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Sit Down With Produce Pete

 

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).

 

Produce Pete at Hunts Point Market, Bronx NY

 

Produce Pete NBC food contributor, talks produce with Hank Zona at the Hunts Point produce market

Pat & Pete at Eden Garden, South Orange

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 With Hank Zona At Katzman Produce

Produce Pete and Hank inside the refrigerator at Katzman Produce at the Hunts Point Market in the Bronx talking vegetables.

Produce Pete's WNBC Shows, Past and Present

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To see Produce Pete's shows please click the link below !!!

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete-151185725.html?page=1                              


!!!  Links to shows also available at bottom of page for shows listed !!!


JEOPARDY

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http://j-archive.com/showgame.php?game_id=1170




CLICK ON LINK ABOVE.  PRODUCE PETE A CATEGORY ON JEOPARDY??  WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED!

PRODUCE PETE'S UPCOMING APPEARANCES

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05/01/19       FIELD SHOOT PATHMARK SUPERMARKET, ALBANY AVE, BROOKLYN, N Y      9AM -11AM


05/14/19    PRODUCE BOOT CAMP ,   PFG METRO NY, HILTON GARDEN INN, SPRINGFIELD, N J 

10 AM - 11AM


06/22/19    WNBC HEALTH EXPO,  METLIFE STADIUM,  RUTHERFORD, N J    1 PM - 4PM


09/26/19    RUTGERS UNIVERSITY GARDEN PARTY,  112 RYDERS LANE, NEW BRUNSWICK, N J 

BOOK SIGNING AND FUNDRAISER







TROPICAL VEGETABLES SHOW # 2 05/25/19

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YUCA - CHAYOTE - CALABAZA


I'm the first to admit I'm not an expert when it comes to Tropical Produce, never really sold much of it. But one thing is for sure, I've been getting alot of request from all of you about Caribbean/Dominican/Hispanic Vegetables, so I have decided to bring in an expert to talk Tropical Produce.  Joe Battaglia is head Tropical buyer at S Katzman Produce in the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx. You all know me "JACK OF ALL TRADES-MASTER OF NONE", that's me, so this week I'll be asking the questions, hoping to learn a lot for me and all of you. Tropical Produce consumption is on the rise with Fresh Cuts, Store Sampling and Education. A few years ago people didn't know much about Mangoes and now they are one of the most popular fruits.


YUCA

WHAT IS YUCA?

Yuca commonly known as cassava or manioc ( not to be confused with yucca), is one of the world’s most versatile vegetables. Use it fried, boiled, or mashed, yuca is a nutty-flavored starch tuber native to South America that is also found in Asia and parts of Africa. Together with other tropical root vegetables like yam, taro, and most notably the potato, it is an indispensable part of the carbohydrate diet for many. Yuca is a major source of calories in the tropics and is considered a main food staple for millions. Because it is so drought-tolerant, it’s become a popular crop to harvest in the marginal countries that lack soil.

 Yuca, pronounced YOO-ka, 

 The large tapered yuca roots are similar in size and shape to a sweet potato and can be anywhere from one to several pounds in size. At most stores, you can find yuca roots in the produce aisle. They look very much like its close cousins the yam and potato, with a rough, bark-like skin that must be removed by grating or peeling. 

  The starchy flesh of the yuca root is a light white or cream color with a grainy texture similar to potatoes. The meaty flesh is often described as having a mild, sweet, somewhat nutty taste. 

 You can prepare it in the same way you would a baked potato, though it’s important to remove the skin first. Yuca have a high starch content which make them rather dry, so including a sauce helps. A common way to prepare a yuca is to make oven-baked yuca fries or chunks 


CHAYOTE


 Chayote (pronounced CHAH-YOH-TEH) is a pear-shaped, light green vegetable belonging to the Cucurbitaceae or gourd family. It has a mild flavor and a slightly crunchy texture that resembles a combination of a cucumber and a potato.

This vegetable has a thin layer of pale green skin, with multiple shallow, vertical furrows on the surface.Chayote also comes in different varieties, which may be easily differentiated by the surface texture and the color of the vegetables. It may also come in either a green or white shade, or have a spiky or smooth texture.Inside the chayote, you will find edible seeds, which are usually roasted or fried. 

Chayote grows on a perennial vine, with tendrils that enable the plant to climb and use a surface for support. The vine can cling to fences, shrubs and even on trees.Chayote grows best during a long and warm season and requires rich and well-drained soil. After about 120 to 150 days of maturation, chayote plants may start producing flowers.These flowers eventually develop into vegetables, with a chayote plant having the ability to yield up to 300 chayotes per year.

 Chayote have become popular in the U.S. and are found in many large markets. They are being cultivated in Florida, California, and Louisiana. They are very common in Latino grocery stores. Select firm, smooth, unwrinkled chayote.  Old chayote become very wrinkled and become dry and tough.  Chayote will keep refrigerated for many days but it is best to use as quickly as possible.

Chayotes are available almost year round with main crops in fall and late spring.

 The chayote can be eaten raw in salads, or stuffed and baked.  Other preparations include mashing, pickling, frying or boiling. The plain squash tends to be bland and benefits from "aggressive" seasoning.   You can also eat the chayote tuber portion of the roots boiled or you can add it to a simple vegetable or meat stew. 


CALABAZA


 A pumpkin-like squash, round in shape and ranging in size from small (cantaloupe) to large (watermelon). Grown in the Caribbean, Central and South America. Its flesh is a bright orange, and its skin ranges in color from green to beige to orange. The firm, succulent flesh has a sweet flavor like the butternut squash. The seeds are edible and can be toasted. 

 

HOW TO SELECT

Sold in chunks in Latin markets. Select fresh pieces with moist, tightly grained flesh . Avoid wet or soft spots. Whole calabase should be heavy for its size and unblemished with the stem still attached.


HOW TO STORE

Store whole squash in a cool, dark place up to six weeks. Refrigerate wrapped chunks up to one week.


 Calabaza has a sweet flavor and its texture is firm. This is similar to the taste and texture of more familiar varieties of squash, such as butternut or acorn.

Pronounced  KAH-LAH-BAH-SAH

 

Cabaza squash or ‘Pumpkin” is a Hispanic favorite. It’s also been called “West Indian Pumpkin” or “Cuban Squash.” It is cultivated throughout Central and South America. and Florida. It is one of the three major tropical vegetables grown. However, most of the commercial volume comes from Panama, Costa Rica, and Dominican Republic.

Calabaza can be round or pear shaped, usually with a speckled surface which may be green, tan, or orange, or a combination of all of these colors. The bright orange flesh has a sweet taste and becomes very smooth once cooked. It can be halved and baked and then mashed with butter and garlic, or it can be peeled and cut up and boiled, or it can be cut up and added to soups and stews. The calabaza's wonderful bright color adds presentation to many dishes


BACK IN BROOKLYN

Because of the great response we got from the Tropical Vegetable Show we did a couple of weeks ago we are back at Pathmark, Albany Street, Brooklyn  with three more tropical vegetables

Hope you enjoy, and have a great Memorial Day Weekend







 

  



NEW JERSEY LEAF LETTUCES 05/18/19

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New Jersey Red and Green Leaf Lettuce, Boston and Romaine


Come the spring is when New Jersey farms are just coming into season with all the great lettuces that are fresh and on your table the very next day. The boston lettuce, romaine and leaf lettuces, to my way of thinking, are the best I have ever eaten. When the weather starts to get hot boston lettuce, romaine and leaf lettuces don't really do too good but they use a drip irrigation system that works great for them and keeps the lettuce from burning up. When I went down to see some of my farmer friends, they had me out in the field picking lettuce, not a job I am suited to!!! But it was fun. So if you can't make it to a farm, a farmers market or your local supermarket here is some information on how to pick the best local boston, romaine or leaf lettuces when you are out shopping, and a quick tip, never wash until you are ready to use and store in your refrigerator in a paper bag (you get 2-3 more days out of them ).


RED AND GREEN LEAF LETTUCE


Red and green leaf lettuces are the most popular leaf lettuces, and the ones you'll readily find at the market. Both have very soft curly leaves and a semisweet taste. Red leaf lettuce is softer, sweeter, and also more fragile than the green. It makes a good salad, but it wilts and turns black very quickly, especially at the red tips of the leaves.  Green leaf lettuce is a little coarser and not quite as sweet, but it's a bit crisper. I love it on sandwiches.

Supplies from California and Florida are available year-round. Local leaf lettuces are available May thru the first frost.

You don't want to see any dark green or brown slime on leaf lettuces - a sign that the head will deteriorate very quickly. Look at the rib to make sure it's not discolored. As with iceberg and other head lettuces, the butt should be white to light brown, and there should be no pink color on the ribs, which indicates the lettuce has had too much rain and will rot quickly in your refrigerator.

Red leaf lettuce is probably the most fragile of all the lettuces. The tender red edges of the leaves deteriorate rapidly and should be used as soon as possible after purchase.

Red and green leaf lettuces contain large amounts of Vitamin A and K, Calcium, Iron plus, Antioxidants, and Beta carotene.


BOSTON LETTUCE


A soft bright green, round ball lettuce.  Boston is one of the sweetest of the lettuces.  The leaf texture is more-tender, and it forms a looser, generally smaller head than iceberg.  Like most lettuces, the leaves get whiter and whiter as you get toward the heart, but unlike iceberg, the inner leaves of Boston lettuce tend to be sweet and soft.  When you get to the middle of a good head of Boston lettuce, its leaves are very pale and crisp.

There is a red leaf Boston that’s popular at our market.  It looks the same as the green except for a little red at the tip.  It’s pretty and I think even sweeter than the green.

Season

Boston lettuce is available year-round from California and Florida, which are the two main producers.  Local crops are available in May, June, and occasionally in July, but Boston lettuce particularly hates the heat.

Selecting

Look for crisp-looking heads with outer leaves that are bright green, especially toward the edges.  Around the base the color should be nearly white.

Storing

Tender Boston lettuce won’t keep long – generally three to five days.  Unlike leaf lettuce, however, Boston wilts from the outside in.  You can peel off any wilted or slimy outside leaves and find good, usable leaves inside.  With leaf lettuces, once you discard everything that has deteriorated, all that is left is the ribs.

Preparing

Boston grows in very black soil, and because it’s a loose head, a lot of that soil finds its way inside.  Peel off leaves as needed and wash them carefully, especially toward the base of the ribs.

Boston makes a great tossed salad and is becoming more and more popular as the public discovers its virtues.  As a result, it’s also becoming less expensive than it was just a few years ago.  Boston makes an attractive bed for tuna or fruit salad and is fine on sandwiches.  It can’t be cut into wedges as iceberg can, but other than that you can use it any way you’d use iceberg.


ROMAINE LETTUCE


Romaine dates back to the days of the Roman Empire, its name was coined because each leaf is shaped something like a roman tablespoon.  I like its extra-tender crisp inner leaves the best.

Season

Although it’s available year-round, romaine is essentially a cold-weather lettuce that in most regions has its peak seasons in early spring and mid-autumn.  All lettuces tend to bolt – send up a seed head – in hot weather, and romaine is particularly susceptible.  Don’t buy it if it has a stalk protruding from the center, it has bolted and will be bitter.

Selecting

Good romaine usually has very green outer leaves that should curl away from the center.  A smaller head of romaine isn’t necessarily a more tender lettuce – a big one can be just as tender and tasty.  Look for a crisp leaf and a fresh green color, avoid tire-looking, limp, yellow, or discolored heads and any heads that have bolted.

California and Florida are the biggest shippers.  Florida romaine is usually greener than romaine from California, but my personal preference is for California romaine – I think it’s sweeter.

Storing

Like iceberg, romaine should be kept in the coldest part of the refrigerator, either in the crisper drawer or in a plastic bag.  It also should not be exposed to apples or other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas.
 

MORE ABOUT NEW JERSEY FARMS


 There’s a reason it is called the “Garden State.” New Jersey’s diverse agriculture enables the state to hold its own with the largest fruit, vegetable and nursery-stock producing states in the nation. Each year New Jersey is a top-10 producer for such items as cranberries, blueberries, peaches, bell peppers, spinach and tomatoes. In fact, New Jersey is the most productive farmland in the United States based on highest dollar value per acre .

Farming is a billion - dollar industry in New Jersey. One good thing farming in New Jersey isn't shrinking any more, the number of acres used for farmland had been dropping, but it ticked up in 2017 for the first time in 20 years. Even thought the big farms are decreasing, only 113 farms of a 1000 or more acres left, there is a number of smaller farms, over 800, that have started up since 2012.


SO PLEASE SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL FARMER  -- WHEN HE'S GONE THERE IS NO REPLACING HIM.


Click link below for Local Lettuce Segment


ttps://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Local-Lettuce_New-York-510113752.html


TROPICAL VEGETABLES 05/11/19

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Batata, Jamaican Yellow Name, Malanga Coco

Now I'm the first to admit I'm not an expert when it comes to Tropical Produce, never really sold much of it. But one thing is for sure, I've been getting alot of request from all of you about Caribbean/Dominican/Hispanic Vegetables, so I have decided to bring in an expert to talk Tropical Produce.  Joe Battaglia is head Tropical buyer at S Katzman Produce in the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx. You all know me "JACK OF ALL TRADES-MASTER OF NONE", that's me, so this week I'll be asking the questions, hoping to learn a lot for me and all of you. Tropical Produce consumption is on the rise with Fresh Cuts, Store Sampling and Education. A few years ago people didn't know much about Mangoes and now they are one of the most popular fruits.


BATATA

  The batata is a root crop that is a type of sweet potato. It normally grows in the Caribbean and it’s flavour resembles that of the sweet potato but a little more starchy. Batatas can be substituted in any recipe that calls for sweet potatoes.

Batatas deliver important nutrients such as protein, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and folic acid. They are also a great source of potassium. Calcium and magnesium are minerals that the body needs for healthy bones, teeth and gums. Potassium is another crucial mineral that helps the body to maintain a healthy blood pressure.

When purchasing batatas, you can recognize the vegetable by its resemblance to a sweet potato. The difference between the batata and sweet potato is that the batata has a white flesh and sweet potatoes have a yellow to orange coloured flesh. Select batatas that are firm to the touch and that have smooth skins with little or no marks on them. Choose ones that are smaller in size because these will be more flavourful and they will have a better consistency when cooked. Once you have purchased your batatas, you can store them in your home for up to one week in a dark, cool, dry place at an average temperature. Batatas do not need refrigeration.

Make sure that when you are preparing to use batatas for cooking, you place the peeled ones in cold water before cooking them. This prevents the batatas from becoming discoloured . Try baking batatas, boiling and mashing them or substituting them for any dish that calls for a sweet potato. Batatas are delicious in soups and stews.


MALANGA COCO

 Malanga is a tropical root vegetable grown throughout the Latin America and the Caribbean. Today it is one of three main “Tropical Vegetables” grown in South Florida, along with calabaza and boniato. Malanga was originally planted Florida to meet the demands of the growing local Hispanic Community. Most of the commercial volume of malanga though, is cultivated in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. 

 Malanga Blanca, is the most common variety of this tuber. Other varieties include Malanga Lila, Malanga Coco, Malanga Amarilla, and Malanga Eddo (Tarro) 

 Covered in a brownish or grayish hairy skin, malangas are usually peeled before cooking. Commonly, the malangas are boiled or baked and can be mashed like a potato. They are enjoyed this way with garlic and olive oil or butter or are wonderful added to soups or stews. The texture is creamy and thick and very flavorful. Malanga can be milled into flour as well. It is considered one of the most hypoallergenic foods in the world, so it is easily digestible for people with allergies.

  Similar to a potato in texture, malanga has a woodsy taste with a hint of black walnut. It is a natural thickener, and makes stews and soups creamy. Don’t eat it raw as it can irritate the throat. 


JAMAICAN YELLOW NAME

 

Yellow Name root is a cylindrical, irregular-shaped tuber. The Yellow Name root, also known as Guinea yam, is a tropical plant that has vines that can climb to a height of about 80 feet. The Yellow Name tuber has spiky, thorny stems, broad green leaves and purple flowers above ground. Each Yellow Name tuber is typically 4 to 9 pounds in weight, but can grow to 50 pounds. Yellow Name roots have dark brown, thick, bark-like skins. When cut open, the Yellow Name root has a yellow to pink-orange interior flesh. The flesh is dense and mealy with a starchy, chewy texture that turns creamy when cooked. Its flavor is mildly nutty and sweet. Yellow Name roots can be used in recipes that call for sweet potatoes.

   Yellow Name (pronounced “nyah-may”) is botanically classified as Dioscorea cayenensis. There is also a white variety in the same family, classified as Dioscorea Rotundata. The Yellow Name root, is not cultivated as much as the white variety, perhaps because it takes longer to mature. Yellow Name root is harvested after around 12 months, while the white variety takes just 6 to 8 months. Yellow Name is also known as the Yellow Guinea yam in Africa and Yellow yam in Jamaica and other areas of the tropics. Yellow Name roots contain raphides, a naturally occurring oxalate which disappears when cooked, but which may irritate the skin when the root is freshly cut. 

 Yellow Name roots are a versatile vegetable. They can be used in soups and stews, and may be baked, steamed, scalloped, fried or creamed. They can be eaten plain, or with a sauce or gravy. Yellow Name pairs well with savory seasonings, hot sauces, mustard sauces and dressings. A common preparation is to mash them, then shape them into a cake or patty, and fry them. They may also also be cut into strips, and fried like a potato chip. The skin is often removed before use. Store Yellow Name roots whole in aerated plastic bags or containers. They can be stored in a cool, dark, dry area for up to one week.

 The exact origins of Yellow Name roots are unknown. They are found wild in the forests of West Africa.

 Yellow Name roots are available year-round.

  When selecting Yellow Name look for well-formed, similarly shaped tubers. Name should be firm and free of cracks or soft spots. The flesh should be juicy, not dry. Store whole in a cool, dark, dry area for up to one week. 

The skin of the Name should be scrubbed with a brush under running water prior to use. To easily peel, cut into cubes. With a knife cut out flesh and remove all skin. Place in a bowl of water and lemon juice until ready for use 


This weeks segment was filmed in Brooklyn at a new supermarket, Pathmark, a old familiar name that was gone to the public. The Pathmark Banner was bought by this supermarket and opened up a couple of weeks ago, with great reviews from the customers in the area. The key to any business, is know your customers, we did that for over 60 years, knowing what our customer base needed. This store has done that and that's way i choose them for my show on Tropical Vegetables.


We will be back there in a couple of weeks talking more Tropical Vegetables. A thank you to my friend Joey B for his knowledge on Tropicals and I hope you learned as much as I did.


Click on link below for Tropical Vegetable Segment


 https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Caribbean-Vegetables_New-York-509798332.html 








 

VIDALIA ONIONS 05/04/19

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Vidalia Onions

The secret of the sweetness is the South East Georgia soil. and thanks in part to a span of cold weather in December volume should be down, but quality thanks to a burst of heat in early April should be good. Harvest of Vidalia onions, which usually starts in late April, is a little late this year so you should start to see them in your stores right about now. Vidalia Sweet Onions are a yellow granex hybrid known for their sweet, mild flavor. This unique Georgia - grown onion, known as "The World's Sweetie" receives its mild flavor from the sandy, low-sulfur soil, and the mild, temperature found only in the 20-county production area of Southern Georgia. A fresh Vidalia onion has a light golden-brown skin and white interior. Its shape is rounded on the bottom and somewhat flat on the top or stem end. Vidalia’s mature and are harvested from late April through mid-June. A true Sweet Onion is what we call a spring onion - early dug - after the onion is picked and put in storage it starts to get hot. By using controlled atmosphere storage, which is cold storage, it keeps the onion from turning hot somewhat. The Vidalia Onions are the Georgia State Vegetable, and about 70% are distributed through grocery stores with the other 30% through roadside stands and mail-order businesses. The region grown is the most important factor in determining sweetness. The sulfites in the onions are the things that give you the heat and make your eyes tear. By keeping cool, the sugar stays in the onions and the sulfites take longer to take hold. Vidalia onions have always been a favorite of mine, but the most important thing to remember is buy them early in the season. You will still see Vidalia’s in the stores late into the summer and you will pay a premium price for them, well to tell you the truth they are not worth it. As the season goes on the onion will get hotter, and even though they call them Vidalia’s the sugar in the onion has turned to sulfites and are hot not sweet. To me there is nothing better then a sweet onion, and a couple of slices of a red juicy tomato. So enjoy your Vidalia’s and please remember, BUY THEM EARLY!!


 A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THE 2019 VIDALIA ONION CROP 


The 2019 Vidalia onion crop looks to be a strong one with normal volume, growers say. ( Courtesy Vidalia Onion Committee )Vidalia onion growers say they expect normal volumes, good quality and a usual start to their deal this year.“The crop looks good,” said Bob Stafford, interim director of the Vidalia Onion Committee.“It’s not going to be a bumper crop, but it will be a normal crop.”Growers got a New Year’s jolt when a freeze gripped the region and produced 2-3 inches of snow over most of the district in early January.“The snow didn’t bother it, but some of them (the plants) were frozen.They probably lost 10% to 15%, but we did get the right amount of heat units we need, so we’re very happy with our quality. We’re going to have a good marketable crop.”Last year, the Vidalia district shipped 5.7 million 40-pound units of sweet onions, compared to 5.3 million in 2016.They always shoot for 5 million, so they are going to shoot for  somewhere around that 5- to 5.5-million range.The January cold was a bit of a concern, but February and March compensated, said Delbert Bland, president of Glennville, Ga.-based Bland Farms LLC.“We have about 9% plant loss on 2,500 acres, and that’s not out of the ordinary,” he said. “It could be better, but it’s not devastating. We actually plant 89,000 plants per acre. That’s not that much, when you get down to it.”The first shipments should go out in mid-April, which would be a normal start, Bland said.“Last year we were earlier than that, but April 15-20 is probably about average over the last 10 years,” he said.The Georgia Department of Agriculture has set April 20 as the official pack date for Vidalia onions this season.The crop will transition into storage around July 1, and supplies likely will be available through Labor Day, growers say.The January chill had some growers shaking, but the crop emerged in good shape.“The crop has rebounded nicely to this point,” he said, noting he expected a “normal” crop.“Quality is very nice at this point in the fields, with early varieties showing normal yields and mid- to late-season varieties showing a stand loss. We do expect these later onions to produce less yield than normal.”The Vidalia District produced record crop yields in 2016 and 2017, but growers aren’t expecting a repeat in 2019.“All things considered, we see this year’s crop being back to normal.“The early varieties look good, with the mid-to late season varieties showing a stand loss from the cold weather. As of mid-March, it’s simply too early to tell at this point how those will yield.”Growers hesitated to forecast market conditions for 2019.“It’s a commodity, so it’s based off the supply“The good thing about Vidalia is people know our time period, and they know there’s not a lot of competition during that time.” 


TEN FUN FACTS ABOUT VIDALIA ONIONS 


  1. Mose Coleman of Toombs County accidentally discovered the Vidalia onion during the Great Depression.
  2. Piggly Wiggly was the first retail store to sell Vidalias.
  3. The Vidalias are named after the town they are grown in, Vidalia, Georgia.
  4. The sweet flavor is due to the low amount of sulfur in the soil in which the onions are grown.
  5. It can be called a Vidalia only if it’s grown in one of 20 counties designated by the the Vidalia Onion Act of 1986.
  6. The Vidalia onion was named Georgia’s official state vegetable in 1990.
  7. Farmers grow Vidalias on more than 14,000 acres.
  8. There is a 1,300-square-foot Vidalia Onion Museum that is filled with exhibits that highlight the sweet onion’s economic, cultural and culinary significance.
  9. Vidalia sales now total $90 million, 40 percent of the nation’s spring onion crop.
  10. Around 5-million 40 lb. boxes are shipped out each season!   

Click on link below for Vidalia onion show


 https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/509482002.html 

HEIRLOOM AND TOV'S GOOD EATING SPRING TOMATOES 04/27/19

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  Spring Tomatoes That Taste Good 


A fruit--oh yes, it's a fruit--but in the United States we treat the tomato like a vegetable. Thomas Jefferson grew tomatoes at Monticello back in 1781, but they didn't really start to become popular here until after the Civil War. Now the tomato is the third most popular vegetable in the United States--after potatoes and lettuce.Once called the Peruvian apple, the tomato is a member of the nightshade family. It originated in South America, and our name for it comes from the ancient Nahuatl name tomatl. The French called it the love apple, and the Italians named it the golden apple because the first tomatoes were small yellow fruits. After the early Spanish explorers sent seeds to Naples, the Italians went crazy for tomatoes, and the rest--all the way down to pasta and pizza sauce--is history.A really good tomato is sweet, tender, juicy, and except for the yellow varieties, a deep rich red color. When you get one of those hard tomatoes that tastes like cardboard, you've got one of the hybrids that started coming onto the market in the 1950's, when the businessmen and scientists got together and produced a tomato that could be shipped from one coasts to the other without bruising. Unfortunately, at the same time they also bred out all the flavor.A great tomato is worth looking for. And the way you handle it at home is almost as important as what you choose in the first place. The three most important rules to remember about tomatoes are:

  1. Never refrigerate!
  2. Never refrigerate!
  3. Never refrigerate!

Refrigerating kills the flavor, the nutrients, the texture. It just kills the tomato--period.Unless you live in a really cold climate, the best tomatoes you can buy will be at your local farm stand, when tomatoes are in season in your area. That's true for most produce, but it's doubly true for tomatoes. About half the tomatoes shipped and sold in the United States come from Florida. They are the ones you find in the store in the winter. They're hard, they're thick, they never turn red, and they have no taste. A few winter tomatoes come out of Mexico and California, as well as from Holland, Belgium, and Israel. There are also more and more hydroponic tomatoes on the market. I may be biased, but I think that in season the Jersey tomato is the best around--maybe because of the soil. The truth is, any local tomato, picked ripe, is going to be good. In the summertime, in season, buy local tomatoes.In the winter I think Canada beats out the rest, with hydroponics a close second. Canada tomatoes are grown in greenhouses, picked ripe, and then shipped by truck. For that reason they're a little more expensive. If you have to have a good tomato in the dead of winter, choose one from Canada, Hydroponics grown in the U.S. are also excellent.Mexican tomatoes are a little better than most of the other winter varieties here because they're usually picked by hand and are a little riper when they come off the vine. Most tomatoes in the U.S. are shipped green because ripe tomatoes are just too fragile for machine picking.California tomatoes, which usually arrive in the late spring, have a thick wall and are very solid inside. A lot of people like them because they're easy to slice, but I don't think they're any better than Florida tomatoes. They look better and ripen more easily, but they're very dry.Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with a Florida tomato in Florida. Or a California tomato in California. The problem isn't the source--it's that the tomatoes are picked green, gassed with ethylene to make them turn more or less red, then refrigerated and shipped. Even if the tomatoes are picked ripe, they're refrigerated before they're shipped, and that's the final insult. 


TOMATOES ON THE VINE

The tomatoes on the vine with the stems still attached are your best bet.  With the stems still attached, this will let the T. O.V's still receive the nutrients from the stem and make the tomato sweeter.  They are always about 50 per cent sweeter than your regular tomato.  This also makes it possible to pick the tomatoes when they are deep red in color and fully matured.  When picked fully matured, the taste is always much better. Like all tomatoes you never want to refrigerate these because they will lose their flavor and texture. In the winter and early spring, it is very hard to find a good tasting tomato.  This is probably the best tasting of all the tomatoes this time of year.  These stem tomatoes are tomatoes you can pick by just smelling them.  They have a fresh, sweet smell that tomatoes from years ago had. Stem tomatoes, like all tomatoes, are a fruit.  You should not wash or remove the stem until you are ready to use.  Also, never ripen on the window sill or sun.  Just leave out on the counter and never, never, never, refrigerate!When selecting, look for a good red color.  Avoid those that look orange in color.  Check to see if the stems are still attached, if the stem are missing or tomatoes are off the stems, chances are those tomatoes have been sitting around too long.A great tomato is worth looking for, and the way you handle them at home is almost as important as the way you choose them.  The sweetness from the stem tomato is due to the high sugar to acid ratio. 


HEIRLOOM TOMATOES


 Have you ever bought a ripe and luscious-looking mass market tomato from a grocery store, taken it home and bitten into it, only to find that it was completely tasteless 

 There is nothing quite like the taste of a fresh homegrown tomato. 


Easily bruised, heirloom tomatoes’ brief shelf life is why they are rarely included in supermarket produce aisles. The average grocery customers expect perfectly shaped, unblemished, red tomatoes.


Heirloom tomatoes, which come in hundreds of varieties, are perfect for the organic garden .

 Heirloom tomato cultivars can be found in a wide variety of colors, shapes, flavors and sizes. Some heirloom cultivars can be prone to cracking or lack of disease resistance .

Some of the most famous examples include San Marzano, Brandywine, Green Zebra, Gardener's Delight, Marglobe, Lollypop, Cherokee, Hawaiian Pineapple, Big Rainbow,  Chocolate Cherry,  Red Current, Three Sisters,  plus hundreds more.  


 A generally accepted definition of heirloom tomatoes comes from Taylor’s Guide to Heirloom Vegetables. To be an heirloom variety, the tomato must meet three criteria:

  1. The tomato must be able to reproduce itself from seed. This is called “open pollinated” propagation. Heirlooms are from a single genetic make-up, as compared to hybrids that farmers breed for qualities that have nothing to do with taste and everything to do with high productivity, and ease of packaging and transport.
  2. The variety must be at least 50 years old. Taylor’s Guide does note that some purists require the variety to be developed and preserved outside of the commercial seed trade in addition to being at least 50 years old. Tomatoes are native to the Andes mountains. Although introduced into the U.S. in the 18th Century, at first Americans (including Thomas Jefferson) considered them only ornamental plants. Today there are over 100 heirloom varieties. Heirloom often grow in irregular shapes, sometimes much larger than hybrids, and they come in many colors other than red.
  3. The variety must have its own history, which may be related to a particular ethnic group, climate, or region – or it may be a murkier, folk history. 


Heirloom tomatoes are expensive because they are not mass-produced. With fewer available (than hybrids), their price typically stays high. Heirlooms are not disease resistant, their vines produce less per acre than hybrid varieties, and they do not travel well. Also, they do not have thick skins to protect them during transport and their lack of uniformity in size and shape makes it difficult to package and transport them.  


  

The Importance of "Heirloom" Tomatoes.

In the past 40 years, we've lost many of our heirloom varieties, along with the many smaller family farms that supported heirlooms. The multitude of heirlooms that had adapted to survive well for hundreds of years were lost or replaced by fewer hybrid tomatoes, bred for their commercially attractive characteristics.

In the process we have also lost much of the ownership of foods typically grown by family gardeners and small farms, and we are loosing the genetic diversity at an accelerating and alarming rate.

Every heirloom variety is genetically unique and inherent in this uniqueness is an evolved resistance to pests and diseases and an adaptation to specific growing conditions and climates. 


The Past is always important  --  Support your Local Farms   --  



Click on link below for Tomato Show



https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Tomatoes_New-York-509162262.html 














ZUCCHINI AND YELLOW SQUASH ( SUMMER SQUASH) 03/23/19

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Most people want to know, are Zucchini and squash the same thing, the answer


They are the same thing. Zucchini is the Italian word for the fruit which the French call a courgette. ... In the US and Canada, we refer to most cucurbita pepo assquash,” which I believe comes from a Native American word. So all Zucchini are squash but not all squash are zucchinis. 


Squash was a food staple in the Americas for some eight thousand years before the first European explorers arrived here. Like melons and cucumbers, squashes are edible gourds that are indigenous to North, Central, and South America. The name comes from the Algonquin word askutasquash, which means, "eaten raw" and probably derives form the kind of summer squash encountered by early European settlers. The Native Americans taught them how to store and use winter squashes as a staple and demonstrated the curative and hygienic properties of squash seeds. Following the practice of the natives, the settlers ate whatever was available in the wild--fish, fowl, venison-which often carried parasites, and cured themselves by eating squash.


Varieties

The squashes commonly found in the United States are divided into summer and winter varieties. Summer varieties are immature squashes, usually small in size, with a soft skin, white flesh, high water content, and crunchy texture. Summer squashes are 100 percent edible, seeds and all, and very perishable. Winter varieties are fully mature squashes that are usually larger in size, with a hard outer shell and a long shelf life. They are always eaten cooked. Most have an orange flesh that is sweeter and nuttier in flavor than the more delicate summer squashes and contain large quantities of beta-carotene. The larger, harder seeds of winter squashes are usually discarded, but they can be salted, roasted, and eaten like nuts.


Summer squash

Yellow squash and long, slender, dark green zucchini are probably the two most familiar summer squashes, but there are other good varieties. These include the chayote, which is pear-shaped, with white, pale, or dark green skin, the cocozelle, which is shaped like a zucchini and striped green and yellow, and the tiny scalloped pattypan, which has white, yellow, or green stripes and looks like a little flying saucer.


Season

Summer squashes, especially zucchini, are generally available year round, but the peak seasons between April and September.


Selecting

All squashes should have a solid, heavy feel. A squash that feels light for its size may be soft and dehydrated inside. Summer squashes should have a firm but tender, sleek, unblemished skin. A shiny skin on yellow squash and zucchini is a good indication that it was picked young and tasty. Choose small to medium-sized squashes, rather than large ones, for the best flavor and texture.


Storing

Summer squash: Store refrigerated in an unsealed plastic bag and use within three or four days. Handle summer squash carefully because the tender skin is easily nicked.


Preparing Summer Squash

Summer squashes have high water content--never overcook or they will turn to mush. Overcooking is probably why so many kids hate squash! There are exceptions, but zucchini, chayote, crookneck, and cocozelle never need peeling. If the squash looks nice and tender, leave the peel on. Simply wash it and discard a thin slice from each end.

Summer squashes are terrific brushed with a little oil and cooked on the grill, and they can be steamed, sautéed, stir-fried, or baked in casseroles. Use very little water if you're going to boil a squash. Cut it into horizontal slices about a quarter of an inch thick, put in just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, add salt, pepper, and butter if desired, cover, and cook no more than three to five minutes. Turn the squash a few times to cook evenly and test frequently for doneness--it's done when it's easily pierced with a fork but retains some crunch.

To grill, slice the squash lengthwise, marinate or brush with an oil-based salad dressing or with olive oil, herbs, and perhaps some garlic, then grill over hot coals, turning occasionally so it doesn't burn.

Young, tender summer squashes, especially zucchini, are good raw in salads or with dips. They are delicious lightly steamed, stir-fried in a little oil, or fried tempura-style in batter. There are many Mediterranean recipes that call for squash--it's good in a ratatouille or baked with Parmesan cheese. Zucchini can also be used in zucchini bread--a sweet bread, almost like cake, that makes a good dessert--and muffins.

At home Betty makes a cold zucchini salad that's very simple, quick, and delicious. Slice the zucchini and sauté briefly in olive oil with a bit of garlic. Remove from the heat and, while the zucchini is still hot, splash a top-quality vinegar over it. It can be a good wine vinegar or a balsamic or herbed vinegar, depending on you preference. Add some salt and pepper and serve either warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Because of its versatility, zucchini is a good staple to keep around the house. The other night we got home late, and neither of us wanted to bother with a big meal, so Bette sliced and sautéed zucchini and potato, added beaten eggs to the pan when the vegetables were almost done, and made a terrific frittata. 

Click on link below for Summer Squash Show


https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Summer-Squash_New-York-507567182.html


HASS AVOCADOS SHOW 02/02/19

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Check out the great Guacamole Recipes on Bette's Recipes

 

Ever since I was a kid, I've always been a fan of football and Super Bowl Sunday. My father, not so much.

As an Italian immigrant, he worked hard at our family produce store in Bergenfield, N.J. and just couldn't understand the point of a bunch of guys throwing a ball around and getting piled on and shoved to the ground once they caught it.

I was a big kid in high school and I'll never forget one day when the football coach stopped me in the hallway and suggested I go out for the football team. I told him that I'd love to but that I had to work after school in my father's store, to which he said he'd call my father and tell him that I had my whole life to work.

I already knew what Pop's answer would be, but I told him to knock himself out anyway and gave him the store phone number.

Sure enough, a couple of days later the football coach informed me that he'd called Pop and that after asking him about my playing football, Pop asked him how much was he going to pay me.

That was Pop for you, born in a different country with a different set of rules. Back then, I thought he was always wrong, but you know what they say — the older you get, the smarter your parents get.

Pop's long gone and so are his way of life, his values and his willingness to work hard seven days a week, but boy do I miss him and those days. Pop, I hope you can try to enjoy the Super Bowl and eat plenty of avocados!


PRODUCE PETE'S FUN FACTS

There will be no shortage of avocados this year for your Super Bowl Party.

Avocado consumption in the United States has grown from 4 million pounds per week in 1985 to 50 million pounds per week in 2019, i guess americans love avocados


DID YOU KNOW ?

- Though people think that avocado sales peak on holidays like the Fourth of July or Cinco de Mayo, avocados actually experience their greatest demand on Super Bowl Sunday.

- In fact, In the four weeks leading up to the big game the United States will import from Mexico about 200 million pounds of avocados (about 400 million individual avocados) in the run-up to and on this year's Super Bowl Sunday, up from 2018

- This total would be enough to fill a football field end zone more than 53 feet deep with avocados — 10 feet over the goal posts!

- While many consider them a delicious but fattening treat, avocados contain healthy unsaturated fat, are loaded with vitamins A, C and E as well as beneficial antioxidants, and have one of the highest fiber contents of any fruit or vegetable.


ABOUT AVOCADOS

Above the equator, the avocado fruit blooms between February and May but is harvested year-round. Unlike most fruits, avocados don't have to be picked at certain times and can remain on the tree quite a while.

Like pears, avocados ripen only after they're picked and the firm fruits ship well. Patented in 1935 by postman Randolph Hass, California's dark green-to-purplish black Hass avocado has since become the most popular variety in the U.S. and accounts for the vast majority of California's crop.

This time of year, however, 80 % of the avocados available here hail from Mexico, a 100% increase from a decade ago.

When selecting, choose an avocado free of scars and wrinkles and don't squeeze the fruit or you'll bruise it. If the avocado is ripe, the stem will pull right out, but the best strategy is to buy avocados when they're still a bit green and firm and then ripen them at home by simply leaving them out on the counter for a few days.

To hasten the ripening process, put avocados in a paper bag or a drawer (some people think they ripen best wrapped in foil), and don't refrigerate avocados, as they can turn to mush in as little as a day.

Finally, avocado flesh exposed to the air will darken very quickly. Some people think that leaving the pit in with the avocado meat prevents discoloration, but the primary factor in preventing discoloration is keeping air away from the flesh, so wrap a cut avocado in plastic, refrigerate it, and use it as soon as possible.

Peeled and sliced avocados should be sprinkled with lemon or lime juice to retard discoloration, and the citric acid will also bring out the flavor.

To peel, cut the avocado lengthwise around the pit and then rotate the two halves in opposite directions. You can easily scoop the flesh out of the shell of a ripe avocado with a spoon, but in many cases the avocado will peel like a banana — just turn it over on the cut side and pull off the skin with your fingers.


PREPARATION

Avocados are great with a sprinkle of lemon or lime juice and salt. Mashed avocado is, of course, the primary ingredient in guacamole, and when you make it be sure to leave the pit in with the guacamole to keep it from turning brown; the pit is very effective in this application.

Avocado is also delicious served with slices of ripe red tomato or cut into slivers and added to tossed green salads.

For a pretty salad plate, cut avocados in half lengthwise, leaving skins on, and remove the pits; arrange on a bed of lettuce and fill the centers with crab, tuna, or chicken salad, garnishing with fresh raw vegetables and serving with bread if desired.

An avocado puréed with a little lemon juice, salt, other seasonings, and a dab of olive oil, makes a great creamy salad dressing for lettuce or other greens.

Avocados are also good on sandwiches — any combination of avocado, bacon, lettuce, tomato, turkey, or chicken makes a great sandwich.

Click on link below for Avocado Show

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Avocados_New-York-505245352.html

About Produce Pete

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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.

"KNOW A LITTLE ABOUT A LOT". JACK OF ALL TRADES MASTER OF NONE.....

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".

  • In April 1989, with the Chilean grape scare, he was hired by "People Are Talking" WORTV Channel 9, super station - nationwide - 150 markets - 24 million viewers and became "Pete Your Produce Pal" on daily five days a week.
  • In December 1990 hired by NBC for "House Party" as "Pete the Prince of Produce". Group W
  • In September 1991 hired by WORTV Channel 9 for "Nine Broadcast Plaza" as "Pete Your Produce Pal".
  • In September 1992 hired by WNBC Channel 4 "Weekend Today in New York" show with 52 week contract as "Produce Pete" / "Pete Your Produce Pal". (Been there ever since)
  • In 1994 he wrote a book about produce tips called "Produce Pete's Farmacopeia" - William Morrow, publisher
  • In September 1995 Discovery Channel - "Home Matters"
  • In January 1997 CNBC - "Steals and Deals"
  • In January 1998 Bionova Produce / Masters Touch Spokesperson
  • In January 2000 NBC - Ainsley Harriot Show (National - Buena Vista)
  • In February 2000 Woman's Home Network with Joan Lunden
  • In September 2000 hired by WCAU Philadelphia 10 as Produce Pete (Sunday & Wednesday Segments)
  • In February 2001 - Pathmark Supermarkets - Spokesperson
  • Guest on numerous Radio and Television shows.
  • In February 2001 "Produce Pete's Farmacopeia"- Republished by iuniverse.com
  • In July 2004 - The View (ABC 7)
  • In February 2005- Bella Vita Spokesperson (In Italy)
  • In July 2006 - NBC Today Show (Nationally)
  • In August 2007 Italian American Network (Produce Pete picks of the week)
  • Numerous Weekend Farmers Market Appearances throughout new jersey
  • 2011 New York State Farm Aid 
  • 2012 Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield Healthcare Event
  • 2013 Paramus Farmers Market, Ramsey Farmers Market, Nutley Farmers Market
  • 2013 Horizon BlueCross , Moorestown NJ
  • 2013-2017 NBC Health Fair New York Giants Health And Fitness Exbo
  • 2014-2015  Dr Oz Show Appearance
  • 2014-2015 Northern New Jersey Farmers Markets
  • 2016 Business Expo"Taste of the Gold Coast' 
  • 2017 Sparta Farmers Market
  • 2016-2017 Meet and Greet Donaldsons Farm Hackettstown 
  • 2013-2017 Chester Harvest Celebration Meet and Greet
  • 2017 Westchester Food Bank An Evening Of Good Taste
  • Appeared at D'Agostino, King's Culinary Arts Cooking Schools, Macy's and Bloomingdale's Cooking Classes.
  • Because of obesity and fast foods in schools Pete has been asked to speak at numerous grammer and high schools about healthy eating and his love for produce.

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