VIDALIA ONION 05/20/18

 

Vidalia Onions

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


A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THE 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 

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

Click Link below for Vidalia Onion Show!!
https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete-Vidalia-Onions_New-York-483150341.html
 

CALIFORNIA BLACKBERRIES AND SEASONS FINEST 05/12/18

California Blackberries and Seasons Finest

 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. 

Season

Blackberries are available from May until September, with the peak usually in June and July. Winter berries are imported from Chile. 

Selecting

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. 

Storing

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. 

Preparing

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 purchaseStrawberries: 3 – 7 days after purchaseRaspberries: 2 – 3 days after purchaseBlackberries: 2 – 3 days after purchaseCranberries: 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


 https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete-Blackberries_New-York-482452591.html
 

HAITIAN MANGO SHOW 05/05/18

Haitian Mangoes

 

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.

HAITIAN MANGO

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.

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 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!!

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete-Mangoes_New-York-481829141.html