holidays, line a basket with napkins, pile up Comice or Red Barlett's or a mix of pears, tuck in sprigs of holly and maybe a few ornaments, and you'll have a pretty centerpiece that's also a good way to ripen the fruit. Money was always tight in our family when i was growing up but mom always made the best of it, especially around christmas. i remember she would always put the pears in a colorful basket and decorate them just like i mention above.
Cultivated for nearly four thousand years, pears have been known to man since ancient times. They originated in Asia and spread throughout Europe during the Roman Empire. Until the sixteenth century pears were tough and always eaten cooked, but in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, gardeners for European noblemen began to crossbreed varieties, competing with each other to get a pear with a soft, buttery flesh. Most of the pears we know today are derived from those cultivars.
Pears are grown throughout the United States and Europe and are now being introduced as commercial crops in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Chile. In the United States, Oregon, Washington, and California produce particularly excellent pears.
This is one fruit you do not want tree-ripened. Pears have a characteristically gritty texture caused by cells in the flesh called stone cells. Although more and more of these have been bred out, all varieties still contain them. Picking pears before the fruit has matured and holding them under controlled conditions prevents the formation of too many stone cells.
Pears are delicate even when they're hard and green, so they're always picked by hand. Most markets don't sell really ripe pears because they bruise so easily, but it's very easy to ripen them at home.
Because they crossbred so easily, there are somewhere between four thousand and five thousand cultivated varieties. Two of those are commonly available to shoppers below.
A very large, round, short-necked pear, the Comice is my personal favorite. Of all the pears, I think it's the sweetest and most fragrant. Comice pears have a greenish yellow skin, sometimes with a red blush. Originally a French variety, they have been grown in North America for more than one hundred years. Because they scar very easily, they're sometimes hard to sell here. Ethnic groups buy them, but a lot of Americans just don't like the way they look. With a peak season in November and December, they're one of the best things going around the holiday season.
Called the Christmas Pear (note the red and green hue). A word to the wise: It’s popular during the holidays, but they are still available from August to March
Pretty much everything that was said about the green Bartlett can be said about the red, save that this variety came about as a sport, just like the Starkrimson. It was found on a standard Bartlett tree in Washington state in 1938, just a little bud that naturally sprouted. They dubbed it Max Red, a name that surely would have made this pear even more popular today. Still, you will find these blushing beauties all over the place, and they make a nice complement to their paler brethren.
Green pears should be free from blemishes. Ripe pears- especially tender varieties like the Comice, are going to have a few scars. Avoid bruised or too soft fruit, but don't be afraid to bring home pears that are still green, that's the way you're going to find most of them.
RIPENING AND STORING
Place unripe pears in a bowl or paper bag, leave them at room temperature, and they'll ripen in a few days to a week, depending on how green they are when you buy them.
Most pears show a subtle change in color as they ripen, and some develop a sweet fragrance. You can test a pear for ripeness by applying gentle pressure to the stem end with your thumb - it should yield a bit. You can hold off the ripening process by refrigerating them, and they'll hold for a long time - as long as three to four weeks. A few days before you want to eat them, bring them out to ripen. You can refrigerate a ripe pear too, but at that point it's only going to last a couple days.
There are lots of ways to eat pears. They're good with prosciutto. You can use them in any recipe that calls for apples. Use several different varieties, all on the green side, to make a terrific pie. My aunt used to make pear pies just like apple pies, mixing in one or two quinces. You can poach pears and serve them with strawberry sauce for a simple, very pretty dessert that tastes great.
Check out Bette's pear recipe on Bette's Recipes above.
Click link below for Christmas Pear Show
Cranberries have been a part of the American holiday scene for many years. Raw berries are pretty strung with popcorn to make old-fashioned garlands for the Christmas tree. They're also used during the Jewish high holy days to construct little houses used in the celebration of Succoth. And although a lot of people have become accustomed to using canned cranberry sauce, it's quick and easy to make a delicious sauce from whole fresh berries. People are also starting to discover how useful cranberries are beyond Thanksgiving and Christmas. These festive, very firm red berries add great flavor to a lot of foods.
Generally a half inch to an inch in diameter, cranberries are oval in shape, with a smooth, glossy, red to deep red skin, and contain tiny, soft, edible seeds. They are too tart for most people and require some sweetening.
Cranberries are a member of the health family (Encaceae), which also includes blueberries, loganberries, and huckleberries. Their natural habitat is a swamp or bog in temperate climates, such as Wisconsin, Cape Cod, and Long Island. Native Americans used cranberries for dyes, medicines, and food, including a dish made of cranberries and dried meat. The various Indians names for cranberries translate as "sour berries" but settlers called them crane berries, possibly because they were favored by cranes or because the plant and flower look like one of these elegant birds. By the nineteenth century, American sailors and loggers were using cranberries to make a drink to prevent scurvy.
Today cranberries are cultivated in shallow bogs that are flooded with water at appropriate times during the season. They are important crops in Massachusetts and New Jersey and are also cultivated in Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington State, British Columbia, and Quebec.
Fresh cranberries are available from September to January. They're usually packaged in twelve-ounce cello bags, which yield about three cups. Packaged cranberries are always sold in good condition unless there has been a problem with refrigeration. Their high acid content gives them a long shelf life.
Packaged unwashed fresh cranberries will stay fresh up to four weeks in the refrigerator. You can freeze unwashed berries in doubled, well-sealed plastic bags, and they'll keep for as long as a year. Rinse them briefly, pick out the stems and use directly in recipes without thawing - they collapse when thawed.
Wash well just before using, discarding the stems and any soft, wilted or bruised berries. Cranberries need to be sweetened with sugar, honey, maple syrup or other fruit juices. The high pectin content in cranberries makes them an ideal fruit for jellies or fruit chutney.
Besides the popular cooked sauce and jelly used to accompany poultry and meats, cranberries can be made into an equally delicious uncooked relish. Grind or mince one package of cleaned berries with the grated zest and chopped pulp of one orange. Mix with 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar, add cinnamon if desired, and let the mixture stand overnight in the refrigerator.
Cranberries are excellent mixed with apples or pears in pies and tarts. Apples are delicious stuffed with sweetened cranberry sauce, or try stuffing pears with cranberry sauce, sprinkling them with orange juice and cinnamon, and baking in a 325¡F oven for twenty minutes. Cranberry muffins are understandably popular, but your family will also enjoy cranberry nut loaf, cranberry upside-down cake, and cranberry cheesecake. Cranberry juice is delicious mixed with apple juice or lemonade, and cranberry sorbet is a refreshing treat.
Ninety percent of what you see in the stores marked "yams" is actually a variety of sweet potato. The true yam is a tuber that can get as large as 100 pounds and grows primarily in the tropical zones of Africa. The potato with the sweet orange-red flesh that grows in the American South was dubbed a yam years ago and the name stuck.
American sweet potatoes are members of the morning glory family. The rich orange-fleshed variety is harvested beginning in August; the fresh ones that show up on the market then have not been cured. The bulk of the crop is held in a heated, humidity-controlled environment for about a week. This "cures" the potato and converts much of its starch to dextrins and sugar. A cured sweet potato is actually much sweeter than an uncured one and is what usually shows up on the Thanksgiving table.
There are two other varieties of sweet potato that are much less frequently seen these days than the one that masquerades as a yam. The red sweet potato has a yellow flesh that's a bit sweeter than the white sweet potato, which has a white, more fibrous flesh. The red sweet potato has a dark, reddish skin and is in season about the same time as the yam type - starting in September. It keeps better than the white sweet potato, which has a very short season - usually the last couple of weeks in August.
Avoid buying sweet potatoes in June and July, by then most of them have been stored for nearly a year. Uncured sweet potatoes start showing up on the market in late August; cured sweet potatoes arrive around the end of October. By Thanksgiving almost all that are on the market have been cured. The less common white and red sweet potatoes have a much shorter season at the end of the summer.
Look for bright-colored, un-bruised skin with no soft spots. Look at the ends of the potatoes, which should be firm. Most sweet potatoes have some fibrous roots on them; these are not a problem.
I LOVE A FAMILY BUSINESS, THAT'S WHAT I GREW UP IN, AND WHENEVER I GET A CHANCE TO GO TO A FAMILY RUN BUSINESS I JUMP AT THE CHANCE. TODAY'S SEGMENT ON YAMS AND CRANBERRIES FOR YOUR THANKSGIVING TABLE IS FROM A FAMILY RUN BUSINESS CALLED DE CICCO & SONS IN ARMONK, NEW YORK. STARTED IN 1972 IN A TINY STOREFRONT IN THE BRONX , THIS FAMILY RUN BUSINESS HAS GROWN TO SEVEN STORES WITH A REPUTATION OF ONLY THE HIGHEST QUALITY AND A WELL -CEMENTED REPUTATION OF BEING THE FOOD MARKET OF CHOICE.
"SO ENJOY AND FROM MY FAMILY TO YOURS A HEALTHY AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING"
Click on link below for Thanksgiving Show
A PRODUCE PETE STORY
YOU CAN SAY I OWE MY TELEVISION
CAREER TO BRUSSEL SPROUTS. WHEN I WAS
DOING A LOCAL TV PROGRAM, I WAS CALLED BY NBC TO INTERVIEW FOR A NEW
SHOW CALLED WEEKEND TODAY IN NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 1992, I REMEMBER IT
LIKE IT WAS YESTERDAY. THERE WERE SEVERAL PEOPLE UP FOR THE SPOT, I'M ITALIAN
AND FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE TALKING WITH MY HANDS, SO I DECIDED TO TAKE
ALONG SOMETHING TO DEMONSTRATE. I BROUGHT A STALK OF BRUSSEL SPROUTS,
GOT UP IN FRONT OF THE PRODUCERS AND SAID " HONEY, I SHRUNK THE CABBAGE,
I GOT A LAUGH AND THE WEEKEND JOB.
26 YEARS LATER I'M STILL HERE AND IT WAS THE BEST THING BESIDES BETTE AND MY KIDS THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME. SO FROM MY FAMILY TO YOURS A
HAPPY AND HEALTHY THANKSGIVING
A lot of people think of Brussels sprouts as cute little cabbages but prefer not to eat them, usually because they've only had them mushy and overcooked. Brussels sprouts should be steamed or simmered very briefly, just until they're beyond the raw stage. That way they'll stay nice and green on the outside, they'll have a beautiful white color inside, and they'll be delicious. Trust me! Brussels sprouts are the newest member of the cabbage family - a mere two hundred years old - compared to head cabbage, which has been cultivated for thousands of years. They grow clustered on a thick stalk, although they are most often sold loose or packaged in pint cartons. In the fall you may see them fresh on the stem, especially at local farm stores. Buy them that way when you can. They're fresh, and they'll stay fresh a lot longer than cut sprouts. If you have room, you can put the whole stalk in the refrigerator, and the Brussels sprouts will keep a long time without wilting or yellowing.
Brussels sprouts are available most of the year, but they thrive in cold, damp weather and are best in the late fall and early spring. Brussels sprouts from California - the biggest producer - are available from October through March. High-quality sprouts are also grown on Long Island and in upper New York State; these are most likely to be on the market in the fall.
Look for fresh green sprouts that are free of wilt, yellowing, or spots. Buy them on the stalk when you can.
Cut Brussels sprouts will last up to a week in the refrigerator, even longer if they're still on the stem.
To cook, rinse the sprouts and remove any wilted or yellow leaves. Score the stem ends with a knife. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat, then add the sprouts and cook just until tender - about seven to ten minutes. To steam, place in a steamer basket over, but not touching boiling water, cover, and steam just until the sprouts are tender but still firm - al dente, as the Italians say - which will take about ten to fifteen minutes. Do not overcook! You should be able to pierce each sprout easily with a cooking fork. The very tiny sprouts are very sweet and good raw. Try adding them to a platter of crudites or to a green salad - they're delicious.
Known as the "queen of garden vegetables", cauliflower is actually a densely packed head of tiny, unopened flower buds that form clusters called florets. Straight off the farm, cauliflower is enclosed by large, green, edible leaves. In the field these are bundled up around the head to keep it white. Left exposed to the sun, the head turns yellow. When you see cauliflower with the leaves on, it's been grown locally. Cello-pack cauliflower, usually shipped in from California, is what you see in the store 90 percent of the time.
Look for a good-sized cauliflower that is hard and heavy, with a touch of dew on the head. The florets should be compact and tightly packed. If florets have started to spread apart and the head looks very light and granular, that's called ricing, and it indicates changes in growing conditions. Ricing doesn't mean the cauliflower is spoiled, but it won't have quite the flavor or crispness of a firm, compact head. Riced cauliflower is a little softer and should be cooked for a shorter period.
Cauliflower must be refrigerated. Wrap it in plastic and store in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, where it will keep for several days.
Cook whole heads in just an inch or two of water until fork-tender - no more than ten minutes. Broken into individual florets, cauliflower takes a little less time to cook. Cauliflower can be eaten raw, steamed or braised, or breaded and fried. It can be curried, served in a cream or cheese sauce, or sliced into vegetable salads, and it makes a terrific pickle
Click link below for Thanksgiving Veggies Show
I love apple season. There are few things better than a good apple eaten out of hand. Whether the flesh is mild and sweet or tart and winey, when you bite into it, a fresh-picked apple will make a crisp cracking sound and you’ll get a spurt of juice. There’s a season for everything and the main season for American apples starts the last half of October. I’ve probably said this a thousand times, but our problem in the United States is that we try to buy produce out of season. Many varieties will keep well late into winter, but by summer most apples have been stored for seven or eight months. No wonder they are soft, mealy, and without juice. When peaches and melons come in, stay away from apples. Come back when there’s a snap in the air, and you’ll remember what makes apples so good. Apples are one of the most esteemed fruits in the northern Hemisphere in part because they’re so versatile. They’re delicious raw, baked, dried, or made into apple sauce. They make great pies, apple butter, apple jelly, chutney, cider, and cider vinegar, and they’re a welcome addition to dozens of other dishes. A member of the rose family, apples have been known since ancient times and were cultivated by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Many places grow wonderful apples now, but overall, the United States produces the finest apple crops in the world. The Northwest, the East Coast, and parts of the Midwest, regions where the seasons change, grow the best apples. They’re not a fruit for hot climates. Only a few of the thousands of varieties of apples grown today are mass marketed, but there are many more out there than Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Macs. There are very old and very new varieties you may never have heard of. If you’re north of the Mason-Dixon Line, you’re going to find the best apples at local farm markets and stands, where they’re fresh-picked, and you’re likely to find great varieties you’d never see at the supermarket.
The vast majority of apples are picked from September through November and either sold immediately or put into cold storage, where some keep well – some don’t. The peak of the season for domestic varieties – when most stored apples still retain their snap – is generally over by December. A few will last through the early spring, but by March it’s hard even to find a good Winesap.
In most cases look for very firm, bright-colored fruit with no bruises and with the stem still on – a good indication that you’ve got an apple that’s not overripe. The apple should feel heavy in the hand for its size and have a good shine on it. A dull look usually means the fruit has been in storage too long, although some excellent varieties like Winesaps and eastern Golden Delicious have relatively rough skin with little or no sheen. As always, use your nose. An apple that smells great is going to taste great.
HERE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE VARIETIES
Sometimes the name of an apple says it all. Honeycrisp apples are honey sweet (with a touch of tart) and amazingly crisp, some say “explosively crisp.” It’s easy to see why this new variety continues to grow in popularity since its 1991 introduction in Minnesota. Supplies are limited for now but more Honeycrisp trees are being planted every year.
With the popular Red Delicious and McIntosh for parents, Empire apples were destined to be a hit. It’s a sweet-tart combination that’s great for everything. The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva Introduced this new variety in 1966.
Nothing evokes Fall better than the aromatic fragrance of McIntosh apples. People have enjoyed this apple since 1811 when John McIntosh discovered the first seedling. McIntosh apples grow particularly well in New York’s cool climate!
Want a perfect no-fat dessert that will satisfy your sweet tooth? Macoun may just be your apple, but, hurry, these special apples are only available in the Fall. Macoun was developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva in 1932. It’s named for a famous Canadian fruit breeder.
Ever hear that Golden Delicious is the yellow cousin of the popular Red Delicious apple? Actually, they are related in name only, but this honey sweet apple is a special treat all on its own.
Excellent for eating, salads, and sauces
Picture a fresh fruit cup featuring beautiful, snow-white apples. It’s likely made with Cortland, the very best salad apple. This great, all-purpose apple was developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva in 1898.
Sweet, with a hint of tartness
Excellent for eating, salads, sauces, pies and baking
Cortland apples are wonderful for kabobs, fruit plates and garnishes because they don't turn brown quickly when cut.
The Stayman-Winesap is a cross between a Stayman apple and a Winesap apple. The combination of the two strains produces an apple of exceptional eating quality.
The Stayman-Winesap’s firm yellow flesh; crisp, coarse texture; and its tart, rich wine-like taste makes it memorable. Some say it smells like cinnamon. Stayman-Winesap’s thick skin maintains sufficient moisture within the flesh to keep the apple crispy to the bite and flavorful to the taste.
The late maturing Stayman-Winesaps keep well and can last until spring if properly stored or placed in a fruit cellar. This multi-purpose apple is excellent when eaten fresh, or used in pies, desserts, applesauce, and cider.
A TRIP TO DONALDSON'S FARM
One of my favorite farms in New Jersey, Donaldson's Farm is located in Hackettstown, N.J.
I filmed some segments for NBC over the years at this farm and especially love this farm in the fall when the apple orchard and the pumpkins are in season. A family run farm it's a great place to take your family for a day trip and enjoy what made america great, FARMING. The apples for today's segment are from Donaldson's and boy are they great, juicy, crunchy, and a great taste of fall. Enjoy the fall weather and please support your
Click link below for Apple Show
Did you know that New Jersey grows about 66 percent of the world’s eggplants?
It’s true! The majority of eggplant production is located in South Jersey, especially Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem and Atlantic counties, and smaller production sites are also located in Monmouth and Burlington counties.
Production is mainly for wholesale shipment to the eastern U.S. and Canada, depending on the time of year. A small volume of eggplants is produced in the northern part of the state for roadside stands and farmers markets.
Eggplants are harvested by hand one to two times a week depending on temperature. Because they need well-drained, sandy-loam soil to grow, New Jersey offers the perfect conditions for this purple plant.
Ferrari Farms, R & R Flame Farms, and Scapellato Farms in South Jersey are huge eggplant growers and friends of mine. There eggplants in the field are a beautiful sight.
When I was a young man running our produce store in Bergenfield, I would buy from my local farmers all summer long; I remember getting fresh peppers and eggplants picked that day at Binaghi Farm in Old Tappan, as well as at Smith Farms just over the border in New City, New York.
Farmers like Wally Smith and Ronnie Binaghi were more than business partners to me and my family —they were friends and felt more like extended family.
Fresh Jersey produce right off the farm is a treat that everyone should experience, so please support your local farmer, farm stand and local farmers markets all summer long.
Ever since I was 4 selling produce off the back of my father’s truck, I’ve understood that the farmer is the backbone of America. Although my childhood was hard and my family worked seven days a week, I wouldn’t have traded my life growing up for anything; looking back, they were truly the best years of my life.
Eggplants got their name because eggplants used to come in only one color--white. Hanging from the plant, they looked like eggs. The problem was that when they were shipped, they tended to bruise and scar easily. So the hybridizers went to work to develop an eggplant that wouldn't scar and in the process widened the variety.
The eggplant is a member of the nightshade family. We're almost positive it originally came from India and spread to Europe by way of Africa. Italians were growing it by the fourteenth century, but you'll find that eggplant doesn't figure in northern Italian cuisine as it does in southern. That's because it needs heat to grow--heat and considerable irrigation. From Europe eggplants spread to the Americas and were being cultivated in Brazil by the mid 1600's.
In some places the eggplant is known as the "mad apple"--from mala insana, meaning "bad egg" or "bad apple." Legend has it that an Indian traveler ate some raw eggplant, had a fit, and people thought the eggplant had poisoned him. Some people still think eggplants are poisonous.
Early in the growing season, eggplants produce beautiful star-shaped blue-violet flowers. The eggplant is the berry that forms after the flower drops.
The most commonly available eggplant is a deep purple that's almost black. These range in size anywhere from four ounces to 1 1/2 pounds.
The original white eggplant is now very trendy. It is generally smaller than the purple variety, and a lot of people say it's more-tender, but I don't really see any difference. It's more expensive than the purple kind because it's not cultivated as widely.
All the varieties are good, but I'm particularly fond of the Spanish eggplant, which has purple and white stripes. These seem to be a little heavier in texture and taste.
Baby or Italian eggplants have long been popular on the East Coast; they're available in the summer months, with the peak in July through September. In sunnier climates they're available year round, but the supplies may be limited.
Other varieties are generally available year round.
Round, oval, or pear-shaped, eggplants may be white, purple or striped. The flesh is firm and creamy white, with a lot of edible white seeds in the center. Baby or Italian eggplants are smaller, with a thinner skin.
When choosing an eggplant, look for firm, shiny fruit that's heavy in the hand for its size. The top should be green and fresh-looking; a green cap with little spikes around the stems a sure tip that the eggplant is fresh.
Next, look at the blossom end. If it has a round mark, it's a male. If the mark is oval--slightly elongated--it's a female. The females are firmer and have fewer seeds. The fewer seeds the eggplant has, the less bitter it will be.
Now hold the eggplant in your hand. If it's large but feels light, it will be pulpy. Press the flesh gently with your thumb. If it leaves an indentation, pass that eggplant by. Unless you're making gumbroit, the eggplant should be firm, with no wrinkling or soft spots. If it's the purple variety, it should be smooth and shiny, not dull.
Store at room temperatures on the cool side, or wrap loosely and store in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. A firm eggplant will keep for several days.
Eggplant has a slightly bitter taste, especially when mature. To get rid of it, peel the eggplant (the skin is likely to be both bitter and a little tough), then slice it, sprinkle with salt, and allow it to drain in a colander for up to half an hour. In addition to purging the bitter juices, salting eggplant also helps keep it from absorbing oil when you sauté or fry it.
You can bread and fry eggplant or use it in dozens of different vegetable dishes. It's a good, filling substitute for meat in a vegetarian meal. Like my father, I love gumbroit, but my favorite dish is actually eggplant Parmesan, which my wife, Betty, makes with alternate layers of eggplant and zucchini. She also makes a wonderful eggplant rollatini--sliced eggplant rolled and filled and served with a tomato sauce.
When my father was a youngster, one of his favorite dishes was gumbroit, which is sort of like ratatouille, made with eggplant, squash, tomatoes, and other vegetables. Clean-out-the-refrigerator time. Everyone raved about Nonna's gumbroit.
My mother was Irish, but she was the best Italian cook there ever was. Basically, it was my father's mother who taught her how to cook. There were only three things in the world that would make Mom angry: if you talked about her husband, if you talked about her children, or if you talked about her cooking. Whenever my mother made gumbroit, Pop would say, "That's good, but not as good as my mother's." It drove Mom crazy. She made it just the way Nonna taught her.
For a long time she tried to figure out what she could be doing wrong. Pop was the twentieth of twenty children and the spoiled baby of the family. He was a very picky eater. My mother knew that. She also knew that with such a big family, my grandmother used to save money by buying fruits and vegetables that had spots or bruises on them. And when they were running their own store, Nonna would take home the stuff that the customers wouldn't buy. It finally dawned on Mom that this was what she was doing wrong. The spotted vegetables Nonna used were absolutely dead ripe. So Mom went down to the store, picked out all the spotted eggplants and squashes and tomatoes, and took them home to make gumbroit. My father absolutely loved it!
The problem with most Americans is that they buy with their eyes. Sure, there are things you need to look for when you're buying fresh produce, but just because something looks perfect, it won't necessarily taste good. A winter tomato can be perfectly round and uniformly colored, but it's not going to taste like anything. As often as not your other senses--especially your nose--are going to tell you as much about fruits and vegetables as your eyes will.
CLICK ON LINK BELOW FOR EGGPLANT 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".