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 !!!
PLEASE CHECK OUT MY NEW BLOG RUNNING MONTHLY IN NEW JERSEY MONTHLY MAGAZINE ONLINE
10/19/19 CHESTER NEW JERSEY 36TH ANNUAL HARVEST CELEBRATION
11 AM - 3 PM BOOK SIGNING, PICTURES, ALL PRODUCE QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY PRODUCE PETE
10/20/19 Donaldson's Farm, Hackettstown, N J Celebrating PBA's Shop With A Cop Holiday.
BOOK SIGNING, PICTURES AND ALL YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT PUMPKINS AND APPLES
COME MEET PRODUCE PETE 11AM - 2 PM
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. Today I am here filming my Apple segment for Weekend Today in New York. I 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 from Donaldson's are great tasting, juicy, crunchy, and a great taste of fall. Enjoy the fall weather and please support your LOCAL FARMERS
PLEASE CHECK OUT MY BLOG IN NEW JERSEY MONTHLY ON APPLES
There’s perhaps nothing more iconic in New Jersey during the month of October than corn mazes, hay rides and especially pumpkins. Heading out to a farm with the family to pick pumpkins or enjoy a hay ride is a great fall tradition that shouldn’t be missed; for a list of pumpkin farms in your area, visit www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org. Since October is one of my favorite months of the year, I thought I’d share some fun facts about pumpkins and Halloween:
TODAY I'M AT DONALDSON'S FARM IN HACKETTSTOWN NEW JERSEY, ONE OF MY
FAVORITE FARMS ESPECIALLY IN THE FALL WHEN PUMPKINS AND APPLES REMINDS
US OF OUR CHILDHOOD AND THE FUN OF HALLOWEEN.
SELECTION AND STORAGE
When picking any kind of pumpkin, select one without bruises or soft spots. It may be greenish in color, but left whole in a cool spot — not refrigerated — it will ripen and turn orange. Always select a pumpkin with a nice green stem (I always say that a pumpkin without a stem is like a Christmas tree without a star on top), but never handle a pumpkin by its stem because it can break off easily.
Some people use Jack-o’-lantern pumpkins for cooking, but these were developed specifically to be oversized and thin-walled, with a huge seed pocket and a relatively small proportion of flesh. By contrast, the smaller sugar pumpkins, or pie pumpkins, will give you more meat for cooking purposes and often a better flavor and texture. Sugar pumpkins make an especially delicious pumpkin soup. For another interesting application, buy an extra sugar pumpkin, clean out the cavity, and use it as a tureen.If you can find it, I suggest using a variety called cheese pumpkins for pies. They’re medium-to-large-sized pumpkins with very flattened shapes, a light tan shell and orange flesh. Found most readily at farm stands and throughout New England, cheese pumpkins make delicious pies, while regular pumpkins — particularly sugar and especially Jack-o’-lantern varieties — sometimes make a stringy filling.
DECORATING JACK-O LANTERNS
Instead of cutting and hollowing out a pumpkin for your Jack-o’-lantern, here’s a way to decorate pumpkins that’s different and colorful: Leave them intact and create a face using fresh vegetables. My mother used to decorate our pumpkins this way because it preserved the pumpkin, which she could then use in cooking after Halloween was over. Depending on what you use, you can give the pumpkins a wide range of personalities. I’ll never forget how my mother would use a carrot or parsnip to make a long, witchy nose, red peppers for lips, radishes for eyes, and string beans for eyelashes. Then she’d slice potatoes to make ears and make “hair” out of fennel tops. The result was unusual and very striking.My wife, Bette, who’s quite artistic, picked up a lot of kitchen techniques from my mother, and she’s decorated pumpkins for my NBC segments that were really something to see.
WHY DO WE CARVE PUMPKINS
Thought the Americans were the first to carve the orange fruit into freaky figures? Think again. Like most American folklore, this spooky ritual comes from our European ancestors. We’re a country of immigrants, so most of our traditions originate from outside the U.S.—and jack o’ lanterns are no different. The practice dates back to a centuries-old Irish myth about a man named “Stingy Jack.”
THE TWISTED TALE OF STINGY JACK
According to the legend, Jack was a devious fellow who outsmarted the devil time and time again. Jack,was the town drunk but had a clever side,and so he met the devil one fateful night. The duo shared a drink and, too cheap to pay for his booze, Jack convinced Satan to morph into a coin that he could use to pay for their beverages. As soon as he did, Jack put the coin in his pocket next to a silver cross. The devil was unable to change back into his original form, and Jack held him that way until Satan agreed not to take his soul. Sneaky!Next, the shifty swindler convinced the devil to climb up a tree to steal a piece of fruit. He quickly carved the sign of the cross into the tree bark. Again, the devil couldn’t come down until he agreed not to bother Jack for another 10 years.Shortly after his meeting with the devil, Jack died. As legend goes, God would not accept Jack into heaven and sent him down to visit the devil in hell. But the devil kept his promise. He wouldn’t let Jack into hell, either, and imprisoned him to an even darker fate. The devil sent Jack into the dark night to roam the world for eternity, with only a coal to light his way. Jack lit the coal, put it in a hollowed-out turnip and has been drifting through the world, scaring children ever since.Townsfolk began to refer to this figure as “Jack of the lantern,” and shortly thereafter “Jack o’ lantern.” People began to carve their own lanterns out of turnips, beets, potatoes and eventually pumpkins in hopes of warding away any ghostly spirits.
THE TRADITION TODAY
Over time the tradition reached American shores by way of mouth, and immigrants from various countries took their own approach to the ancient tradition. A chiefly American fruit, the pumpkin became our own adaptation of this European tradition, and it’s now a symbol of Halloween. As years went by, the spooky history behind this family tradition has been lost. So now carving pumpkins is synonymous with family and friends instead of spooky spirits.This October, when you reach for a warm glass of cider and a carving knife, remember the spirit of Stingy Jack, and spook your friends and family with this ghostly tale!
Click link below for Halloween Pumpkin Show
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.
BRUSSEL SPROUTS FUN FACTS
Brussel Sprouts are named after Brussels, the capital of Belgium, where they were a popular 16th century crop.
The Brussels sprout was introduced to North America by 18th century french settlers in Louisiana.
By the early 1900s, the little vegetable became an established commercial crop in California.
The U.S. produces 70 million pounds of sprouts each year.
Brussel Sprouts look like mini cabbages because they’re members of the same cruciferous vegetable family.
Colorful purple sprouts are the result of a hybrid developed from purple cabbage in the 1940s.
A little under one ounce of these vegetables provides 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.
Weighing in at just 26 calories per cup, Brussels sprouts are a delicious and nutritious diet food choice.
One 80-gram serving of these healthy veggies delivers four times more vitamin C than an orange.
Brussels sprouts stay fresh in a plastic bag in the refrigerator vegetable drawer for as long as 10 days.
One cup holds an average of five Brussels sprouts, and they steam up in just 6 to 8 minutes.
Carving an X in the bottom of the stems before steaming helps sprouts cook more evenly.
A sulfur - like smell is a sure sign that Brussels sprouts have been overcooked
This versatile veggie tastes great grilled, stir-fried or roasted, and its size makes it a perfect snack food.
Click link below for Brussel Sprout Show
From acorn to turban, winter squash are some of the most delicious and versatile ingredients of the season. Unlike summer squash, these are harvested in autumn when they are hard and ripe, and most varieties can be stored and enjoyed for use through the winter. Cutting a winter squash can present an interesting challenge.Years ago on WNBC, I did a segment on winter squash. I put on a pair of goggles and heavy gloves and pulled a chain saw from under the counter.It was a joke, but not too far off the mark. The problem is that the shell is very hard, the squash tends to roll, and the blade of a knife tends to slip off the smooth skin.To avoid consumers from having to deal with this hassle at home, green grocers and supermarkets have increasingly offered more and more cut-up fruits and vegetables, though the price for this service can cost as much as triple that of an uncut item.Coming from humble post-WWII beginnings like our family did, I remember my mom always cutting and preparing produce herself, and I encourage consumers to consider taking on this worthy challenge. As the fall weather starts to bring on a chill in the air, we look for something hearty, so here are a few of my favorite winter squashes.
Acorn squash is small in size, typically weighing between one and two pounds, with orange-yellow flesh and thick, dark green and orange skin.The flavor of Acorn squash has a mild, subtly sweet and nutty flavor. The skin is also edible.Like most varieties of winter squash, acorn squash is really versatile. It can be baked, roasted, steamed, sautéed, or even cooked in the microwave
This pear-shaped squash has a smooth, cream-colored exterior with bright orange flesh and comparatively few seeds The flavor is the sweetest variety of winter squash. Butternut squash is extremely versatile. It's perfect for roasting and sautéing, or making a smooth purée or soup.
The pumpkin-shaped Carnival Squash has a pale yellow skin with green markings and often ranges in size from 5 to 7 inches in diameter. Unlike summer squash (which are picked when immature and skins are tender), Carnival Squash have hard, thick skins and only the flesh is eaten. The delicious yellow meat is reminiscent of sweet potatoes and butternut squash and can be baked or steamed then combined with butter and fresh herbs.
Also known as sweet potato squash, this small cylindrical squash has thin cream- to yellow-colored skin with green stripes, and orange-yellow flesh. Delicatas are smaller than most winter squash, so they're quite easy to prepare and cook.Delicata has creamy flesh with a mild flavor akin to sweet potatoes.The skin on this small squash is edible, so don't worry about cutting it off. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds, then you can either bake it as is, or cut it into slices which can be roasted, sautéed, or steamed. Delicata squash is also ideal for stuffing
Hubbard squash is one of the largest varieties of winter squash. It has a hard, firm exterior that can range in color from deep green to gray or blue. Hubbard squash has a rich, sweet pumpkin flavor. While the hard exterior is generally discarded, the sweet orange flesh can be substituted for any other variety of winter squash. It's ideal for both cooking and baking, and is especially great for making pie.
Spaghetti squash has a cylindrical shape with a firm exterior that ranges in color from pale cream to bright yellow. When you cook the squash, the moist flesh develops strands that resemble spaghetti .Spaghetti squash doesn't actually taste like spaghetti. It has a tender, chewy, fragile texture, and a very mild flavor. Unlike other winter squash varieties, it lacks sweetness.Roast or steam it, then scrape out the strands. Top with marinara, pesto, or mix in other veggies, and eat it as you would spaghetti
SWEET DUMPLING SQUASH
This small yellow squash, with bright orange to dark green striations, may be the cutest of the bunch The flesh is starchy and sweet, with a flavor that's reminiscent of corn. The small, single-serving size of this squash makes it ideal for stuffing and roasting.
This large, decorative squash has an irregular turban shape with a dull-looking, bumpy exterior that can range in color from mottled green to orange and yellow. This large squash has a very mild, nutty flavor. Turban squash is most often used as a decoration, though you can use it in recipes in just about any way you use butternut, acorn, or other winter squash. Hollowed out, it makes a beautiful soup tureen.
SELECTION AND STORAGE
All squashes should have a solid, heavy feel; a squash that feels light for its size may be soft and dehydrated inside. The hard shell of a winter squash should be undamaged, but the skin, unlike that of summer squashes, should be dull, which indicates that the squash was picked when fully mature. Make sure the stem is still attached, as a missing stem indicates that the squash has been in storage too long.Never refrigerate squash unless it’s been cut, then wrap it in plastic and store it for only a day or two before using. The smaller the winter squash, the shorter its shelf life. Acorn squash, for example, should be used within two to three weeks of purchase. Some of the larger varieties of winter squash will remain sweet and tasty for as long as six or seven months if kept in a dry, cool (but not cold) place, out of direct sunlight.
PREPARING WINTER SQUASH
A kitchen saw or even a small saw will make short work of it, but another reasonably simple way to cut into a winter squash is to look for the area on the squash that has indentations or ribs. Lay the squash so that it’s steady, insert the point of a sturdy knife in a crease, give the handle a couple of taps with a hammer to start the cut, and then proceed as if you were cutting a watermelon, being extremely careful. Remove the seeds before cooking.Smaller winter squash like acorn squash are best baked. Cut them in half, brush them with butter, sprinkle them with brown sugar, and bake them for about thirty minutes or until tender.Very large squashes like butternut squash can be peeled, cut into chunks, and boiled for 10 to 20 minutes or until tender; the chunks can then be puréed or mashed and prepared as you would make mashed potatoes.Spaghetti squash is best when it’s baked whole in a moderately hot oven for 1 to 1½ hours, depending on the size of the squash.Pierce the squash in two or three places before baking to release the steam. After it’s done, cut it in half and use a fork to remove the flesh, which looks and handles like spaghetti. You can toss it with marinara sauce or top it with butter or cheese. Many people also like to eat spaghetti squash cold with a vinaigrette.Winter squash is delicious added to soups and stews or sliced, battered and fried. Remember to pre-cook it in water until the flesh is tender-crisp before frying.
DID YOU KNOW ???
Enjoy these Winter Squashes and check out Bette's Recipes !!!
Click link below for Winter Squash Show
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.
BARTLETT OR WILLIAMS
The Bartlett Pear we know today in North America is the same variety that is called the "Williams" in many other parts of the world. Discovered originally in 1765 by a schoolmaster in England named Mr. Stair, the Bartlett was first referred to as Stair's Pear. A nurseryman named Williams later acquired the variety, and after introducing it to the rest of England, the pear became known as the Williams Pear. Its full name, however, is Williams' Bon Chretien, which translates to "Williams' good Christian."
Around 1799, Mr. James Carter imported several Williams trees to the United States, and they were planted on the grounds of Thomas Brewer in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Later, Enoch Bartlett of Dorchester, Massachusetts acquired the Brewer estate. Not knowing the identity of the trees, Bartlett propagated and introduced the variety to the United States under his own name. It was not until 1828, when new trees arrived from Europe, that it was realized that Bartlett and Williams pears were one and the same. By then it was too late... the variety had become widely popular in the U.S. under its adopted name: the Bartlett
Because they crossbred so easily, there are somewhere between four thousand and five thousand cultivated varieties. Eight of those are commonly available to shoppers here.
The Bartlett (pronounced BART-let) carries a true pyriform "pear shape:" a rounded bell on the bottom half of the fruit, then a definitive shoulder with a smaller neck or stem end. Bartletts are extremely aromatic pears, and have that definitive "pear flavor." Often, the Bartletts found in grocery stores are green, and then they change to yellow as they ripen at home when left at room temperature. Red Bartletts are another variety to choose, and they are usually located in produce departments right next to the Yellow Bartlett's. Aside from color, there are only slight differences in flavor between the two Bartlett pears. Consider Red Bartletts as a second color alternative for displays in fruit baskets and bowls. Together in a beautiful fruit bowl, Red & Green Bartletts make a striking table-top centerpiece.
Bartletts are traditionally known as the canning pear, and you'll find many different recipes in most cook books and from family members. Because Bartletts have a definitive flavor and sweetness, they are a good all-around choice for many forms of processing. Consider them in preserves, syrups, chutneys, and more. They also make excellent dried pears
Green pears should be free from blemishes. Ripe pears - especially tender varieties like the Comice, that are going to show 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.
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.
During the holidays, line a basket with napkins, pile up Comice or Forelles or a mix, 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.
Click link below for Bartlett Pear Show
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ROMAINE HEARTS AND ROMAINE LETTUCE.
Romaine Hearts are the center leaves of Romaine lettuce Smaller, more yellow, and sweeter, these leaves have a delicious flavor and texture that is perfect for Caesar salads. Look for crisp-looking, un-wilted leaves free of dark spots or cracked ribs.
Not all lettuce is created equal, but if you start your meal with a salad made of romaine lettuce you will be sure to add not only a variety of textures and flavors to your meal but an enormous amount of nutritional value. Most of the domestic U.S. harvest of romaine lettuce and other salad greens comes from California and is available throughout the year.
Romaine is truly one of the world’s great Lettuces — nutritious, delicious and versatile. Romaine has medium-to-dark green, long, crisp leaves with firm white ribs almost to the tip of the leaf. As you reach the center, the Romaine heart leaves become smaller, more yellow and sweeter.
Sometimes referred to as Cos lettuce, Romaine boasts layers of crisp, elongated leaves which are supported by a distinctive rib that spans their length. The leaves range in color from deep green to red or bronze. With 5,000 years of history, this classic vegetable may be the oldest variety of cultivated lettuce. And for good reason! With a subtle sweet and sometimes nutty flavor, Romaine lettuce can be paired easily with most salad fixings. Most known for its staring role in the Caesar salad, this hearty lettuce has the spine to support even the creamiest of dressings. The core of a head of Romaine contains the smallest, crispiest, and most tender leaves, which are sold on their own as Romaine Hearts.
Romaine Hearts are the center leaves of Romaine lettuce. Smaller, more yellow, and sweeter, these leaves have a delicious flavor and texture that is perfect for Caesar salads. Look for crisp-looking, un-wilted leaves free of dark spots or cracked ribs. Avoid heads with any browning or discoloration. Romaine Hearts can stay in their plastic bags and go right into the crisper section, for five to seven days.
Lettuce is synonymous with salads as they are predominantly made from crispy green lettuce leaves. Most varieties of lettuce exude small amounts of a white, milky liquid when their leaves are broken. This "milk" gives lettuce its slightly bitter flavor and its scientific name, Lactuca sativa derived from the Latin word for milk.
ARE ROMAINE HEARTS GOOD FOR YOU
A dieter's dream, romaine lettuce has about 8 calories and 1-2 grams of carbohydrates per cup. Although it's low in fiber, it's high in minerals, such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and potassium. It's naturally low in sodium. Plus, romaine lettuce is packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate.
Store unwashed, whole heads in the refrigerator, in a plastic bag to retain natural moisture and maximum nutrients. Romaine hearts and heads will keep for up to one week. To wash, rinse, never soak, before using and set to dry on a clean tea towel or give your Romaine a twirl in a salad spinner.
Do not store lettuce near bananas, apples or pears. These fruits release ethylene gas, which causes other fruits and vegetables, including lettuce, to ripen quicker
I myself, like to store in a paper bag, unwashed. I think they last longer
Please check out the Caesar Salad Recipe under Bette's Recipes
Click link below for Romaine Heart Segment
Well this week I'm back at one of my favorite farms in New Jersey, Donaldson's.
The Donaldson Family takes great pride in their farm and their heritage. They are dedicated to maintaining their reputation as a well-respected neighbor and business in the community. The Donaldson tradition of commitment to farming and to their community will continue with the next generation.
Seasonal visits to Donaldson Farms have become an annual tradition for families and friends, both in and far beyond the Hackettstown community. The visitors look forward to the beautiful scenery and the simple charm of spending the day outdoors. On fall weekends, the Farm Market has hosted up to 7,000 guests. Seasonal pick-your-own activities, festivals and agricultural education events welcome new and familiar faces.
Today I'm out in the field seeing how they grow there cucumbers in a different way, not on the ground but on trellises, which makes for a much better cucumber
NEW JERSEY CUCUMBERS
Though commonly thought to be a vegetable, the cucumber is actually a fruit.
The cucumber is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, along with squash and different kinds of melon. Cucumbers are high in water and low in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
They have a mild, refreshing taste and a high water content. They can be refreshing and pleasant to eat in hot weather and help prevent dehydration. It is eaten savory, but it is strictly a fruit.
Few foods are as cool as a cucumber. These low-calorie veggies contain many nutritional benefits, including hydrating properties and valuable nutrients.
There are hundreds of varieties of cucumber, and they come in dozens of colors, but the edible types are classified as being for either slicing or pickling, .Slicing cucumbers are cultivated to be eaten fresh, while pickling cucumbers are intended for the brine jar. Slicing cucumbers are usually larger and thicker-skinned than pickling ones.
You are probably familiar with the phrase “cool as a cucumber”, which speaks directly to the soothing and cooling nature that cucumbers have when eaten. These fruits are grown mainly to be eaten fresh, and in India, you will often find sliced cucumbers being sold on sunny afternoons. They are usually cylindrical in shape and vary in length from about six to nine inches. However, the size of cucumbers varies according to a variety of cultivating factors as well.
The skin of the cucumbers can vary in color from green to white, and sometimes it may be smooth or ridged depending on the variety. Inside the cucumber skin, you will find pale green flesh that is thick yet aqueous and crispy at the same time. The interior core of cucumber has numerous, edible fleshy seeds. Cucumbers are 95.2 % water and
the inside of a cucumber can be 20 degrees F cooler than the temperature of its’ outside skin.
Fun Facts about Cucumbers
Very simple, the darker the cuke, the better - except for the kirby, which is naturally very pale. Cucumbers should be long and slender, stay away from the jumbo size as they will be mostly seeds. Avoid soft, withered-looking, or yellow cukes ( the belly of the cuke goes yellow first) which are more likely to be bitter.
The reason I like cucumbers right off the farm is that usually they are unwaxed, and all you need to do before eating, is rinse them under cold water. Waxed cucumbers are only coated with vegetable oil, which prevents them from drying out when they are shipped from other states.
The cucumber is a creeping vine that roots in the ground and grows up trellise or other supporting frames, wrapping around supports with thin, spiraling tendrils.The plant may also root in the ground and will sprawl along the ground if it does not have supports. The vine has large leaves that form a canopy over the fruits. Cucumbers that are grown on a trellise are so much better because they keep the fruit from yellowing, keep the fruit from being misshaped and easier for the farm hands to harvest.
Keep cucumbers in a plastic bag in the fridge for about a week. American Cucumbers from the grocery typically have a wax coating to retain moisture. English Cucumbers and cucumbers you may find at a farmer’s market do not, so these will lose moisture faster and should be wrapped in plastic wrap. You can also pickle the cucumbers, using either a shorter slicing or a pickling cucumber.
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Great fragrance is the hallmark of a good ripe cantaloupe. In my younger days, when I had the store and I would come home from the market the smell from a crate or two of cantaloupes in the truck would fill the air, it didn't matter what other produce was in there. When I opened the door to unload, the warm, rich, sweet summer smell of melons is the first thing that hits me. Usually the least expensive and probably the most popular melons on the market, cantaloupes are sweet, fragrant, and juicy, with a pinkish orange to bright orange flesh. Grown primarily in California and other western states, cantaloupes are round, with a golden, tightly netted skin. Although good cantaloupes from the West are available from June through December, they are best between June and September. That's when the California crop is at its peak, and I think that state grows the best cantaloupes. Arizona is next, New Mexico and Texas also grow big cantaloupe crops.
ORIGAMI CANTALOUPE VARIETY
Origami cantaloupes have the signature rough, tannish, netted skin of other cantaloupe varieties and range in size from 8 to 12 centimeters in diameter. Unlike other cantaloupes the Origami cantaloupe is prized for its thin rind and smaller seed cavity thus giving it more edible flesh. The orange flesh is succulent, juicy and sweet. When ripe the Origami cantaloupe has one of the strongest floral musky aromas of any cantaloupe. For best flavor pick cantaloupes that have a full slip, raised netting and a sweet aroma.
Almost all cantaloupes commercially grown in California are of the Hale's Best group of varieties. Several strains are on the market, each with a few distinct characteristics. Other varieties include Hymark and Mission. California provides the bulk of supplies to the U.S. with Arizona and Texas also producing considerable amounts. U.S. availability begins in late April and the peak months are June through September. If the stem end is rough with portions of the stem remaining, the melon was harvested prematurely. Shriveled, flabby or badly bruised product signals poor quality. Also avoid melons with growth cracks, mottling or decay (mold or soft sunken spots on the surface). A mature cantaloupe will be well netted or webbed with a smoothly rounded, depressed scar at the stem end. When ready to eat, cantaloupe will take on a yellow background appearance, acquire an aroma and soften. Because cantaloupe is shipped in a firm state to avoid damage, it usually needs a few days at room temperature to soften and become juicier. To prevent bacteria on the melon netting from passing through to the flesh when cutting, follow these FDA rules:
The best time to buy western cantaloupes is between June and September, when the California melons are at their peak. During December, January, and February, we get cantaloupes imported from Central America. Although you'll occasionally get lucky and find a good one, most of these are both overpriced and lousy. In February, March, April and May we start to see Mexican cantaloupes. They aren't as good as summer cantaloupes from the States, but over the last few years the quality has improved and the price has become more reasonable.
Color and, more important, fragrance - not softness at the stem end - indicates ripeness. A cantaloupe with golden color and ripe, sweet aroma is going to be a ripe, sweet melon. Don't push the stem end - if your neighbor presses a thumb there, and I press mine there, you're going to feel something soft even if the melon is grass green. For some reason, cantaloupes with tighter netting seem to have a firmer, crisper texture and cut better than those with the looser, more open netting. A cantaloupe on the green side will ripen if you leave it out at room temperature until any green undertones in the rind have turned golden and the melon has a rich smell. But in season, during the summer, there's no excuse for taking home a green melon. In-season melons should have been picked fully mature and fully ripe, with little or no green showing. I think melons taste better and have a better texture at room temperature, but if you like your melon chilled, refrigerate it right before you're going to eat it. Cut melons, of course, have to be refrigerated, but wrap them tightly in plastic to preserve moisture. If you don't want everything in your refrigerator to smell and taste like cantaloupes (and vice-versa), it's a good idea to put the melon in a heavy plastic or glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Cantaloupes are fine eaten as is for breakfast or dessert or cut up with other melons and fruits in a salad. Nutrient content descriptors for cantaloupes include: fat-free, saturated fat-free, very-low-sodium, cholesterol-free, high in vitamin A, high in vitamin C and a good source of folate (add 10% folate to label). Because cantaloupe is easy to cut, it can be used as an appetizer, in salads, as a breakfast plate garnish and in compotes and desserts.
A FEW FUN FACTS FROM PRODUCE PETE
– Cantaloupes are considered a luxury and are commonly given as a gift in Japan.– Cantaloupes were first brought to America by Christopher Columbus is 1492.– Did you know that “down under” in Australia they refer to cantaloupe as “ROCKMELON”? Makes sense to us – they kind of do look like rocks.– An average sized cantaloupe contains just 100 calories. Who knew something so sweet could be good for you?– Cantaloupes are the most popular melon in the United States. Try them freeze dried for an all natural, portable, healthy snack.– They are members of vine-crop family, including other melons, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and gourds. They have plenty of relatives – one big happy family.– Not only do they taste good, they also fight against lung and oral cavity cancers.– Because cantaloupes are high in Vitamin A, they help maintain good eye health. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy mucus membrane and skin of your eye.– Cantaloupes protect you from UV rays. Forget the sunblock! Just joking, you should still definitely wear sunblock on top of adding more cantaloupe into your diet.– Cantaloupes also help fight infections due to being filled with Vitamin C.– Cantaloupes trailing vine can reach up to 5 feet in height.– Fruits develop after 90 days of planting. Don’t plant them if you’re craving one right away – you’re better off going to the grocery store.– Cantaloupes have many roles. They can be consumed fresh and as an ingredient in a fruit salad or used to create sorbets, smoothies and ice-creams. Even freeze dried, cantaloupes are a healthy snack.– The cantaloupe was first cultivated in the 1700s, in the Italian papal village of Cantalup. Now we know where they got the name from.These are just a few of our favorites! We hope you share these interesting cantaloupe fun facts with your family and friends, and try to incorporate cantaloupe in your diet if you haven’t already. They are super nutritious and packed with vitamins.
Serving Size: 1/4 Med. Cantaloupe (134g) Amount Per Serving Calories: 50 Calories from Fat 0 % of Daily Value Total Fat: 0g 0% Saturated Fat: 0g 0% Cholesterol: 0mg 0 % Sodium: 25mg 1 % Total Carbohydrate: 12g 4 % Dietary Fiber 1 g 4 % Sugars: 11g Protein: 1g Vitamin A: 100% Vitamin C 80% Calcium: 2% Iron 2 % *Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Source: PMA's Labeling Facts
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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".