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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.
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In 1875 when Luther Burbank accepted $125 from James H. Gregory for the tubers and rights to the white potato he had recently discovered, Burbank thought he was getting a pretty good deal. The equivalent to almost $3,000 today, it was a hefty sum for a potato, though hardly the largest amount ever paid for one. Except that this potato is now worth more than $1.5 billion in the United States. Annually. “Burbank’s Seedling,” as Gregory subsequently named it, became one of the most important potatoes in the world and an American icon. Like many great plant stories, it did not occur all at once, involved many different players, and a combination of good horticultural skills and luck. Lots of it.
First cultivated in Peru centuries ago, ordinary white or "Irish" potatoes are still grown there - in varieties that include white, blue, red, and even striped and polka-dotted versions. Although we see only a few common ones in most supermarkets, there are more than two hundred varieties of potatoes now being cultivated. A small number of unusual varieties and hybrids can be found in farm markets and specialty produce stores.
A member of the nightshade family, along with the tomato and eggplant, the potato is native to South America. Brought to Europe by Spanish explorers, it was a bit slow to be accepted because many people believed it was poisonous. By the end of the sixteenth century, however, potatoes were regularly taking a place on the table in German households, and now this highly nutritious vegetable is a staple in almost every country in the Western world.
Potatoes store very well, but they don't keep forever. The year-round supply found in the stores is possible because crops from different states are harvested at different times. On the East Coast, for example, potato crops from Florida are the first to arrive on the market. As the season progresses, the potato harvest moves up the coast until the season ends with potatoes from Maine, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.
The potatoes grown in the American state of Idaho are called Idaho potatoes. “Idaho potato” and “Grown in Idaho” seals are certifications which have been federally registered. These seals or marks belong to the IPC, Idaho Potato Commission. There are more than 30 different varieties of potatoes grown in Idaho State, yet there is no variety which is called “Idaho potato.” The different varieties of potatoes grown in Idaho are; Russet Burbank, Yukon Gold, Fingerlings, Red, etc. By far the most popular variety of Idaho potato is the Russet Burbank.
The confusion between the Idaho potato and Russet is prevalent. People generically use the term “Russet potato” for “Idaho potato” which was contested by the Southern District of New York, and the judge affirmed that these two terms could not be used interchangeably. A Russet potato is not an Idaho potato. A Russet potato is one of the varieties of Idaho-grown potatoes.
The famous Idaho potato is harvested in the early fall, but it stores well and is available nine or ten months of the year. Idaho has the right soil and weather conditions to grow a great potato and it is the variety Americans choose first for baking. The skin is thick and leathery, and the flesh has relatively low moisture content. Graded by size, Idaho's range from 60 to 140 potatoes per 50-pound box.
The Russet Burbank takes longer to mature, so this variety is not always available in the late summer or early fall from the major states that grow them. Among these three states—Idaho, Washington, and Wisconsin—the largest volume of Russet Burbanks comes out of Idaho. This variety is also preferred by processors for their French fries, so you are competing with them when supplies are tight. However, we expect an ample amount of Burbanks this coming harvest, and typically they are shipped in quantity beginning in late September. Many operators actually prefer “old crop,” which sometimes has a little drier profile after being stored for almost a year. The growers anticipate that old crop will carry through this season, so no potato gap is anticipated. Russet potatoes make up nearly 58% of the production. Keep in mind that Idaho harvests about 11 to 12 billion pounds of potatoes each year, nearly double that of Washington, there closest competitor
They are used mainly for baking and frying or mashing. They can also be used for boiling and in soups. Russets are specifically not used for making potato chips. The skin of the Russet is considered beneficial for health, thus should be included while cooking.
They should be stored in cool, dark, and dry places, and the temperature should be maintained at 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit. They are fairly affordable and inexpensive, delicious. They are the most popular and well-known potatoes of the United States.
Russet potatoes are high in vitamin B6, vitamin C, and carbohydrates or starch. The sugar content is high, and 3-4 gm. of dietary fiber is present. Russets have 120-135 calories per average-sized potato and are low in sodium, cholesterol, and saturated fats.
“Idaho potato” or “Grown in Idaho” are seals of certifications which have been federally registered by the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC). Idaho potatoes are basically potatoes grown in the State of Idaho in the U.S. There are over 30 varieties of Idaho potatoes grown in Idaho State. No particular variety is called “Idaho” as such. The Russet potato is a variety of Idaho-grown potatoes which are most popular and well known throughout the world.
CHECK OUT HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT BAKE POTATO AT BETTE'S RECIPES
Click link below for Idaho Russet Potato Show
ki When the first frost arrives, the summer growing season is officially over. Storage crops console us as cold settles in — apples, potatoes and winter squash grace our tables with their rosy hues and sweet flavors as we, like the plants, slow down. And even as we lament the loss of summer, delights abound at fall farmers markets: quince, cranberries, black walnuts and Asian pears. Also known as apple pears, Asian pears are harvested from late August through October. They are rarely show-stoppers — they tend to have an ordinary round shape, yellow or dusty brown skin and a firmness that lacks the sensuous yield of a ripe peach, but they have charms all their own: bright crunch, refreshing juiciness and subtle sweetness.
Asian pears are native to Japan and China where they have been grown for over 3000 years. The first documented appearance of an Asian pear in the United States was recorded in 1820 when a Chinese sand pear was imported to Flushing, New York. In the mid-1800’s Asian pears made their way to the west coast via Chinese and Japanese immigrants relocating to California after the Gold Rush. Today Asian pears can be found at farmers markets and specialty grocers and are grown not only throughout Asia but in Italy, Spain, Australia, France, Chile, and New Zealand. In the United States, the bulk of commercial production comes from California and Oregon with a smaller supply coming out of Washington State, Kentucky, and Alabama.
Asian pears are often called "apple pears" due to their appearance and texture.
Asian pears range in size from small to medium and vary in shape from round, globular, and squat to oval with a bulbous base that tapers into a rounded top. The firm skin can be golden yellow, green, or bronze and may be smooth, have some russeting, or covered in visible lenticels or pores. The flesh is ivory to white and is crunchy, juicy, and creamy with a central fibrous core encasing several small, brown-black seeds. When ripe, Asian pears are crisp with a sweet, floral flavor, low acidity, and a fragrant aroma.
Fairly new to the United States, there are over 1000 varieties of Asian Pears, also known as "Apple Pears", originally from Japan. But don't let the name "Apple Pear" confuse you. Even though the Asian pear looks like a cross between an apple and a pear, the resemblance is only skin deep. There are also several other differences between Asian pears and the more common European pear. Asian pears reach optimum quality when allowed to ripen on the tree, similar to apples and peaches and are more crisp and tart then other pears. European pears are usually harvested in a green stage and allowed to ripen at room temperature and have a sweeter, more mellow taste.
Asian pears are available year-round, with peak season in the early fall through winter.
SOME OF THE MOST POPULAR ASIAN PEAR VARIETIES
Medium sized, sweet, fruity, extremely juicy and with a melt-in-your-mouth texture, this is our most popular Asian pear variety, developed at the National Horticultural Research station in Tsukuba, Japan. Ripens in late August.
Very juicy and very sweet, typically on the smaller side. A Japanese variety that ripens in mid-August.
Choose pears that feel firm. They should be ready to eat immediately, but they keep well at room temperature for 10 days, and up to three months under refrigeration. Store them separately, as ethylene released by other fruits will hasten their demise.
As with apples, their close relatives, Asian pears are low in calories, but high in fiber, as well as potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K and the micronutrient copper.
Fiber. One large Asian pear contains 116 calories and only 0.6 grams of fat. ...
Eating the skin of an Asian pear is a good source of fiber. The skin of most brown varieties of Asian Pears are edible, however they are thick and tough, so these fruits are best eaten peeled. If eating the peel, it is easier eaten in slices. Although delicious on their own, the light sweetness and crispy texture of Asian pears makes them a unique addition to any salad or stir fry.
Click link below for Asian Pear Show
When we first opened our produce store in Bergenfield in the 1950s, kale was a staple among the vegetables, but most of the people who bought it were of European descent.
Pop would always leave the kale out to freeze a little before we sold it because he said it made the kale sweeter and more tender, and we sold a lot of kale that way.
As the years went by, however, kale fell out of favor — until the 2000s, when society became more health-conscious, everybody from Oprah to Dr. Oz was raving about kale, and it was back on everyone’s list.
I’m no doctor, just a common-sense guy with a high school education and a thirst for knowledge, but I’ve always eaten plenty of green vegetables and especially kale.
Considered the powerhouse of all green vegetables, kale is high in antioxidants, which help build the immune system; repair damage done to our cells from chemicals, environmental pollutants, and stress; lower cholesterol levels; and minimize the aging process.
I always say “if you eat right, you’re going to live right,” and in that respect kale is the way to go!
Kale, also known as borecole, is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. A leafy green, kale is available in curly (my favorite), ornamental or flat (also called dinosaur or Tuscan) varieties and belongs to the Brassica family, which includes cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, collards, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
It’s great to work kale into your diet because it’s a nutritional powerhouse. One cup of chopped kale, for example — which contains just 33 calories — delivers 9 percent of the recommended daily requirement of calcium, 206 percent of vitamin A, 134 percent of vitamin C and a whopping 684 percent of vitamin K.
It’s also a good source of the minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus.
Kale contains carotenoids and flavonoids, the specific types of antioxidants which possess anti-cancer properties, and is also rich in the compounds lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which promote eye health.
In addition, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.
Based on my research, however, kale also can trigger issues for some people — anyone taking anti-coagulants such as Warfarin may be advised to avoid kale because its high level of vitamin K could interfere with the drug.
Kale also contains oxalates, naturally occurring substances that can interfere with the absorption of calcium. Avoid eating calcium-rich foods like dairy at the same time as kale to prevent any problems.
Red Kale, also called Russian kale, offers a sweeter, buttery flavor. It cooks more quickly than green kale, but can be prepared using the same methods.
Lacinato kale is a variety of kale with a long tradition in Italian cuisine, especially that of Tuscany. It is also known as Tuscan kale, Tuscan cabbage, Italian kale, dinosaur kale, black kale, flat back cabbage, palm tree kale, or black Tuscan palm.
SELECTION AND STORAGE
Kale thrives in cooler-weather months and its leaves range from dark green to purple to deep red in color. To find the freshest kale, look for firm, crisp, deeply colored leaves with hardy stems. Smaller leaves will be more tender and milder in flavor.
For best results, store kale unwashed in an air-tight, zipped plastic bag for up to five days in the refrigerator.
One of my family’s favorite vegetables, kale is delicious sautéed with a little olive oil and garlic, served raw in salads, roasted to make chips, or steamed.
It’s also great in shakes, where it’s somewhat bitter taste can be masked by other ingredients while boosting the drink’s nutritional value.
Kids often hate green vegetables, but by adding kale to a shake with strawberries, bananas, blueberries, a little honey and some almond milk, for example, you can make something healthy for them without the harsh taste of straight kale.
Be creative and pair different fruits (depending on what’s in season) with healthy green vegetables in your shakes and I promise your children will love them!
When preparing kale, a lot of people throw away the stems, but you don’t necessarily need to do that (I must get it from mom — we never threw anything away!). My wife, Bette, usually slices off some of the thicker stems but cuts up the rest very fine and adds it to the kale leaves. One of our family’s favorite snacks is kale chips. These can sometimes be expensive when store-bought, but they’re easy to make right at home and I know you’ll love Bette’s recipe as much as we do!
Move over, Popeye — kale has grown in popularity and is today’s new spinach! Hope you enjoy this nutrient-dense super food — though whatever your favorite leafy green is, be sure to eat plenty of it!
Click link below for Kale Show.
If you are not that familiar with this orange variety you might be asking yourself: “What is Cara Cara oranges?”
Cara Cara oranges are pink-fleshed
citrus fruits that originated as a mutation that occurred on a Washington Navel orange tree in 1976. The first mutated fruit was found at Hacienda Cara Cara in Venezuela and thus was given the name Cara Cara.
Cara Cara oranges are extremely sweet and have a slightly lower acidity than Navels with a hint of cranberry or blackberry flavor. Furthermore, aside from their supreme taste and beautiful coloring, Cara Cara oranges contain 20 per cent more vitamin C and 30 per cent more vitamin A when compared to regular Navels.
. Cara Cara navel oranges may appear similar to Ruby red grapefruit, but other than color and being citrus fruits, they are not the same. Cara Cara navel oranges are a result of a mutation in the navel orange which was found in Venezuel
Cara Cara is a medium-size orange with a glossy, textured rind. The inner flesh of the Cara Cara is pink, resembling the color of a ruby grapefruit. The peel clings to the flesh. It tastes sweeter than any given orange with flavors far more comparable to tangerines with robust and complex citrus aromatics. Its flesh is also seedless, an advantage among any fruit. When ripe, the Cara Cara orange's flesh is tender, succulent and extremely juicy.
You know the saying, "It's what's on the inside that counts"? Well, that couldn't be more true when it comes to Cara Cara oranges. From the outside, these citrus beauties look like your run-of-the-mill, bright-skinned navel oranges. Cut them open, though, and you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Cara Cara oranges are a type of navel orange.
Grown in California they reach their peak season between December and April.
Cara Caras have the same round shape and bright orange rind as traditional navels. What really sets these oranges apart is what's on the inside! Cara Cara oranges have distinct pinkish-red and orange flesh. It's not just their beautiful color that makes them stand out — they have a remarkable taste that goes right along with it. Compared to traditional navels, Cara Caras are sweeter, slightly tangy, and less acidic, with a hint of red fruit, like cranberry or blackberry. And if that's not enough, they're seedless, too.
While other navel oranges can vary in size, cara caras are all generally medium-size fruits. Choose oranges that are firm, shiny, and heavy for their size. Avoid pieces that have soft spots and blemishes.
As with other citrus fruits, store Cara Cara oranges in a cool spot. Kept on the counter, they'll last three to four days, so you're better off storing them in the refrigerator where they'll last up to two weeks.
Eat Cara Cara oranges just as you would other types of navel oranges! Peeling away the rind and eating them section by section, blending them into smoothies or a fresh-squeezed glass of juice, and making citrus curd are just a few of my favorite ways to use Cara Cara They also make a beautiful addition to salads.
Just like regular navels, Cara Cara has a bright exterior and has a crisp citrus aroma. But unlike your run-of-the-mill navels, Cara Cara’s flavor is more complex; it is extremely sweet with a tinge of raspberry or cranberry zing and a hint of cherry and rose. It is also low in acidity and is not sour like other citrus fruits.
Select Oranges that feel heavy for their size – a sign of juiciness. They don’t have to be hard, but the orange should not feel so soft that it is squishy either.
2. They’re similar to grapefruits. Because of their flesh, they remind us of grapefruits with their pink flesh. Only these Cara Cara Oranges have such sweet flavors that you don’t need to add any sugar.
Click link below for Cara Cara Orange show.
Broccoli rabe holds a special place in my heart because whenever I see it or taste it, I think of my dad.
My father was born in Italy and came to this country with no money or language skills but made a life for himself and his family through hard work. He taught me that if you work hard, you can accomplish anything, but he also always reminded me that you should never forget where you came from.
One of 20 children growing up in Italy, Pop would always complain that all he ever had to eat as a kid was broccoli rabe, a cheap vegetable in his day. Broccoli rabe with eggs, broccoli rabe sandwiches, broccoli rabe and pasta ... rabe, rabe, rabe! They had it so much that my father once swore he’d never eat it again. But he still loved it, and so do I.
As broccoli rabe grew in popularity in the U.S., it became more expensive, and Dad could never figure that out, so it became a little joke in our family when he would complain about its price. In the end, it wouldn’t be Christmas without this dish on our family’s table, and it always reminds me of holidays past, my dad and how family means everything to me.
Today, broccoli rabe is no longer cheap and is in fact quite the gourmet dish in many restaurants.
I remember Mom cooking the broccoli rabe on the stove in the back of our store, and I would always break off a piece of bread and dip it into the frying pan to get a taste. The aroma of mom’s cooking would fill the store and customers would always make their way to the back to ask mom what she was cooking.
Those are the times I miss the most – the family working and eating together and building a mom and pop business, one of the iconic experiences that made this country great. Thinking back on those days long ago, I sure miss our family store, our family of customers, and my mom and pop. Food and memories go hand and hand
THE BACK STORY ON BROCCOLI RABE
Broccoli rabe is a non heading variety of broccoli that’s also known as broccoletti di rape, brocoletto, rapini, choy sum or Chinese flowering cabbage. It has long, thin, leafy stalks topped with small heads that look like tiny broccoli florets. The florets or flowers are quite delicate, while the leaves are slightly bitter.
Broccoli rabe is most plentiful between late fall and early spring and is grown in various places all over the continent, including Quebec, California, Arizona and other states, so it’s usually available year round, except for a couple of months in mid-summer, usually June and July.
Once highly prized by the Romans and cultivated all over the southern Mediterranean, broccoli rabe didn’t appear in North America until the 1920s, when Italian farmers first brought it to the U.S. For a long time, broccoli rabe was a staple favored mainly in America’s Italian and Asian communities, and it sold for anywhere from 10 cents to 25 cents a pound.
Now an “it” food that shows up in trendy restaurants and fetches a much heftier price per pound at the market, broccoli rabe is still a great vegetable. It packs a wallop and has a bitter zest that gives a real lift to bland foods.
SELECTION AND STORAGE
At the market, you’ll usually find broccoli rabe displayed in a refrigerator case sprinkled with ice because it wilts very easily.
Choose firm, green, small stems with compact heads. Like broccoli, the flower buds that comprise the florets should be tightly closed and dark green, not open or yellow.
The Andy Boy label is the top of the line when it comes to broccoli rabe and should be bought whenever possible.
Store broccoli rabe in your refrigerator crisper unwashed, either wrapped in a wet towel or in a plastic bag, where it will keep for 2 to3 days. For longer storage, blanch and freeze.
To prepare, rinse thoroughly in cold water, shake off, and cut off the bottoms of the stalks, which are too tough to eat. Raw broccoli rabe is very bitter and has no flavor, so it’s much better cooked than raw. Even a light steaming brings out its distinctive taste.
As a side vegetable, broccoli rabe yields only about one serving per pound because it cooks way down. You can cook it like broccoli, but whether you braise, sauté, boil, or steam it, you only need to cook it for 8 to 10 minutes.
Most Italians like broccoli rabe al dente, cooked about six minutes. You can steam it in water or chicken broth or sauté it with oil and garlic. Some people like it as a cold salad — steamed, then cooled and dressed with oil, hot peppers, garlic and other seasonings. For a terrific potato dish, add steamed broccoli rabe to boiled potatoes, and dress with olive oil and garlic. Broccoli rabe also makes a great sauce for pasta when steamed and combined with olive oil, garlic and hot sausages.
As for me, I guess I’m my father’s son – I love to get a good loaf of crusty Italian bread and make a broccoli rabe sandwich. Most times the simplest is the best!
When I showed broccoli rabe pie (made by the grandmother of a close family friend of ours) on “NBC Weekend Today in New York” years ago, I received email requests for the recipe by the thousands. It’s one of the most popular of all of the recipes I offer, and I know you’ll love it, too!
Go to Bette's Recipes and enjoy this great Broccoli Rabe Pie
Click on link below for Broccoli Rabe 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
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
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
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".