GOLDEN PINEAPPLES 06/22/19

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  Once known as the fruit of kings, for many years, pineapples were available only to natives of the tropics and to wealthy Europeans. Despite the fact that the pineapples were available only to natives of the tropics and to wealthy Europeans. Despite the fact that the pineapple has become a familiar item in U.S. markets, it's still a true exotic. For one thing, it is a member of the bromeliad family, in which edible fruits are rare. A pineapple starts out as a stalk of a hundred or more flowers that shoots up from a plant about three feet tall. Each flower develops a fruit that forms one of the scales on the outside of the pineapple. The more scales or marks on a pineapple, the stronger the tropical taste will be. A pineapple with fewer and larger scales will have a milder but sweeter flavor and more juice.It was probably the Guarani Indians who took pineapples on sea voyages as provisions and to prevent scurvy, thus spreading the plants from their native Paraguay throughout South and Central  America. Columbus called the fruit piña when he found it in 1493--piña because he thought it looked like a pinecone--and from that we got the name. The hybrid we know today first appeared around 1700, when the Dutch improved the fruit by crossbreeding. They sold cuttings of the plant to the English, who raised them as hothouse plants. It wasn't until the nineteenth century that canned pineapple began to come out of Hawaii. If you wanted a fresh Hawaiian pineapple, you had to go there to get one. Picked ripe, as the Hawaiian variety has to be, a fresh pineapple simply could not survive the long journey by ship. It was only when air transport became available that fresh Hawaiian pineapple began to arrive in mainland markets.

Varieties 

There are two main varieties of pineapples: Red Spanish and Cayenne. The Red Spanish is the most commonly available. It is a deep orange color, with white to yellow meat and a crown of hard, spiky leaves on top. A recently developed "thornless" variety has a softer, smoother leaf crown that makes the pineapple easier to handle. Red Spanish pineapples are grown in Honduras, Costa Rica, Puerto  Rico, Mexico, and elsewhere in Central America. The Cayenne pineapple is the Hawaiian variety. The scales on a ripe Cayenne tend to be a lighter yellow, the leaves have a smoother edge, and the pineapple itself is much larger and more elongated than the Red Spanish. The flesh is deep yellow. There are three other less- common varieties. One, called Sugarloaf, is a heavy, round variety with a pointed top that's cultivated in Mexico and Venezuela. Sugarloaf is another big pineapple that can reach ten pounds. Finally, the sweetest pineapples I have ever eaten come from Africa's Ivory Coast. They show up here only rarely--I've had them only two or three times in all the years I've been in the business. If you ever come across them--most likely n June, July, or August--Buy some. Of the pineapples readily available here, to my taste the Cayenne is by far the best, although it can be two or three times as expensive as the Red Spanish. It is sweeter and juicier than the Red Spanish, which is picked greener because it's shipped by boat instead of by air. If you're in the islands where they're grown, by all means buy and eat Red Spanish pineapples--they'll have been picked ripe and they'll be excellent. If you see a Red Spanish in the States that looks and smells good, it's going to be pretty good too. For consistent quality and sweetness, however, Cayennes are your best bet. The tag "Jet Fresh" tells you the pineapple is a Hawaiian Cayenne picked ripe and flown in. The Dole and Del Monte labels also indicate a Cayenne pineapple, although they may not be Hawaiian. Cayennes are now being cultivated in Honduras and Costa Rica by both companies. They're a little more expensive than the Red Spanish but cheaper than those from Hawaii.

 
HONEYGLOW PINEAPPLES  ( NEW VARIETY) 

Honeyglow Pineapple is a new pineapple variety that the Del Monte company, a leader in the production and marketing of pineapples in the world, has just added to its catalog.This new pineapple will be marketed in calibers 5-6, with a coloration level that ranges between 3 and 4, and a minimum of 12 degrees brix. Its production will be limited, but it will be available 52 weeks a year and it will be sent by sea. Consumers today demand healthy and tasty products that are easy to consume and that are produced in a sustainable manner that is friendly to the environment. Del Monte Fresh's new reference, the Honeyglow ™ Pineapple, meets all these requirements while maintaining its competitiveness in cost by being shipped by sea," stated Gianpaolo Renino, Del Monte's vice president for Europe and Africa."Since Del Monte's pineapples are cultivated in the Pacific and the Atlantic areas of Costa Rica, they can be available at the points of sale 52 weeks a year, maintaining a maximum consistency in their aroma, texture, sweetness and color characteristics.

Season

For Hawaiian pineapples, the peak season generally comes in April and May, but they're available year round. Caribbean pineapples have two seasons: December through February and August through September.

Selecting

Many people think that if you can easily pull a leaf out of the crown, the pineapple is ripe, but this test doesn't tell you anything useful. Like tomatoes, pineapples are considered mature when they develop a little color break. If a pineapple at the market looks green, take a look at the base. If it has begun to turn a little orange or red there, you'll be able to ripen it at home. If there is no break, the pineapple was picked too green. It will have a woody texture and will never be very sweet. The pineapple should be very firm, never soft or spongy, with no bruises or soft spots. If you find a good-looking pineapple at your market and you're going to use it right away, ask your produce manager to cut it in half to make sure it's not discolored inside. Reject it if it is. Finally, use your nose. If the pineapple has a good aroma, it's ripe. If you can't smell much of anything, it needs to be ripened. If it has a fermented smell, don't buy it!

Ripening and Storing

To ripen a pineapple, stand it upside down on the counter. That's right, stand it on the leaf end. This makes the sugar flow toward the top and keeps the pineapple from fermenting at the bottom. Let it ripen for a few days. When it develops a golden color and smells good, it's ripe. Peeled pineapple should be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated. If it's not wrapped well, a pineapple will absorb other food odors in you refrigerator. A lot of supermarkets have a machine that will cut and core your pineapple for you, but it wastes up to 35 percent of the fruit. Pineapples are not that difficult to cut. Just twist off the leaves, lay the pineapple on its side, and slice it like a loaf of bread. Then peel and core each slice. I just cut off the peel and eat the slices with my fingers--around the core, like an apple. That's my favorite recipe for ripe pineapple! If you want to serve the pineapple chilled, I suggest that you chill it whole, then slice and peel after it is cold.


A LITTLE MORE FUN INFORMATION ON PINEAPPLES

 It takes almost 3 years for a single pineapple to reach maturation. Which makes the price tag a bit more understandable.   

 Pineapple plants have really pretty flowers.  The pineapple plant’s flowers — which can vary from lavender to bright red — produce berries that actually coalesce together around the fruit’s core. So the pineapple fruit itself is actually a bunch of “fruitlets” fused together. 

   Once harvested, pineapples don’t continue to ripen.  That means that every single pineapple in the grocery store is as ripe as it will ever be so don’t buy one and save it for a week, thinking it will ripen. The difference in colors is mostly based on where the pineapples were grown so a green pineapple can be just as sweet and delicious as a golden brown one.

  Although the fruit originated in South America, the majority of the world’s pineapples now come from Southeast Asia. Namely the Philippines and Thailand. For the freshest pineapples in the U.S., look for Costa Rica- or Hawaii-grown pineapples. 

  Pineapple Nutrition Pineapples contain bromelain, an enzyme that may help arthritis pain by easing inflammation. They are also a good source of vitamin c, which helps your immune system. Click link below for Golden Pineapple Show  


 https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Pineapple_New-York-511671082.html 

NORTHWEST CHERRIES 07/13/19

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You know it’s the beginning of summer when you start to see cherries in the market.

As with many fruits and vegetables, supply and demand dictates prices and, with such a short season filled with unpredictable weather conditions and so much of our crop sold abroad (where buyers pay high prices), cherries can be expensive a lot of the time.

Back in the 1950s, when we first opened our family store, Napolitano’s Produce in Bergenfield, I remember that we sold cherries by the bag and box at reasonable prices.

Now don’t get me wrong – you’ll still see cherries on sale in the marketplace, where they’ll often be priced as “loss leaders,” selling for cost or just above cost to bring people into the store.

I recall one time in the early 1960s, Pop got a sale on cherries and brought hundreds of 18-20-pound boxes of them into the store, where we stacked them up and sold them (today they’re sold to stores in 14-15 pound boxes and 9-10 pound boxes on imports in the winter).

It was a long time ago, but I think we charged $3.99 for an 18-20-pound box of cherries, which is hard to believe – you can’t necessarily even buy one pound of cherries for that now. But what’s cost as long as they’re good, right? That’s my way of thinking.

Big, red, crunchy, juicy, and loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, cherries have been one of my favorite fruits for as long as I can remember.

The season is short so load up and get your fill now before they’re gone. Look for them on sale if you can, and remember what I always say – if you eat right, you’ll live right.

SHORT SEASON BIG FLAVOR

Cherries have one big flaw – they have a very short season, not much more than weeks in most places.

Although cherries originated in the Middle East and have been cultivated for centuries in Europe and Asia, the U.S. remains the biggest producer, consumer and exporter of cherries.

Most sweet cherries are grown on the west coast, where Washington State is the biggest producer. Except for local crops, which aren’t shipped at all, the cherries you’ll typically see on the market have been shipped from California, Oregon and Washington state, with Idaho and British Columbia contributing to the supply.

The two most common cherry varieties are Lamberts and Bings.

Lamberts ripen earlier and are smaller and more tender than Bings. They range in color from deep pink to red, with a soft, somewhat watery flesh and a deep red or blackish-red juice.

They arrive from California in early June, with later harvests coming from Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

Bings are big, dark, heart-shaped cherries with great flavor. They’re very firm, with a deep red to black skin, a white heart, and a bit of crunch when you bite into them. They last longer and ship better than Lamberts.

Royal Annes, also called Rainers and sometimes Napoleons, are also occasionally seen on the market.

This large, heart-shaped fruit is amber to yellow in color, with a red blush. It’s an excellent cherry with an intense flavor, juicy flesh, and a white heart. These cherries are more fragile, easily bruised, and have a shorter shelf life than Bings; many people shy away from them because of their color, but one taste and they’re hooked.

OPEN SEASON

California cherries arrive in early June and are generally out of season by mid-June, with more northern crops gradually replacing them during the summer months, ending with cherries from British Columbia in early August.

That’s a total of seven or eight weeks, so if you like cherries and see some good-looking ones at the fruit stand, buy them, because the next time you look they may be gone.

Sweet cherries are also grown in the midwest and in northeastern states, but I don’t think their fruit compares to the size or flavor of western cherries.

The sweet cherries that show up in January are from Chile, and they continue to improve in flavor and texture.

SELECTION, STORAGE AND PREPARATION

Cherries won’t ripen or improve in flavor after they’re picked, so what you see is what you get.

They must be picked ripe and then they’ll last only a couple of days, so harvesting time is critical.

A ripe cherry is heavier in the hand, meatier, sweeter and juicier than an immature cherry. Cherries that are picked too soon are pale and tasteless, while those picked too ripe are soft and watery. The best time to pick them seems to be right before the birds start eating them – birds have an uncanny instinct for ripe cherries.

When selecting cherries, choose firm, large, bright-colored fruit.

Royal Annes should be bright and unblemished, while Bings should be as firm and dark as possible; pale red Bings are immature and won’t be especially sweet.

Also look at the stems – if the cherries have green stems, they’re fresh, and if the stem is missing, pass on these cherries because they’ve been off the tree too long.

They should also look clean and dry – never buy cherries that are soft, flabby, or sticky on the outside.

When cherries go bad, they start to lose their vibrant hue, develop a brownish color, and leak. Once a cherry starts leaking, the fermentation process will quickly make the whole box go bad.

I love eating cherries on their own, cut up into fruit or green salads, or blended into a variety of baked goods like muffins or cherry pie.


PRODUCE PETE'S FUN CHERRY FACTS

Turkey is the largest supplier of cherries in the world

Cherries came to the United States in the 1600's from Europe, first to Oregon and then to the Northwest.

The Bing cherry got it's name, not from Bing Crosby, but from a cherry orchard forman by the name of bing who was over 7 feet tall.

There are over 1000 varieties of cherries but only 10 are grown commercially. 

The biggest producer of cherries is Washington State ( 62%) with Oregon and California making up about 94% in total.

The average Cherry Tree produces about 7000 cherries per tree.

25 million 20 lb boxes will be packed and shipped in 2019.

Cherries have been around since the Stone Age, that's even older then me.


ON THE ROAD AGAIN WITH PRODUCE PETE

This weeks segment was filmed at Farms View Farm in Wayne New Jersey, I love to stop by farms and markets and look, it drives Bette crazy, she would rather be shopping at one of the malls .Enjoy your fill of what summer gives to us and enjoy these Bing Cherries, its a short season. 

Click on link below for Cherry Show


 https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Northwest-Cherries_New-York-512698852.html 

new jersey farm bounty 07/20/19

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Having a big sale, on-site celebrity, or other event? Be sure to announce it so everybody knows and gets excited about it

Basil, Bunch Carrots, Bunch Beets and Garlic

 Growing up in New Jersey and selling fruits and vegetables off the back of my fathers truck all over the state, I have learned the importance of farming. My father always said without the farmer we were out of business.  There’s a reason it is called the “Garden State.” New Jersey’s diverse agriculture enables the state to hold its own with the largest fruit, vegetable and nursery-stock producing states in the nation. Each year New Jersey is a top-10 producer for such items as cranberries, blueberries, peaches, bell peppers, spinach and tomatoes. In fact, New Jersey is the most productive farmland in the United States based on highest dollar value per acre. Here is one of my favorite farms in northern new jersey that I do alot of film work in the field, showing all of you what it takes to get fresh fruits and vegetables to your table

Serving Northern New Jersey for over 100 years

The Kuehm Farm dates back to 1894 when the property was purchased by the first of five generations to own and operate the farm located in Wayne, NJ.  Farms View originated as a roadside stand with produce displayed on a picnic table on the side lawn. The business has since evolved to include a 40’ x 80’ Farm Market and attached greenhouse. During the peak summer growing season, over 65 varieties of non-GMO fruits and vegetables are picked daily for our Farm Market. Eight greenhouses are full of seedlings by the middle of March each year as we prepare to open our Garden Center for the spring season. 


BASIL


Basil is an annual herb of the mint family, native to central and tropical Asia and Africa (some say it originated in India). 

HOW TO SELECT

Carefully select herbs that aren't wilted, dried-out, or bruised. 

HOW TO STORE

Snip off the bases of the stems and placing the bunch in a jar with an inch or two of water at the bottom. Store at room temperature in a light area, but out of direct 


BUNCH CARROTS


The carrot (Daucus carota) is a root vegetable often claimed to be the perfect health food.It is crunchy, tasty, and highly nutritious. Carrots are a particularly good source of beta carotene, fiber, vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants They also have a number of health benefits. They’re a weight-loss-friendly food and have been linked to lower cholesterol levels and improved eye health.What’s more, their carotene antioxidants have been linked to a reduced risk of cancer.Carrots are found in many colors, including yellow, white, orange, red, and purple.Orange carrots get their bright color from beta carotene, an antioxidant that your body converts into vitamin A.

 

HOW TO STORE CARROTS


If stored well, carrots can last forever. Alright like a month or two or three. The key is coolness (just above 32 degrees F) and dampness (95% humidity). Here’s how to store carrots in the refrigerator:

  1. Chop off the greens just above the root (tip: you can use carrot greens to make pesto).
  2. Punch a few holes in a plastic bag and place carrots in it.
  3. Slightly dampen a paper towel and set in the bottom of a produce drawer in the fridge. Store carrots on top of that.

And some general tips on how to store carrots best:

  • Do not wash until just before eating.
  • Don’t store carrots with fruits, as some fruits give off an ethylene gas that causes ripening and decay.
  • You can freeze carrots, but these are best for dishes where the carrots will be cooked, like soups and stews.

Red Bunch Beets

Beets don’t have the kind of history that inspires books or poetry. About the most interesting thing you can say about beets, which have apparently been cultivated since prehistoric times, is that early Romans only ate the tops, leaving the roots for medicinal purposes. However, once the Romans got around to cooking the bulbs (probably sometime after the birth of Christ), they found that they liked them very much indeed.  In the USA, beets are grown commercially in 31 states. California, New Jersey, Ohio and Texas are the main producers. Beets are also imported from Mexico and Canada. There are several varieties of mass-produced beets, but all are pretty much the same—round or with slightly flattened ends, a dusty red exterior, and deep red flesh inside.  Beet greens are often discarded in favor of the bulbs to which they are attached, which is unfortunate because they contain a wonderful, earthy flavor. When small, they can be put in a salad mix. If larger, they should be braised, stewed or boiled like other hearty greens.  For the most part, beets are available all year long. But the peak period, particularly for local and more exotic varieties, is June through October. It’s also the time of year when beet greens should be at their best.  Beets should be relatively smooth and firm. Small to medium size ones are best -- large ones may be tough. Leaves should be bright, dark green and fresh looking, without withering or slime.To store beets, separate the leaves from the root, leaving an inch or two of the stems attached to the root. Remove any leaves that are damaged before storing the tops in a plastic bag - preferably one that is perforated - in the crisper section of the refrigerator for no more than a few days. Don’t peel or clean the root since the skins will slip off easily during cooking. Put roots in a plastic bag and put them in the refrigerator, where they will keep at least a week.


GARLIC


Garlic is the most pungent member of the onion family. It is an essential ingredient in Italian cooking and as far as I’m concerned, no kitchen should be without it.The garlic plant grows to a height of about 12 inches, with a bulb made up of 8 to 12 sections or cloves, forming underground. The cloves are well protected by a papery white skin that may be streaked with red or purple. Garlic is believed to be a native of central Asia and is the oldest member of the alliums family. In the Dark Ages, people believed a garland of garlic would ward off evil spirits and the plague. Over the years it’s been prescribed for everything from athlete’s foot to baldness. In fact, the concentration of organic sulfur compounds in garlic is now recognized to have antibacterial properties, man people today swear it will stave off the common cold. Garlic is grown everywhere, but the largest U.S.supplier is California, with Mexico also supplying the market. Aromatic garlic is used to season meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, breads, marinades, sauces, and pasta – just about everything except desserts. Elephant garlic is big – bulbs can reach a pound apiece. It always fetches a high price in stores, but its flavor is rather mild. I prefer the potency of regular garlic – it’s richer and goes a long way. 

Season

Available year-round. 

Selecting

Choose garlic as you would onions; the bulbs should be fat and very firm with no spongy areas and no green sprouts. Sprouts indicate the bulb have been in storage too long.

 Storing

Stored in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place, garlic should keep for a month. Avoid refrigeration or plastic wrap, dampness quickly deteriorates the bulbs.

 Preparing

Raw garlic has a pungent flavor that adds depth and zip to salad dressings and marinades. It mellows as it’s cooked. Long, slow cooking makes garlic especially mellow and sweet. Leg of lamb is traditionally roasted with slivers of garlic pressed into the flesh. Try surrounding poultry or meats with whole cloves – peeled or unpeeled – before roasting, or toss the cloves with new potatoes, olive oil, and salt and roast in a covered pan. Roasted garlic cloves nearly liquefy inside, and the paste is delicious spread on toasted Italian bread. Simmer whole, peeled cloves gently in milk until tender; drain. Serve them alongside steaks or chops. Use garlic to make bean or fish dishes richer. My mother made aioli by simmering garlic in olive oil until tender, adding salt, herbs and often crushed hot peppers, and drizzle the mixture over pasta for a simple but satisfying dish. 

 
Click link below for show


 https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-New-Jersey-Produce_New-York-512983532.html 

NEW JERSEY BLUEBERRIES 06/29/19

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New Jersey Blueberries

  The blueberry is a Native American species with deep roots in America's history. By the time the Pilgrims arrived, the American Indians were already enjoying these juicy berries year round through very clever preservation techniques. They were dried in the sun, then added whole to soups, stews and meat; or crushed into a powder and rubbed into meat - perhaps the predecessor of today's trendy "spice rubs". The powder would also be combined with cornmeal, water and honey to make a pudding called Sautauthig. The Pilgrims learned to appreciate blueberries from the Indians, especially as it was the Indian's gift of blueberries which helped the new settlers make it through that first cold winter. Blueberries also have a place in the annals of folk medicine. Their roots were brewed into a tea to help relax women during childbirth; their leaves steeped to make a blood purifier. Blueberry juice and syrup also cured coughs, according to tribal medicine men. The blueberry is no youngster, botanist’s estimate it's been around for more than 13,000 years. However, it wasn't cultivated until the first quarter of this century. Elizabeth White and Dr. Frederick V. Coville were the first to develop the hybrid for cultivated highbush blueberries by domesticating and improving wild highbush blueberry species. The result is a plump, juicy, sweet and easy-to-pick berry with color ranging from deep purple-blue to blue-black, highlighted by a silvery sheen called the "bloom". Botanically speaking, the blueberry is part of a family that includes the flowering azalea, mountain laurel and heather - all plants that favor acid soil, plenty of water and a cool season. Once growers learned how to increase soil acidity, they were able to grow cultivated blueberries in 35 states and two provinces. Among the major cultivated blueberry producing regions are New Jersey in the East, Michigan and Indiana in the Mid West, and Oregon, Washington and British Columbia in the West. Blueberries are harvested in the South as well, with berries coming from North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas. On average, cultivated blues represent more than half of all the blueberries produced in North America. Lowbush blues are also harvested, but mainly for use in processed foods. Cultivated blueberries grow in clusters and don't all ripen at once. The berries at the bottom of the cluster can be ripe while the ones on top are still green. Fresh blueberries are picked by hand to gather the best quality fruit. Harvesting machines are also used to harvest blueberries, gently shaking each plant so only the ripe berries fall into the catching frame. Most of the machine harvested berries are immediately frozen for use year round. Although fresh blueberries are available nearly eight months of the year from producers across the US and Canada, the peak season is from mid-June to mid-August when the majority of all North American blues are harvested. The earliest harvest is in the southern states and it progressively moves north and into Canada as the season continues. And after the fresh season is over, cultivated blueberries can still be enjoyed year round, as frozen berries, and in processed foods. Slightly less than half of all cultivated blueberries are shipped to the fresh market, while the balance of the berries are harvested to be frozen, pureed, concentrated, canned or dried to be used in a wide range of food products, including yogurt, pastries, muffins, baby food, ice cream and cereals.

Buying Fresh Blueberries

Look for: fresh blueberries that are firm, dry, plump, smooth-skinned and relatively free from leaves and stems. Size is not an indicator of maturity but color is - berries should be deep purple-blue to blue-black; reddish berries aren't ripe, but may be used in cooking. Stay away from: containers of berries with juice stains, which may be a sign that the berries are crushed and possibly moldy; soft, watery fruit that means the berries are overripe; dehydrated, wrinkled fruit that means the berries have been stored too long. Fresh berries should be stored covered, in the refrigerator and washed just before using. Use within 10 days of purchase.

Frozen Blueberries

Dry-pack berries in poly bags or boxes can be found in the frozen food section of your supermarket. The frozen berries should feel loose, not clumped together. Frozen blueberries are individually quick frozen so you can pull out a few or as many as needed. Blueberries should be kept frozen and the unused portion returned to the freezer promptly. If not used immediately, cover and refrigerate thawed berries and use within three days. Commercially frozen berries are washed before being frozen so washing again is not necessary. If you make your own frozen blueberries, wash just before using.

How to Freeze Your Own Blueberries

The secret to successful freezing is to use berries that are unwashed and completely dry before popping them into the freezer. Completely cover the blueberry containers with plastic wrap or a resealable plastic bag, or transfer berries to a plastic bag and seal airtight. Or, arrange dry berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet. When frozen, transfer berries to plastic bags or freezer containers.

Nutrition

Luscious, sweet blueberries have a nutrition profile fitting for our modern day. They are not only low fat, but also a good source of both fiber and vitamin C. In fact, a one-cup serving of fresh blueberries will give you 5 grams of fiber, more than most fruits and vegetables and 15% of your daily value for vitamin C at a cost of only 80 calories. When buying packaged goods that call themselves "blueberry", such as waffles and pancakes; cereals and cookies; muffin, cake and cookie baking mixes, be sure to read the ingredient label closely. Some products don't contain any real blueberries at all, but rather artificially flavored and colored bits or apple pieces, designed to simulate berries. Blueberries may change color when cooked. Acids, such as lemon juice and vinegar, cause the blue pigment in the berries to turn reddish. Blueberries also contain a yellow pigment, which in an alkaline environment, such as a batter with too much baking soda, may give you greenish-blue berries. To reduce the amount of color streaking, stir your blueberries in last (right from your freezer, if frozen) into your cake or muffin batter. For pancakes and waffles, add the blueberries as soon as the batter has been poured on the griddle or waffle iron. This will make the pancakes prettier and they'll be easier to flip. If frozen blueberries are used, cooking time may have to be increased to be sure the berries are heated through.
 MORE FROM PRODUCE PETE
Blueberries are an amiable berry-getting along well with a diverse crowd of foods and flavors.      Though they can't be beat in all things sweet - such as cakes, puddings, muffins,pancakes, cookies, etc., don't forget, they're pretty impressive  on the savory side, too. Their fresh, fruity flavor teams up perfectly with pork, chicken and game, and they're dynamite in fruit salsas and sauces  accented with black or red pepper, thyme and mint.

  • Spices love blueberries; try them with cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, ginger and candled ginger, mace, nutmeg and vanilla beans or vanilla extract; also fresh herbs like cilantro, mint and basil. 
  • Dairy foods are a natural mate for blueberries - cottage cheese, ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, sour cream, heavy cream, ricotta cheese, or try blueberries as part of a fruit and cheese platter with mild cheeses such as Brie and goat cheese. 
  • Almost any fruit teams up well with blueberries - apples, apricots, coconut, melons, citrus fruits and all other berries. 
  • All kinds of nuts go well,especially almonds - almond paste. 
  • Liqueurs, such as orange or raspberry are good companions; also rum or rum extract. 
  • Try dried blueberries instead of raisins in your next granola mix, oatmeal cookies, gingerbread, cornbread or pound cake.

Click link below for New Jersey Blueberry Show

 https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-New-Jersey-Blueberries_New-York-512002252.html 

SOUTHERN PEACHES 06/01/19

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GEORGIA PEACHES

  Southern Peaches


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


Season


Peaches are definitely a summer fruit, with the peak of the season beginning in late July and running through early September. In the winter there are imports from Chile, but because ripe peaches are so fragile, they’re nearly always picked green and have very little flavor. For the best peaches, wait until they’re in season in your area, then, get your fill. Peeled, sliced peaches freeze well, so you can put some away to enjoy when good fresh peaches aren’t available.


Selecting


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


Storing


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


Peach Sizing


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.

Terminology


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.  


Preparation Tips and Facts


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.

Ripen Fruit in a Paper Bag 


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! 

 Click link below for Southern Peach Show
 https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Southern-Peaches_New-York-510705982.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 

VIDALIA ONIONS 05/04/19

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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 2019 VIDALIA ONION CROP 


The 2019 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 2019.“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 2019.“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 on link below for Vidalia onion show
https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/509482002.html 

ZUCCHINI AND YELLOW SQUASH ( SUMMER SQUASH) 03/23/19

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 Most people want to know, are Zucchini and squash the same thing, the answer
They are the same thing. Zucchini is the Italian word for the fruit which the French call a courgette. ... In the US and Canada, we refer to most cucurbita pepo assquash,” which I believe comes from a Native American word. So all Zucchini are squash but not all squash are zucchinis.
Squash was a food staple in the Americas for some eight thousand years before the first European explorers arrived here. Like melons and cucumbers, squashes are edible gourds that are indigenous to North, Central, and South America. The name comes from the Algonquin word askutasquash, which means, "eaten raw" and probably derives form the kind of summer squash encountered by early European settlers. The Native Americans taught them how to store and use winter squashes as a staple and demonstrated the curative and hygienic properties of squash seeds. Following the practice of the natives, the settlers ate whatever was available in the wild--fish, fowl, venison-which often carried parasites, and cured themselves by eating squash.

Varieties

The squashes commonly found in the United States are divided into summer and winter varieties. Summer varieties are immature squashes, usually small in size, with a soft skin, white flesh, high water content, and crunchy texture. Summer squashes are 100 percent edible, seeds and all, and very perishable. Winter varieties are fully mature squashes that are usually larger in size, with a hard outer shell and a long shelf life. They are always eaten cooked. Most have an orange flesh that is sweeter and nuttier in flavor than the more delicate summer squashes and contain large quantities of beta-carotene. The larger, harder seeds of winter squashes are usually discarded, but they can be salted, roasted, and eaten like nuts.

Summer squash

Yellow squash and long, slender, dark green zucchini are probably the two most familiar summer squashes, but there are other good varieties. These include the chayote, which is pear-shaped, with white, pale, or dark green skin, the cocozelle, which is shaped like a zucchini and striped green and yellow, and the tiny scalloped pattypan, which has white, yellow, or green stripes and looks like a little flying saucer.

Season

Summer squashes, especially zucchini, are generally available year round, but the peak seasons between April and September.

Selecting

All squashes should have a solid, heavy feel. A squash that feels light for its size may be soft and dehydrated inside. Summer squashes should have a firm but tender, sleek, unblemished skin. A shiny skin on yellow squash and zucchini is a good indication that it was picked young and tasty. Choose small to medium-sized squashes, rather than large ones, for the best flavor and texture.

Storing

Summer squash: Store refrigerated in an unsealed plastic bag and use within three or four days. Handle summer squash carefully because the tender skin is easily nicked.

Preparing Summer Squash

Summer squashes have high water content--never overcook or they will turn to mush. Overcooking is probably why so many kids hate squash! There are exceptions, but zucchini, chayote, crookneck, and cocozelle never need peeling. If the squash looks nice and tender, leave the peel on. Simply wash it and discard a thin slice from each end.Summer squashes are terrific brushed with a little oil and cooked on the grill, and they can be steamed, sautéed, stir-fried, or baked in casseroles. Use very little water if you're going to boil a squash. Cut it into horizontal slices about a quarter of an inch thick, put in just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, add salt, pepper, and butter if desired, cover, and cook no more than three to five minutes. Turn the squash a few times to cook evenly and test frequently for doneness--it's done when it's easily pierced with a fork but retains some crunch.To grill, slice the squash lengthwise, marinate or brush with an oil-based salad dressing or with olive oil, herbs, and perhaps some garlic, then grill over hot coals, turning occasionally so it doesn't burn.Young, tender summer squashes, especially zucchini, are good raw in salads or with dips. They are delicious lightly steamed, stir-fried in a little oil, or fried tempura-style in batter. There are many Mediterranean recipes that call for squash--it's good in a ratatouille or baked with Parmesan cheese. Zucchini can also be used in zucchini bread--a sweet bread, almost like cake, that makes a good dessert--and muffins.At home Betty makes a cold zucchini salad that's very simple, quick, and delicious. Slice the zucchini and sauté briefly in olive oil with a bit of garlic. Remove from the heat and, while the zucchini is still hot, splash a top-quality vinegar over it. It can be a good wine vinegar or a balsamic or herbed vinegar, depending on you preference. Add some salt and pepper and serve either warm, at room temperature, or chilled.Because of its versatility, zucchini is a good staple to keep around the house. The other night we got home late, and neither of us wanted to bother with a big meal, so Bette sliced and sautéed zucchini and potato, added beaten eggs to the pan when the vegetables were almost done, and made a terrific frittata.


 Click on link below for Summer Squash
 

 https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Summer-Squash_New-York-507567182.html 

SPRING LEEKS 03/30/19

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 Leeks are in the same vegetable family as onions and garlic. They taste sweeter and milder than onions. Leeks are made up of elongated, white bulbs with broadening and darkening green leaves at their tops. The bulb comes to an end at a point, often with roots still attached. The bulbs and lighter green leaves are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked. The darker green leaves are much tougher and along with the roots, should be removed before eating or cooking.  Leeks have never played as big a role in American cooking as they have in European – especially French cuisines, and that’s a shame.  They look like enormous scallions and they are the sweetest and mildest of all the onions.  Cream of leek soup is delicious (my mother made one I still remember vividly), and leeks also add a wonderful flavor to other soup stocks and stews.  They are delicious braised and served almost as you’d serve asparagus.  I love them.
SeasonBecause they’re grown in various parts of the country – California, Florida and Texas are major producers – leeks are available nearly year-round.  They’re best and most plentiful from late fall until early spring.
SelectingLook for leeks with crisp, green tops.  The lower two or three inches should be white.  Avoid leeks that have soft spots or are yellowed or fibrous-looking.  The smaller leeks are usually the most-tender.
StoringTrim the roots but don’t cut them off entirely, if you do, the leek will fall apart.  Remove any limp or discolored leaves, trim the tops a little, and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  Don’t leave unwrapped leeks near other foods.  Like onions, they readily transmit their odor and flavor to milk and other foods in the refrigerator. 

LEEKS ARE DIRTY

The challenge when cooking with leeks is that they are almost always dirty. When leeks are grown, soil is piled up around them, so that more of the leek is hidden from the sun, and therefore lighter in color and more tender.What produces a beautiful leek, a long pale body, also results in sand and dirt being lodged deep inside the leek. 

CLEANING AND PREPPING WHOLE LEEKS

Cut from opening to ends of greens:

 Place leek on a cutting board. Insert the tip of a sharp knife about a 1/4-inch below the lowest opening in the leek

.Cut straight through, up to and through the green ends of the leek, leaving the pale part of the leek whole.

 Rinse:

 Fan open the leek and place under cold running water. Rinse out any dirt or sand. If the leek is especially dirty, you may want to make another similar cut through the leek to further be able to fan the leek open

 Cut off dark green tops: 

Cut off the dark green tops of the leek, reserving on the body of the leek as much of the dark green as you want. We like the taste (it's basically just a big onion green), so we typically keep about 2 to 3 inches or so of the dark green part with the body of the leeks.  Discard the dark greens or save them to flavor soups or stews, or use for making stock. 

Cut of the root end of the leeks

 staying as close to the roots as possible. Cutting close to the roots will hold the leeks together when cooking them whole.  

WHY IT’S GOOD TO EAT:

  • Good source of Vitamin C
  • Good source of dietary fiber and other minerals
  • Leaf tops are a good provider of beta-carotene, like carrots!

If you’re using them in soups, use the whole leek without trimming. If you’re serving leeks as a vegetable, trim the green ends, but save them for soup stock.  The white lower portions are good sliced raw into salads.  Leeks are especially sweet and delicious braised whole in water or chicken stock, then served warm with a bit of butter and seasonings or cold in a vinaigrette dressing 


CHECK OUT BETTE'S LEEK AND POTATO SOUP AT BETTE'S RECIPES !!!


Click on Link below for Spring Leek Show !!
 https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Leeks_New-York-507882601.html 

RASPBERRIES 11/03/18

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Raspberries

Raspberries are an extraordinarily flavorful fruit with a tart-sweet, almost floral taste that can't be duplicated. A bramble fruit and cousin to the blackberry, raspberries ounce flourished wild in North America; now almost all are cultivated and available only in limited supplies. Unlike blackberries, which are relatively firm, raspberries are hollow and are therefore extremely fragile. The plants themselves have a low yield, and the berries frequently break when they're picked, further reducing the quantity that can be shipped fresh. Because of all these factors, in the winter raspberries can be as high as six or seven dollars a half-pint--and that's wholesale! At the height of the season, however, you can enjoy them at more reasonable prices, especially if they are local. Ninety-nine percent of commercially cultivated raspberries are red, but there are also black and golden varieties. Black raspberries can be quite good, but golden raspberries are not as sweet or flavorful as the red. For my money, rose-red raspberries can't be beat. Although they're never inexpensive, try to enjoy them when they're in season. There is no finer berry. 

Season

Local Raspberries are most abundant during June, July, and August. The local raspberries are available for about three to four weeks during the summer; the exact month will depend upon your region. (Most cultivars do not thrive in the South.) Some farmers will grow two crops, with the first ripening in late June and early July, and the second in September or early October. This year Mexican raspberries will be priced reasonable from the beginning of November for about three weeks because of good supply. Raspberries from California are available from summer through late fall, and also available in the late fall raspberries arrive from the Pacific Northwest and Mexico. Winter raspberries are available from Chile. 

Selecting

Look for local raspberries at roadside stands or farm markets in the summer months. If you find a farm that offers pick-your-own berries, don't pass them up. Like a ripe blackberry, a ripe raspberry will practically fall off the vine into you hand.  Raspberries this time of year are great out of Mexico and California with a great sweet taste.At the market select dry, firm fruits with excellent form and hollow centers. Avoid soft, wet or mildewed berries that seem to be stuck together, and fruit that is badly stained on the bottom pad of the container. 

Storing

Always refrigerate, and use the same day of purchase if at all possible. 

Preparing

Rinse briefly in cold water just before serving. Raspberries are delicious fresh and whole as is or with a little cream. Fresh raspberries are also wonderful pureed, slightly sweetened, and used as a sauce for ice cream, custards, or other fruits. Freeze the puree for an elegant sorbet.


HOW WE GOT RASPBERRIES FROM THE BACK YARD TO THE STORES 

“If you go back to the early 20th century, raspberries were picked and eaten fresh off the plant. You wouldn’t have found raspberries in a grocery store in the 1920s because the shipping, refrigeration, and all the things you need weren’t really there. If anyone was growing and selling raspberries locally, they were sold down the street at the local store for a month or two out of the year. They’d produce a few berries in the summer and that's all you'd get.Beginning in the 1930s, a small group of plant breeders wanted to change that.“There were some crosses made in the 1930s, but nothing worked and they couldn’t make it happen. “Someone was clever enough to keep these plants—there was a house that had these raspberries in the yard for many years. Then sometime in the 1970s, one of those varieties was resurrected from the yard and multiplied, starting an industry. “In the 1970s, breeding started at Driscoll’s and it was very hard—one failure after another. Raspberry plants were such a difficult crop to commercialize and the older varieties were so delicate. But Miles Reiter had a vision and he just kept at it, and finally we had some breakthroughs in the 1990s. Miles said that the goal was to make these raspberries so good, you can’t help but eat them before you get them to the fridge.”   Maravilla variety was an outlier—a total needle in the haystack. It’s a beautiful, glossy berry. It doesn’t mold, it doesn’t darken. It’s got a pretty good fruit size, and the yields are pretty good on the plant—it’s a very healthy plant. Maravilla raspberries aren’t too sweet, aren’t too sour, and have a consistent flavor.  All of these great traits about the famous raspberry lead Driscoll to the next question. Are Driscoll Raspberries Genetically Modified ??       No, we're not doing GMO at all, "It's all very natural, what we do. It's all old fashioned. It's plant breeding, like people did with wheat two thousand years ago. It's the same thing.”   “Persistence—and you just have to be steady. Wins are going to be slow and take time. I think that’s true with just about everything we do, really. You have to steadily work at what you want to improve and don’t expect something in a month. Give yourself years, maybe, or decades.”  The hidden potential for Driscoll’s raspberries is enormous—that’s part of what makes this fun, is you just don’t know what’s around the next corner.


THANKS DRISCOLL

Click on to the link below for Raspberry Segment


 


https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Raspberries_New-York-499496971.html

HARD WINTER SQUASHES 10/06/18

 From acorn to turban, winter squash are some of the most delicious and versatile ingredients of the season. Unlike summer squash, these are harvested in autumn when they are hard and ripe, and most varieties can be stored and enjoyed for use through the winter.   Cutting a winter squash can present an interesting challenge.Years ago on WNBC, I did a segment on winter squash. I put on a  pair of goggles and heavy gloves and pulled a chain saw from under the counter.It was a joke, but not too far off the mark. The problem is that the shell is very hard, the squash tends to roll, and the blade of a knife tends to slip off the smooth skin.To avoid consumers from having to deal with this hassle at home, green grocers and supermarkets have increasingly offered more and more cut-up fruits and vegetables, though the price for this service can cost as much as triple that of an uncut item.Coming from humble post-WWII beginnings like our family did, I remember my mom always cutting and preparing produce herself, and I encourage consumers to consider taking on this worthy challenge. As the fall weather starts to bring on a chill in the air, we look for something hearty, so here are a few of my favorite winter squashes.
ACORN SQUASH

 Acorn squash is small in size, typically weighing between one and two pounds, with orange-yellow flesh and thick, dark green and orange skin.The flavor of Acorn squash has a mild, subtly sweet and nutty flavor. The skin is also edible.Like most varieties of winter squash, acorn squash is really versatile. It can be baked, roasted, steamed, sautéed, or even cooked in the microwave
BUTTERNUT SQUASH

  This pear-shaped squash has a smooth, cream-colored exterior with bright orange flesh and comparatively few seeds The flavor is the sweetest variety of winter squash. Butternut squash is extremely versatile. It's perfect for roasting and sautéing, or making a smooth purée or soup.
DELICATA SQUASH

 Also known as sweet potato squash, this small cylindrical squash has thin cream- to yellow-colored skin with green stripes, and orange-yellow flesh. Delicatas are smaller than most winter squash, so they're quite easy to prepare and cook.Delicata has creamy flesh with a mild flavor akin to sweet potatoes.The skin on this small squash is edible, so don't worry about cutting it off. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds, then you can either bake it as is, or cut it into slices which can be roasted, sautéed, or steamed. Delicata squash is also ideal for stuffing
HUBBARD SQUASH 

Hubbard squash is one of the largest varieties of winter squash. It has a hard, firm exterior that can range in color from deep green to gray or blue. Hubbard squash has a rich, sweet pumpkin flavor. While the hard exterior is generally discarded, the sweet orange flesh can be substituted for any other variety of winter squash. It's ideal for both cooking and baking, and is especially great for making pie.
SPAGHETTI SQUASH

 Spaghetti squash has a cylindrical shape with a firm exterior that ranges in color from pale cream to bright yellow. When you cook the squash, the moist flesh develops strands that resemble spaghettiSpaghetti squash doesn't actually taste like spaghetti. It has a tender, chewy, fragile texture, and a very mild flavor. Unlike other winter squash varieties, it lacks sweetness.Roast or steam it, then scrape out the strands. Top with marinara, pesto, or mix in other veggies, and eat it as you would spaghetti
SWEET DUMPLING SQUASH 

This small yellow squash, with bright orange to dark green striations, may be the cutest of the bunch The flesh is starchy and sweet, with a flavor that's reminiscent of corn. The small, single-serving size of this squash makes it ideal for stuffing and roasting.
TURBAN SQUASH

 This large, decorative squash has an irregular turban shape with a dull-looking, bumpy exterior that can range in color from mottled green to orange and yellow. This large squash has a very mild, nutty flavor. Turban squash is most often used as a decoration, though you can use it in recipes in just about any way you use butternut, acorn, or other winter squash. Hollowed out, it makes a beautiful soup tureen.
SELECTION AND STORAGE

All squashes should have a solid, heavy feel; a squash that feels light for its size may be soft and dehydrated inside. The hard shell of a winter squash should be undamaged, but the skin, unlike that of summer squashes, should be dull, which indicates that the squash was picked when fully mature. Make sure the stem is still attached, as a missing stem indicates that the squash has been in storage too long.Never refrigerate squash unless it’s been cut, then wrap it in plastic and store it for only a day or two before using. The smaller the winter squash, the shorter its shelf life. Acorn squash, for example, should be used within two to three weeks of purchase. Some of the larger varieties of winter squash will remain sweet and tasty for as long as six or seven months if kept in a dry, cool (but not cold) place, out of direct sunlight.
PREPARING WINTER SQUASH

 A kitchen saw or even a small saw will make short work of it, but another reasonably simple way to cut into a winter squash is to look for the area on the squash that has indentations or ribs. Lay the squash so that it’s steady, insert the point of a sturdy knife in a crease, give the handle a couple of taps with a hammer to start the cut, and then proceed as if you were cutting a watermelon, being extremely careful. Remove the seeds before cooking.Smaller winter squash like acorn squash are best baked. Cut them in half, brush them with butter, sprinkle them with brown sugar, and bake them for about thirty minutes or until tender.Very large squashes like butternut squash can be peeled, cut into chunks, and boiled for 10 to 20 minutes or until tender; the chunks can then be puréed or mashed and prepared as you would make mashed potatoes.Spaghetti squash is best when it’s baked whole in a moderately hot oven for 1 to 1½ hours, depending on the size of the squash.Pierce the squash in two or three places before baking to release the steam. After it’s done, cut it in half and use a fork to remove the flesh, which looks and handles like spaghetti. You can toss it with marinara sauce or top it with butter or cheese. Many people also like to eat spaghetti squash cold with a vinaigrette.Winter squash is delicious added to soups and stews or sliced, battered and fried. Remember to pre-cook it in water until the flesh is tender-crisp before frying.
DID YOU KNOW  ??? 

  • Squash seeds make a delicious snack. Wash and dry the seeds with a paper towel. Don’t worry about removing all the stringy material as these will shrivel when roasted. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzle with oil; mix the oil into the seeds with your hands to coat well. Sprinkle a pinch of salt or any other herbs or seasonings desired (if you prefer sweeter, try cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, or nutmeg). Roast at 275-300 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until seeds start to brown. It is preferred to cook seeds at a lower temperature in order to prevent the breakdown of the unsaturated fats.
  • Which squash skins can you eat? All winter squash skin is technically edible but the thinner the skin, the more pleasant the texture is, such as with delicata, acorn, and sweet dumpling. Thicker skins are usually too tough to chew and enjoy, so they might be saved instead to make a vegetable stock.
  • Winter squash is technically classified as a fruit, but for culinary purposes is treated like a vegetable.

   Enjoy these Winter Squashes and check out Bette's Recipies !!!
Click link below for Winter Squash Show
https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Winter-Squash_New-York-495345111.html
 

HACHIYA AND FUYU PERSIMMONS 10/27/18

 

Known as the divine food in Japan because it's sweet, the persimmon is an orange to

orange-red fruit about the size of an apple, with four prominent, large, papery leaves at the crown. It

has a very thin, smooth, delicate skin that bruises if not handled with care. The persimmon is one of

the sweetest of all fruits when it's ripe.

Although there are hundreds of varieties, only two principal types are well known here are

Hachiya and Fuyu. The Hachiya, which is incredibly sweet when ripe, is full of mouth-puckering

tannic acid when it's not. The Fuyu, a newer variety, has had the tannic acid bred out.

Hachiya are bright, heart shaped, and orange-red inside and out. They have an exotic taste

but can only be eaten fully ripe, when the tannic acid dissipated--a stage don't reach until they are

very soft. The black seeds in the center are edible, but they can be discarded, along with the skin,

which retains tannic acid longer than the flesh and usually isn't eaten unless the fruit is very soft.

Fuyus sometimes called fujis or marus, look like brilliant orange tomatoes or apples. This new

variety is unusual because it can be eaten either soft or while it's still quite firm. Fuyus have a few

large brown seeds what should be discarded.

Hachiyas are the misunderstood fruit of winter: although they are sweet and wonderful when

baked into cakes and puddings, many people are afraid to eat them because they are truly awful

when immature. A firm Hachiya is extraordinarily astringent and inedible. I admit that taking a bite out of one is sort of like eating an unripe bitter walnut while suddenly having all the moisture sucked out of your cheeks and tongue. But there’s a very simple way to avoid this: don’t eat Hachiyas until they’re ripe

Like Fuyus, Hachiyas range in color from light orange to a reddish sunset. They are easy to

distinguish from Fuyus, however, because while the Fuyu looks like an orange tomato, the Hachiya is

shaped like a large acorn. Hachiyas are lovely in both appearance and taste, just not at the same

time. While they are outwardly attractive when unripe, they only become appealing once the skin

starts to shrivel over the soft ripened fruit. Yet while Hachiyas may not be pretty when they’re ready to be eaten, they are luscious when added to cakes and steamed puddings.

The two most prevalent varieties at the markets right now are Fuyu and Hachiya persimmons.

Fuyu are the squat-shaped persimmons which are eaten while still hard and crisp. Perfect

chopped into a salad, or eaten like an apple, they are a very different texture and experience from

their distant cousin the Hachiya.

Hachiya are more elongated and need some time to go quite soft before they are ready to eat.

Fully ripe, they should feel squishy like a water balloon or over-ripe tomato. Be patient, if you attempt

to eat one before it has softened, it can be unpalatably astringent (or "furry" tasting) as Hachiyas

contain very high levels of soluble tannins . In other words, they can leave a nasty taste in your mouth.

Once ripe, my favorite way to eat a Hachiya persimmon is to cut off the top where the leaves

are, and just dig in with a spoon, like a natural-made jelly cup. The texture will be gooey, sweet, and

delicious.

Before you eat a Hachiya, make sure it is soft and squishy as you need to wait for the fruit's

tannins to break down before the pulp loses its astringency and takes on a sweet and sugary flavor.

The mature fruit has jellylike texture, which may make them seem unappealing. To coax Hachiyas

into ripening, just set them out on your counter for a few days to over a week, depending on how firm

they are. If you're in a hurry, you can freeze a partially ripe Hachiya for at least 24 hours and then

defrost it, which helps soften and sweeten the fruit.

SEASON

Persimmons are available nearly year-round. California persimmons are available from

September to November, with the bulk harvested in October. Fuyus from Japan and Israel are usually

shipped between November and January. Brazilian persimmons are on the market between February

and April, those from New Zealand from March to May, and those from Chile from April to May.

SELECTING

Avoid persimmons with greenish or yellow skins and those that show cracks or splits. The four

leaves should still be attached to the stem end.

STORING

A Hachiya in good condition will often need to be ripened at home. Leave it out on the counter

at room temperature or hasten the process by putting it into a paper bag with a banana or apple. The ethylene gas from the other fruit will help the persimmon ripen. A fully ripe Hachiya will be slightly wrinkled  or have a few brown spots. At this very soft stage, almost like a firm jelly, it's at a peak of perfection and should be eaten immediately.

Refrigerate or eat Fuyus while they're still fairly firm--about like a ripe pear. Once persimmons

are ripe, refrigerate them as soon as possible.

PREPARING

Persimmons can be blanched to remove the skin easily. Just dip in boiling water for a few

seconds, then plunge in cold water. Or simply wash before eating. Pluck or cut out the top leaves. A

ripe Hachiya can be halved or quartered and the flesh scooped out with a spoon. A Fuyu can be

eaten out of hand, like an apple, and the firm flesh makes it a good addition to fruit salad.

A soft ripe persimmon can be wrapped whole in plastic or foil and eaten partly frozen like a

sorbet. The flesh can also be pureed with a little lemon juice and used as a topping for ice cream or

as a filling for layer cakes and crepes.

Because they are readily available during the early winter, persimmons are a good addition to

holiday fare and make a wonderfully colorful decoration when arranged and allowed to ripen in a fruit bowl or Christmas basket.

Click link below for Persimmon Segment

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/498792471.html

HALLOWEEN PUMPKINS 11/13/18

 There’s perhaps nothing more iconic in New Jersey during the month of October than corn mazes, hay rides and especially pumpkins.
Heading out to a farm with the family to pick pumpkins or enjoy a hay ride is a great fall tradition that shouldn’t be missed; for a list of pumpkin farms in your area, visit www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org.
Since October is one of my favorite months of the year, I thought I’d share some fun facts about pumpkins and Halloween:

  • Pumpkin seeds should be planted the last week of May to the middle of June to allow them 90-120 days to grow.
  • The original birthplace of Halloween Jack-o’-lanterns is believed to be Ireland, where people would place candles in hollowed-out turnips to ward off ghosts and spirits.
  • Though many people only buy pumpkins to make Jack-o’-lanterns, pumpkins are actually among the most nutritious of all produce, supplying more beta carotene per serving than any other fruit or vegetable.
  • Besides the color orange, pumpkins come in white, blue and green varieties.
  • Despite public consensus, pumpkins aren’t vegetables — they’re actually fruits.
  • The largest pumpkin grown in the U.S. in 2018 weighed in at 2528 pounds, grown by Steve Geddes in New Hampshire.
  • Pumpkins usually always have one flat side, which is where they lay while growing.
  • Carving a pumpkin out from the bottom instead of the top usually makes for a better looking Jack-o’-lantern.
  • Always use a flashlight or another light source in the pumpkin instead of a candle for safety’s sake

SELECTION AND STORAGE
When picking any kind of pumpkin, select one without bruises or soft spots. It may be greenish in color, but left whole in a cool spot — not refrigerated — it will ripen and turn orange. Always select a pumpkin with a nice green stem (I always say that a pumpkin without a stem is like a Christmas tree without a star on top), but never handle a pumpkin by its stem because it can break off easily. PREPARATION
Some people use Jack-o’-lantern pumpkins for cooking, but these were developed specifically to be oversized and thin-walled, with a huge seed pocket and a relatively small proportion of flesh. By contrast, the smaller sugar pumpkins, or pie pumpkins, will give you more meat for cooking purposes and often a better flavor and texture. Sugar pumpkins make an especially delicious pumpkin soup. For another interesting application, buy an extra sugar pumpkin, clean out the cavity, and use it as a tureen.If you can find it, I suggest using a variety called cheese pumpkins for pies. They’re medium-to-large-sized pumpkins with very flattened shapes, a light tan shell and orange flesh. Found most readily at farm stands and throughout New England, cheese pumpkins make delicious pies, while regular pumpkins — particularly sugar and especially Jack-o’-lantern varieties — sometimes make a stringy filling.
DECORATING JACK-O LANTERNS
Instead of cutting and hollowing out a pumpkin for your Jack-o’-lantern, here’s a way to decorate pumpkins that’s different and colorful: Leave them intact and create a face using fresh vegetables. My mother used to decorate our pumpkins this way because it preserved the pumpkin, which she could then use in cooking after Halloween was over. Depending on what you use, you can give the pumpkins a wide range of personalities. I’ll never forget how my mother would use a carrot or parsnip to make a long, witchy nose, red peppers for lips, radishes for eyes, and string beans for eyelashes. Then she’d slice potatoes to make ears and make “hair” out of fennel tops. The result was unusual and very striking.My wife, Bette, who’s quite artistic, picked up a lot of kitchen techniques from my mother, and she’s decorated pumpkins for my NBC segments that were really something to see. 

Why Do We Carve Pumpkins?

Thought the Americans were the first to carve the orange fruit into freaky figures? Think again. Like most American folklore, this spooky ritual comes from our European ancestors. We’re a country of immigrants, so most of our traditions originate from outside the U.S.—and jack o’ lanterns are no different. The practice dates back to a centuries-old Irish myth about a man named “Stingy Jack.”

The Twisted Tale of Stingy Jack

According to the legend, Jack was a devious fellow who outsmarted the devil time and time again.  Jack,was the town drunk but had a clever side,and so he met the devil one fateful night. The duo shared a drink and, too cheap to pay for his booze, Jack convinced Satan to morph into a coin that he could use to pay for their beverages. As soon as he did, Jack put the coin in his pocket next to a silver cross. The devil was unable to change back into his original form, and Jack held him that way until Satan agreed not to take his soul. Sneaky!Next, the shifty swindler convinced the devil to climb up a tree to steal a piece of fruit. He quickly carved the sign of the cross into the tree bark. Again, the devil couldn’t come down until he agreed not to bother Jack for another 10 years.Shortly after his meeting with the devil, Jack died. As legend goes, God would not accept Jack into heaven and sent him down to visit the devil in hell. But the devil kept his promise. He wouldn’t let Jack into hell, either, and imprisoned him to an even darker fate. The devil sent Jack into the dark night to roam the world for eternity, with only a coal to light his way. Jack lit the coal, put it in a hollowed-out turnip and has been drifting through the world, scaring children ever since.Townsfolk began to refer to this figure as “Jack of the lantern,” and shortly thereafter “Jack o’ lantern.” People began to carve their own lanterns out of turnips, beets, potatoes and eventually pumpkins in hopes of warding away any ghostly spirits.

The Tradition Today

Over time, the tradition reached American shores by way of mouth, and immigrants from various countries took their own approach to the ancient tradition. A chiefly American fruit, the pumpkin became our own adaptation of this European tradition, and it’s now a symbol of Halloween. As years went by, the spooky history behind this family tradition has been lost. So now carving pumpkins is synonymous with family and fun instead of spooky spirits.This October, when you reach for a warm glass of cider and a carving knife, remember the spirit of Stingy Jack, and spook your friends and family with this ghostly tale!
Click link below for Halloween Pumpkin Show

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Pumpkins_New-York-497405681.html


 

BABY SEEDLESS GRAPES 09/15/18

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 SMALLER IS SWEETER

In America, we think bigger is better, but here’s something that’s an exception to the rule — baby seedless grapes.When I was a young boy selling produce off the back of my father’s truck in north Jersey, all seedless grapes looked like baby grapes, small but really sweet. (So sweet, in fact, that my father and uncle were able to make delicious wine out of them — not that it was on my approved drinking list at the time)!As time went on, society started to buy with its eyes, not its taste buds, and began looking for grapes that had more size. Because these baby grapes were so small, they stopped being sent to market, but smart farmers knew how good they were and picked a few for their families and neighbors and all of a sudden there was a demand for them.I always say that in the end, consumers drive the sales, not the farmers or wholesalers, but the person with the shopping cart who walks in the store looking for a certain item. So farmers started sending them to market and people loved them. In fact, I recently offered some to one of my grandsons, who put up his nose and said they’re too small. I said “Jake, try them,” and once he did, he ate the entire 1-pound container in one sitting and said “Poppy, these are great!”The season for baby seedless grapes is late August until the end of September, so get them now while they’re available, and if you can’t find them in your store just ask your produce manager for them. Remember, you’re the boss!

BABY SEEDLESS GRAPES

A tradition takes place in California in the fall with the growing of baby seedless grapes from Thompson seedless grapes. This happens by letting the grapes grow naturally and not thinning them out. This process is usually initiated to make raisins, but over the past few years farmers have discovered that the fresh market for eating out-of-hand has come to enjoy the sweet, tender taste of these delicate grapes.I got hooked on these grapes years ago and find them to be one of the sweetest and best-eating grapes of the fall season. This is really a seasonal grape, usually only produced in the fall when the sun is still strong and the weather starts to turn cool. Treat them like you would any other seedless grape and enjoy them, but remember they’re full of sugar so they won’t last long … so eat them, don’t store them!

STANDARD SEEDLESS GRAPES

There are basically three types of seedless grapes — white, red, and black. California Pearlettes usually arrive in early May. They’re round, very light green, and have a firm and crisp texture. Look for grapes that have a golden yellow undertone because they’re sweeter; ones that are very green are extremely tart and will make your mouth pucker. Since the season is six to eight weeks long, it’s best to wait a week or two after they first arrive before you buy them.The familiar California Thompson seedless, another pale green grape, is among America’s favorites. Thompsons are larger, more oval than round, and have a sweeter taste and more tender skin and flesh than Pearlettes. Here, too, you should look for a grape that has a golden glow, which indicates ripeness. The Thompsons start coming in about a month after the Pearlettes and stay on the market a couple of months longer.White grapes from Chile start arriving in December and tend to have a more-raisiny look compared to California varieties. Some people pass them up because they think they’re overripe, but they’re not; their golden color is a sign that they’re good and sweet.Red seedless grapes, which arrive on the market after Thompsons, have become the most popular grapes around. A cross between the seeded Tokay and round seedless grapes, Red Flame varieties are firm and sweet with a very good, crisp texture. Ruby seedless types have a richer, deeper color than the Flame, but the grapes are smaller, with a shape like a Pearlette. They have a tougher skin and less flavor than Flames and are the last of the season for seedless grapes.Black Beauty is a newer variety of seedless grape with a relatively short season. It doesn’t have quite the flavor that the other varieties do, but the Chilean black seedless grapes are better than those from California. Domestic black grapes are available in June and July, while Black Beauties from Chile are available in mid-winter.Champagne grapes are probably the sweetest of all. These tiny red grapes are available virtually year-round because they’re cultivated everywhere, mainly for restaurant use. You’re most likely to find them in gourmet or specialty markets and are easiest to eat by putting a small branchful into your mouth, then pulling the stem out between your teeth to remove the grapes, sort of like eating an artichoke leaf.


SELECTION AND STORAGE

Look for plump, smooth grapes with good color. They should be firmly attached to a fresh-looking green stem, with no evidence of wrinkling or withering. There should be a dusty bloom on the skin of the grape itself, like the dusty bloom on blueberries, it’s a naturally occurring substance that helps protect the grapes and is a good indication of freshness. Green or white grapes will have a golden glow when they’re ripe, while red grapes will be a soft, rich red, and black grapes will have a deep, blue-black color.Grapes don’t ripen off the vine, so what you buy is what you get. They’re very delicate and need to be handled carefully. Refrigerate them dry in a plastic bag and never wash them until you’re ready to eat; moisture will make them deteriorate very quickly. Grapes will last up to a week if properly stored in the refrigerator, but it’s best to eat them as soon as possible.Following are some of my favorite tips for serving and enjoying grapes


:PETE'S TOP GRAPE PICKS

Grapes are great for out-of-hand eating or as a luncheon dessert, snack, or complement to wine and cheese.

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

Click link below for Baby Seedless Grape segment
https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete_-Baby-Seedless-Grapes_New-York-493379651.html 

NEW JERSEY MUSKMELONS 09/08/18

 

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

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

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

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

SEASONS AND VARIETIES

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

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

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

SELECTION AND STORAGE

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

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

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

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

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

PREPARATION

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

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

FARMS VIEW  MUSKMELONS

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

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

Click on link below for Muskmelon Show

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

WHITE PEACHES AND WHITE NECTARINES 08/11/18

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Peaches, nectarines  are similar, but they aren't exactly the same. They're all part of same family, the Prunus family, a genus that's categorized by a hard shell that surrounds its seed in the center of the fruit. That hard shell and seed are often referred to as a stone, and the three fruits are all commonly called stone fruits. 

Peaches have skin with a soft fuzz. The skin is often removed before eating or using in a recipe because of the fuzz, but it's completely edible. Peaches are sweet and juicy when ripe. They're used in baked goods, salads, salsas, sauces, smoothies, jams, jellies and of course, eaten fresh, as is. 

Nectarines are almost genetically identical to peaches. There is only one gene that separates them, and that gene determines whether the skin has fuzz on it or not. The taste of a nectarine is very similar to that of a peach, and it's often difficult to tell them apart by taste alone.

They're used in baked goods, salads, salsas, sauces, smoothies, jams, jellies and of course, eaten fresh, as is.

Clearly, the two fruits can be used for the same purposes, but can they be swapped out in any recipe without making a difference?

Because peaches and nectarines are so closely related, they are easily interchangeable in recipes. So go ahead and use the nectarines in the peach salsa recipe if you want, or use a peach jam recipe to make nectarine jam without any other changes.

WHITE PEACHES AND WHITE NECTARINES

White peaches and nectarines are not newfangled or genetically modified. They’re grown around the world, but until 20 years ago were mostly a niche fruit popular with home growers. In America, they date back to the colonies. Especially popular in the 1800s was a white peach called the Belle of Georgia, which still exists today. It was so sweet, it was considered dessert quality. White peaches and nectarines were typically fragile and not suited for shipping. 

In 1968,  white peaches and nectarines fetched premium prices, due in part to the great care required in their handling and shipping. The time was right to rekindle white-fleshed varieties in the U.S. and develop fruit that could tolerate shipping. Big changes in American food culture often have to do with the development of new transportation and refrigeration technology.

The key description of white-fleshed stone fruit is that they are “sub-acid.” Now, sub-acid sounds like some underground band and not like something you should put in your mouth. But it’s simply the old acid/alkaline principle. The less (sub) acid, the sweeter the fruit. This can be a boom to people seeking less acid in their diet. White peaches and nectarines come in an array of complex flavors and aromas, tending toward the more delicate with sweet honey and vanilla overtones. Not necessarily snow white, their flesh is usually pearl with some rose at the pit—thereby inspiring the bevy of beautiful names.

Some summer white peach varieties fruiting on the East Coast are Snow Giant, Manon, and Raritan Rose. 

White peaches and nectarines have several characteristics that set them apart from their yellow counterparts. They have a delicate white flesh and an incredibly sweet taste due to their low acid levels. Acid is what gives yellow peaches and nectarines their slightly tangy flavor. As yellow varieties ripen, some of this acid dissipates, leaving a nice balance of sugar and acid. Because white peaches and nectarines have very low acid, they have the same sweet flavor whether you eat them crisp like an apple or wait for them to become soft and juicy. 

White peaches are commonly a darker, redder cheeked fruit whose background color is a soft, creamy white.  These too are sweet, juicy treats.  The white peaches, contrary to the yellow peaches, will not have that "bite" - that tangy, acidic counterpoint to the sweetness of the peach juices.  Conversely, if you are mixing peaches with a more acidic yogurt - plain yogurt, or a mildly acidic vanilla, you may find you prefer white peaches in these instances.  

Once a rarity, white nectarines have become popular in the last 10 years. But most modern varieties are what plant breeders call sub-acid--they taste simply sweet. But get an old-fashioned farmers market variety like a Snow Queen or a Stanwick and you've got one of the most amazing fruits of late spring, intensely sweet but with enough acidity to be interesting and layers of flowery peach flavor. The best white nectarines tend to come early in the summer harvest cycle. 

  AVAILABILITY

White peaches are available from late April through mid-October. White nectarines are available from mid May through September.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

Low fat; saturated fat free; sodium free; cholesterol free; good source of vitamin C

SELECTION AND STORAGE

The amount of red color on the skin is not an indication of ripeness and can vary greatly from variety to variety. Look for a creamy white background color with no green. Storage at home depends on how you prefer to eat them and how ripe they were when you bought them. The temperature of home refrigerators can actually damage the eating quality of firm peaches and nectarines, turning them dry and mushy. If you prefer them crisp, purchase firm fruit and consume them within a day or two. If you like them soft and juicy, leave them out at room temperature (not in a plastic bag) until they reach that stage – then refrigerate. The fruit will remain at that stage and can be refrigerated for around a week. . Soft, ripe fruit can be refrigerated without damaging the eating quality. They're ripe when they give slightly to the touch and are extremely fragrant. The best varieties of white-fleshed nectarines do tend to be cosmetically challenged, prone to scabbing and cracking, so don't let the appearance put you off. 

HOW TO SELECT THE SWEETEST NECTARINES:

Look For:

The “sugar spots” – This is an indication the fruit is so loaded with sugar, it’s essentially crystallizing on the skin.

FUN FACTS

 ■ Lower acid levels mean that white peaches are a great choice for those with sensitive stomachs.

■ White peaches are more delicate than yellow peaches. They also tend to ripen faster.

■ The sweet flavor of white peaches makes this specialty fruit a standout in recipes

. WHITE NECTARINES:

White nectarines have a smooth skin and are creamy-white on the inside with a red-over-white exterior. Just like their yellow counterparts, white nectarines are very closely related to peaches. The only difference? A gene that causes fuzz is not present in nectarines like it is in peaches. White nectarines also have a more delicate flavor than yellow nectarines. White nectarines are super-sweet, with low acid levels.

FUN FACTS:

■ Lower acid levels mean that white nectarines are a great choice for those with sensitive stomachs.

■ A smooth and fuzz-less flesh means that white nectarines are very delicate and highly susceptible to bruising.

■The history of the nectarine is unclear in the U.S. Some say the USDA introduced the fruit in 1906, while newspaper references have the fruit growing in New York prior to the Revolutionary War.

■Nectarines still naturally occur as bud mutations on peach trees.

HOW TO CHOOSE:

Select white-fleshed peaches and nectarines as you would any other stone fruit: They’re ripe when they give slightly to the touch and are extremely fragrant. The best varieties of white-fleshed nectarines do tend to be cosmetically challenged, prone to scabbing and cracking, so don’t let the appearance put you off. 

HOW TO STORE:

If the peaches or nectarines are a little too firm, leave them at room temperature for a day or two, and they’ll finish ripening. When ripe, they should be stored in the refrigerator, unless you’re going to eat them quickly.  

Click on link below for White Peach and Nectarine show

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete-Peaches-and-Nectarines_New-York-490631301.html

FRESH MISSION FIGS 06/16/18

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 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 !1
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. 

PREPARATION  !!
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.

  • Figs are harvested according to nature’s clock, fully ripened and partially dried on the tree.
  • Figs naturally help hold in moisture in baked goods, keeping them fresher.
  • Fig puree can be used to replace fat in baked goods.
  • California grows many varieties of figs, but the two most common are the amber-colored, slightly nutty-flavored Golden and the dark purple, sweet Mission.
  • California produces 100% of the nation’s dried figs and 98% of the fresh figs.
  • The Spaniards introduced Mission Figs to the California territory in the early 16th century.
  • The priests at Mission San Diego originally planted figs in California in 1769. This is how the dark purple fig became known as “Mission"
  • Many believe it was figs that were actually the fruit in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, not apples.
  • The early Olympic athletes used figs as a training food. Figs were also presented as laurels to the winners, becoming the first Olympic “medal.”
  • In Roman times figs were considered to be restorative. They were believed to increase the strength of young people, to maintain the elderly in better health and to make them look younger with fewer wrinkles. 
  • Figs made their first commercial product appearance with the 1892 introduction of Fig Newtons® cookies.
  • The fig tree is a symbol of abundance, fertility and sweetness.
  • Eating one half cup of figs has as much calcium as drinking one-half cup of milk.

Click on link below for Mission Fig Showhttps://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete-Fresh-Mission-Figs_New-York-485737402.html


 

CALIFORNIA APRICOT SHOW 06/02.18

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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.    

APRICOTS

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. 

SELECTING

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.

STORING

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.

PREPARING

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

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Produce-Pete-Apricots_New-York-484380321.html

CALIFORNIA BLACKBERRIES AND SEASONS FINEST 05/12/18

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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

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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