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.
PLEASE CHECK OUT MY NEW BLOG RUNNING MONTHLY IN NEW JERSEY MONTHLY MAGAZINE ONLINE
RED RUBY GRAPEFRUIT
BLAST FROM THE PAST -- PRODUCE PETE IN HIS FIRST PATHMARK COMMERCIAL
Move over Popeye to eat more kale. Gaining in popularity, kale is an amazing vegetable being recognized for its exceptional nutrient richness, health benefits, and delicious flavor.
Eating a variety of natural, unprocessed vegetables can do wonders for your health, but choosing super-nutritious kale on a regular basis may provide significant health benefits, including cancer protection and lowered cholesterol.
Kale, also known as borecole, is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. A leafy green, kale is available in curly, ornamental, or dinosaur varieties. It belongs to the Brassica family that includes cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, collards, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
What makes kale so exceptional? Here is why it's a superstar vegetable -- and ways to work it into your diet.
KALE IS A NUTRITIONAL POWERHOUSE
One cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K -- and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.
Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.
Beyond antioxidants, 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.
SUPER -RICH IN VITAMIN K
Eating a diet rich in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K can reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vitamin K is abundant in kale but also found in parsley, spinach, collard greens, and animal products such as cheese.
Vitamin K is necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions, including normal blood clotting, antioxidant activity, and bone health.
But too much vitamin K can pose problems for some people. Anyone taking anticoagulants such as warfarin should avoid kale because the high level of vitamin K may interfere with the drugs. Consult your doctor before adding kale to your diet.
Kale might be a powerhouse of nutrients but is 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.
SEASON / SELECTING
In summer, vegetable choices abound. But during the cooler months, there are fewer in-season choices -- with the exception of kale and other dark, leafy greens that thrive in cooler weather.
To find the freshest kale, look for firm, deeply colored leaves with hardy stems. Smaller leaves will be more tender and milder in flavor. Leaves range from dark green to purple to deep red in color.
Store kale, unwashed, in an air-tight zipped plastic bag for up to five days in the refrigerator.
TUSCAN KALE ( Known by many different names )
What is the difference between Tuscan kale and regular kale
Tuscan kale (also called dinosaur, Lacinato or black kale) is not as tough and fibrous as its curlier kale cousin, so it is often served raw in salads. But as delicious as it is raw, it is especially good cooked .
Hearty, ridged, and almost frilly in appearance, curly and red kale can be used interchangeably; the main difference between the two is merely aesthetic. ... Dinosaur kale, also know as lacinato or Tuscan kale, is more tender than curly and red kale, making it a good candidate for raw and shortly cooked dishes
Lacinato kale literally known as black kale, is a variety of kale with a long tradition in Italian cuisine, especially that of Tuscany. It is also known as Tuscan kale, Italian kale, dinosaur kale, kale, flat back kale, palm tree kale, or black Tuscan palm .Lacinato kale has been grown in Tuscany for centuries, and is one of the traditional ingredients of minestrone soup and ribollita.
Tuscan kale, like all kales, is extraordinarily nutritious: a cup provides more than 100 percent of the daily value (DV) of vitamins K and A, and 88 percent of the DV for vitamin C. Like other members of the brassica family such as cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts, kale is a rich source of organosulfur compounds that have been linked to cancer prevention.
Check out Tuscan Kale Recipe under Bette's Recipes at top of page.
Click link below for Kale Show
Though I grew up in Bergen County and we had our family produce store (Napolitano’s Produce) in Bergenfield for years, I’ll never forget the first house my father bought in Florida in the late 1950s. The first time we traveled down there after Christmas, my younger brother David and I were absolutely amazed to see grapefruit hanging from a tree in the backyard—we Jersey boys had never seen anything like that before! Although the house was older, the yard was full of beautiful citrus trees, and for the time we were there we relished the opportunity to pick and eat grapefruit and oranges right off the trees.
Experts believe that the name “grapefruit” originally came from the way grapefruit grows—in clusters just like grapes, with up to as many as 25 fruits in a cluster hanging from a tree. Although grapefruit grows in many parts of the world, the U.S. is the main producer and consumer of grapefruit, with Florida currently producing over two-thirds of the domestic crop, followed by Texas (a distant second) and California. However, based on property values and weather conditions, Texas may someday become the grapefruit capital of the world, unseating the position Florida has held for nearly a century.
In Florida, grapefruit are grown in two distinct geographic areas—Central Florida and the Indian River area on the state’s eastern coast, where the soil and climate offer ideal growing conditions. Because the Indian River valley runs parallel to the Gulf Stream, the warm ocean current shields the groves from temperature changes and spares them from frost even when groves much farther south are damaged. Compared to grapefruit from California, Florida grapefruit have a thinner rind and are sweeter and less pulpy.
Grapefruit with a clear yellow rind are called “goldens,” while those with some bronzing are
“bronzes” and those with heavy bronzing are called “russets.” Flesh color runs from yellow-white to pink to nearly red, but while their colors vary, there’s not much difference in their flavor and juiciness; those qualities are determined by the lateness of the season, the specific variety, and how the fruit has been handled. Among varieties, the “Marsh seedless” has a nice flavor and texture; hybridizers have since developed a pink Marsh and an even darker-pink strain called the “Ruby Red,” which is a very good grapefruit that’s now grown primarily in Texas. The large Marsh rubies from Florida are now called “Star Rubies” and are probably the sweetest of all and great for segmenting, juicing, or eating with a spoon.
Grapefruit are available year-round, but the best fruit—hailing from Florida and Texas—are found between November and June, with the peak starting around Christmas and continuing through April. Small early golden and pink grapefruit are the first to show up on the market in October; they’re very juicy but not as sweet as they are later in the season. Don’t be afraid to buy a small grapefruit. As the season progresses into winter and early spring, the smaller varieties get sweeter even as they maintain their high juice content. Whether they’re large or small, the Florida and Texas crops improve in quality from October to December and are at their sweetest and juiciest in late winter and early spring.
—Grapefruits are about 90 percent water (there’s four ounces of water in a medium grapefruit) and eating them helps keep the body hydrated.
—At only 50-70 calories each, grapefruit are high in Vitamins A and C and antioxidants and can boost the immune system.
—Because grapefruits contain fiber, they induce feelings of fullness and have been found to promote weight loss.
—Dark pink and red grapefruit are slightly more nutritious than yellow or white grapefruit; specifically, red grapefruit has 25 times more vitamin A than golden types, but otherwise they’re almost equivalent nutritionally.
—Grapefruit contains substances that inhibit an enzyme the body needs to metabolize certain medications, so they’re not for everyone. Avoid grapefruit if you’re taking such medications as Allegra, Claritin, BuSpar or a statin.
Look for smooth, thin-skinned fruit that’s either round or slightly flattened at each end. Like other citrus fruits, grapefruit should be firm, shiny, and heavy in the hand for their size, as this promises the most juice and flavor. Avoid coarse or rough-looking fruit that has a puffy or protruding end, which indicates that it’s dry and flavorless. Leave grapefruit out on the counter if you’re going to consume it in less than a week, or else refrigerate it for longer storage.
Grapefruit are great on their own or served broiled with a little brown or white sugar and a dot of butter. Or you can serve peeled and sectioned grapefruit in a salad of mixed mild and bitter greens with a light dressing, as offered in the following recipe, which is a longtime favorite in the Napolitano household based on its interesting flavor profile and refreshing and nutritious qualities.
Check out Pete's Perfect Grapefruit Salad , under Bette's Recipes at top of page.
Click link below for Ruby Red Grapefruit Segment
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 Statesand 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. Three of those are commonly available to shoppers here.
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. As the demand for them grows, producers are starting to grow more of them, but Comices are still not as commonly available as Bartlett’s and Anjou’s, so they're still relatively expensive. Comice pears are available from August to March.
- Anjou pears are almost always oval, with a very short neck. Immature Anjou’s are pale green and turn yellowish green as they ripen. They have a very juicy, spicy flesh that's a bit firmer than the Bartlett. Anjou’s are available from October through May.
- Although similar in appearance to the European Conference pear, the Bosc is much juicer and less granular in texture. It is relatively long and slender; of all the pears, it probably has the longest neck. An unripe Bosc has a brown skin that changes to a golden russet, becoming lighter and brighter in color as it ripens. A ripe Bosc can get almost golden yellow, but it will still retain shades of russet. The Bosc has a yellow flesh that's buttery, sweet, and juicy. It has a very long season - August through May.
Green pears should be free from blemishes. Ripe pears - especially tender varieties like the Comice - 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 gentlepressure 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 Comices 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
Check out Bette's Comice Pear Torte under Bette's Recipes
All my life, perhaps nothing has reminded me of my mother more than navel oranges at Christmas.
Growing up in Bergenfield to Italian immigrant parents in the ’50s and ’60s, money was always tight and, while northeastern apples were plentiful in our area all fall and winter, oranges from Florida or California were an exotic novelty for our family. I’ll never forget how mom would wrap navel oranges in colored foil or paper and put them in my and my younger brother David’s stockings for Christmas—and the joy we’d get when we’d unwrap them! We never wasted anything in our house—not even the peels from the oranges, which my mom would put in a used tin pie plate with water and place on the radiator to give our house a great citrusy aroma.
I remember once telling these stories to my granddaughter Alexandra, to which she rolled her eyes and said “really, Poppy?” It’s a whole different era today—one where kids get expensive video games or keys to cars as gifts, not oranges—but I still get choked up when I think of what mom did with so little and the love and care she always put into making our holidays special. To me, that’s what families and holidays are all about.
You’ll see oranges in the supermarket all year, but navels—which are renowned for their clean, discernible sections—are available now through Easter and are truly at their best and sweetest right around Christmas. While the two most familiar varieties of oranges are navels and Valencias, California navel oranges are considered by many to be the best oranges in the world for eating out of hand. They have a meaty flesh, their thick rinds are easy to peel, the segments separate easily, and they have no seeds. All navel oranges have a navel at the blossom end (an opening with a convoluted interior that looks like, well, a navel); some have a very small navel while others have a larger one.
While California is the largest producer of navel oranges, it’s not always safe to assume that a Florida orange is a Valencia juice orange and a California orange is a navel. Texas and Florida also grow navel oranges, which are on the market between late fall and the end of January. The Florida navel comes in all sizes, from tennis-ball to softball size, and doesn’t have as much color as the California variety; the rind will be bronze to light orange, with a richer orange color later in the season. Florida navels are, of course, seedless, but they have a higher juice content and a thinner rind that’s not as easy to peel as California navels. Despite their relatively pale color, they’re good oranges and very sweet. Here again, check the blossom end—if it’s stamped ‘Florida’ but has a navel, it’s a navel orange.
There are over 600 different varieties of oranges.
An orange tree is highly productive and with proper care can produce fruit for well up to 70-80 years.
Oranges are outstanding sources of vitamin C and fiber.
Florida is the top orange producer in the U.S., but Brazil leads the world in orange production, producing about half of the world’s orange juice and 80 percent of the world’s orange concentrate.
The word “orange” hails from a Sanskrit dialect and translates to “fragrant.”
Whatever the variety, look for oranges that are shiny and heavy in the hand. Also check the scent—the orange should smell good, not fermented, and the rind should never feel puffy. (It shouldn’t feel like there’s any space between the rind and the flesh.) There should also be no spotting, no signs of shriveling, and no white patches on the rind.
Unlike more perishable tangerines, oranges can be kept out at room temperature for three or four days with little problem. Refrigerate them in a plastic bag or in the crisper drawer and they’ll keep well for one to two weeks.
CHECK OUT BETTE'S NAVEL ORANGE CAKE -- UNDER BETTE'S RECIPES AT TOP OF PAGE
In the Napolitano family, my wife Bette’s famous navel orange cake represents the best of the holiday season and is always a big hit in our household at Christmas time. We hope you like it too and wish you all the best for a happy and healthy holiday season!
Click link for Navel Orange Show
When i think of Broccoli Rabe, my father always comes to mine, you see in Italy where he was born they ate Broccoli Rabe which grew wild with every meal. Meat was exotic and hard to come by so vegetables that grew wild were the meal of the day. For someone that ate some much Rabe, he still loved it, but one thing bother him, the PRICE. Broccoli Rabe in America became a sort of a pricey vegetable that showed up in trendy restaurants , and when pop would go out to eat and see the price he would always bring up when he was young they ate broccoli rabe sandwiches, broccoli rabe and eggs, broccoli rabe and just about everything just to fill them up. Times might have changed, but in the Napolitano family Broccoli Rabe is still our favorite vegetable.
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 florets that look like tiny broccoli florets. The florets or flowers are quite delicate; the leaves slightly bitter.
Once highly prized by the Romans and cultivated all over the southern Mediterranean, broccoli rabe didn't appear in more northern areas of Europe until the sixteenth century, and didn't appear in North America until the 1920's, when Italian farmers brought it to the United States. For years broccoli rabe was favored mainly in the Italian and Asian communities here. In the old days broccoli rabe was a staple and sold for twenty-five cents a pound, maybe ten cents a pound. In my father's family broccoli rabe was used to flavor all kinds of filling dishes when meat was just too expensive. They'd have it with pasta, with potatoes--they'd even make broccoli rabe sandwiches! They had it so much that my father once swore he'd never eat it again. Now it's a yuppie food that shows up in trendy restaurants and fetches $2.99 a pound at the market.
Even though it's a little pricey now, broccoli rabe is still a great vegetable. It packs a wallop and has a bitter zest that gives a real lift to bland foods.
Broccoli rabe is most plentiful between late fall and early spring. It 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 midsummer--usually June and July.
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 make up the florets should be tightly closed and dark green, no yellow buds. The AndyBoy label is the top of the line when it comes to broccoli rabe and should be bought whenever
Store broccoli rabe in your refrigerator crisper unwashed, either wrapped in a wet towel or in a plastic bag. It will keep two or three days. For longer storage, blanch and freeze.
To prepare, rinse thoroughly in cold water, shake off, and cut off the bottoms of the stalks (they're too tough to eat). Broccoli rabe is much better cooked than raw. Raw, it's very bitter but has no other flavor. 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, saute, boil, or steam it, you only need to cook it for eight to ten minutes. Most Italians like broccoli rabe al dente--cooked about six minutes. You can steam it in water or chicken broth, or saute 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 terrific potatoes, 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 sausage.
Don't forget to check out our Broccoli Rabe Christmas Pie at the top of the page under Bette's Recipes, it's GREAT!!!
Click link for Broccoli Rabe Show
This is the last week of our Thanksgiving Day Table, boy did this holiday come fast. When i was young it seem like it took forever for the holidays to come around, but now that i am an old man the holidays come too quickly, i'm looking for time to slow up, but i guess it's what it is. This week my families favorite Artichokes and Yams, a must on our Thanksgiving Day Table. There are a couple of good recipes for these two items on Bette's Recipes, so don't forget to check them out. From the Produce Pete Family to all of you a Healthy and Happy Thanksgiving.
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. What could be better then Artichokes for this Holiday Season and they had some real good ones.
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 by African people, 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 dextrin's 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.
Click link below for Artichoke /Yam 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. 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
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".
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