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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

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

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




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

BABY SEEDLESS GRAPES 09/15/18

 SMALLER IS SWEETER

In America, we think bigger is better, but here’s something that’s an exception to the rule — baby seedless grapes.

When I was a young boy selling produce off the back of my father’s truck in north Jersey, all seedless grapes looked like baby grapes, small but really sweet. (So sweet, in fact, that my father and uncle were able to make delicious wine out of them — not that it was on my approved drinking list at the time)!

As time went on, society started to buy with its eyes, not its taste buds, and began looking for grapes that had more size. Because these baby grapes were so small, they stopped being sent to market, but smart farmers knew how good they were and picked a few for their families and neighbors and all of a sudden there was a demand for them.

I always say that in the end, consumers drive the sales, not the farmers or wholesalers, but the person with the shopping cart who walks in the store looking for a certain item. So farmers started sending them to market and people loved them. In fact, I recently offered some to one of my grandsons, who put up his nose and said they’re too small. I said “Jake, try them,” and once he did, he ate the entire 1-pound container in one sitting and said “Poppy, these are great!”

The season for baby seedless grapes is late August until the end of September, so get them now while they’re available, and if you can’t find them in your store just ask your produce manager for them. Remember, you’re the boss!

BABY SEEDLESS GRAPES

A tradition takes place in California in the fall with the growing of baby seedless grapes from Thompson seedless grapes. This happens by letting the grapes grow naturally and not thinning them out. This process is usually initiated to make raisins, but over the past few years farmers have discovered that the fresh market for eating out-of-hand has come to enjoy the sweet, tender taste of these delicate grapes.

I got hooked on these grapes years ago and find them to be one of the sweetest and best-eating grapes of the fall season. This is really a seasonal grape, usually only produced in the fall when the sun is still strong and the weather starts to turn cool. Treat them like you would any other seedless grape and enjoy them, but remember they’re full of sugar so they won’t last long … so eat them, don’t store them!

STANDARD SEEDLESS GRAPES

There are basically three types of seedless grapes — white, red, and black. California Pearlettes usually arrive in early May. They’re round, very light green, and have a firm and crisp texture. Look for grapes that have a golden yellow undertone because they’re sweeter; ones that are very green are extremely tart and will make your mouth pucker. Since the season is six to eight weeks long, it’s best to wait a week or two after they first arrive before you buy them.

The familiar California Thompson seedless, another pale green grape, is among America’s favorites. Thompsons are larger, more oval than round, and have a sweeter taste and more tender skin and flesh than Pearlettes. Here, too, you should look for a grape that has a golden glow, which indicates ripeness. The Thompsons start coming in about a month after the Pearlettes and stay on the market a couple of months longer.

White grapes from Chile start arriving in December and tend to have a more-raisiny look compared to California varieties. Some people pass them up because they think they’re overripe, but they’re not; their golden color is a sign that they’re good and sweet.

Red seedless grapes, which arrive on the market after Thompsons, have become the most popular grapes around. A cross between the seeded Tokay and round seedless grapes, Red Flame varieties are firm and sweet with a very good, crisp texture. Ruby seedless types have a richer, deeper color than the Flame, but the grapes are smaller, with a shape like a Pearlette. They have a tougher skin and less flavor than Flames and are the last of the season for seedless grapes.

Black Beauty is a newer variety of seedless grape with a relatively short season. It doesn’t have quite the flavor that the other varieties do, but the Chilean black seedless grapes are better than those from California. Domestic black grapes are available in June and July, while Black Beauties from Chile are available in mid-winter.

Champagne grapes are probably the sweetest of all. These tiny red grapes are available virtually year-round because they’re cultivated everywhere, mainly for restaurant use. You’re most likely to find them in gourmet or specialty markets and are easiest to eat by putting a small branchful into your mouth, then pulling the stem out between your teeth to remove the grapes, sort of like eating an artichoke leaf.

SELECTION AND STORAGE

Look for plump, smooth grapes with good color. They should be firmly attached to a fresh-looking green stem, with no evidence of wrinkling or withering. There should be a dusty bloom on the skin of the grape itself, like the dusty bloom on blueberries, it’s a naturally occurring substance that helps protect the grapes and is a good indication of freshness. Green or white grapes will have a golden glow when they’re ripe, while red grapes will be a soft, rich red, and black grapes will have a deep, blue-black color.

Grapes don’t ripen off the vine, so what you buy is what you get. They’re very delicate and need to be handled carefully. Refrigerate them dry in a plastic bag and never wash them until you’re ready to eat; moisture will make them deteriorate very quickly. Grapes will last up to a week if properly stored in the refrigerator, but it’s best to eat them as soon as possible.

Following are some of my favorite tips for serving and enjoying grapes:

PETE'S TOP GRAPE PICKS

  • Grapes are great for out-of-hand eating or as a luncheon dessert, snack, or complement to wine and cheese.
  • In summer, toss grapes into salads or use grapes mixed into yogurt and cereals for a breakfast treat.
  • Garnish a breakfast plate of waffles or pancakes with grapes dipped in cinnamon sugar.
  • Freeze grapes and enjoy them as a dessert or low-calorie snack. They make great all-natural ‘popsicles’ and kids will love them!
  • To frost grapes, beat an egg white until frothy, dip grapes in the beaten egg white, and then roll in granulated sugar. Place on a wire rack to dry, about 15-20 minutes, and enjoy.
  • To peel grapes for a specific recipe or high-end aesthetic, start at the stem end and separate the skin from the pulp using a knife. For easy skin removal, dip grapes in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place in cold ice water.
  • Aside from being delicious, sweet, and easy to eat, grapes offer a broad range of health benefits, with their many phytonutrients (such as resveratrol) linked to the prevention of cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure and the promotion of long life. So enjoy grapes year-round and especially the baby seedless variety during their short window this month — you’ll be glad you did!

Click link below for Baby Seedless Grape segment


https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Baby-Seedless-Grapes_New-York-493379651.html

JERSEY MUSKMELONS 09/08/18

 

New Jersey grows a variety of cantaloupe called the Athena melon (years ago, we called them muskmelons), which are usually sweet with very soft flesh and are highly perishable.

I remember in our produce store growing up, my father would bring in loads of them in the summer, and you could smell their sweet scent for miles, but unfortunately, they would only last a day or two before they went bad.

That’s why most stores today sell popular California cantaloupes, which are high in sugar content and are good keepers that usually last up to a week.

Like many other households today with just two people, both of whom work, my wife, Bette, and I shop once a week and rely on produce to keep for weeks. However, since produce is meant to be eaten, not stored, we now depend on farmers and stores to offer produce that will last longer. This means picking and buying the product greener and not as ripe, which I’m not crazy about, but it’s a sign of the times.

SEASONS AND VARIETIES

Great fragrance is the hallmark of a good ripe cantaloupe, and the warm, rich, sweet summer smell of melons is always the first thing that hits me. Inexpensive and highly popular, cantaloupes are sweet, fragrant, and juicy, with a pinkish-orange to bright orange flesh. Grown primarily in California and other Western states, cantaloupes are round with a golden, tightly netted skin.

Although good cantaloupes from the West are available from June through December, they’re best between June and September, when the California crop is at its peak. I think California grows the best cantaloupes, followed by Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. From December through February, cantaloupes will be imported from Central America; these aren't as good as summer cantaloupes from the U.S., but over the last few years, their quality has improved, and their price has become more reasonable.

Almost all cantaloupes commercially grown in California are of the ‘Hale’s Best’ varieties. Several strains are on the market, and each of them has a few distinct characteristics. Other varieties include Hymark and Mission.

SELECTION AND STORAGE

Color and, more importantly, fragrance — not softness at the stem end — indicates ripeness. A cantaloupe with a golden color and a ripe, sweet aroma is going to be a ripe, sweet melon. Don’t push the stem end: If your neighbor presses a thumb there, and I press mine there, eventually you’re going to feel something soft even if the melon is grass green.

For some reason, cantaloupes with tighter netting seem to have a firmer, crisper texture and cut better than those with the looser, more open netting.

If the stem end is rough with portions of the stem remaining, the melon was harvested prematurely. A shriveled, flabby, or badly bruised product signals poor quality. Also avoid melons with growth cracks, mottling or decay (mold or soft sunken spots on the surface). A mature cantaloupe will be well-netted or webbed with a smoothly rounded, depressed scar at the stem end.

A cantaloupe on the green side will ripen if you leave it out at room temperature until any green undertones in the rind have turned golden, and the melon has a rich smell. But during the summer, there’s no excuse for taking home a green melon, as in-season melons should have been picked fully mature and ripe, with little or no green showing.

When ready to eat, cantaloupe will take on a yellow background appearance, acquire an aroma and soften. Because cantaloupe is shipped in a firm state to avoid damage, it usually needs a few days at room temperature to soften and become juicier.

PREPARATION

I think melons have a better taste and texture at room temperature, but if you like your melon chilled, refrigerate it right before you’re going to eat it. Cut melons, of course, have to be refrigerated, but wrap them tightly in plastic to preserve moisture. If you don’t want everything in your refrigerator to smell and taste like cantaloupes (and vice versa), it’s a good idea to put the melon in a heavy plastic or glass container with a tightly fitting lid.

High in folate and vitamins A and C, cantaloupes are great eaten as is for breakfast or dessert or cut up with other melons and fruits in a salad. Because cantaloupe is easy to cut, it can be used as an appetizer, in salads, as a breakfast plate garnish and in compotes and desserts.

FARMS VIEW  MUSKMELONS

This week we are back at Farm's View Farm in Wayne , New Jersey so here's a little more information on Muskmelons grown right here on the farm.

The Muskmelons taste is attributed to the combination of flavor, texture, and sweetness. Sugars are pumped into the fruit from the leaves as the fruit matures. Once harvested, the fruit receives no more sugar, though changes in flavor and texture will continue. Therefore, it is better to leave melons on the vine as long as possible, so they can reach peak sweetness and the best taste. Cantaloupes (Muskmelons) When cantaloupess are beginning to ripen they will turn color, from a dull grayish green to a buff-yellow. Cantaloupess also develop a netting over the skin as they mature. Cantaloupes are harvested by the degree of “slip,” or ease of detachment from the vine. A melon at full-slip is one that is fully mature and at peak flavor. At full-slip, the cantaloupe will detach easily from the vine, leaving a clean stem scar. “Locally Grown” melons are usually harvested at full-slip, which is why they usually taste better than melons shipped in from other production areas. Those melons are harvested at quarter or half-slip, which means part of the stem detached from the fruit, but part remains. Although not at full maturity or peak sugar content, these melons are firmer and remain in good condition when shipped long distances. Full-slip melons are softer and do not ship well. In the home garden, there is no reason to rush cantaloupe harvest. Wait for them to reach full-slip. So that's why if there is a farm stand by you take advantage of getting a ripe muskmelon/cantaloupe and enjoy this great taste of summer

Click on link below for Muskmelon Show


https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Muskmelons_New-York-492768201.html

NEW JERSEY WHITE AND YELLOW PEACHES 08/25/18


NEW JERSEY WHITE AND YELLOW PEACHES

 Peach production in New Jersey dates back to the early 1600’s. Jersey peach producers are experts in growing, packing, and shipping high quality peaches 

 Like most fruits, peaches originated in China and arrived in the United States via the Middle East and Europe. Tender, juicy and aromatic, peaches are thought of as a southern fruit, but California and New Jersey grow huge crops as well. In fact, any temperate area with a long enough growing season will produce peaches, and peaches grown in your area and picked fully ripe are usually your top choice. Of all the places they're grown, though, I think New Jersey peaches are the best.

        All New Jersey peaches are produced and packed within 250 miles of tens of millions of people. Peaches can be picked, packed and shipped to major consumer markets in a few hours. Thus, New Jersey peaches are fresher and transportation costs are less. Peaches spend less time in storage and transit.

New Jersey has ideal day and night temperatures to make the peaches a beautiful shade of red and background yellow. Many varieties developed in other states generally have more color when grown in New Jersey. The ideal weather along with being so close to the final market results in peaches with vibrant color and flavor.

New Jersey growers have invested in improved varieties, irrigation systems, and progressive thinning practices to grow fruit of the size desired by customers and consumers. 

 Most of us have no idea how much fuzz peaches have to begin with. Even though they've still got fuzz on them, 90 percent of it has been removed by the time you buy peaches at the market. When I was a kid, New Jersey was about 60 per cent farmland. We bought peaches from a man named Francis Johnson, who had a peach farm four or five towns away from us in Ramsey. I used to go there with my father to pick up peaches for our stand. Although the packing barn was a big red barn, it made me think of a white castle. Peach fuzz covered the whole barn; it was all over the place, completely blanketing the rafters in white, and drifts of fuzz were piled - early September. In the winter there are imports from Chile, but because ripe peaches are so fragile, they're nearly always picked green and have very little flavor. For the best peaches, wait until they're in season in your area; then get your fill. Peeled, sliced peaches freeze well, so you can put some away to enjoy when good fresh peaches aren't available 


  Selecting

When choosing peaches; use your eyes and your nose. Choose brightly colored fruit without traces of green, without bruising, and with a plump, smooth skin that shows no sign of wrinkling or withering. A really ripe peach will have a good fragrance. 

 From the outside, yellow and white peaches are distinguished by their skin color – deep yellow with a red or pink blush for the former versus pale and pink for the latter. Inside, the golden flesh of the yellow peach is more acidic, with a tartness that mellows as the peach ripens and softens. White-fleshed peaches are lower in acid and taste sweet whether firm or soft 


  Storing

Peaches picked hard-ripe but with good color will ripen if you leave them out on the counter, unrefrigerated, for two or three days or put them in a brown paper bag to hasten the process. Don't refrigerate until they're fully ripe, and then don't keep them in the refrigerator for more than a day or two. Like nectarines, peaches lose juice and flavor if they're refrigerated too long. 

  

Health and Nutrition

Peaches are a good source of fiber and vitamin A and C. Fresh, high-quality peaches are sweet tasting and low in calories, with one medium peach furnishing only about 37 calories. What a fantastic snack or guilt-free dessert! 

"Peaches, plums, and nectarines are a delicious way for everyone to get their 5-a-day," said Pat Baird, MA, RD, and author of The Pyramid Cookbook. "They are great sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and now we learn they are good sources of antioxidants which are important to good health and good skin." 

Summer fruits, like peaches and nectarines, are also very rich in antioxidants that help to maintain a great complexion. Antioxidants are substances that protect the body by eliminating free radicals, which cause cell damage and can contribute to aging. The sun brings out free radicals in the skin and antioxidants protect skin cells by counteracting free radical activity. 

"Summer tree fruits have long been considered a delicious source of nutrition, but the fact that the benefits extend to promoting healthy skin is great news for consumers, especially those interested in maintaining a peaches-and-cream complexion."


    Preparing

Peaches are great for out-of-hand eating. Leave the skins on for more nutritional value. When you need peeled peaches, you can easily remove the skins by dipping the whole peach into boiling water for ten or fifteen seconds, then immediately plunging it into cold water. You can then peel it like a banana. Peaches are delicious peeled, sliced, and marinated in the refrigerator with some sugar, then served either with plain light cream or over vanilla ice cream. Pies, cobblers, preserves, and ice cream are all traditional peach desserts. 


New Jersey Peach Industry Facts


· Approximately 150 peach producers grow 5500 acres of peaches in New Jersey.

· Over 40 peach shippers operate packinghouses capable of packing and marketing 55 to 60 million pounds of quality peaches 

· Yellow-flesh peaches are available from early July through mid to late September.

· White-flesh peaches are available from late July through mid September.

· Peaches and nectarines are available in standard ½-bushel packs as well as various specialty packs. 

· Truckload quantities come from growers in the southern counties: Gloucester, Camden, Atlantic, Cumberland, and Salem.

· Smaller growers disbursed throughout the state grow and distribute peaches through roadside retail markets, farmers’ tailgate markets, and through many of New Jersey’s top restaurants.

· The industry works closely with the Jersey Fresh program to maximize awareness of the quality and availability of New Jersey peaches – New Jersey peaches are Jersey Fresh…As Fresh As Fresh Gets.

· New Jersey peaches have a distribution advantage in that peaches can be picked, packed, and shipped the same day reaching markets in the eastern U.S. the same day, or by the next morning via overnight transit.  


Click on link below for N J Peach Show


https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-New-Jersey-Peaches_New-York-491709361.html

NEW JERSEY TOMATOES 08/18/18

The segment today was shot at Farms View Roadstand in Wayne, New Jersey, one of the last working farms in northwest New Jersey. The Kuehm family farm dates back to 1894 when the property was purchased by the first of five generations that operate the farm in Wayne New Jersey. Farms View Roadstand has evolved from a picnic table on a side lawn many years ago to this farm stand with attached greenhouses. I love doing segments at family farms to show all of you where your fresh fruits and vegetables get their start. Long days and hard work are what farming is all about. Today we are talking tomatoes, not just any tomatoes but Jersey tomatoes to my way of thinking the world’s best.  From heirlooms to the beefsteaks here is some information on my favorite fruit.


 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.

 

New Jersey Tomatoes have received a great deal of notoriety as being the best in the nation for their flavor, tenderness, and juiciness. All of that's certainly true. However, it's not because of unique weather or soil conditions.

Flavor, tenderness, and juiciness, have more to do the selection of the variety, the special growing care, and how long they remain on the vine to ripen.

Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable grown by New Jersey gardeners  New Jersey tomatoes, planted as seedlings take 70-90 days to mature. The picking season depending on weather, can begin as early as mid-july and last until Mid October.

Sometime in the 1950's, in response to demand from the large commercial farmers and shippers, tomato scientists and breeders developed hybrids, new cultivation techniques, shipping, and storage processes that became a boom to the tomato industry in being able to grow, ship and sell tomatoes in huge volumes across the country at a sizable profit.

While the shipping of tomatoes across the country without bruising made tomatoes available to everyone in the country at an affordable price, it unfortunately resulted in the breeding of the flavor out of the commercially grown tomato.
 

Despite the success with some niche markets,New Jersey farmers were only able to obtain seeds from the seed companies that favored varieties that produced higher yields for large commercial growers.

Although the taste of the New Jersey grown tomato is far superior to the large commercially grown farms, many of these varieties of seeds were limited in taste and not optimum for the smaller niche farmers.

In 1968, the Ramapo Tomato was developed at Rutgers University by Dr. Bernard Pollack. This tomato was a very tasty tomato that was ideally suited for east coast soil and weather conditions. The downfall was that the Ramapo variety, although superior in taste to the other varieties on the market, had limited demand, and virtually none from the large commercial farms. As a result of the low demand, the Ramapo seed soon disappeared from seed catalogs.

However, in response to public outcry for the Ramapo tomato, in 2008, Rutgers University re introduced the Ramapo seed for commercial production for the small farm/garden market. This initial release of only 8,000 seed packets was aimed at the small, niche farms and the home gardener who were willing to take special care and cost in the growing of tomatoes to achieve the superior taste.


 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, and 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. 

  Tomatoes come in scores of different varieties, colors, and markings--striped, purple, and even white--but these are found almost exclusively in season, from local sources like farm markets or markets that carry specialty produce. Again, if you want to see a wider variety where you shop, ask for what you want and help create a customer demand.

Local tomatoes depending on the local climate,

are available from July through September, with the peak in late July and August 


 RIPENING AND STORING


Tomatoes are considered "vine ripe" by the industry if they have developed a little color "break"--that is, a small yellow or reddish patch of color on the skin or a starburst of yellow at the blossom end. If the tomato has a color break or the starburst, you'll be able to ripen it at home. 

Don't ripen tomatoes on the windowsill. Never put them in the sun to ripen. Just put them out on the counter, stem end up, in a relatively cool place--not right next to the stove or the dishwasher. Put on a little Frank Sinatra music if you want them to ripen fast. If you want them to ripen faster--well, you can always put on the Stones. Never, ever refrigerate--not even after the tomato is ripe. If you've got too many ripe tomatoes, make a salad or a raw tomato sauce for pasta. Or make a cooked sauce, freeze it, and you'll have something nice for the winter.

 

Simple Pleasures

We have all kinds of upscale restaurants, and there is a lot of interest in complicated cuisines, but sometimes it's the really simple things that give you the most pleasure. When I was a kid, I had to help my father sell produce out of the back of his truck. At lunchtime he'd stop at some little store and buy a loaf of Italian bread. Then we'd find a place where we could pull off to the side of the road. He'd put down a piece of cardboard for a cutting board, slice the bread, cut up a tomato and an onion, and make tomato sandwiches. 

Sometimes when I come home from work and I'm too bushed to prepare or even eat a full meal, I'll make myself a tomato sandwich. Food brings back memories. You can sit down with the most ordinary things on your mind and eat something good and it will bring back memories - things you haven't thought about in years. Even memories that might not start out being so good seem to improve as time goes by. At the time I hated peddling fruits and vegetables out of that truck with Pop, but now I wish I had the time to pull off to the side of the road they way we did then. We don't have the luxury of slowing down - everything is geared to working and being productive. Produce, produce, produce! Wouldn't I love to be able to take my son and go sit by the side of the road and have a tomato sandwich? With the perfect ripe red tomato and good bread, there's nothing better.


Click link below for New Jersey Tomato Show



https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete-Jersey-Tomatoes_New-York-491177101.html

NEW JERSEY EGGPLANTS 08/04/18

 

Did you know that New Jersey grows about 66 percent of the world’s eggplants?

It’s true! The majority of eggplant production is located in South Jersey, especially Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem and Atlantic counties, and smaller production sites are also located in Monmouth and Burlington counties.

Production is mainly for wholesale shipment to the eastern U.S. and Canada, depending on the time of year. A small volume of eggplants is produced in the northern part of the state for roadside stands and farmers markets.

Eggplants are harvested by hand one to two times a week depending on temperature. Because they need well-drained, sandy-loam soil to grow, New Jersey offers the perfect conditions for this purple plant.

 Ferrari Farms, R & R Flame Farms, and Scapellato Farms in South Jersey are huge eggplant growers and friends of mine.  There eggplants in the field are a beautiful sight.

When I was a young man running our produce store in Bergenfield, I would buy from my local farmers all summer long; I remember getting fresh peppers and eggplants picked that day at Binaghi Farm in Old Tappan, as well as at Smith Farms just over the border in New City, New York.

Farmers like Wally Smith and Ronnie Binaghi were more than business partners to me and my family —they were friends and felt more like extended family.

Fresh Jersey produce right off the farm is a treat that everyone should experience, so please support your local farmer, farm stand and local farmers markets all summer long.

Ever since I was 4 selling produce off the back of my father’s truck, I’ve understood that the farmer is the backbone of America. Although my childhood was hard and my family worked seven days a week, I wouldn’t have traded my life growing up for anything; looking back, they were truly the best years of my life.


Locally Grown Eggplant

Eggplants got their name because eggplants used to come in only one color--white. Hanging from the plant, they looked like eggs. The problem was that when they were shipped, they tended to bruise and scar easily. So the hybridizers went to work to develop an eggplant that wouldn't scar and in the process widened the variety. 

The eggplant is a member of the nightshade family. We're almost positive it originally came from India and spread to Europe by way of Africa. Italians were growing it by the fourteenth century, but you'll find that eggplant doesn't figure in northern Italian cuisine as it does in southern. That's because it needs heat to grow--heat and considerable irrigation. From Europe eggplants spread to the Americas and were being cultivated in Brazil by the mid 1600's. 

In some places the eggplant is known as the "mad apple"--from mala insana, meaning "bad egg" or "bad apple." Legend has it that an Indian traveler ate some raw eggplant, had a fit, and people thought the eggplant had poisoned him. Some people still think eggplants are poisonous. 

Early in the growing season, eggplants produce beautiful star-shaped blue-violet flowers. The eggplant is the berry that forms after the flower drops. 

Varieties

The most commonly available eggplant is a deep purple that's almost black. These range in size anywhere from four ounces to 1 1/2 pounds. 

The original white eggplant is now very trendy. It is generally smaller than the purple variety, and a lot of people say it's more-tender, but I don't really see any difference. It's more expensive than the purple kind because it's not cultivated as widely. 

All the varieties are good, but I'm particularly fond of the Spanish eggplant, which has purple and white stripes. These seem to be a little heavier in texture and taste. 

Season

Baby or Italian eggplants have long been popular on the East Coast; they're available in the summer months, with the peak in July through September. In sunnier climates they're available year round, but the supplies may be limited. 

Other varieties are generally available year round. 

Selecting

Round, oval, or pear-shaped, eggplants may be white, purple or striped. The flesh is firm and creamy white, with a lot of edible white seeds in the center. Baby or Italian eggplants are smaller, with a thinner skin. 

When choosing an eggplant, look for firm, shiny fruit that's heavy in the hand for its size. The top should be green and fresh-looking; a green cap with little spikes around the stems a sure tip that the eggplant is fresh. 

Next, look at the blossom end. If it has a round mark, it's a male. If the mark is oval--slightly elongated--it's a female. The females are firmer and have fewer seeds. The fewer seeds the eggplant has, the less bitter it will be. 

Now hold the eggplant in your hand. If it's large but feels light, it will be pulpy. Press the flesh gently with your thumb. If it leaves an indentation, pass that eggplant by. Unless you're making gumbroit, the eggplant should be firm, with no wrinkling or soft spots. If it's the purple variety, it should be smooth and shiny, not dull. 

Storing

Store at room temperatures on the cool side, or wrap loosely and store in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. A firm eggplant will keep for several days. 

Preparing

Eggplant has a slightly bitter taste, especially when mature. To get rid of it, peel the eggplant (the skin is likely to be both bitter and a little tough), then slice it, sprinkle with salt, and allow it to drain in a colander for up to half an hour. In addition to purging the bitter juices, salting eggplant also helps keep it from absorbing oil when you sauté or fry it.

You can bread and fry eggplant or use it in dozens of different vegetable dishes. It's a good, filling substitute for meat in a vegetarian meal. Like my father, I love gumbroit, but my favorite dish is actually eggplant Parmesan, which my wife, Betty, makes with alternate layers of eggplant and zucchini. She also makes a wonderful eggplant rollatini--sliced eggplant rolled and filled and served with a tomato sauce. 

Mom's Lesson

When my father was a youngster, one of his favorite dishes was gumbroit, which is sort of like ratatouille, made with eggplant, squash, tomatoes, and other vegetables. Clean-out-the-refrigerator time. Everyone raved about Nonna's gumbroit. 

My mother was Irish, but she was the best Italian cook there ever was. Basically, it was my father's mother who taught her how to cook. There were only three things in the world that would make Mom angry: if you talked about her husband, if you talked about her children, or if you talked about her cooking. Whenever my mother made gumbroit, Pop would say, "That's good, but not as good as my mother's." It drove Mom crazy. She made it just the way Nonna taught her. 

For a long time she tried to figure out what she could be doing wrong. Pop was the twentieth of twenty children and the spoiled baby of the family. He was a very picky eater. My mother knew that. She also knew that with such a big family, my grandmother used to save money by buying fruits and vegetables that had spots or bruises on them. And when they were running their own store, Nonna would take home the stuff that the customers wouldn't buy. It finally dawned on Mom that this was what she was doing wrong. The spotted vegetables Nonna used were absolutely dead ripe. So Mom went down to the store, picked out all the spotted eggplants and squashes and tomatoes, and took them home to make gumbroit. My father absolutely loved it! 

The problem with most Americans is that they buy with their eyes. Sure, there are things you need to look for when you're buying fresh produce, but just because something looks perfect, it won't necessarily taste good. A winter tomato can be perfectly round and uniformly colored, but it's not going to taste like anything. As often as not your other senses--especially your nose--are going to tell you as much about fruits and vegetables as your eyes will. 


CLICK ON LINK BELOW FOR EGGPLANT SHOW


https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete-Eggplantts_New-York-490062431.html

CALIFORNIA HONEYDEW MELONS 07/28/18

        

Honeydews

After cantaloupes and watermelons, probably the most familiar melons to Americans are honeydews, which are available in to the winter months. The rind is very smooth, greenish white to yellow in color, and the flesh is a cool lime green. An unripe honeydew is terrible, but a ripe one is probably the sweetest melon of all - and the prettiest. Honeydew is definitely one of my favorite melons. 

All too often it's difficult to find a ripe honeydew, but it's not difficult to pick out a ripe one. The rind will develop a golden color and will actually become sticky outside. Never be afraid of a honeydew that has developed a bit of brown freckling on the rind - that's where it's tacky with sugar. The other clue to a ripe honeydew is a sweet, heady aroma. People tend to check the stem end of the melon to see if it's soft, but that's not going to tell you a thing. Good aroma, color, freckles, and a sticky feel are the telltale signs of a sweet honeydew. 

In season, honeydews from California are the best. Unless you live in California, however, a ripe honeydew before August or after October is as rare as a blue moon. Because ripe ones are fragile and hard to ship, 99 percent of those you see most the year have been picked green, and they'll never ripen. From August through October, however, a new crop of honeydews is ripening in California, and they become ready so quickly the growers can't pick them fast enough. Lucky for you, because most of the honeydews end up staying on the vine until they're ripe and full of sugar. Honeydews from Arizona, Texas, and Mexico are in season at the same time, but in my opinion they range from decent (Arizona honeydews) to lackluster (those from Texas and Mexico). There are a couple of consistently good California brands you may want to watch for - Pony Boys and Sycamores. Start looking in August, and you'll rarely be disappointed. 

 So, you want to know how to tell if a honeydew melon is ripe, do you? Well, I don’t blame you. After all, there are few things better than a juicy honeydew, but an unripe one leaves a lot to be desired.


How to tell if a honeydew is ripe


Farmers have to be careful when harvesting honeydew melons from the vine as this particular fruit will not ripen if it is picked too early. An immature honeydew melon will remain hard, bland, and, frankly, inedible, so it’s vital they are picked once they’ve moved over to maturity.

The confusion between mature and immature melons comes about because mature honeydews can still be unripe. The difference is that a mature honeydew will begin to ripen if left to do its thing on your kitchen counter, whereas an immature one will never turn into the soft, luscious, juicy, tender fruit we all know and love.

A nice ripe honeydew melon will give off certain clues, and these are what you are going to be looking out for before you take your knife out of its block and begin slicing open your delicious ball of goodness

SMELL

When a honeydew melon is ripe and ready to eat it will have a sweet scent which simply screams out EAT ME! The longer the melon is left to ripen, the stronger the fruit’s fragrance becomes.
LOOKS
Your melon should have next to no greenness once it has fully ripened, so keep an eye out for any green veins running across the rind (the outer skin of the fruit). A ripe honeydew will have lost its green tinge and moved over to a nice whitish yellow or golden hue.
SOUND
Yes! Listen to your melons, people.
As you probably know, honeydew melons have an abundance of seeds inside them and these begin to work their way loose from the flesh as the melon ripens.
What has this got to do with your ears? Well, if you give a ripe melon a quick shake you’ll hear a faint rattling sound from within. Try it. It’s a cool trick.


Another audio clue can be found when you drum a melon with your fingers. The resulting sound should be somewhat of a deep, dull thud if your honeydew is ready to eat.


FEEL
Time to get touchy. When working out how to tell if a honeydew is ripe, this is often the first thing you’ll hear people talk about, and yet many people get it wrong.

The key is to gently press the opposite end to where the stem was, commonly referred to as the blossom end in gardening circles. With a honeydew melon, ripe fruits will yield a little and then bounce straight back.

The “give” you’re after is not too hard, not too soft. Think of Goldilocks when you’re pressing!

Nicely ripened honeydews will also have a different feel to them than unripened melons. Run your fingers across the rind of a perfectly ripened fruit and you’ll feel fine ridges in the skin, whereas less ripe honeydews will be smoother.


Selecting a ripe honeydew melon is great if you’re going to eat it that day, but what about if you are planning on waiting a while? Well, as I’ve already mentioned, the key thing to avoid is an immature fruit. Providing the melon is mature, you can always ripen a honeydew melon at home.

You can do all of the above tips in store to select the ripest, juiciest melons, but there are some other things to look out for as well when you’re buying a honeydew from a store or down at your local farmers market:


WEIGHT
A good honeydew melon will almost feel too heavy for its size when you pick it up. Why? Because of all that glorious juice held within, that’s why! Selecting a nice heavy honeydew will ensure you get a lip-smackingly juicy fruit.

SHAPE
A mature honeydew will appear round and symmetrical when you look at it, with no weird lumps and bumps. Again, it’s a good idea to avoid greener fruits too.

STEM END
While the stem will likely have been removed from the fruit before it hit the supermarket shelves, looking at this part of the fruit can determine whether it was nicely matured on the vine or not.

What you are looking for is a subtle dip around where the stem once was. Any remnants of the stem should be well hardened, dry, and free from any signs of mold.

Wondering how to ripen honeydew melon after cutting?


Sit yourself down, I have some bad news for you.

If you’ve been a little eager and cut into your honeydew too early, there isn’t much you can do to ripen it, unfortunately. However, all is not completely lost.

Instead of wasting your unripe honeydew melon, try adding it to your daily green smoothie. Unripe melons are hard and pretty tasteless, but your blender will whizz them up and the other ingredients will mask the blandness.

While it’s a poor substitute for a deliciously ripe honeydew, it’s a much better option than throwing it in the trash.

However, if you’re melon is actually immature (rather than simply unripe) and therefore has no chance of ever ripening, take it back to the store and complain. Immature fruits do sometimes escape quality control, but the more we stand up for ourselves the greater the chance this will be improved upon.

That’s it! Now you should be able to easily tell the difference between an unripe and a ripe honeydew melon. All that remains now is to slice one up and get stuck in.

Happy eating!


ORANGE FLESH HONEYDEWS

     Orange-fleshed honeydews are fairly new on the market. The rind has a more golden color that turns to orange as the melon ripens, so it's a bit easier to tell a mature one by looking at it. I don't think the orange-fleshed variety is quite as sweet as a regular honeydew that's mature and really ripe, but in the winter, when the orange-fleshed variety is shipped in from Chile and other growers south of the equator, it is a better melon and a better buy than any domestic honeydew you're likely to find. 


Click on the link below for Honeydew Show

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete-Honeydew_New-York-489419061.html




 

NEW JERSEY CORN 07/07/18

Farms View Farm and Roadstand in Wayne , New Jersey is one of the last working farms in Northwest New Jersey. The Kuehm family dates back to 1894 when the property was purchased by the first of five generations that operate the farm in Wayne New Jersey. Farms View Roadstand has evolved from a picnic table on a side lawn many years ago to this farm stand with attached greenhouses. I love doing segments at family farms to show all of you where fresh fruits and vegetables get their start. Long days and hard work are what farming is all about. Today we are talking fresh corn in the studio, picked 5 am this morning at Farms View Farm. Please support your local Jersey Farmers, Fresh From the Farm Daily.


       

NEW JERSEY CORN


Americans seem to be the only people who understand the virtues of sweet corn on the cob. A native American grain related to wheat, barley, and rye, corn didn't reach Europe until the sixteenth century. It's still far more popular here than among Europeans, who continue to call corn by its proper name--maize. 

Sweet corn is harvested young for use as a vegetable. Field corn is the variety that's dried and ground for meal, pressed for corn oil, or used as feed for livestock. 

The best sweet corn is an ear that's brought from the field straight to the pot. Years ago farmers would deliver corn to our market at three o'clock in the morning. My father would wake us, and we'd have to go down to the store to unload the corn--dozens of bags with fifty ears in each bag. There was a little stove at the back of the store, and my mother would put water on to boil, husk a bunch of ears, and cook corn for us right on the spot, which made this awful middle-of-the-night chore bearable. It was so fresh coming off the truck that to this day I don't think I've ever had corn as good. 

Once corn is picked, its natural sugars start turning to starch. The process is slowed by refrigeration, but by the time corn is harvested and shipped form California or Florida to the rest of the country, as much as a week may have passed. The corn will be pretty good, but not as good as corn picked locally. People with vegetable gardens literally start boiling the water before the corn is picked so they can put it in the pot as fast as they can shuck it. 

Varieties


You can get white, yellow, or bicolor corn, and though lots of people have preferences, the color has little to do with the sweetness. The only thing that determines taste is how long it's been off the stalk. There are, however, two relatively new hybrids designed to make corn hold its sugar longer: sugar-enhanced varieties and the newer "supersweets." Sugar-enhanced varieties have good corn flavor and are excellent when corn is out of season and has to be shipped to market. The supersweets are very- very sweet in fact, many corn lovers think they have an artificial taste. For my money, old-fashioned sweet corn straight out of the field is still tops. 

Season


The best time to eat corn on the cob is middle to late summer. Corn is grown almost everywhere, and the best place to get it is at farm stands or produce markets where corn is delivered every day. We use to send someone up to Smith's Farm every morning at 6 A.M. to pick up corn from Wally, who had been supplying Napolitano's for more than forty years.

Selecting


Look for a husk that's firm, fresh, and green-looking. Don't strip it; just look at the tassel or silk. On really fresh corn, the tassel will be pale and silky, with only a little brown at the top, where it's been discolored by the sun. Also try holding the ear in your hand: if it's warm, it's starting to turn to starch; if it's still cool, it's probably fresh. Although producers have fewer problems with worms now, don't worry if you spot a worm or two. The worms know what they're doing--they go after the sweetest ears. And since they usually eat right around the top, you can just break that part off. 


STORING

The short answer is don't; just eat fresh corn right away. But if you must, store it in the refrigerator. 

Preparing


A lady came into my store years ago and said, "I cook corn so long it almost starts to pop, and it's still tough." I said, "That's because you're cooking it so long!" Never overcook fresh, sweet corn. It only needs a few minutes' cooking time. To boil it, bring the water to a boil before dropping in the shucked ears. If the ears are too long for the pot, don't cut them with a knife, which tends to crush the kernels; just break them in two with you hands. Let the water return to a boil, and boil hard for three to four minutes. Remove immediately and serve: don't let the corn stand in the water. 


To microwave corn, shuck it, spread with butter if you wish, cover closely with plastic wrap or waxed paper, and microwave on full power (100 percent) about 2 1/2 minutes per ear. 


Corn is also great cooked on the grill. To prepare, pull down the husks but don't detach them and remove the silks. Spread some butter and salt on the kernels, then pull the husks back up and twist closed. Grill the ears for about fifteen minutes, turning them often. 


If you've got corn that's two or three days old, you can add it to soups or use it to make creamed corn, fritters, or spoon bread. Add it to seafood chowder or other soups, or make corn relish with it--there are plenty of ways to prepare it. 


PRODUCE PETE SWEET CORN FUN FACTS


 Corn was first grown by Native Americans more than 7,000 years ago in Central America.

Sweet corn leaves were used as chewing gum by Native Americans.

Corn is grown on every continent except Antarctica.

Corn plants typically grow 7 – 10 feet tall. Sweet corn plants are several feet shorter.

The tassel borne at the top of the stalk is the male part and the silk of the ear is the female part.

The tassel releases millions of grains of pollen, and some of them are caught by the silk.

There is one strand of silk for each kernel on a cob.

On average there are about 800 kernels on an ear of corn.

An ear of corn always has even number rows.

One acre of land can produce 14,000 pounds of sweet corn.

Depending upon the cultivar type, the crop may be ready for harvesting in 65-90 days.

Corn is cholesterol free.

It’s a good source of vitamin C and A, potassium, thiamine and fiber, and very high in antioxidants.

Corn is a 100% whole grain.

Corn is high in natural sugars/starches.

One average ear of yellow sweet corn equals 86 calories.

Sweet corn is a tasty and nutritious addition to any meal.

Click on the link below for New Jersey Corn Show


https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete-NJ-Sweet-Corn_New-York-487563501.html



  


CALIFORNIA CANTALOUPES SHOW 06/09/18

  

CALIFORNIA CANTALOUPES


Great fragrance is the hallmark of a good ripe cantaloupe. In my younger days, when I had the store and I would come home from the market the smell from a crate or two of cantaloupes in the truck would fill the air, it didn't matter what other produce was in there. When I opened  the door to unload, the warm, rich, sweet summer smell of melons is the first thing that hits me. Usually the least expensive and probably the most popular melons on the market, cantaloupes are sweet, fragrant, and juicy, with a pinkish orange to bright orange flesh. Grown primarily in California and other western states, cantaloupes are round, with a golden, tightly netted skin. 

Although good cantaloupes from the West are available from June through December, they are best between June and September. That's when the California crop is at its peak, and I think that state grows the best cantaloupes. Arizona is next, New Mexico and Texas also grow big cantaloupe crops. 


VARIETIES


Almost all cantaloupes commercially grown in California are of the Hale's Best group of varieties. Several strains are on the market, each with a few distinct characteristics. Other varieties include Hymark and Mission. 

California provides the bulk of supplies to the U.S. with Arizona and Texas also producing considerable amounts. U.S. availability begins in late April and the peak months are June through September. 

If the stem end is rough with portions of the stem remaining, the melon was harvested prematurely. Shriveled, flabby or badly bruised product signals poor quality. Also avoid melons with growth cracks, mottling or decay (mold or soft sunken spots on the surface). A mature cantaloupe will be well netted or webbed with a smoothly rounded, depressed scar at the stem end. 

When ready to eat, cantaloupe will take on a yellow background appearance, acquire an aroma and soften. Because cantaloupe is shipped in a firm state to avoid damage, it usually needs a few days at room temperature to soften and become juicier. 

To prevent bacteria on the melon netting from passing through to the flesh when cutting, follow these FDA rules: 

  • Wash melons with potable water. 
  • Clean and sanitize the cutting area and utensils. 
  • Hold cut product at 45F, 7.2C, or lower. 

SEASON


The best time to buy western cantaloupes is between June and September, when the California melons are at their peak. During December, January, and February, we get cantaloupes imported from Central America. Although you'll occasionally get lucky and find a good one, most of these are both overpriced and lousy. In February, March, April and May we start to see Mexican cantaloupes. They aren't as good as summer cantaloupes from the States, but over the last few years the quality has improved and the price has become more reasonable. 


SELECTING


Color and, more important, fragrance - not softness at the stem end - indicates ripeness. A cantaloupe with golden color and ripe, sweet aroma is going to be a ripe, sweet melon. Don't push the stem end - if your neighbor presses a thumb there, and I press mine there, you're going to feel something soft even if the melon is grass green. For some reason, cantaloupes with tighter netting seem to have a firmer, crisper texture and cut better than those with the looser, more open netting. 

A cantaloupe on the green side will ripen if you leave it out at room temperature until any green undertones in the rind have turned golden and the melon has a rich smell. But in season, during the summer, there's no excuse for taking home a green melon. In-season melons should have been picked fully mature and fully ripe, with little or no green showing. 

I think melons taste better and have a better texture at room temperature, but if you like your melon chilled, refrigerate it right before you're going to eat it. Cut melons, of course, have to be refrigerated, but wrap them tightly in plastic to preserve moisture. If you don't want everything in your refrigerator to smell and taste like cantaloupes (and vice-versa), it's a good idea to put the melon in a heavy plastic or glass container with a tight-fitting lid. 

Cantaloupes are fine eaten as is for breakfast or dessert or cut up with other melons and fruits in a salad. 

Nutrient content descriptors for cantaloupes include: fat-free, saturated fat-free, very-low-sodium, cholesterol-free, high in vitamin A, high in vitamin C and a good source of folate (add 10% folate to label). 

Because cantaloupe is easy to cut, it can be used as an appetizer, in salads, as a breakfast plate garnish and in compotes and desserts.


 A FEW FUN FACTS FROM PRODUCE PETE

 

Did you know…

– Cantaloupes are considered a luxury and are commonly given as a gift in Japan.

– Cantaloupes were first brought to America by Christopher Columbus is 1492.

– Did you know that “down under” in Australia they refer to cantaloupe as “ROCKMELON”? Makes sense to us – they kind of do look like rocks.

– An average sized cantaloupe contains just 100 calories. Who knew something so sweet could be good for you?

– Cantaloupes are the most popular melon in the United States.  Try them freeze dried for an all natural, portable, healthy snack.

– They are members of vine-crop family, including other melons, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and gourds. They have plenty of relatives – one big happy family.

– Not only do they taste good, they also fight against lung and oral cavity cancers.

– Because cantaloupes are high in Vitamin A, they help maintain good eye health. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy mucus membrane and skin of your eye.

– Cantaloupes protect you from UV rays. Forget the sunblock! Just joking, you should still definitely wear sunblock on top of adding more cantaloupe into your diet.

– Cantaloupes also help fight infections due to being filled with Vitamin C.

– Cantaloupes trailing vine can reach up to 5 feet in height.

– Fruits develop after 90 days of planting. Don’t plant them if you’re craving one right away – you’re better off going to the grocery store.

– Cantaloupes have many roles. They can be consumed fresh and as an ingredient in a fruit salad or used to create sorbets, smoothies and ice-creams. Even freeze dried, cantaloupes are a healthy snack.

– The cantaloupe was first cultivated in the 1700s, in the Italian papal village of Cantalup. Now we know where they got the name from.

These are just a few of our favorites! We hope you share these interesting cantaloupe fun facts with your family and friends, and try to incorporate cantaloupe in your diet if you haven’t already. They are super nutritious and packed with vitamins.

   

NUTRITION FACTS


Serving Size: 1/4 Med. Cantaloupe   (134g)

    Amount Per Serving

 Calories: 50     Calories from Fat 0

                             % of Daily Value

 Total Fat: 0g         0%

 Saturated Fat: 0g     0%

 Cholesterol: 0mg     0 %

 Sodium: 25mg          1 %

 Total Carbohydrate: 12g    4 %

 Dietary Fiber  1 g         4 %

 Sugars: 11g

 Protein: 1g

    Vitamin A: 100%         Vitamin C  80%

 Calcium: 2%             Iron 2 %


 *Percent Daily Values are based on   a 2,000-calorie diet.
  Source: PMA's Labeling Facts 


Click on link below for Cantaloupe Show


https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete-California-Cantaloupes_New-York-485032851.html

SEEDLESS WATERMELON SHOW 05/26/18

SEEDLESS WATERMELON

         


Watermelon to me brings back memories of my childhood which, of course, was a very long time ago. Years ago we used to peddle door to door - the time when the supermarkets came to you. 

Now in those days we used to have what we called straight loads, which most of the time were watermelons. Watermelons sold then mostly whole, never cut, except if you plugged it. Plugging is when you make a triangle cut into the watermelon, then you pull out the triangle cut to see if the watermelon is ripe. 

Red, juicy, with a thin rind is what you're looking for. Back then, everybody bought whole melons because they had big families. 

As the seedless variety began to get more popular, the cutting of watermelon also became the thing to do. Now watermelons are mostly sold by the piece. Summertime or year-round - there is nothing better than a good ripe watermelon. 

It didn't happen overnight or over the span of a few growing seasons. It took years and years to get rid of those seeds. Yet the result is somewhat truly amazing to behold, and even more amazing to taste. The seedless watermelon is sweeter and crunchier, with a nice thin rind. 

You ought to see all the ways people try to test whether watermelon is ripe. They thump them. They twist the stem to see if it will twist back. I've seen people balance straw on a melon to see if the straw will rotate. People have even brought buckets of water into the store to see if a melon will float. Everybody has some magical way to see if a watermelon is ripe, but there's one simple, sure way to tell. Look at the stem end: if the stem is shrunken and shriveled, the melon is ripe. 

Varieties

African in origin, watermelons are actually edible gourds in the same family as cucumbers and squash. The top three producers in the United States are Florida, Texas, and California, with Florida providing up to 90 percent of those we get on the East Coast. 

There are many varieties, many different shapes and sizes - a few with yellow flesh, most of them with red. Some people avoid watermelons because they're so big but a lot of small varieties have been developed that are terrific, and most markets sell large melons cut into halves or quarters. The average weight of a watermelon is five to thirty pounds, with some varieties as small as two pounds. 

Season

Seventy-five percent of the crop is produced in June, July, and August, but watermelons are available year round - imported from Mexico and Central America in the hard winter months, although in December and January they're very expensive and in limited supply. As with most fruits, you should buy watermelons when the domestic crop is in season. 

Selecting

Although a seedless watermelon will ripen after it's picked, if you want it ripe when you buy it, look for a stem that's shrunken and discolored. If the stem is missing, the watermelon is too ripe; it will be mealy and dark and not taste fresh. If the stem is green - the watermelon is too green and not ripe. The skin should be dull, not shiny. Slap the melon and listen for a hollow thump. A yellow belly or the underside of the watermelon usually indicates the fruit is ripe. 

Cut melons are usually more expensive per pound than those bought whole, but they may be a better buy because you see exactly what you're getting. The blossom end of the watermelon is usually the ripest and therefore the sweetest part. If you're buying a cut melon, look for the blossom end. Make sure the flesh is dark red and firm. 

Storing

Store a whole seedless watermelon in a cool place, not in direct sunlight. Don't refrigerate it unless it's cut or you want to chill it a few hours before serving. 

Preparing

Slice and serve or combine chunks or balls with other fruits for fruit salad; serve in the watermelon shell. Puree seedless watermelon for a delicious drink or freeze the puree to make ice pops or sorbet.
Enjoy! 

Did you know?

Soon to be published research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that watermelon is as much as 60% higher in lycopenes than tomatoes. 

Lycopene is a pigment that gives the bright red color to tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit and guava. Recent studies show the intake of lycopene is associated with reductions in several forms of cancer, including prostate, breast, lung and cancer of the uterus. The anti-cancer properties of lycopene appear to be due to its effectiveness as an antioxidant. 

Warm days and cool nights in the watermelon growing areas help increase lycopene content. The riper or redder the melon…..the more lycopene. In addition to lycopene, watermelons also contain other properties beneficial to the body, including citrulline, an amino acid compound, which helps flush out the kidneys. 

Interesting and Fun Watermelon Facts

Top 10 Watermelon Fun Facts

  1. Watermelon is grown in more then 96 countries worldwide .
  2. Over 1,200 varieties are grown around the world.   
  3. Every part of the melon is edible, including the seeds and rind .
  4. Early explorers used  watermelons as canteens.   
  5. The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred in Egypt nearly 5,000 years ago.     
  6. The word “watermelon” first  appeared in the English dictionary in 1615.  
  7. In some cultures, it is popular to bake watermelon seeds and eat them.  
  8. In recent years, more than 4 billion pounds of watermelon have been produced annually worldwide.    
  9. The first cookbook published in the United States was released in 1796 and it contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles.     
  10. Food historian John Martin Taylor said that early Greek settlers brought the method of pickling watermelons with them to Charleston South Carolina 

PRODUCE PETE TRAVELS


   While traveling around  usually with Bette in the car i love to stop at roadside stands and different farm markets, quite frankly this drives Bette nuts, she would rather be out shopping for shoes. I come across a lot of real interesting markets and this weeks market is one of them. Rock Farmers Market in Glen Rock , a small residential town, in New Jersey was quite a find, produce packed high and very reasonable prices, what more would you ask for. My father always used to say "Let the People Eat" and that's what this market and what Napolitano's Produce did for over 55 years. So I decided to do my show this week on Seedless Watermelons from there, hope you enjoy and if you are in the area stop by Rock Farmers Market, you won't be disappointed.


Click link below for Seedless Watermelon Show


https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete-Watermelon_New-York-483772521.html

About Produce Pete

 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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