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
NAVEL ORANGES FOR CHRISTMAS
PICKING THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS TREE
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, not open or yellow. The Any Boy 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!!!
After New Year’s, Christmas is the second most celebrated festival around the world and there’s nothing
more synonymous with Christmas than the iconic Christmas tree. The Napolitanos have always been big into Christmas and as long as I can remember,
our holiday officially started on Thanksgiving, when Pop
would get up from the Thanksgiving table, change his clothes, get into his truck, and head upstate to New York, New England, and / or Canada to bring back at load of
Christmas trees that we could sell at our store, Napolitano's Produce in Bergenfield.
Back in those days, we sold thousands of trees, none higher than
$1.99, and though it was hard work standing in the cold by the fire barrel, I have great memories of those times!!
Fun Facts About Christmas Trees
In the U.S., Christmas trees typically hail from Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin,
Washington, and Canada. Here are some other interesting facts about Christmas trees:
** According to the National Christmas Tree Association, there are approximately 25-30 million real
Christmas trees sold in the U.S. every year and some 350 million real Christmas trees currently growing on farms throughout all 50 states.
**For every Christmas tree harvested, 1-3 seedlings are planted the following spring
** It takes 15 years to grow a typical 6-7-foot Christmas tree
**The Fraser and Balsam are among the most popular types of Christmas trees sold in the U.S. Balsam firs flourish in cooler climates and are therefore found in
abundance in Canada. Fraser firs are very similar in form and appearance to
Balsams and are found in Canada and some regions of the U.S.
**The planting of Christmas trees has positive effects on the environment. Specifically, Christmas trees produce oxygen and rid the air of carbon dioxide,
improve soil stability, enable the use of land that
couldn’t be used to grow other crops (e.g., barren slopes, land under power lines, etc.), provide a habitat for wildlife, and are a renewable resource.
** Many people believe that real Christmas trees dry up and leave needles on their floor or carpet, but in fact, fresh trees don't shed any needles.
Kept in water, it’s not unusual for Christmas trees to last two
months or more in your home, shedding very few needles.
FARMS VIEW FARM
At Farms View in Wayne, NJ ( Where i am doing this weeks segment) (www.farmsview.com), a family-owned farm since 1894, the Kuehm family
offers a range of produce, annuals, and perennials on 65 acres and also sells Christmas trees, wreaths, and grave blankets during the holiday season.
“We buy from growers and sell nearly 1,500 Christmas trees
ranging from six to 12 feet high at this time of year,” shared family member Dana Kuehm. “We offer premium Fraser, Balsam, and Douglas firs,
but Frasers are our most popular because they have the
strongest branches for holding ornaments.” According to Kuehm, “there’s nothing like the pine smell of a real Christmas trees or the joy and tradition they bring
to the holiday season.” She added that the Farms
View team will provide measuring sticks, cut trees, and bag/net them for customers.
You can also consider cutting your own Christmas tree, an experience offered by such places as Fairview Farm in Long Valley, New Jersey
(www.fairviewfarmchristmastrees.com), which will have over 6,000 Christmas trees up
to 12 feet tall available for cutting as of November 29th .
Top Tips for Maintaining Your Tree
Whether you buy a pre-cut Christmas tree or cut your own the following are some tips on their selection and
maintenance to help enhance the safe enjoyment of your tree this holiday season:
** When buying a tree outdoors, be aware that the sky is your ceiling, so what looks small outside may be big indoors.
Choose a tree that’s at least one foot shorter than your ceiling height so that there’s
adequate room for the stand and decorations. “And buy trees during daylight hours so that you can see their height and depth most clearly"
added Farms View’s Dana Kuehm.
** When assessing a tree’s freshness, run your hand over the branches – needles shouldn’t be brittle, break, or come off.
**If you’re not ready to put it up immediately, keep your newly-purchased tree in a sheltered, unheated area such as a porch or garage to protect it from the elements
until you’re ready to decorate it.
** Before installing the tree in your home, cut the butt end of your tree 1 inch above the original cut and immediately place the tree in a stand that holds a
minimum of one gallon of hot water. In addition to
preventing the needles from drying out/dropping off and maintaining the fragrance of the tree, “this step will help open the veins of the tree and enable its
pathways to stay hydrated, which will keep it
fresher and able to last longer,” Kuehm agreed.
** Be sure to check the water level of your tree stand every day to ensure that it never runs out of water. this is a very important step to keep the tree fresh.
A new tree will absorb up to a gallon of water on the first day and about a quart per day thereafter. If a continuous supply of water isn't there,
the tree will sap over and then it won’t let water in.
** Keep your tree away from heat and draft sources like fireplaces, radiators, etc. Test your light cords
and connections before hanging them on the tree to make sure they are in good working order and don't
use cords with cracked insulation or broken or empty sockets. Also, use only UL or FM-approved light
strings on a live tree (no spotlights, floodlights, or candles). Be sure to unplug lights before you go to bed or leave the house.
** Don’t burn tree branches in the fireplace, as they could throw off a large amount of heat and cause a fire.
** Christmas trees also create an oily soot which could damage the fireplace.
**Finally, consider preserving the freshness and life of your tree with the following inexpensive solution you can make right at home.
Produce Pete’s Christmas Tree Preservative
1 gallon hot water
2 cups Karo syrup
4 teaspoons bleach (plain)
6 iron tablets, crushed and dissolved
Make a fresh cut on the tree with a saw by cutting 1 inch off the bottom of the trunk. Place the tree in
the stand, then add the hot water mixture so that the fresh cut doesn’t dry up and resist taking the
water. Always keep the stand full of water mixture.
Enjoy your tree and, from the Napolitano family to yours, wishing you a Happy and Healthy Merry Christmas.
Known as the divine food in Japan because it's sweet, the persimmon is an orange to
orange-red fruit about the size of an apple, with four prominent, large, papery leaves at the crown. It has a very thin, smooth, delicate skin that bruises if not handled with care. The persimmon is one of the sweetest of all fruits when it is ripe.
Although there are hundreds of varieties, only two principal types are well known here are
Hachiya and Fuyu. The Hachiya, which is incredibly sweet when ripe, is full of mouth-puckering
tannic acid when it's not. The Fuyu, a newer variety, has had the tannic acid bred out.
Hachiya are bright, heart shaped, and orange-red inside and out. They have an exotic taste
but can only be eaten fully ripe, when the tannic acid dissipated--a stage don't reach until they are very soft.
The black seeds in the center are edible, but they can be discarded, along with the skin,
which retains tannic acid longer than the flesh and usually isn't eaten unless the fruit is very soft.
Fuyus sometimes called fujis or marus, look like brilliant orange tomatoes or apples. This new
variety is unusual because it can be eaten either soft or while it's still quite firm. Fuyus have a few
large brown seeds what should be discarded.
Hachiyas are the misunderstood fruit of winter: although they are sweet and wonderful when
baked into cakes and puddings, many people are afraid to eat them because they are truly awful
when immature. A firm Hachiya is extraordinarily astringent and inedible. I admit that taking a bite out of one is sort of like eating an unripe bitter walnut while suddenly having all the moisture sucked out of your cheeks and tongue. But there’s a very simple way to avoid this: don’t eat Hachiyas until they’re ripe
Like Fuyus, Hachiyas range in color from light orange to a reddish sunset. They are easy to
distinguish from Fuyus, however, because while the Fuyu looks like an orange tomato, the Hachiya is shaped like a large acorn.
Hachiyas are lovely in both appearance and taste, just not at the same
time. While they are outwardly attractive when unripe, they only become appealing once the skin
starts to shrivel over the soft ripened fruit. Yet while Hachiyas may not be pretty when they’re ready to be eaten, they are luscious when added to cakes and steamed puddings.
The two most prevalent varieties at the markets right now are Fuyu and Hachiya persimmons.
Fuyu are the squat-shaped persimmons which are eaten while still hard and crisp. Perfect
chopped into a salad, or eaten like an apple, they are a very different texture and experience from their distant cousin, the Hachiya.
Hachiya are more elongated and need some time to go quite soft before they are ready to eat.
Fully ripe, they should feel squishy like a water balloon or over-ripe tomato. Be patient, if you attempt
to eat one before it has softened, it can be unpalatably astringent (or "furry" tasting) as Hachiyas
contain very high levels of soluble tannins . In other words, they can leave a nasty taste in your mouth.
Once ripe, my favorite way to eat a Hachiya persimmon is to cut off the top where the leaves
are, and just dig in with a spoon, like a natural-made jelly cup. The texture will be gooey, sweet, and
Before you eat a Hachiya, make sure it is soft and squishy as you need to wait for the fruit's
tannins to break down before the pulp loses its astringency and takes on a sweet and sugary flavor.
The mature fruit has jellylike texture, which may make them seem unappealing. To coax Hachiyas
into ripening, just set them out on your counter for a few days to over a week, depending on how firm
they are. If you're in a hurry, you can freeze a partially ripe Hachiya for at least 24 hours and then
defrost it, which helps soften and sweeten the fruit.
Persimmons are available nearly year-round. California persimmons are available from
September to November, with the bulk harvested in October. Fuyus from Japan and Israel are usually
shipped between November and January. Brazilian persimmons are on the market between February
and April, those from New Zealand from March to May, and those from Chile from April to May.
Avoid persimmons with greenish or yellow skins and those that show cracks or splits. The four
leaves should still be attached to the stem end.
A Hachiya in good condition will often need to be ripened at home. Leave it out on the counter
at room temperature or hasten the process by putting it into a paper bag with a banana or apple. The ethylene gas from the other fruit will help the persimmon ripen. A fully ripe Hachiya will be slightly wrinkled or have a few brown spots. At this very soft stage, almost like a firm jelly, it's at a peak of perfection and should be eaten immediately.
Refrigerate or eat Fuyus while they're still fairly firm--about like a ripe pear. Once persimmons
are ripe, refrigerate them as soon as possible.
Persimmons can be blanched to remove the skin easily. Just dip in boiling water for a few
seconds, then plunge in cold water. Or simply wash before eating. Pluck or cut out the top leaves
.A ripe Hachiya can be halved or quartered and the flesh scooped out with a spoon. A Fuyu can be
eaten out of hand, like an apple, and the firm flesh makes it a good addition to fruit salad.
A soft ripe persimmon can be wrapped whole in plastic or foil and eaten partly frozen like a
sorbet. The flesh can also be pureed with a little lemon juice and used as a topping for ice cream or
as a filling for layer cakes and crepes.
Because they are readily available during the early winter, persimmons are a good addition to
holiday fare and make a wonderfully colorful decoration when arranged and allowed to ripen in a fruit bowl or Christmas basket.
Click link below for Persimmon 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
For the third week of our Thanksgiving Day Table, we are talking about two of the most
popular vegetables for Thanksgiving, Broccoli and Cauliflower. A must on Bette and Pete's table, what would this holiday be without these traditional side dishes.Don't forget to check
out Bette's Thanksgiving Day Recipes at the top of this page. the Broccoli and Cauliflower
ones are great.
Kids who call broccoli "trees" are imitating the Romans, who called it brachium, meaning "strong branch or arm." Their nickname for it was "the five green fingers of Jupiter," and they ate a lot of it. Broccoli is one of the cruciferous vegetables--in the cabbage family--that is packed with beta-carotene; the precursor to vitamin A that researchers believe has anticarcinogenic properties.
Thomas Jefferson first brought broccoli seeds form Italy to Monticello. Although broccoli flourished there, Jefferson wasn't fond of it--probably because it was cooked to death. Broccoli didn't really catch on in the U.S. until the twentieth century; as Italian immigration increased, Italian farmers started growing it in California. They knew how to cook it, and by the mid - 1920's broccoli was becoming more popular. Although broccoli is grown almost everywhere, the bulk of the crop is still grown in California.
A cool - weather crop planted in the spring and fall, broccoli is available year round, but the peak of the season is March through November. It's usually very consistently priced, but when the price jumps up 30 to 40 percent, you know it's out of season and in short supply.
Look for a firm, clean stalk with tight, bluish-green florets. Check the stalks to make sure they're not too thick and hard--they will be a bit woody. Most important, the florets should be tightly closed and the broccoli should have little or no fragrance. Broccoli is eaten at an immature stage; left to grow in the field, the buds will open into yellow flowers. Buds that are starting to open and look yellowish will be mushy and have a strong cabbage taste. Use your nose when you're selecting broccoli: if a head has an odor, it's not good.
Broccoli will keep up to seven days if refrigerated and kept moist. You can break apart the stalks and put them in ice water or spread crushed ice on top. Or wrap broccoli in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel and place in the crisper.
DID YOU KNOW??
Cup for cup, broccoli has as much Vitamin C as oranges and as much Calcium as milk.
The less you do to broccoli, the more it will do for you. Broccoli will lose up to 30 percent of its vitamins and minerals when it's cooked, so for nutritional reasons as well as good flavor, never overcook it. Broccoli is also very good raw on a platter of crudités, added to other vegetables in a salad, or served with dips.
At certain times of the year, broccoli may harbor a bug or worm or both. When cleaning, soak the head in salted water about fifteen minutes, and the critters will float to the top.
Broccoli can be prepared in countless ways. Sauté it with a little garlic and onion. Add it to pasta, or serve it blanched and cooled in vinaigrette. It's excellent simply steamed for a few minutes and serve with a dab of butter or squeeze of lemon--or both. To steam, put it in about half an inch of salted water, stem ends down. Don't let the buds touch the water--they'll cook very quickly and will get mushy and disintegrate. Cover and cook over low to medium heat for not more than four to five minutes--just until its fork tender. Check the pot once or twice to make sure there is adequate liquid in the bottom to keep from burning, and add a few tablespoons of water as needed. Properly cooked, broccoli has a delicate flavor and arrives at the table tender-crisp and bright green. If you're going to add lemon or vinegar, do it at the last minute because they tend to drab the color.
Known as the "queen of garden vegetables", cauliflower is actually a densely packed head of tiny, unopened flower buds that form clusters called florets. Straight off the farm, cauliflower is enclosed by large, green, edible leaves. In the field these are bundled up around the head to keep it white. Left exposed to the sun, the head turns yellow. When you see cauliflower with the leaves on, it's been grown locally. Cello-pack cauliflower, usually shipped in from California, is what you see in the store 90 percent of the time.
Look for a good-sized cauliflower that is hard and heavy, with a touch of dew on the head. The florets should be compact and tightly packed. If florets have started to spread apart and the head looks very light and granular, that's called ricing, and it indicates changes in growing conditions. Ricing doesn't mean the cauliflower is spoiled, but it won't have quite the flavor or crispness of a firm, compact head. Riced cauliflower is a little softer and should be cooked for a shorter period.
Cauliflower must be refrigerated. Wrap it in plastic and store in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, where it will keep for several days.
Cook whole heads in just an inch or two of water until fork-tender - no more than ten minutes. Broken into individual florets, cauliflower takes a little less time to cook. Cauliflower can be eaten raw, steamed or braised, or breaded and fried. It can be curried, served in a cream or cheese sauce, or mixed into vegetable salads, and it makes a terrific pickle.
Click link below for Broccoli and Cauliflower Segment
Each year Americans consume greater quantities of almost every sort of fresh vegetable except rutabagas. This neglected vegetable deserves better. Rutabagas can be cooked like potatoes, and if they're prepared right, they have a creamy, potato like texture and a distinctive taste. They've been a must on my family's Thanksgiving table for years, thanks to my Irish mother. Sure, the rutabaga is homely, but this inexpensive vegetable has a long shelf life, can be cooked in a number of ways, is very nutritious and is generally a terrific, hearty winter vegetable.
Large and squat, a rutabaga looks a lot like a big darkened white turnip with the top and tail cut off. The skin is purple at the top, yellowish below, and the whole root is heavily waxed to prevent it from losing moisture and shriveling. Rutabagas are grown in cooler climates everywhere, but for the U.S. market, Canada grows the best.
Rutabagas are in season from October through early summer.
Choose roots that are heavy in the hand for their size, more rounded than pointed; and hard as a rock - with no soft spots. The tops should be purple and bright looking, and the wax should have a good shine on it. You can tell right away if a rutabaga is old, the wax will look dull, and the rutabaga will feel light.
If you can, store rutabagas in a cool, dark place like a root cellar. Even at normal room temperature, however, rutabagas in good condition will keep for a couple of months.
Prepare rutabagas as you would potatoes, or as if they were acorn squash, with a little sweetening (they aren't stringy like acorn squash). We mash them just like potatoes, peel, cube, boil, and mash; add butter, salt and pepper. Or combine with potatoes before mashing for a milder flavor. I love mashed rutabagas straight, they've got a distinctive taste and they really stick to your ribs. They're excellent as a side dish with turkey, roast chicken, pork roast, pork chops, or ham.
String beans are so named because years ago they had a "string" - a tough fiber that ran from one tip to the other. While the string has been bred out of most varieties you'll see on the market, the name has stuck. Although there are several varieties, they're generally divided into two categories - bush beans, which have a rounded pod, and pole beans, which are usually large and relatively flat. One of the best of the flat pole beans is the Kentucky Wonder - a bright green, fairly broad bean that reaches six to eight inches in length. When fresh, young, and velvety, Kentucky Wonders have a sweet taste and an excellent, crisp texture.
One virtue of pole beans is that they're usually picked by hand. There is a definite difference between hand-picked and machine-picked beans. Machine-picked beans are usually a less tender variety - they have to be tough to survive machine picking.
Machines also pick everything off in the row, while farm workers are a bit more selective. Although hand-picked beans are more expensive than others, they may be a better buy in the long run because there's less waste.
Fresh green beans are available year round, but they are best in early winter, early summer, and early fall. That's when you'll get the early part of the crop. Beans picked early in the season are smaller, sweeter, and more velvety. You don't want a long, thick or bumpy pod that shows the outline of the beans inside. These are too mature, and will be tough and tasteless.
Look for small to medium-sized pods that are velvety-looking and bright green, with no signs of wilting or wrinkling. Fresh green beans should be tender enough to eat raw. The USDA classifies string beans as snap beans, and that's exactly what the bean should do when you bend one - snap. If it's rubbery and bends, it will taste rubbery too.
Do not wash string beans until you're ready to use them. Refrigerate in a paper bag or unsealed plastic bag, and they'll keep well for a day or two, although it's best to use them as soon as possible. If you've had them longer and they're starting to wilt, you may be able to revive them in ice-cold water. Otherwise, add them to soups or stews.
Tender young green beans can be added raw to crudités. To cook, simply steam or cook in a small amount of water in a covered pan for five to eight minutes, adding a dab of butter, salt, and pepper if desired. Don't overcook! String beans also freeze well if blanched for two minutes before freezing.
GREEN BEANS VS HARICOTS VERTS
What's the Difference ??
When you’re in the supermarket and looking to buy some green beans, you’re often presented with two options: green beans, and usually right next to them, haricots verts, sometimes called French beans. What’s the difference between the two?
The answer? Not very much. In fact, haricots verts just means “green beans” in French. There are two main differences, though: haricots verts tend to be skinnier than traditional green beans, and are also more expensive. They’re actually bred that way: not only are they thinner, they’re also more tender and flavorful than comparably sized traditional green beans. They’re also younger than traditional green beans; if you were to pick regular old green beans at the same age at which haricots verts are harvested, they’d be missing a lot of that “beany” flavor. In France, all green beans are called haricots verts; the skinnier, pricier ones are called haricots verts filets extra-fins.
DON'T FORGET TO GO TO BETTE'S RECIPES AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE FOR ALL HER THANKSGIVING DAY RECIPES
Click link below for Wax Turnip and Stringbean Segment
Where does the time go, all of a sudden it's November and Thanksgiving is here. For the next four weeks starting on the 2nd of November we will be talking about all your vegetables for your Thanksgiving Table
11/2 Cranberries, 11/9 Wax Turnips & Stringbeans, 11/16 Cauliflower & Broccoli, 11/23 Artichokes & Yams.
We will also have Bette's Thanksgiving Recipes, so please go to Bette's Recipes, at the top of the page. Enjoy the Holiday and let Produce Pete make it a fun Holiday for you and your family.
Cranberries have been a part of the American holiday scene for many years. Raw berries are pretty strung with popcorn to make old-fashioned garlands for the Christmas tree. They're also used during the Jewish high holy days to construct little houses used in the celebration of Succoth. And although a lot of people have become accustomed to using canned cranberry sauce, it's quick and easy to make a delicious sauce from whole fresh berries. People are also starting to discover how useful cranberries are beyond Thanksgiving and Christmas. These festive, very firm red berries add great flavor to a lot of foods. Generally a half inch to an inch in diameter, cranberries are oval in shape, with a smooth, glossy, red to deep red skin, and contain tiny, soft, edible seeds. They are too tart for most people and require some sweetening. Cranberries are a member of the health family (Encaceae), which also includes blueberries, loganberries, and huckleberries. Their natural habitat is a swamp or bog in temperate climates, such as Wisconsin, Cape Cod, and Long Island. Native Americans used cranberries for dyes, medicines, and food, including a dish made of cranberries and dried meat. The various Indians names for cranberries translate as "sour berries" but settlers called them crane berries, possibly because they were favored by cranes or because the plant and flower look like one of these elegant birds. By the nineteenth century, American sailors and loggers were using cranberries to make a drink to prevent scurvy. Today cranberries are cultivated in shallow bogs that are flooded with water at appropriate times during the season. They are important crops in Massachusetts and New Jersey and are also cultivated in Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington State, British Columbia, and Quebec.
Fresh cranberries are available from September to January. They're usually packaged in twelve-ounce cello bags, which yield about three cups. Packaged cranberries are always sold in good condition unless there has been a problem with refrigeration. Their high acid content gives them a long shelf life.
Packaged unwashed fresh cranberries will stay fresh up to four weeks in the refrigerator. You can freeze unwashed berries in doubled, well-sealed plastic bags, and they'll keep for as long as a year. Rinse them briefly, pick out the stems and use directly in recipes without thawing - they collapse when thawed.
Wash well just before using, discarding the stems and any soft, wilted or bruised berries. Cranberries need to be sweetened with sugar, honey, maple syrup or other fruit juices. The high pectin content in cranberries makes them an ideal fruit for jellies or fruit chutney. Besides the popular cooked sauce and jelly used to accompany poultry and meats, cranberries can be made into an equally delicious uncooked relish. Grind or mince one package of cleaned berries with the grated zest and chopped pulp of one orange. Mix with 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar, add cinnamon if desired, and let the mixture stand overnight in the refrigerator. Cranberries are excellent mixed with apples or pears in pies and tarts. Apples are delicious stuffed with sweetened cranberry sauce, or try stuffing pears with cranberry sauce, sprinkling them with orange juice and cinnamon, and baking in a 325¡F oven for twenty minutes. Cranberry muffins are understandably popular, but your family will also enjoy cranberry nut loaf, cranberry upside-down cake, and cranberry cheesecake. Cranberry juice is delicious mixed with apple juice or lemonade, and cranberry sorbet is a refreshing treat.
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THE CRANBERRY
Cranberries – they’re a fruit that many people only eat during Thanksgiving, but there are many health benefits you may not be aware of that might want to make you eat them more regularly.
Not only are they delicious, especially paired with turkey and stuffing (although that’s definitely not a prerequisite to enjoying them), they can help keep you healthy year-round.
Every autumn (usually from mid-September until around mid-November in North America and March through May in Chile), cranberries reach their peak of color and flavor and are ready for harvesting. That's when the growers harvest millions of pounds of cranberries.
For starters, it’s where cranberries come from. But if you want to get technical, it’s an area of soft, marshy ground with acid peat soil, usually near wetlands, where the cranberries grow on long-running vines. You can find them all over North and South America, from Massachusetts to New Jersey, Oregon to Washington, Wisconsin, parts of British Columbia and Quebec, and Chile.
A lot of people think that cranberries grow under water. Makes sense, since we usually see the berries floating on top of the water. But, what we’re seeing is actually the result of wet harvesting. The bog is flooded with up to 18 inches of water the night before the berries are to be harvested. The growers then use water reels, nicknamed “eggbeaters,” to churn the water and loosen the cranberries from the vine. Each berry has a tiny pockets of air that allows it to float to the surface of the water. From there, they’re corralled together, loaded into trucks, and shipped off to become the Cranberry product, you see in all your stores.
Click link below for Cranberry Segment
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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