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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 !!!
GUEST SPEAKER AT THE COMPREHENSIVE BEHAVIORAL HEALTHCARE'S CULINARY ADVENTURE ON JUNE 4TH, 2018. TRULY A NIGHT TO REMEMBER FOR A GREAT CAUSE
CBHCare Foundations CULINARY ADVENTURE MONDAY JUNE 4,2018
THE VENETIAN, GARFIELD N.J.
JOIN NBC NEW YORK'S "PRODUCE PETE" IN SUPPORTING MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAMS AND SERVICES!!!
THANKS A GREAT TIME BY ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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 Georgia and the Carolinas still produce the best.
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 high. Those years are long gone, but they are great memories of my youth and i wish i could go back again and enjoy those wonderful summer days.
The sizing system used for California peaches is derived from the original method of place packing tree fruit into layers deep in a wooden lug. Today this type of container is referred to as a two-layer, tray-packed or "panta-pak" box. Peach size designations are based on the number of pieces of fruit, which can be placed in this two-layer, tray-packed box. For example, there are 56 pieces of fruit in a two-layer, tray-packed box of size 56 peaches.
Through the years, the industry has developed a number of additional pack styles including loose-packed volume-fill boxes, consumer bags, single-layer trays and metric boxes. To accommodate every pack style, the sizing system used by the industry today is regulated according to the maximum number of nectarines in a 16-pound sample. Weigh-counts are set for each size designation and are regulated by the industry through third-party inspection at time of packing.
Approximate minimum diameters have been determined for each size designation, but the true standard of size is the weight-count sample. California peaches, regulated by federal marketing orders, have been inspected to ensure fruit meets minimum weight-counts for the designated size.
Shoulders - The bulge surrounding the stem basin. Shoulders become full and well rounded as the fruit matures on the tree.
Background Color - The yellow color on the skin of peaches and nectarines is the key to determining fruit ripeness. Look for bright yellow to orange colors with no hint of green to indicate a mature piece of fruit.
Blush - The red or bright orange blush on a peach or nectarine is caused by exposure of the fruit to sunlight. This lends a more appealing look to the fruit, but is NOT an indication of ripeness or maturity. Blush may cover anywhere from 10 percent to 100 percent of the fruit surface depending on variety.
Blossom End (tip) - The end opposite the stem. This is often the first part of the fruit to soften when ripe.
Suture - A structural line running from the stem to the blossom end of the fruit. The suture may develop as a cleft or a prominent bulge depending on variety.
Cheek - The sides of the fruit on either side of the suture. The cheeks of well- matured fruit should be plump.
Pit or Stone - The pit or stone (seed) supports the fruit as it hangs from the stem and provides the conduit for nutrients from the tree as the fruit grows. The flesh adheres to the pit in "clingstone" varieties and is easily separated from the pit in "freestone" varieties.
Flesh - The edible inside portion of a peach or nectarine. It can vary slightly in color, but traditional varieties normally have yellow or orange colored flesh. Some varieties may have a darker red flesh radiating from the pits as the fruit matures and ripens. "White flesh" varieties, as the name implies, will have a much paler, almost white appearance.
Once fruit is soft, it can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or more. Depending on the variety, ripe fruit will last for about a week in the refrigerator. But make sure it's ripe before you put it in. Again, an ordinary paper bag is all you need to get your tree fruit really ripe, every time.
Never leave fruit in a plastic bag. Keeping fruit in a plastic bag will hasten decay and can produce off-flavors.
Keep fruit away from the windowsill. Setting fruit on or near your window sill in direct sunlight can cause it to shrivel. High heat actually damages tree fruit.
How to peel peaches. Put them in boiling water for 10 seconds or until the skins split. Plunge them into ice water to cool and prevent cooking. The skins will slip right off.
How to prevent browning on the fruits' cut surfaces. Dip slices of fruit in a mixture of 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice or simply squeeze fresh lemon juice over cut surfaces.
Peaches belong to the rose family.
It's easy to ripen firm peaches ,Simply place the fruit inside a paper bag, loosely close the top and keep it at room temperature for a day or two. As peaches ripen they give off a natural hormone called ethylene. The paper bag traps the ethylene close to the fruit, while still allowing for the exchange of air into and out of the bag. Plastic bags will not work and can cause off-flavors in the fruit.
REMEMBER; NEVER PLACE FIRM PEACHES IN THE REFRIGERATOR. This can cause a type of damage called "internal breakdown." If you've ever had a dry or mealy peach, you've experienced "internal breakdown" and it's caused by storing fruit at the wrong temperatures. This can happen in your home refrigerator or at your grocer store. Once fruit is soft and gives to gentle palm pressure, it may be stored in the refrigerator for several days without damage. That's really all there is to it!
Many people have never had a fresh fig, since so much of that perishable crop is dried rather than shipped fresh to the consumer.
The very best in the world, however, are often ones that are ripened on trees in the backyard.
I remember my wife Bette’s grandfather had a fig tree in his backyard that required loving care. By the time Bette and I started dating in the early 1960s, her grandfather was getting on in years and every fall, around October, I'd help him prepare the tree for winter.
The tree was probably 15 feet tall, but together we'd tie a rope near the top of its trunk, pull on the rope until the tree was bent in half, then lash it down and wrap the whole thing in old rugs and any plastic we could find to protect it from the winter weather.
Being an inexperienced young man at the time, I would go into the house after we wrapped the tree and tell Bette that it was going to die. She, however, would assure me that every year since she was a baby her grandfather would do this and the tree would be perfect come springtime.
“Sure it will,” I always said, disbelieving.
Pretty soon, spring would come, and we'd remove the rugs and plastic and untie the tree.
“See, Bette -- the tree is still bent in half,” I’d tell her, to which she’d always say “just give it time.”
And boy was she right. The tree would gradually straighten up and the growing season would progress. Come summer, the figs on that tree were incredible, big and sweet as honey.
Her grandfather was amazing and could grow anything, so I learned a great lesson -- never doubt him or Bette. More than 55 years later, I still don't doubt her and I still listen – well, sometimes!
THE FACTS ON FIGS
Fresh figs can be round, flat, oval, or elongated, with a white, green, purple, or black skin depending on the variety. The flesh, which ranges in color from yellowish-white to a deep reddish pink, has a very delicate flavor and soft texture.
Figs are one of the most fragile fresh fruits you'll find at your produce store and must be handled with extreme care by both shippers and consumers.
Although there are some seedless varieties, most figs are full of tiny crunchy seeds that are eaten along with the flesh. The three most popular figs on the market are the sac-like Breba, the flat green Kadota, and the round black Mission fig, so-called because it was first cultivated by monks in California. Of these three, I think the Mission is the best of all.
Historians argue about whether the Greeks sent figs to Egypt and beyond or whether figs traveled the other way. Regardless, figs are grown extensively in India and are also cultivated in Iran, Turkey, Greece and Sicily.
I may be biased, but I think that Sicilian figs are especially wonderful.
In the U.S., figs are grown in many home gardens as far north as New York, but almost all of the fresh figs on the market here are grown in California, with a smaller crop from Texas that’s primarily sold to canneries.
California figs, which are in season from June to September, are packed individually in separate compartments within cardboard or wooden boxes, then shipped by air to the rest of the country to protect their delicate flesh.
Because they're so perishable and hard to handle, they tend to be one of the more expensive items you'll find at the produce market.
SELECTION AND STORAGE
Because packers handle them so carefully, figs usually arrive at the market in good shape, but avoid figs with brown or grayish spots on the skin, as these indicate that the fruit has started to ferment.
If the fruit doesn't show signs of fermentation or damage, it will almost certainly be good. Firm fruit can be ripened at home at room temperature, but even firm fruit must be handled with great care.
Perfectly ripe figs are soft to the touch and secrete a sweet sap from the opening at the blossom end. At this stage, they're extremely fragile and perishable and need to be handled very gently and eaten right away.
If you must store them, lay them on a paper towel, cover them with plastic wrap, and store them in the refrigerator for no more than three days.
A ripe, fresh fig is delicious simply eaten out of hand. You can eat the skin or nibble the flesh from the skin.
Figs can also be poached with sugar, used in baking, or made into jam or preserves.
Fresh figs help retain the freshness and moisture of items they’re combined with and are often used to help extend the shelf life of cakes and baked goods without chemicals or preservatives.
Figs mixed with olive oil, rosemary and garlic make an excellent spread for focaccia bread, while figs and rosemary make a great stuffing for pork chops, chicken and dumplings. Grilled figs on skewers basted with brandy are simply delicious.
In place of melon, try wrapping fig halves in prosciutto, an appetizer that Bette and her family have made for years using a tasty recipe sourced from the great Long Island chef Ina Garten.
PRODUCE PETE FUN FIG FACTS
Fig trees have no blossoms on their branches. The blossom is inside of the fruit! Many tiny flowers produce the crunchy little edible seeds that give figs their unique texture.
Click on link below for Mission Fig Show
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.
Almost all cantaloupes commercially grown in California are of the Hale's Best group of varieties. Several strains are on the market, each with a few distinct characteristics. Other varieties include Hymark and Mission.
California provides the bulk of supplies to the U.S. with Arizona and Texas also producing considerable amounts. U.S. availability begins in late April and the peak months are June through September.
If the stem end is rough with portions of the stem remaining, the melon was harvested prematurely. Shriveled, flabby or badly bruised product signals poor quality. Also avoid melons with growth cracks, mottling or decay (mold or soft sunken spots on the surface). A mature cantaloupe will be well netted or webbed with a smoothly rounded, depressed scar at the stem end.
When ready to eat, cantaloupe will take on a yellow background appearance, acquire an aroma and soften. Because cantaloupe is shipped in a firm state to avoid damage, it usually needs a few days at room temperature to soften and become juicier.
To prevent bacteria on the melon netting from passing through to the flesh when cutting, follow these FDA rules:
The best time to buy western cantaloupes is between June and September, when the California melons are at their peak. During December, January, and February, we get cantaloupes imported from Central America. Although you'll occasionally get lucky and find a good one, most of these are both overpriced and lousy. In February, March, April and May we start to see Mexican cantaloupes. They aren't as good as summer cantaloupes from the States, but over the last few years the quality has improved and the price has become more reasonable.
Color and, more important, fragrance - not softness at the stem end - indicates ripeness. A cantaloupe with golden color and ripe, sweet aroma is going to be a ripe, sweet melon. Don't push the stem end - if your neighbor presses a thumb there, and I press mine there, you're going to feel something soft even if the melon is grass green. For some reason, cantaloupes with tighter netting seem to have a firmer, crisper texture and cut better than those with the looser, more open netting.
A cantaloupe on the green side will ripen if you leave it out at room temperature until any green undertones in the rind have turned golden and the melon has a rich smell. But in season, during the summer, there's no excuse for taking home a green melon. In-season melons should have been picked fully mature and fully ripe, with little or no green showing.
I think melons taste better and have a better texture at room temperature, but if you like your melon chilled, refrigerate it right before you're going to eat it. Cut melons, of course, have to be refrigerated, but wrap them tightly in plastic to preserve moisture. If you don't want everything in your refrigerator to smell and taste like cantaloupes (and vice-versa), it's a good idea to put the melon in a heavy plastic or glass container with a tight-fitting lid.
Cantaloupes are fine eaten as is for breakfast or dessert or cut up with other melons and fruits in a salad.
Nutrient content descriptors for cantaloupes include: fat-free, saturated fat-free, very-low-sodium, cholesterol-free, high in vitamin A, high in vitamin C and a good source of folate (add 10% folate to label).
Because cantaloupe is easy to cut, it can be used as an appetizer, in salads, as a breakfast plate garnish and in compotes and desserts.
A FEW FUN FACTS FROM PRODUCE PETE
– Cantaloupes are considered a luxury and are commonly given as a gift in Japan.
– Cantaloupes were first brought to America by Christopher Columbus is 1492.
– Did you know that “down under” in Australia they refer to cantaloupe as “ROCKMELON”? Makes sense to us – they kind of do look like rocks.
– An average sized cantaloupe contains just 100 calories. Who knew something so sweet could be good for you?
– Cantaloupes are the most popular melon in the United States. Try them freeze dried for an all natural, portable, healthy snack.
– They are members of vine-crop family, including other melons, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and gourds. They have plenty of relatives – one big happy family.
– Not only do they taste good, they also fight against lung and oral cavity cancers.
– Because cantaloupes are high in Vitamin A, they help maintain good eye health. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy mucus membrane and skin of your eye.
– Cantaloupes protect you from UV rays. Forget the sunblock! Just joking, you should still definitely wear sunblock on top of adding more cantaloupe into your diet.
– Cantaloupes also help fight infections due to being filled with Vitamin C.
– Cantaloupes trailing vine can reach up to 5 feet in height.
– Fruits develop after 90 days of planting. Don’t plant them if you’re craving one right away – you’re better off going to the grocery store.
– Cantaloupes have many roles. They can be consumed fresh and as an ingredient in a fruit salad or used to create sorbets, smoothies and ice-creams. Even freeze dried, cantaloupes are a healthy snack.
– The cantaloupe was first cultivated in the 1700s, in the Italian papal village of Cantalup. Now we know where they got the name from.
These are just a few of our favorites! We hope you share these interesting cantaloupe fun facts with your family and friends, and try to incorporate cantaloupe in your diet if you haven’t already. They are super nutritious and packed with vitamins.
Serving Size: 1/4 Med. Cantaloupe (134g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 50 Calories from Fat 0
% of Daily Value
Total Fat: 0g 0%
Saturated Fat: 0g 0%
Cholesterol: 0mg 0 %
Sodium: 25mg 1 %
Total Carbohydrate: 12g 4 %
Dietary Fiber 1 g 4 %
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
WELL FINALLY ITS HERE , WARM WEATHER. IT SEEMS LIKE IT WOULD NEVER COME. THE FIRST OF THE SUMMER FRUITS IS ALWAYS THE APRICOT, WHEN I SEE THEM IN THE SUPERMARKETS OR AT YOUR GREEN GROCERS , I KNOW THE REST OF THE SUMMER FRUITS IS NOT FAR BEHIND. WHEN I WAS YOUNG AND POP HAD THE STORE, PEOPLE WOULD ALWAYS COME IN LOOKING FOR PEACHES, PLUMS, NECTARINES AFTER A LONG WINTER. IN THOSE DAYS IN THE WINTER NO SUMMER FRUIT WAS EVER AVAILABLE, NOT LIKE TODAY WHEN FRUIT COMES FROM AROUND THE WORLD, NOW PLEASE LISTEN, I SAID ITS AVAILABLE, BUT I DIDN'T SAY IT WAS ANY GOOD. THE OFF SHORE FRUIT HAS TO BE PICKED TO GREEN TO WITHSTAND THE LONG TRIP HERE, FRUIT WILL GET RIPER, SOAFTER BUT NEVER SWEETER, IT HAS TO HAVE MATURITY IN IT WHEN IT IS PICKED, SO THAT'S WHY IN THE WINTER FRUIT IS ONLY SO SO. POP WOULD ALWAYS TELL THE CUSTOMERS TOO EARLY, WHAT'S YOUR HURRY, WHEN YOU SEE GOOD SWEET APRICOTS THE REST WILL FOLLOW. GOOD THINGS ARE WORTH WAITING FOR, IF YOU WANT THE FRUIT TO TASTE LIKE A LIME, WE SELL LIMES TO. WHERE HE CAME FROM IN ITALY THE FRUIT WAS ALWAYS GOOD BECAUSE THEY WAITED FOR THE SEASONS AND IT WAS GROWN LOCAL. I LEARNED A VALUABLE LESSON FROM HIM, ALWAYS BUY IN SEASON AND WHEN THE SEASON IS IN WAIT A WEEK AND AT THE END OF THE SEASON STOP BUYING TO GET THE BEST. HIS WAYS MAYBE ARE OLD FASHION NOW BUT THEY STILL WORK.
When apricots arrive in the store, I know that summer has finally arrived and all the other hot weather fruits are not far behind. A good apricot is small, round, delicate, and glows with golden color. About the size of a plum and similar in appearance to a very small peach, a ripe apricot is sweet, fragrant, richly colored, and extremely fragile. It is also one of the richest sources of beta carotene (vitamin A) Apricots are delicious and low in calories eaten out of hand, they're also great poached with a little sugar, turned into jam or fillings for layer cakes, made into tarts, dried or glaceed.
Although apricots from China were introduced to Europe by Alexander the Great, they apparently disappeared at some point during the Roman Empire. Some say that the Moors reintroduced them when they conquered Spain, but apricots definitely reappeared during the Crusades. And it's certain that Franciscan friars brought them to California, which still grows the bulk of the crop in the United States. Although we get a few out of Idaho, I think those from California are the best. They're surpassed in flavor only by apricots from Morocco, where weather and soil conditions produce wonderful apricots. The trouble is, they're so fragile they must be picked hard and shipped under refrigeration and often don't ripen properly. Too many times in and out of the refrigerator, and an apricot becomes dry and woody. If you see great-looking apricots from Morocco, try them, but your safest bet is the California apricot, mainly because it travels a shorter distance.
California apricots are at their peak from May through August. Later in the fall, apricots from Idaho appear. Winter fruit from Chile, Australia, and New Zealand are not worth buying, simply because they've been picked too green (which means they will be very hard, very woody). Australian apricots are fine in Australia, but not here.
Since apricots will ripen off the tree, in many instances it is your best bet to buy firm fruit and take it home to ripen. Firm apricots should be gold, with no traces of green. A good ripe one will be a rich allover gold, often with a red blush, and the flesh will be soft. Avoid wrinkled apricots, which are old.
Because they are so tender, ripe apricots will often show small bruises or soft spots. Don't let that worry you, as it is usually a sign that the fruit is ripe and sweet (but don't select fruit that is bruised all over--something that can happen in a self-service market where dozens of people may have squeezed the life out of the fruit). Although Napolitano's was self-service, we tried to keep the apricots near the check-out counter so that we can help our customers with them. Do yourself and your neighbors a favor, and handle apricots and other fragile fruit very carefully.
Leave hard apricots on the counter in a warm place for as long as five or six days to ripen, until very gold in color and soft to the touch. A ripe apricot may be refrigerated, but not for more than a day or two. Like peaches, apricots dry out fairly quickly in the refrigerator.
A fresh ripe apricot is a sublime treat. But this fragrant fruit is also delicious gently poached, or try the Apricot Mousse featured in Bette's Recipes
Click on link below for Apricot Show
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Top 10 Watermelon Fun Facts
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
The secret of the sweetness is the South East Georgia soil. and thanks in part to a span of cold weather in December volume should be down, but quality thanks to a burst of heat in early April should be good.
Harvest of Vidalia onions, which usually starts in late April, is a little late this year so you should start to see them in your stores right about now.
Vidalia Sweet Onions are a yellow granex hybrid known for their sweet, mild flavor. This unique Georgia - grown onion, known as "The World's Sweetie" receives its mild flavor from the sandy, low-sulfur soil, and the mild, temperature found only in the 20-county production area of Southern Georgia. A fresh Vidalia onion has a light golden-brown skin and white interior. Its shape is rounded on the bottom and somewhat flat on the top or stem end. Vidalia’s mature and are harvested from late April through mid-June. A true Sweet Onion is what we call a spring onion - early dug - after the onion is picked and put in storage it starts to get hot. By using controlled atmosphere storage, which is cold storage, it keeps the onion from turning hot somewhat. The Vidalia Onions are the Georgia State Vegetable, and about 70% are distributed through grocery stores with the other 30% through roadside stands and mail-order businesses.
The region grown is the most important factor in determining sweetness. The sulfites in the onions are the things that give you the heat and make your eyes tear. By keeping cool, the sugar stays in the onions and the sulfites take longer to take hold.
Vidalia onions have always been a favorite of mine, but the most important thing to remember is buy them early in the season. You will still see Vidalia’s in the stores late into the summer and you will pay a premium price for them, well to tell you the truth they are not worth it. As the season goes on the onion will get hotter, and even though they call them Vidalia’s the sugar in the onion has turned to sulfites and are hot not sweet. To me there is nothing better then a sweet onion, and a couple of slices of a red juicy tomato. So enjoy your Vidalia’s and please remember, BUY THEM EARLY.
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THE 2018 VIDALIA ONION CROP
The 2018 Vidalia onion crop looks to be a strong one with normal volume, growers say. ( Courtesy Vidalia Onion Committee )
Vidalia onion growers say they expect normal volumes, good quality and a usual start to their deal this year.
“The crop looks good,” said Bob Stafford, interim director of the Vidalia Onion Committee.
“It’s not going to be a bumper crop, but it will be a normal crop.”
Growers got a New Year’s jolt when a freeze gripped the region and produced 2-3 inches of snow over most of the district in early January.
“The snow didn’t bother it, but some of them (the plants) were frozen.
They probably lost 10% to 15%, but we did get the right amount of heat units we need, so we’re very happy with our quality. We’re going to have a good marketable crop.”
Last year, the Vidalia district shipped 5.7 million 40-pound units of sweet onions, compared to 5.3 million in 2016.
They always shoot for 5 million, so they are going to shoot for somewhere around that 5- to 5.5-million range.
The January cold was a bit of a concern, but February and March compensated, said Delbert Bland, president of Glennville, Ga.-based Bland Farms LLC.
“We have about 9% plant loss on 2,500 acres, and that’s not out of the ordinary,” he said. “It could be better, but it’s not devastating. We actually plant 89,000 plants per acre. That’s not that much, when you get down to it.”
The first shipments should go out in mid-April, which would be a normal start, Bland said.
“Last year we were earlier than that, but April 15-20 is probably about average over the last 10 years,” he said.
The Georgia Department of Agriculture has set April 20 as the official pack date for Vidalia onions this season.
The crop will transition into storage around July 1, and supplies likely will be available through Labor Day, growers say.
The January chill had some growers shaking, but the crop emerged in good shape.
“The crop has rebounded nicely to this point,” he said, noting he expected a “normal” crop.
“Quality is very nice at this point in the fields, with early varieties showing normal yields and mid- to late-season varieties showing a stand loss. We do expect these later onions to produce less yield than normal.”
The Vidalia District produced record crop yields in 2016 and 2017, but growers aren’t expecting a repeat in 2018.
“All things considered, we see this year’s crop being back to normal.
“The early varieties look good, with the mid-to late season varieties showing a stand loss from the cold weather. As of mid-March, it’s simply too early to tell at this point how those will yield.”
Growers hesitated to forecast market conditions for 2018.
“It’s a commodity, so it’s based off the supply
“The good thing about Vidalia is people know our time period, and they know there’s not a lot of competition during that time.”
TEN FUN FACTS ABOUT VIDALIA ONIONS
Click Link below for Vidalia Onion Show!!
Some of the best memories of my childhood are of picking blackberries from a wild patch near a neighbor's yard in Tenafly, New Jersey--a patch now long gone. A bramble and a member of the rose family, blackberries will grow like weeds in the right climate, and in more rural areas they can still sometimes be seen growing bay the side of the road. What we get on the market are cultivated varieties. Although they're grown in almost every state, the biggest crops come from the Pacific Northwest, Michigan, and New Jersey. The greater part of the crop is sold to processors for jams and jellies, but you'll find fresh blackberries at roadside stands, farm markets, and good produce stores during the summer, usually in half-pint boxes.
Blackberries are available from May until September, with the peak usually in June and July. Winter berries are imported from Chile.
A blackberry on the vine ripens from green to purple to black; a ripe one is just about jet black and will almost fall off the vine with a gentle touch. If you pick them yourself, look for the blackest berries you can find. If you have to tug at them to get them off the vine, they aren't really ripe.
Blackberries are usually marketed by the half pint. The container is usually cardboard, so check the bottom for stains. If it's badly stained, pass it by. Avoid berries that are very soft or wet, show signs of mildew, or seem to be stuck together in the container.
Since they're not hollow, blackberries will keep a little longer than raspberries, but you want to use them within two days of purchase or picking. Don't keep 'em--eat 'em!
Like all berries, blackberries should be refrigerated unwashed. Spread them out on a tray or in a shallow basket so that they're not packed on top of each other.
Rinse the berries quickly in cold water right before you're ready to serve. Never wash any berry until you're ready to eat it. Blackberries are delicious eaten as is, with cream and sugar, or added to other sliced fresh fruits such as peaches. They make intensely flavored pies and jams.
A MESSAGE FROM PRODUCE PETE ABOUT SEASONS FINEST BLACKBERRIES
It's been my pleasure each week for the past 26 years plus to bring you what I think is the best of the best in what produce is available. One thing that has not changed is 3 things that make this possible, in season, good tasting, and that it’s available for you to purchase. Well this week, in season and good is right, but available, a little hard this might be!! My reasoning for talking about Seasons Finest blackberries is, with the 1000 or so emails I get every week, this week 2 stood out - "where are those great blackberries you talked about last year at this time." I know it's only 2 emails, but think about it, with all that people have on their minds, they still remembered the blackberries; why because they were great tasting. This Mexican variety of blackberries under the Driscoll Seasons Finest label is only available through them, you have heard me tell you thousands of times, look at the product not the label but in this case take my word, if you can find them buy them, they are great. Only available for the next 3 weeks (short season 5-6 weeks). They will be gone by the end of May. They are a little pricey compared to the regular blackberries you see in the store, but once you have tried them you will be hooked.
A LITTLE MORE PRODUCE PETE INFORMATION ON BLACKBERRIES AND ALL BERRIES.
Keep your berries refrigerated at home, as maintaining a cool temperature is the key to the longevity of the berry. Do not wash berries prior to refrigeration. Simply rinse your berries in cool running water prior to serving.
Blueberries: 10 – 14 days after purchase
Strawberries: 3 – 7 days after purchase
Raspberries: 2 – 3 days after purchase
Blackberries: 2 – 3 days after purchase
Cranberries: 4 – 8 weeks after purchase
Available in fancy or gourmet fruit stores. Try,
Sickles Market Little Silver, N.J., De Cicco's and Sons, Stew Leonard’s, Citarella's, Manhattan Fruit Exchange , so good luck and I hope you have a great eating experience.
Click link below for Blackberry Show
When I see a mango, I think of my father, Pete. He loved mangoes and had no problem eating them, but he could never stand next to a mango tree because he would break out in hives. Something on the tree while they were growing triggered that response. I guess we’ll never know!
America’s awareness of mangoes has definitely been on the rise. I’ve lectured about different fruits and vegetables at schools for a long time and years ago, when I’d hold up a mango and ask the kids what it was, most would say an apple. But all that’s changed now based on the number of American children hailing from different parts of the world, as well as because of the mango’s increasing popularity.
By far my favorite kind is the Haitian mango — it’s not necessarily pretty to look at, flat and elongated and all kidney-shaped and green, but taste-wise it’s great. Though available most of the year, its peak season is from late April to July, so get ready to see them in stores and bring home a bunch. When you buy them, they’ll probably be on the green side, so leave them out on the counter until they get a little golden color and have that great sweet smell they’re known for. Bright orange inside and less stringy than regular mangoes, they’re a great treat with a super sweet taste!
ORIGINS AND BENEFITS
The mango originated in Southeast Asia, where it’s been grown for over 4,000 years, and since then has spread to many tropical and subtropical settings where the climate is conducive to the mango’s success. Mango trees are evergreens that will grow to 60 feet tall and require hot, dry periods to set and produce a good crop. Today there are over 1,000 different varieties of mangoes throughout the world. In India, the mango tree plays a sacred role as a symbol of love, and some also believe that the mango tree can grant wishes.
A comfort food, mangoes really can make you feel better. Rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, mangoes contain an enzyme with stomach-soothing properties similar to the papain found in papayas, which acts as a digestive aid. Mangoes are high in fiber and are also an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and beta carotene.
SELECTION AND STORAGE
Handle a mango very gently, as it bruises easily. Pick it up and gently press your thumb against the flesh — it should have a little give and a really sweet smell. A very ripe mango will often have some black speckling outside; don’t worry about that or about a little bruising, but avoid mangoes that are black all over, as they’re beyond the point of no return. I think mangoes that weigh a pound to a pound and a half have the sweetest taste.
Always use your nose when you’re choosing mangoes — 99percent of the time, a mango that smells wonderful tastes wonderful. If the stem end smells sour or acidic, reject it. If a mango is firm and green, it won’t have any smell, but if it looks good, bring it home and ripen it yourself.
Leave a firm, unripe mango out on the counter for a few days until it colors, develops a sweet aroma, and “gives” when you press it very gently. But never refrigerate a mango. If you must have it chilled, you can put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes, but I think mangoes taste best at room temperature. In any event, storing a mango below 50 degrees for any length of time will take the flavor out.
Mangoes are great simply peeled and eaten as is or with a squeeze of lime juice (but don’t eat the peel — it’s bitter). Unlike many fruits, they’re slow to discolor when they’re sliced, which helps them make and retain a nice presentation. They make a beautiful tropical salad sliced with pineapple chunks, kiwi, papaya, banana, or just about any tropical fruit; I like to add a little squeeze of lime and some shredded coconut, too. For a refreshing and very nutritious tropical drink, purée some sliced mango with banana, pineapple and a squeeze of lime and enjoy!
Because mangoes have a large and nonfreestanding stone right in the center of the fruit that’s difficult to remove, people always ask me how to cut and eat a mango. Following, I’ve shared the results of my years of experience to help you get greater access to this fantastic fruit. Hope this makes it easier for you to enjoy this burst of sunshine!
HOW TO EAT A MANGO
To deal with the pit in the center, take two lengthwise cuts on either side of where you figure the pit is; if it’s a flattish mango, turn it up so a narrow side is facing you. The pit is large but fairly flat, so make the cuts no more than half an inch on either side of an imaginary center line. You’ll have three slices, the center one with the pit in it.
Now take the two outside slices and score the flesh with the tip of a knife, getting as close to the skin as you can without breaking it. Hold the scored slice in two hands and gently push up from the skin side, which will pop inside out. The segments of mango will separate and can easily be scooped off the skin with a spoon or butter knife. Add a sprinkle of lime juice if you like.
As for the slice with the pit, you can discard it if you have the willpower, but I personally find the flesh around the pit to be the tastiest part. All I can say is that the best way to eat it is to remove the strip of skin around it, pick it up with your fingers, stand over the sink, and enjoy!
HAITIAN MANGOES DOMINATE THE NEW YORK MARKETS
The most popular mangoes in New York are Haitian. There are everywhere, unlike the Dominican banilejo mango, which can be mainly found in upper Manhattan and the Bronx
In Haiti almost half of the fruit rots before reaching the market, partly because of the poor condition of rural roads and partly because of the mismanagement of trees and the mangoes harvested.
In addition, most producers of Haitian mangoes have less than a dozen trees, from which they don't get more than $1,500 dollars per season. Productivity tends to be low because small farmers lack training to properly take care of their trees, harvest, and transport the fruit properly.
As a result, nearly 40 percent of the fruit that reaches the packing plants is rejected. Besides Haitian and Dominican mangoes, the New York market also sells Mexicans mangoes, which have a high consumption in that community and are usually eaten with salt and spices.
There are said to be over 100 varieties of mangos grown in Haiti. This fact even gave birth to the moniker of Haiti being known as “Mango Land”. The most sought after variety is the Francique ( the haitian). It is large and fleshy and well-known in the business as the best Caribbean variety. It is the King of the mangos grown in Haiti.
Everywhere in Haiti, you will see women sitting on the side of the roads selling mangos, their baskets piled high with several varieties in different stages of ripening. To some, “a mango is a mango,” but to people of this country; this could not be further from the truth. Everyone has their personal favorite and they will argue the values, flavors, and tastes to defend their choice.
Spring is a great time of year when everything bursts forth and comes alive, including a whole new crop of fruits and vegetables. Hope you embrace the season by enjoying all of the bounty our country has to offer. From my table to yours, wishing you good eating and the best of health.
Click the link below for haitian mango 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".