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Sit Down With Produce Pete

 

NBC's ' Produce Pete'  sits down to talk about food access issues, the New York Green Cart Initiative and his own beginnings as a street vendor.  He appears in the film THE APPLE PUSHERS (www.applepushers.com).

 

Produce Pete at Hunts Point Market, Bronx NY

 

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

Pat & Pete at Eden Garden, South Orange

Pat and Produce Pete out for a fun day at Eden Garden Marketplace.  Pat's getting better at picking fresh fruits and vegetables then i am.

Produce Pete With Hank Zona At Katzman Produce

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

Produce Pete's WNBC Shows, Past and Present

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

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


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


JEOPARDY

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




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

KENT MANGO 02/23/19

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Sweet and delicious mangoes are rich in vitamins and minerals.

 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.

 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

Handel 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

PREPARATION

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 mangoTo 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! 

KENT MANGO STORY

 Kents tend to be softer when ripe than other round varietals seen in the USA. They can also be a bit more wrinkly when ripe, often a deterrent to the end user, so education is very important in their merchandising. It also tends to be more juicy or succulent in comparison to the Tommy Atkins or the Haden, probably an attribution of their yellow mango roots, which are often more juicy. These extremely succulent, juicy mangoes have a deep golden flesh when ripe, much more so than any other mango. They tend to be on the large size spectrum, and in terms of skin, they often exhibit slight red, yellows and eventually golden and orange blush tones. They have white speckles, as the Haden, but as the Kents ripen their speckles become more predominant.The Kent cultivar has certainly been passed around the world; it is the predominant mango produced in Ecuador and Peru for export to the USA, and one of the main cultivar produced in South Africa (another leading world mango exporter) and it’s the prized import mango in France and other European countries.   Originating from Florida in the 1940's, Kents are ideal mangos for juicing and drying.  FLAVOR: Sweet and rich  TEXTURE: Juicy, tender flesh with limited fibers  COLOR: Dark green and often has a dark red blush over a small portion of the mango  SHAPE: Large oval shape  RIPENING CUES: Kents have yellow undertones or dots that cover more of the mango as it ripens. Squeeze gently to judge ripeness.  PRIMARY SOURCE COUNTRIES: Mexico, Ecuador, Peru  PEAK AVAILABILITY: January, February, June to Aug, and December   What are Kent variety Mangos like? Featuring a mostly dark green skin with small patches of red blush, Kent Mangos have gold to orange flesh that is both sweet and rich, and is less fibrous and less stringy than the Tommy Atkins.  

How do I know if this Mango is ripe?

The amount of redness on the skin is not an indicator of sweetness or ripeness with the Kent variety Mango. These Mangos do not give much in the way of visual clues to when they are ripe, so judge by the softness when you squeeze them. Ripen Mangos at room temperature. Squeeze Gently to Test Ripeness on Kent variety Mangos

  1. Hard = flesh will be firm and crunchy inside, slightly astringent
  2. Slight Give = ripe enough for sweet flavor and creamy flesh
  3. Almost Soft = fully ripe, very juicy, very sweet
  4. Very Soft = over-ripe, perhaps discolored inside  

RED PEPPERS 02/16/19

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It seems hard to believe, but it wasn't so many years ago that red peppers were a rarity in the grocery store. You could find them only during a two- or three-week period each year, and you paid luxury prices for the privilege.

Now, of course, red peppers are available year-round, and if they're not dirt-cheap, they're certainly reasonable. For that, you can thank Israeli scientists.

In the past, red peppers were green bell peppers that had reached the final stages of maturity.  As such, they were prone to a couple of notable shortcomings, not the least of which was that they had an extremely short season and shelf life.  Their flavor was good, but their flesh was weak and prone to spoilage problems.

Today's red peppers, "bred to be red." They turn colors much earlier and, once picked, they stay firm and crisp much longer--up to two weeks.  The trade-off is that the flavor is not the same.  The new varieties are sweeter, without the earthy undertones of the old-time reds.

Le Rouge red peppers were introduced by Indio-based agricultural conglomerate Sun World International in 1983.  The product of Israeli scientists at Ben Gurion University in Beersheba, Le Rouge is a cross of a regular blocky pepper with Bulgarian and cubanelle peppers.

"A blocky red bell is a green bell that is at the end of its life cycle.  "Once picked, a blocky bell doesn't have a lot of shelf life.  Le Rouge is bred to be red at peak maturity.  That means you have another seven to 14 days of shelf life after it has been picked."

Red Peppers are green at first.  Sweet peppers will mature to various colors with red being the most prominent color.  The green pepper that we eat is the immature version.  Like I said, most common varieties of bell peppers will turn from green to red, with other varieties turning yellow, purple, or even brown as the pepper matures.  As peppers mature their sugar content increases.  Some yellow varieties are the only color found in both immature and mature peppers. Red peppers have a real sweet flavor and green and yellow peppers have a mildly sweet, slightly spicy flavor. 

Colored peppers are grown in open fields, greenhouses, and shade houses. The quality, size and profile of the pepper is much more consistent when grown in greenhouses and shade houses. The protected environment is more costly to set up but the final product is a much better pepper. When a pepper is field grown you run the risk of bad weather, decreasing yield and exposure to diseases.

SELECTING

Look for Red Peppers that are fresh, firm, bright in color, thick-fleshed with a bright green calyx (stem). Pick up the pepper and shake it.  If you hear the seeds rattle inside, pass it by; that means the pepper is old.  Soft, pliable, thin-fleshed with a pale color indicates the peppers are old as well. 

STORING

Refrigerated in the crisper drawer, red peppers will keep for up to three or four days, but they will lose their crispness and turn limp in fairly short order.  Left at room temperature, they'll lose their crunch in a matter of hours.  Don't wash until you're ready to use them. Red peppers are low in calories, free of saturated fat, sodium free, cholesterol free, fat free, and high in antioxidant vitamin C. Red bell peppers are a versatile addition to any luncheon or dinner menu.

There are some really great deals on sweet red peppers available right now! Growers in Mexico are into their peak harvests fresh crop field-grown sweet red peppers. Sizing is big and prices are low compared to other times of year.

WHAT COLOR BELL PEPPER IS BETTER FOR YOU TO EAT ?

Choose red bell peppers for their high levels of antioxidant vitamins A and C which help protect cells from free radicals. One cup of chopped red peppers contains three times the minimum amount of vitamin C and nearly 100 percent of the vitamin A recommended for a typical 2,000 calorie-a-day diet. Green and yellow peppers fall short in vitamin A. All peppers are naturally fat free and low calorie, and they contain three grams of fiber per chopped cup, making them excellent snacks or mealtime fillers.

                           MY STORY , MOM AND HER STUFFED PEPPERS                       

When I was a youngster mom always made stuffed peppers, one of my favorite dishes, except for the anchovies, which was pop's favorite. She would put in black olives, bread crumbs, anchovies ( she would leave them out of mine), and meat if we were lucky and all her secret ingredients, boy I loved them. Now in those days they were made with green bell peppers or red bell peppers in the summertime , but mom she would make the stuffed peppers with what they called then, Italian Frying Peppers, now called Cubanelle Peppers. They were light green in color, with a very thin skin and not as harsh tasting as the green bell pepper which always gave me " AGITARE", an Italian - american slang word meaning to agitate, which it did giving me heartburn, indigestion, and an upset stomach. Starting in the mid 80's the RED LE ROUGE PEPPER starting hitting the stores, looking like a italian frying pepper but sweet. This made a great pepper for mom to use for stuffing. Now by then mom was getting on in years, so her stuffed peppers days was passed on to Bette, who took the reins and did a great job. It's funny and sad, moms gone a long time, but when I was thinking of what to do on this weeks show and I decided on RED LE ROUGE PEPPERS, mom's stuffed peppers came flowing out of me. Like I always say "FOOD AND MEMORIES,MEMORIES AND FOOD", they are just part of our being. Enjoy MOM and BETTE"S recipe, and I hope you have good memories that bring a smile or maybe a tear to your eye.

Click on link below for red pepper show from FOOD BAZAAR, FLATLANDS AVE,BROOKLYN, NY


https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Red-Peppers_New-York-505937642.html

CAMPARI TOMATOES 02/09/19

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The Best Tasting Tomato in The Winter is a Campari

We all know how supermarket tomatoes are picked unripe, to get them to market while they are still attractive.  But if you want a tomato that tastes like homegrown, the only choice is a Campari tomato, also known as a cocktail tomato.

The only problem with this type of tomato is the small size.  However, a small Campari tomato adds way more flavor than a large bland tomato.

  Campari is a type of tomato noted for its juiciness, high sugar level, low acidity, and lack of mealiness. Camparis are deep red and larger than a cherry tomato but smaller and rounder than a plum tomato..They are often sold as "tomato-on-the-vine" (TOV) in supermarkets, a category of tomato that has become increasingly popular over the years. Campari tomatoes can be produced from different varieties, such as Mountain Magic. As a hybrid, the seeds cost around $150,000 per pound. 

 This variety of tomato is similar in appearance to Cherry Tomatoes, only they are slightly larger. They are treasured for their sweetness and juicy texture, and are often served fresh over salads, mozzarella, or specialty meats.  Campari Tomatoes can also be used in cooking, when the high sugar content is desired.  Campari tomatoes make superb bruschetta, as they pair wonderfully with basil and garlic. 

  Campari tomatoes are regarded as some of the sweetest and most flavorful tomatoes in the market. They are known for their superior texture and their distinct acid and sugar balance, which gives them their signature taste. Campari tomatoes are classified as a cocktail tomato, slightly bigger than a cherry tomato but smaller and rounder than a plum tomato. They are deep red in color, redder than most store-bought tomatoes, because they are grown hydroponically and ripened on the vine, which also eliminates the need for pesticides. They are shipped with the vine still attached, so they continue to ripen naturally and do not have to be ripened with ethylene gas. Once the tomato on the vine is harvested, the tomatoes ripen from the top of the cluster down 

 Campari is a variety of tomato, member of the Solanum family, and its botanical name is Solanum lycopersicum 'Campari.' The Campari tomato is a hybrid tomato that was developed for the late 20th Century market. Like many other fruits and vegetables that evolved out of the last few decades of the 1900s, Campari tomatoes were branded from the beginning to distinguish them from the diluted array of tomatoes already in the market. Campari tomatoes were branded as the "tomato lover’s tomato." Their tagline was so convincing that within the first few years of their debut, Campari tomatoes became a supermarket favorite. 
  Though Campari tomatoes account for just two-percent of total U.S. tomato sales, their popularity is considered to be relatively high for a single variety, considering there are 6,000 known tomato varieties in the market today. 

 Though they are nearly always red, somewhat round, and often juicy on the inside, there is an art to choosing the right tomato for a particular dish.  To the untrained eye, they may all look alike, but the world of tomatoes is as diverse as it is delicious.   Campari are just a part of a handful of tomato varieties.   They are the most common, and they are probably all sitting in your local grocery store right now. 

The Campari tomato is available nearly year-round, with occasional, short gaps in availability.

 Campari tomatoes are sought after for their inherent sweetness. They are great for snacking, and are often served fresh over salads, mozzarella, or specialty meats. Campari tomatoes can also be used in cooking, when the high sugar content is desired. Try roasting and serving on pizza, sandwiches, or in salsa. Campari tomatoes also make superb bruschetta, as they pair wonderfully with basil and garlic. Store Campari tomatoes at room temperature away from direct sunlight until completely ripe, and please like Produce Pete always says DON'T REFRIGERATE

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. Refrigerating tomatoes kills the flavor, the nutrients, the texture. It just kills the tomato-period.


PRODUCE PETE FUN FACT


 The Campari tomato had a taste of fame in 2002 when it made an appearance on the popular television series, "The Sopranos." The cameo actually boosted the Campari tomato’s relevancy, and perhaps its level of respect, within the Italian-American community. The following year, the Campari tomato recorded more than a fifty-percent increase in sales. With competition from thousands of other tomato varieties, the strategic product placement certainly gave the Campari tomato an edge in the market.  

Click the bottom link for Campari tomato show


https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Campari-Tomatoes_New-York-505610202.html


 

HASS AVOCADOS SHOW 02/02/19

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Check out the great Guacamole Recipes on Bette's Recipes

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


PRODUCE PETE'S FUN FACTS

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

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


DID YOU KNOW ?

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

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

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

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


ABOUT AVOCADOS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


PREPARATION

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

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

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

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

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

Click on link below for Avocado Show

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

HEIRLOOM NAVEL ORANGES 01/26/19

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 A lot of people understand that fresh oranges are best in the winter, but not many people understand that different varieties have particular seasons. You'll have better luck coming home with good oranges if you learn which varieties are in season when  and keep a simple guideline in mind when you're selecting them at the market. Oranges and all citrus fruit should be heavy in the hand for its size. This simple test and it's your most reliable guide for citrus fruit.


A Childhood Remembrance

When I was a young kid I always loved oranges, I guess because mom would always put them in our Christmas Stocking. As I got older I always wondered why those oranges didn't taste and smell like the oranges I remembered as a child . When I tried the Heirloom Navel Oranges all those smells and that taste came back to me, so give them a try, I know you will love them too.


  What Makes a Navel Orange a Heirloom?


The word heirloom itself means something that has been passed down from generation to generation. The heirloom navel is the same fruit that got California’s citrus industry booming. It’s the original or “old line” Washington Navel. The navel has been bred over the years to produce more fruit, easier, and faster without considering flavor. Heirloom navels are grown using certain farming practices. The grower gives special attention to the soil, just like it was done since navels were introduced to America from Brazil in the 1800s. The secret is to use the best root stock. The heirlooms grow best in a sour root stock. But these are not commonly used anymore because the trees don’t produce fruit as heavily or as quickly than in newer root stocks. Doing things the right way is what gives the heirloom navels there amazing taste. If you have tried one of these, I think you will be disappointed if you ever buy the grocery market standard navel again. 

 While these hybrids are brighter in color with increased per tree production number, they also contain less sugar in order to extend shelf-life at retail level. While improved farming practices have expanded both volume and availability, the trade-off for this success has also degraded the original flavor characteristics of this icon citrus fruit.

 

  When are Heirloom Navels in Season?


Growing things the right way sometime takes more time. The first California Navels start to hit the market more than a month before the heirlooms. Around mid-January is when you can realistically begin expecting to see Heirloom Navels show up in your local store. 

 Sometimes you find find heirloom navels still with their leaves intact and sometimes you won’t. Unlike the navel you are used to, heirlooms aren’t in stores year around. They typically will find them in stores from December into late April/early May with the peak being in the winter months 

 California Seedless Navel Oranges remain in peak season and are great for snacking during late Winter and early Spring. But if you want to improve your likelihood of a great Navel eating experience – look for Heirloom Navels. 

 

Selecting Oranges

Whatever the variety, look for oranges that are shiny and heavy in the hand. It's a primary rule for a number of fruits, but it's especially important for oranges. Check the scent - the orange should smell good. Except for Robinson tangerines, the rind should never feel puffy - that is, it shouldn't feel like there's any space between it and the flesh. There should be no spotting, no signs of shriveling, no white patches on the rind, and no fermented smell.   

 

Storing Oranges

Tangerines are the most perishable of the oranges. They will keep a day or two at room temperature and up to a week in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Other oranges can be kept out at room temperature for three or four days with little problem. Refrigerate them in a plastic bag or in the crisper drawer, and they'll keep well for one to two weeks.

Click link below for Heirloom Navel Orange Show

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Heirloom-Navel-Oranges_New-York-504913542.html

         



IDAHO ( RUSSET ) POTATOES 01/19/19

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 In 1875 when Luther Burbank accepted $125 from James H. Gregory for the tubers and rights to the white potato he had recently discovered, Burbank thought he was getting a pretty good deal. The equivalent to almost $3,000 today, it was a hefty sum for a potato, though hardly the largest amount ever paid for one. Except that this potato is now worth more than $1.5 billion in the United States. Annually. “Burbank’s Seedling,” as Gregory subsequently named it, became one of the most important potatoes in the world and an American icon. Like many great plant stories, it did not occur all at once, involved many different players, and a combination of good horticultural skills and luck. Lots of it. 

   First cultivated in Peru centuries ago, ordinary white or "Irish" potatoes are still grown there - in varieties that include white, blue, red, and even striped and polka-dotted versions. Although we see only a few common ones in most supermarkets, there are more than two hundred varieties of potatoes now being cultivated. A small number of unusual varieties and hybrids can be found in farm markets and specialty produce stores.

A member of the nightshade family, along with the tomato and eggplant, the potato is native to South America. Brought to Europe by Spanish explorers, it was a bit slow to be accepted because many people believed it was poisonous. By the end of the sixteenth century, however, potatoes were regularly taking a place on the table in German households, and now this highly nutritious vegetable is a staple in almost every country in the Western world.

Potatoes store very well, but they don't keep forever. The year-round supply found in the stores is possible because crops from different states are harvested at different times. On the East Coast, for example, potato crops from Florida are the first to arrive on the market. As the season progresses, the potato harvest moves up the coast until the season ends with potatoes from Maine, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

 The potatoes grown in the American state of Idaho are called Idaho potatoes. “Idaho potato” and “Grown in Idaho” seals are certifications which have been federally registered. These seals or marks belong to the IPC, Idaho Potato Commission. There are more than 30 different varieties of potatoes grown in Idaho State, yet there is no variety which is called “Idaho potato.” The different varieties of potatoes grown in Idaho are; Russet Burbank, Yukon Gold, Fingerlings, Red, etc. By far the most popular variety of Idaho potato is the Russet Burbank. 

 The confusion between the Idaho potato and Russet is prevalent. People generically use the term “Russet potato” for “Idaho potato” which was contested by the Southern District of New York, and the judge affirmed that these two terms could not be used interchangeably. A Russet potato is not an Idaho potato. A Russet potato is one of the varieties of Idaho-grown potatoes.

  The famous Idaho potato is harvested in the early fall, but it stores well and is available nine or ten months of the year. Idaho has the right soil and weather conditions to grow a great potato and it is the variety Americans choose first for baking. The skin is thick and leathery, and the flesh has relatively low moisture content. Graded by size, Idaho's range from 60 to 140 potatoes per 50-pound box.

 The Russet Burbank takes longer to mature, so this variety is not always available in the late summer or early fall from the major states that grow them. Among these three states—Idaho, Washington, and Wisconsin—the largest volume of Russet Burbanks comes out of Idaho. This variety is also preferred by processors for their French fries, so you are competing with them when supplies are tight. However, we expect an ample amount of Burbanks this coming harvest, and typically they are shipped in quantity beginning in late September. Many operators actually prefer “old crop,” which sometimes has a little drier profile after being stored for almost a year. The growers anticipate that old crop will carry through this season, so no potato gap is anticipated. Russet potatoes make up nearly 58% of the production. Keep in mind that Idaho harvests about 11 to 12 billion pounds of potatoes each year, nearly double that of Washington, there closest competitor 

 They are used mainly for baking and frying or mashing. They can also be used for boiling and in soups. Russets are specifically not used for making potato chips. The skin of the Russet is considered beneficial for health, thus should be included while cooking.
They should be stored in cool, dark, and dry places, and the temperature should be maintained at 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit. They are fairly affordable and inexpensive, delicious. They are the most popular and well-known potatoes of the United States. 

 Russet potatoes  are high in vitamin B6, vitamin C, and carbohydrates or starch. The sugar content is high, and 3-4 gm. of dietary fiber is present. Russets have 120-135 calories per average-sized potato and are low in sodium, cholesterol, and saturated fats. 

 

Summary:

“Idaho potato” or “Grown in Idaho” are seals of certifications which have been federally registered by the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC). Idaho potatoes are basically potatoes grown in the State of Idaho in the U.S. There are over 30 varieties of Idaho potatoes grown in Idaho State. No particular variety is called “Idaho” as such. The Russet potato is a variety of Idaho-grown potatoes which are most popular and well known throughout the world.
CHECK OUT HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT BAKE POTATO AT BETTE'S RECIPES

Click link below for Idaho Russet Potato Show

tps://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Russet-Potatoes_New-York-504591091.html



ANDY BOY BROCCOLI RABE 12/22/18

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Broccoli rabe holds a special place in my heart because whenever I see it or taste it, I think of my dad.

My father was born in Italy and came to this country with no money or language skills but made a life for himself and his family through hard work. He taught me that if you work hard, you can accomplish anything, but he also always reminded me that you should never forget where you came from.

 One of 20 children growing up in Italy, Pop would always complain that all he ever had to eat as a kid was broccoli rabe, a cheap vegetable in his day. Broccoli rabe with eggs, broccoli rabe sandwiches, broccoli rabe and pasta ... rabe, rabe, rabe! They had it so much that my father once swore he’d never eat it again. But he still loved it, and so do I. 

 As broccoli rabe grew in popularity in the U.S., it became more expensive, and Dad could never figure that out, so it became a little joke in our family when he would complain about its price. In the end, it wouldn’t be Christmas without this dish on our family’s table, and it always reminds me of holidays past, my dad and how family means everything to me. 

 

Today, broccoli rabe is no longer cheap and is in fact quite the gourmet dish in many restaurants.

I remember Mom cooking the broccoli rabe on the stove in the back of our store, and I would always break off a piece of bread and dip it into the frying pan to get a taste. The aroma of mom’s cooking would fill the store and customers would always make their way to the back to ask mom what she was cooking.

 Those are the times I miss the most – the family working and eating together and building a mom and pop business, one of the iconic experiences that made this country great. Thinking back on those days long ago, I sure miss our family store, our family of customers, and my mom and pop. Food and memories go hand and hand


THE BACK STORY ON BROCCOLI RABE

 

Broccoli rabe is a non heading variety of broccoli that’s also known as broccoletti di rapebrocoletto, rapini, choy sum or Chinese flowering cabbage. It has long, thin, leafy stalks topped with small heads that look like tiny broccoli florets. The florets or flowers are quite delicate, while the leaves are slightly bitter.

Broccoli rabe is most plentiful between late fall and early spring and is grown in various places all over the continent, including Quebec, California, Arizona and other states, so it’s usually available year round, except for a couple of months in mid-summer, usually June and July.

Once highly prized by the Romans and cultivated all over the southern Mediterranean, broccoli rabe didn’t appear in North America until the 1920s, when Italian farmers first brought it to the U.S. For a long time, broccoli rabe was a staple favored mainly in America’s Italian and Asian communities, and it sold for anywhere from 10 cents to 25 cents a pound.

Now an “it” food that shows up in trendy restaurants and fetches a much heftier price per pound at the market, broccoli rabe is still a great vegetable. It packs a wallop and has a bitter zest that gives a real lift to bland foods. 


SELECTION AND STORAGE

 At the market, you’ll usually find broccoli rabe displayed in a refrigerator case sprinkled with ice because it wilts very easily.

Choose firm, green, small stems with compact heads. Like broccoli, the flower buds that comprise the florets should be tightly closed and dark green, not open or yellow.

The Andy Boy label is the top of the line when it comes to broccoli rabe and should be bought whenever possible.

Store broccoli rabe in your refrigerator crisper unwashed, either wrapped in a wet towel or in a plastic bag, where it will keep for 2 to3 days. For longer storage, blanch and freeze.


PREPARATION

 To prepare, rinse thoroughly in cold water, shake off, and cut off the bottoms of the stalks, which are too tough to eat. Raw broccoli rabe is very bitter and has no flavor, so it’s much better cooked than raw. Even a light steaming brings out its distinctive taste.

As a side vegetable, broccoli rabe yields only about one serving per pound because it cooks way down. You can cook it like broccoli, but whether you braise, sauté, boil, or steam it, you only need to cook it for 8 to 10 minutes.

Most Italians like broccoli rabe al dente, cooked about six minutes. You can steam it in water or chicken broth or sauté it with oil and garlic. Some people like it as a cold salad — steamed, then cooled and dressed with oil, hot peppers, garlic and other seasonings. For a terrific potato dish, add steamed broccoli rabe to boiled potatoes, and dress with olive oil and garlic. Broccoli rabe also makes a great sauce for pasta when steamed and combined with olive oil, garlic and hot sausages.


 As for me, I guess I’m my father’s son – I love to get a good loaf of crusty Italian bread and make a broccoli rabe sandwich. Most times the simplest is the best! 


 When I showed broccoli rabe pie (made by the grandmother of a close family friend of ours) on “NBC Weekend Today in New York” years ago, I received email requests for the recipe by the thousands. It’s one of the most popular of all of the recipes I offer, and I know you’ll love it, too! 

Go to Bette's Recipes  and enjoy this great Broccoli Rabe Pie  


Click on link below for Broccoli Rabe Show

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Broccoli-Rabe_New-York-503381182.html


ARTICHOKES 12/15/18

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Artichokes


Artichokes are actually the giant, unopened buds of a flowering plant - an edible relative of the thistle. They've been a favorite in Spain, Italy, and other Mediterranean countries for hundreds of years, but many people here still think of them as fairly exotic. Although they take a little time to eat - there's no way you can wolf down an artichoke - they're actually fun to dismantle; and the tender flesh at the base of the leaves and especially at the heart has a distinctive sweet, nutty taste that's absolutely delicious. Artichokes can be prepared in dozens of ways, and I like all of them. 

The largest crop of artichokes is still produced in Mediterranean countries, but California is the biggest supplier in the U.S. Castroville, located near San   Francisco, calls itself the Artichoke Capital of the World; and the whole economy of the place revolve around the vegetable - there's even a statue of an artichoke in the middle of town. With its cool, humid, foggy weather, the area is perfect for growing good artichokes. 

There are three basic types of artichokes, plus a new "thorn less" variety that's beginning to appear on the market. The globe type is the most common, with a large fairly round shape and smallish barb on the tips of the leaves. The oval artichoke is very thorny, with a longer, more pointed leaf. The taste of both is identical and they can be cooked in the same way, but I find that glove artichokes are usually more-tender. 

The third type is the small, loose baby artichoke, which is often marinated whole in vinegar and oil after it has been washed and de-thorned. Most baby artichokes don't have many thorns in the first place, and they can be eaten whole, without removing the "choke". 

Thorn-less artichokes are also available. I find them to be excellent if they're from California but unreliable if they've been imported from Mexico or Chile. The imports are difficult to cook properly because it's hard to get the timing right - some cook fast and tender, others take an hour and either stay raw or suddenly turn to mush. The imports are usually a paler green than the California crop, but it you're in doubt, ask your produce manager. 


Season

The peak of the season is in March, April, and May, when California producers ship nearly half the annual crop, but artichokes often show up in the fall. The worst time for artichokes is in the dead of summer (July and August) when growing conditions are too hot and dry for good artichokes. However, they are available year round. 


Selecting

Look for fat, firm-looking buds with dense, tightly packed leaves of a uniform dusty green. Lots of black spots tired color, or opened leaves indicate an older artichoke that will have a woody taste. An artichoke with one or two black spots, on the other hand, isn't always a bad risk. Don't worry if the artichoke is discolored on the stem end - you're going to cut that part off. When selecting an artichoke, gently pull back the central leaves, taking care not to prick yourself on the thorns, and look into the heart. If there is no black showing inside, the artichoke is good. At home you can be more aggressive - turn the artichoke upside down and give it a good whack or two on the counter to make the leaves open out more easily. 

Artichokes that have developed purpling on the leaves have been exposed to too much hot sun and will be much less tender. An artichoke that shows some bronzing and peeling has had a touch of frost, which won't hurt the flavor and may in fact improve it. If you're unsure about what kind of discoloration is okay and what kind is not a good rule of thumb is not to buy discolored artichokes in the summer. 


Storing

Artichokes are quite perishable. Use them as soon as possible. Refrigerate for one week only if necessary. 


Preparing

There are a thousand ways to cook artichokes, but one thing to avoid is to cook them in an aluminum pot since they will turn a gray-green color. To prepare them for the pot, rinse the artichokes in cold water, handling them carefully so that you don't prick yourself on the pointed barbs at the end of each leaf. The barbs are softer and easer to handle after the artichoke is cooked, but many people prefer to remove them beforehand by snipping off the tips of the leaves with kitchen shears or scissors. Remove the thorns from baby artichokes that you intend to eat whole. 


ON THE ROAD AGAIN

We had so much fun a couple of weeks ago at DeCicco & Sons in Armonk New York, that  I went back for a second visit to this family owned chain of stores. What could be better then Artichokes for this Holiday Season and they had some real good ones.

Click on link below for Artichoke Show



https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Artichokes_New-York-502844811.html

APPLE COUNTRY 10/20/18

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Northeast Apples

 

I love apple season. There are few things better than a good apple eaten out of hand. Whether the flesh is mild and sweet or tart and winey, when you bite into it, a fresh-picked apple will make a crisp cracking sound and you’ll get a spurt of juice.  There’s a season for everything and the main season for American apples starts the last half of October. I’ve probably said this a thousand times, but our problem in the United States is that we try to buy produce out of season. Many varieties will keep well late into winter, but by summer most apples have been stored for seven or eight months. No wonder they are soft, mealy, and without juice. When peaches and melons come in, stay away from apples. Come back when there’s a snap in the air, and you’ll remember what makes apples so good. Apples are one of the most esteemed fruits in the northern Hemisphere in part because they’re so versatile. They’re delicious raw, baked, dried, or made into apple sauce. They make great pies, apple butter, apple jelly, chutney, cider, and cider vinegar, and they’re a welcome addition to dozens of other dishes. A member of the rose family, apples have been known since ancient times and were cultivated by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Many places grow wonderful apples now, but overall, the United States produces the finest apple crops in the world. The Northwest, the East Coast, and parts of the Midwest, regions where the seasons change, grow the best apples. They’re not a fruit for hot climates. Only a few of the thousands of varieties of apples grown today are mass marketed, but there are many more out there than Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Macs. There are very old and very new varieties you may never have heard of. If you’re north of the Mason-Dixon Line, you’re going to find the best apples at local farm markets and stands, where they’re fresh-picked, and you’re likely to find great varieties you’d never see at the supermarket. 

SEASON

The vast majority of apples are picked from September through November and either sold immediately or put into cold storage, where some keep well – some don’t. The peak of the season for domestic varieties – when most stored apples still retain their snap – is generally over by December. A few will last through the early spring, but by March it’s hard even to find a good Winesap.  

SELECTING

In most cases look for very firm, bright-colored fruit with no bruises and with the stem still on – a good indication that you’ve got an apple that’s not overripe. The apple should feel heavy in the hand for its size and have a good shine on it. A dull look usually means the fruit has been in storage too long, although some excellent varieties like Winesaps and eastern Golden Delicious have relatively rough skin with little or no sheen. As always, use your nose. An apple that smells great is going to taste great.  

HERE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE VARIETIES

HONEYCRISP

 Sometimes the name of an apple says it all. Honeycrisp apples are honey sweet (with a touch of tart) and amazingly crisp, some say “explosively crisp.” It’s easy to see why this new variety continues to grow in popularity since its 1991 introduction in Minnesota. Supplies are limited for now but more Honeycrisp trees are being planted every year.    

EMPIRE

 With the popular Red Delicious and McIntosh for parents, Empire apples were destined to be a hit. It’s a sweet-tart combination that’s great for everything. The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva Introduced this new variety in 1966.  

MCINTOSH

Nothing evokes Fall better than the aromatic fragrance of McIntosh apples. People have enjoyed this apple since 1811 when John McIntosh discovered the first seedling. McIntosh apples grow particularly well in New York’s cool climate!       

MACOUN

 Want a perfect no-fat dessert that will satisfy your sweet tooth? Macoun may just be your apple, but, hurry, these special apples are only available in the Fall. Macoun was developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva in 1932. It’s named for a famous Canadian fruit breeder. 

GOLDEN DELICIOUS

  Ever hear that Golden Delicious is the yellow cousin of the popular Red Delicious apple? Actually, they are related in name only, but this honey sweet apple is a special treat all on its own.

  • Mild, sweet flavor
  • Juicy
  • Crisp, light yellow flesh

Excellent for eating, salads, and sauces

  • Good for pies, baking, and free
  • You can put less sugar in pies and sauces made from Golden Delicious apples, because of the natural sweetness these apples provide.

CORTLAND

 Picture a fresh fruit cup featuring beautiful, snow-white apples. It’s likely made with Cortland, the very best salad apple. This great, all-purpose apple was developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva in 1898.

Sweet, with a hint of tartness

  • Juicy
  • Tender, snow-white flesh

Excellent for eating, salads, sauces, pies and baking

  • Good for freezing

Cortland apples are wonderful for kabobs, fruit plates and garnishes because they don't turn brown quickly when cut.


STAYMAN WINESAP

 The Stayman-Winesap is a cross between a Stayman apple and a Winesap apple. The combination of the two strains produces an apple of exceptional eating quality.

The Stayman-Winesap’s firm yellow flesh; crisp, coarse texture; and its tart, rich wine-like taste makes it memorable. Some say it smells like cinnamon. Stayman-Winesap’s thick skin maintains sufficient moisture within the flesh to keep the apple crispy to the bite and flavorful to the taste.

The late maturing Stayman-Winesaps keep well and can last until spring if properly stored or placed in a fruit cellar. This multi-purpose apple is excellent when eaten fresh, or used in pies, desserts, applesauce, and cider.


A TRIP TO DONALDSON'S FARM

One of my favorite farms in New Jersey, Donaldson's Farm is located in Hackettstown, N.J.

 I filmed some segments for NBC over the years at this farm and especially love this farm in the fall when the apple orchard and the pumpkins are in season. A family run farm it's a great place to take your family for a day trip and enjoy what made america great, FARMING. The apples for today's segment are from Donaldson's and boy are they great, juicy, crunchy, and a great taste of fall. Enjoy the fall weather and please support your

LOCAL FARMERS

https://donaldsonfarms.net/


Click link below for Apple Show


https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Northeast-Apples_New-York-498102901.html


 


 




About Produce Pete

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 Managed and operated a family owned farm/produce business for retail, wholesale, and fruit baskets. Pete has been in the produce business his whole life, and started out selling produce off the back of a truck at auctions and at his parents' roadside stand. Pete's family has been in business since 1953 at the same location in Bergenfield, New Jersey. From 1971 - 1997 Pete owned and operated this family "seasonal" business that includes at Christmas - Christmas trees, wreaths, and fruit baskets. During Easter we sell various plants, gourmet baskets and fruit baskets - Mother's Day - plants, fresh cut flowers, fruit baskets. At Halloween - pumpkins, corn stalks, etc. The produce store is open between April and December with retail, wholesale, and fruit baskets.

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

In January 1998 he turned over the business to his son Peter Charles making him the 3rd generation to own Napolitano's Produce. In April of 2006, Napolitano's Produce closed it's doors after 53 years, a sad day but everything comes to an end. I would like to thank all the faithful customers who shopped my family store over the past 53 years. It was a privilege serving you. In June 2000 - he started as a Fruit & Vegetable Buyer for S. Katzman Produce at Hunts Point Market, Bronx, New York.Pete comes from a large family with his father being the 20th child - "That's why we are in the food business".

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

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