Did you know that New Jersey grows about 66 percent of the world’s eggplants?It’s true! The majority of eggplant production is located in South Jersey, especially Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem and Atlantic counties, and smaller production sites are also located in Monmouth and Burlington counties.Production is mainly for wholesale shipment to the eastern U.S. and Canada, depending on the time of year. A small volume of eggplants is produced in the northern part of the state for roadside stands and farmers markets.Eggplants are harvested by hand one to two times a week depending on temperature. Because they need well-drained, sandy-loam soil to grow, New Jersey offers the perfect conditions for this purple plant. Ferrari Farms, R & R Flame Farms, and Scapellato Farms in South Jersey are huge eggplant growers and friends of mine.  There eggplants in the field are a beautiful sight.When I was a young man running our produce store in Bergenfield, I would buy from my local farmers all summer long; I remember getting fresh peppers and eggplants picked that day at Binaghi Farm in Old Tappan, as well as at Smith Farms just over the border in New City, New York.Farmers like Wally Smith and Ronnie Binaghi were more than business partners to me and my family —they were friends and felt more like extended family.Fresh Jersey produce right off the farm is a treat that everyone should experience, so please support your local farmer, farm stand and local farmers markets all summer long.Ever since I was 4 selling produce off the back of my father’s truck, I’ve understood that the farmer is the backbone of America. Although my childhood was hard and my family worked seven days a week, I wouldn’t have traded my life growing up for anything; looking back, they were truly the best years of my life.  

Locally Grown Eggplant

Eggplants got their name because eggplants used to come in only one color--white. Hanging from the plant, they looked like eggs. The problem was that when they were shipped, they tended to bruise and scar easily. So the hybridizers went to work to develop an eggplant that wouldn't scar and in the process widened the variety. The eggplant is a member of the nightshade family. We're almost positive it originally came from India and spread to Europe by way of Africa. Italians were growing it by the fourteenth century, but you'll find that eggplant doesn't figure in northern Italian cuisine as it does in southern. That's because it needs heat to grow--heat and considerable irrigation. From Europe eggplants spread to the Americas and were being cultivated in Brazil by the mid 1600's. In some places the eggplant is known as the "mad apple"--from mala insana, meaning "bad egg" or "bad apple." Legend has it that an Indian traveler ate some raw eggplant, had a fit, and people thought the eggplant had poisoned him. Some people still think eggplants are poisonous. Early in the growing season, eggplants produce beautiful star-shaped blue-violet flowers. The eggplant is the berry that forms after the flower drops.


The most commonly available eggplant is a deep purple that's almost black. These range in size anywhere from four ounces to 1 1/2 pounds. The original white eggplant is now very trendy. It is generally smaller than the purple variety, and a lot of people say it's more-tender, but I don't really see any difference. It's more expensive than the purple kind because it's not cultivated as widely. All the varieties are good, but I'm particularly fond of the Spanish eggplant, which has purple and white stripes. These seem to be a little heavier in texture and taste.


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


Round, oval, or pear-shaped, eggplants may be white, purple or striped. The flesh is firm and creamy white, with a lot of edible white seeds in the center. Baby or Italian eggplants are smaller, with a thinner skin. When choosing an eggplant, look for firm, shiny fruit that's heavy in the hand for its size. The top should be green and fresh-looking; a green cap with little spikes around the stems a sure tip that the eggplant is fresh. Next, look at the blossom end. If it has a round mark, it's a male. If the mark is oval--slightly elongated--it's a female. The females are firmer and have fewer seeds. The fewer seeds the eggplant has, the less bitter it will be. Now hold the eggplant in your hand. If it's large but feels light, it will be pulpy. Press the flesh gently with your thumb. If it leaves an indentation, pass that eggplant by. Unless you're making gumbroit, the eggplant should be firm, with no wrinkling or soft spots. If it's the purple variety, it should be smooth and shiny, not dull.


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


Eggplant has a slightly bitter taste, especially when mature. To get rid of it, peel the eggplant (the skin is likely to be both bitter and a little tough), then slice it, sprinkle with salt, and allow it to drain in a colander for up to half an hour. In addition to purging the bitter juices, salting eggplant also helps keep it from absorbing oil when you sauté or fry it.You can bread and fry eggplant or use it in dozens of different vegetable dishes. It's a good, filling substitute for meat in a vegetarian meal. Like my father, I love gumbroit, but my favorite dish is actually eggplant Parmesan, which my wife, Betty, makes with alternate layers of eggplant and zucchini. She also makes a wonderful eggplant rollatini--sliced eggplant rolled and filled and served with a tomato sauce. 

Mom's Lesson

When my father was a youngster, one of his favorite dishes was gumbroit, which is sort of like ratatouille, made with eggplant, squash, tomatoes, and other vegetables. Clean-out-the-refrigerator time. Everyone raved about Nonna's gumbroit. My mother was Irish, but she was the best Italian cook there ever was. Basically, it was my father's mother who taught her how to cook. There were only three things in the world that would make Mom angry: if you talked about her husband, if you talked about her children, or if you talked about her cooking. Whenever my mother made gumbroit, Pop would say, "That's good, but not as good as my mother's." It drove Mom crazy. She made it just the way Nonna taught her. For a long time she tried to figure out what she could be doing wrong. Pop was the twentieth of twenty children and the spoiled baby of the family. He was a very picky eater. My mother knew that. She also knew that with such a big family, my grandmother used to save money by buying fruits and vegetables that had spots or bruises on them. And when they were running their own store, Nonna would take home the stuff that the customers wouldn't buy. It finally dawned on Mom that this was what she was doing wrong. The spotted vegetables Nonna used were absolutely dead ripe. So Mom went down to the store, picked out all the spotted eggplants and squashes and tomatoes, and took them home to make gumbroit. My father absolutely loved it! The problem with most Americans is that they buy with their eyes. Sure, there are things you need to look for when you're buying fresh produce, but just because something looks perfect, it won't necessarily taste good. A winter tomato can be perfectly round and uniformly colored, but it's not going to taste like anything. As often as not your other senses--especially your nose--are going to tell you as much about fruits and vegetables as your eyes will.  
Check out Bette's Eggplant Rollatini Recipe on Bette's Recipes
Click link below for eggplant Show




 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!!


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!


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. 


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 !! 

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 




  Watermelon to me brings back memories of my childhood which, of course, was a very long time ago. Years ago we used to peddle door to door - the time when the supermarkets came to you. Now in those days we used to have what we called straight loads, which most of the time were watermelons. Watermelons sold then mostly whole, never cut, except if you plugged it. Plugging is when you make a triangle cut into the watermelon, then you pull out the triangle cut to see if the watermelon is ripe. Red, juicy, with a thin rind is what you're looking for. Back then, everybody bought whole melons because they had big families. As the seedless variety began to get more popular, the cutting of watermelon also became the thing to do. Now watermelons are mostly sold by the piece. Summertime or year-round - there is nothing better than a good ripe watermelon. It didn't happen overnight or over the span of a few growing seasons. It took years and years to get rid of those seeds. Yet the result is somewhat truly amazing to behold, and even more amazing to taste. The seedless watermelon is sweeter and crunchier, with a nice thin rind. You ought to see all the ways people try to test whether watermelon is ripe. They thump them. They twist the stem to see if it will twist back. I've seen people balance straw on a melon to see if the straw will rotate. People have even brought buckets of water into the store to see if a melon will float. Everybody has some magical way to see if a watermelon is ripe, but there's one simple, sure way to tell. Look at the stem end: if the stem is shrunken and shriveled, the melon is ripe. 


African in origin, watermelons are actually edible gourds in the same family as cucumbers and squash. The top three producers in the United States are Florida, Texas, and California, with Florida providing up to 90 percent of those we get on the East Coast. There are many varieties, many different shapes and sizes - a few with yellow flesh, most of them with red. Some people avoid watermelons because they're so big but a lot of small varieties have been developed that are terrific, and most markets sell large melons cut into halves or quarters. The average weight of a watermelon is five to thirty pounds, with some varieties as small as two pounds.


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


Although a seedless watermelon will ripen after it's picked, if you want it ripe when you buy it, look for a stem that's shrunken and discolored. If the stem is missing, the watermelon is too ripe; it will be mealy and dark and not taste fresh. If the stem is green - the watermelon is too green and not ripe. The skin should be dull, not shiny. Slap the melon and listen for a hollow thump. A yellow belly or the underside of the watermelon usually indicates the fruit is ripe. Cut melons are usually more expensive per pound than those bought whole, but they may be a better buy because you see exactly what you're getting. The blossom end of the watermelon is usually the ripest and therefore the sweetest part. If you're buying a cut melon, look for the blossom end. Make sure the flesh is dark red and firm. 


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


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

Did you know?

Soon to be published research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that watermelon is as much as 60% higher in lycopenes than tomatoes. Lycopene is a pigment that gives the bright red color to tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit and guava. Recent studies show the intake of lycopene is associated with reductions in several forms of cancer, including prostate, breast, lung and cancer of the uterus. The anti-cancer properties of lycopene appear to be due to its effectiveness as an antioxidant. Warm days and cool nights in the watermelon growing areas help increase lycopene content. The riper or redder the melon…..the more lycopene. In addition to lycopene, watermelons also contain other properties beneficial to the body, including citrulline, an amino acid compound, which helps flush out the kidneys. 

Interesting and Fun Watermelon Facts

Top 10 Watermelon Fun Facts

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

The story of how Napolitano's Produce in Bergenfield NJ got it's start, has to do with watermelons. My father was always in the produce business but really didn't care much for it, you know it was never his choice , it was what the family did. Now from time to time he would do other jobs, a butcher, truck driver, bar owner, and a bus driver. well it just so happened that he was driving a bus for Red and Tan Line in northern New Jersey, when my Mom came to him and said, Pete, I was getting gas at a service station in Bergenfield and I noticed that next to him was an empty lot and I thought , that would make a perfect spot for me to sell some watermelons off one of your trucks. Mom was always thinking of how to bring extra money in the household, those  days were pretty lean, and she was a woman ahead of her times. So being a good husband he bought her a load of watermelons, parked her on the corner by the gas station and went about driving the bus. To his surprise, but not her's, she sold the whole load that day. Now being such a good husband, he bought her two loads the next day, she sold all of them and he stopped driving the bus, and Napolitano's Produce was born.So when people always say to me, your father had a great business, I always thank them with a little smile, if it wasn't for mom , who knows what would have been.

Click the link for watermelon show 




Hawaiians call coconut water ‘noelani’ which means “dew from the heavens.” Quench your thirst and get rehydrated with natural fresh coconut juice from Hamona coconuts grown and imported directly from the lush tropical Mekong Delta in Vietnam. 

Today's show is about something new to the marketplace, a coconut that doesn't take a hammer to get to the coconut water and meat. I like to talk about new items that i think are great, only problem with this item is it might be hard to find at first. i will list some stores that i know handle these coconuts at the end on this report and when I talk about them on the show.


The unique characteristics of Mekong Delta, one of the most naturally prosperous areas in Vietnam, have nurtured and grown coconut trees into a special kind of plants, not only for food and drink, but also been playing an important role in Vietnamese's lives for thousand years  Hamona coconut trees are specially selected from one of many species.  The coconut is sweet and full of flavor and it is very different from young coconuts in the market. 

The first thing that has prevented us from daily drinking a coconut is that it is difficult to open it. Hamona changes that. Hamona makes enjoying a coconut easier than drinking a Coke, and even much more than that.



Coconut water is amazing, but opening a coconut is a real pain. Without a good knife or tool and the right technique, you cannot get through the hard and thick coconut husk to extract the juice. This is why most people choose to buy packaged coconut water instead of fresh coconuts! 


After de-husking, there are ‘three eyes’ on every coconut and one of them is the ‘sprouting eye’ where coconut sprouts. Plug the straw into this ‘eye’ and enjoy the freshness from Mother Nature instantly! Simple as 1-2-3, even a kid can do it easily. One more thing, you can crack open hamona coconuts with a metal spoon from the bottom of it and eat the tasty and nutritious copra (meat) as snack or use it to cook some wonderful dishes with it! 

 From a single Hamona coconut, you can drink the juice, eat the copra and recycle the shell for a variety of uses.

Unlike most coconuts that you are use to seeing at your green grocer or supermarket, this coconut has a thin shell and easy access to get to the coconut water and meat.


Unliked bottled or package coconut water, Hamona coconuts contain raw coconut water, raw coconut meat without being processed, no added sugars or preservatives, it's all 100% natural.

Boosts Hydration  --     Boots Metabolism

Anti-Aging     --            Treats Headaches

Aids in Weight Loss    --  Lowers Blood Pressure

Boosts Immunity   --      Controls Blood Sugar

Enhances Hair Growth   --  Boosts Energy

Lowers Cholesterol  --     Fat Free

Increases Bone Strength  --  Nutritious in Calcium,Potassium and Magnesium

Coconut is one of the most wonderfully nourished fruits of Mother Nature. Just enjoy it every day and you will see through your own experience. 


Sickles Market  Little Silver, N.J.

Citarella   New York and Long Island

Stew Leonards  New York, Connecticut, Long Island

Key Foods

Mortan Williams   New York

Patel Brothers

Ranch 99  New Jersey

Bad Apple Produce

Grass Roots  Long Island


Click link below for Hamona Coconut segment




 After cantaloupes and watermelons, probably the most familiar melons to Americans are honeydews, which are available in to the winter months. The rind is very smooth, greenish white to yellow in color, and the flesh is a cool lime green. An unripe honeydew is terrible, but a ripe one is probably the sweetest melon of all - and the prettiest. Honeydew is definitely one of my favorite melons. All too often it's difficult to find a ripe honeydew, but it's not difficult to pick out a ripe one. The rind will develop a golden color and will actually become sticky outside. Never be afraid of a honeydew that has developed a bit of brown freckling on the rind - that's where it's tacky with sugar. The other clue to a ripe honeydew is a sweet, heady aroma. People tend to check the stem end of the melon to see if it's soft, but that's not going to tell you a thing. Good aroma, color, freckles, and a sticky feel are the telltale signs of a sweet honeydew. In season, honeydews from California are the best. Unless you live in California, however, a ripe honeydew before August or after October is as rare as a blue moon. Because ripe ones are fragile and hard to ship, 99 percent of those you see most the year have been picked green, and they'll never ripen. From August through October, however, a new crop of honeydews is ripening in California, and they become ready so quickly the growers can't pick them fast enough. Lucky for you, because most of the honeydews end up staying on the vine until they're ripe and full of sugar. Honeydews from Arizona, Texas, and Mexico are in season at the same time, but in my opinion they range from decent (Arizona honeydews) to lackluster (those from Texas and Mexico). There are a couple of consistently good California brands you may want to watch for - Pony Boys and Sycamores. Start looking in August, and you'll rarely be disappointed.  So, you want to know how to tell if a honeydew melon is ripe, do you? Well, I don’t blame you. After all, there are few things better than a juicy honeydew, but an unripe one leaves a lot to be desired.  

How to tell if a honeydew is ripe

Farmers have to be careful when harvesting honeydew melons from the vine as this particular fruit will not ripen if it is picked too early. An immature honeydew melon will remain hard, bland, and, frankly, inedible, so it’s vital they are picked once they’ve moved over to maturity.The confusion between mature and immature melons comes about because mature honeydews can still be unripe. The difference is that a mature honeydew will begin to ripen if left to do its thing on your kitchen counter, whereas an immature one will never turn into the soft, luscious, juicy, tender fruit we all know and love.A nice ripe honeydew melon will give off certain clues, and these are what you are going to be looking out for before you take your knife out of its block and begin slicing open your delicious ball of goodness


 When a honeydew melon is ripe and ready to eat it will have a sweet scent which simply screams out EAT ME! The longer the melon is left to ripen, the stronger the fruit’s fragrance becomes. 


  Your melon should have next to no greenness once it has fully ripened, so keep an eye out for any green veins running across the rind (the outer skin of the fruit). A ripe honeydew will have lost its green tinge and moved over to a nice whitish yellow or golden hue. 


 Yes! Listen to your melons, people.  As you probably know, honeydew melons have an abundance of seeds inside them and these begin to work their way loose from the flesh as the melon ripens.  What has this got to do with your ears? Well, if you give a ripe melon a quick shake you’ll hear a faint rattling sound from within. Try it. It’s a cool trick.  Another audio clue can be found when you drum a melon with your fingers. The resulting sound should be somewhat of a deep, dull thud if your honeydew is ready to eat.

 Time to get touchy. When working out how to tell if a honeydew is ripe, this is often the first thing you’ll hear people talk about, and yet many people get it wrong.   The key is to gently press the opposite end to where the stem was, commonly referred to as the blossom end in gardening circles. With a honeydew melon, ripe fruits will yield a little and then bounce straight back.   The “give” you’re after is not too hard, not too soft. Think of Goldilocks when you’re pressing!   Nicely ripened honeydews will also have a different feel to them than unripened melons. Run your fingers across the rind of a perfectly ripened fruit and you’ll feel fine ridges in the skin, whereas less ripe honeydews will be smoother. Selecting a ripe honeydew melon is great if you’re going to eat it that day, but what about if you are planning on waiting a while? Well, as I’ve already mentioned, the key thing to avoid is an immature fruit. Providing the melon is mature, you can always ripen a honeydew melon at home.You can do all of the above tips in store to select the ripest, juiciest melons, but there are some other things to look out for as well when you’re buying a honeydew from a store or down at your local farmers market:  

A good honeydew melon will almost feel too heavy for its size when you pick it up. Why? Because of all that glorious juice held within, that’s why! Selecting a nice heavy honeydew will ensure you get a lip-smackingly juicy fruit.   
A mature honeydew will appear round and symmetrical when you look at it, with no weird lumps and bumps. Again, it’s a good idea to avoid greener fruits too. 
While the stem will likely have been removed from the fruit before it hit the supermarket shelves, looking at this part of the fruit can determine whether it was nicely matured on the vine or not.   What you are looking for is a subtle dip around where the stem once was. Any remnants of the stem should be well hardened, dry, and free from any signs of mold.

Wondering how to ripen honeydew melon after cutting?

Sit yourself down, I have some bad news for you.If you’ve been a little eager and cut into your honeydew too early, there isn’t much you can do to ripen it, unfortunately. However, all is not completely lost.Instead of wasting your unripe honeydew melon, try adding it to your daily green smoothie. Unripe melons are hard and pretty tasteless, but your blender will whizz them up and the other ingredients will mask the blandness.While it’s a poor substitute for a deliciously ripe honeydew, it’s a much better option than throwing it in the trash. However, if you’re melon is actually immature (rather than simply unripe) and therefore has no chance of ever ripening, take it back to the store and complain. Immature fruits do sometimes escape quality control, but the more we stand up for ourselves the greater the chance this will be improved upon.That’s it! Now you should be able to easily tell the difference between an unripe and a ripe honeydew melon. All that remains now is to slice one up and get stuck in

.Happy Eating!

  Click link below for Honeydew Show



California Nectarines

 Although summer in our area is loaded with different fruits,there are still some fruits out there well worth buying, and nectarines from California are among them.I always talk about maturity as the key to getting the very best in most fruits and vegetables, and mid- summer is a great time for nectarines, as they’ve been on the tree longer and are juicy, ripe, and ready to eat.When I was a kid, I would run to my father’s produce truck as he came back from the market and wait for him to open the doors so I could experience that warm sweet smell from the nectarines. Although I love peaches, nectarines – which aren’t simply fuzzless peaches – are a real treasure, and ripe nectarines have a taste that you never forget.When something is in season and especially when the season is coming to an end, I want to get my fill of it. Though you’ll see nectarines most of the year, the ones in season from California, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania are fresh, have been on the tree longer, and have reached a full maturity which ensures that they’re going to be good.So while summer is here , and before it comes to an end, don’t let it stop you from enjoying the summer sweetness that nectarines can deliver.
ABOUT NECTARINESAll summer fruits have their own life. While they’re available from June onward, the time for great nectarines is mid- summer. The best way to select a great nectarine is with your nose – a good ripe peach has a sweet scent, but you can smell the wonderful fragrance of a ripe nectarine a mile away.Until about 1940, nectarines were small, drab, green fruits with very little red cheek. They were also fragile and had a short shelf life, so they weren’t popular. In 1942, however, the LeGrade variety appeared, named after the town in California where it was developed. More than a hundred different varieties have since been developed and nectarines are nearly equal to peaches as the most popular stone fruit. They’re certainly my favorite.A lot of people think of the nectarine as a fuzzless peach, and it is related to peaches, almonds and plums, but the nectarine is a different fruit. Like its relatives, it came out of ancient China, but the flesh is meatier and juicier than that of most peaches. The fruit is also more fragile because it’s not protected by a fuzzy skin. For that reason, most growers won’t ship a really ripe nectarine, so in most instances you’ll need to let nectarines ripen at home for a couple of days before eating. SEASONALITYNectarines from Florida and Georgia begin to appear on the market in May, but they tend to be green and hard. In June and July, California and Local Nectarines are good  It’s in August and the first half of September that California nectarines are really superb.If nectarines grow locally and you can get tree-ripened ones at your local farm stand during the summer, by all means buy them.Imports from Chile and other Southern Hemisphere countries show up in January and February, but those that are shipped by boat aren’t the best. A few tree-ripened ones are shipped by air, and although they’re good, they’re very expensive.To improve their shipping success, packers have been developing controlled atmosphere techniques through which nectarines are put in sealed containers with air that has a high nitrogen content, effectively putting the fruit to sleep and preventing the damage caused by chilling. If the technique is perfected, we may see the unthinkable happen – stone fruits like nectarines, peaches, and plums that are ripe, sweet, and juicy in the middle of winter.
SELECTION AND STORAGELook for unbruised, colorful fruit, although you may have to accept a bruise or two on really ripe nectarines. Avoid fruit that looks green or has a wrinkled or leathery-looking skin and choose medium-to-large nectarines; a gigantic one will be mealy and a very small one was probably picked too green.Often your best bet will be to buy nectarines that are still firm, take them home, and let them ripen on the counter a day or two, until they have a little give and develop a wonderful fragrance. You can refrigerate a nectarine when it’s fully ripe, but only for a day or two. Longer refrigeration will rob the fruit of its juice and flavor.
PREPARATIONNectarines are excellent eaten out of hand, but there are other delicious ways to enjoy them too. Here are some great options that my wife, Bette, prepares for our household:

  • Create a nectarine antipasto by combining chilled, sliced fresh nectarines with sliced green onions, sliced fresh mushrooms, snipped fresh dill, salt, pepper, and an oil and vinegar dressing and serve in lettuce cups
  • For breakfast, stir together crisp rice cereal or corn flakes, honey, and flaked coconut. Spoon this mixture into ripe nectarine halves placed in a shallow pan; heat in the oven at a low temperature until the nectarines are warm and the coconut is lightly toasted
  • For a quick nectarine relish, chop equal quantities of fresh nectarines and firm tomatoes, add a generous measure of chopped scallions, and stir in chopped fresh mint or basil. Add salt and use as a relish for hamburgers or fish.
  • Enjoy nectarines in a chicken sandwich by shredding the chicken and adding alfalfa sprouts and thinly-sliced fresh nectarines moistened with well-seasoned mayonnaise or tart French dressing. Stuff into pita pockets.

Cold weather will be here before we know it, so be sure to enjoy those last sweet tastes of summer that nectarines can provide.

Ripen Fruit in a Paper Bag 

It's easy to ripen firm peaches or nectarines. 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 and nectarines 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 OR NECTARINES 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 Nectarine Show 



Batata, Jamaican Yellow Name, Malanga Coco


Now I'm the first to admit I'm not an expert when it comes to Tropical Produce, never really sold much of it. But one thing is for sure, I've been getting alot of request from all of you about Caribbean/Dominican/Hispanic Vegetables, so I have decided to bring in an expert to talk Tropical Produce.  Joe Battaglia is head Tropical buyer at S Katzman Produce in the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx. You all know me "JACK OF ALL TRADES-MASTER OF NONE", that's me, so this week I'll be asking the questions, hoping to learn a lot for me and all of you. Tropical Produce consumption is on the rise with Fresh Cuts, Store Sampling and Education. A few years ago people didn't know much about Mangoes and now they are one of the most popular fruits.


 The batata is a root crop that is a type of sweet potato. It normally grows in the Caribbean and it’s flavour resembles that of the sweet potato but a little more starchy. Batatas can be substituted in any recipe that calls for sweet potatoes.

Batatas deliver important nutrients such as protein, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and folic acid. They are also a great source of potassium. Calcium and magnesium are minerals that the body needs for healthy bones, teeth and gums. Potassium is another crucial mineral that helps the body to maintain a healthy blood pressure.

When purchasing batatas, you can recognize the vegetable by its resemblance to a sweet potato. The difference between the batata and sweet potato is that the batata has a white flesh and sweet potatoes have a yellow to orange coloured flesh. Select batatas that are firm to the touch and that have smooth skins with little or no marks on them. Choose ones that are smaller in size because these will be more flavourful and they will have a better consistency when cooked. Once you have purchased your batatas, you can store them in your home for up to one week in a dark, cool, dry place at an average temperature. Batatas do not need refrigeration.

Make sure that when you are preparing to use batatas for cooking, you place the peeled ones in cold water before cooking them. This prevents the batatas from becoming discoloured . Try baking batatas, boiling and mashing them or substituting them for any dish that calls for a sweet potato. Batatas are delicious in soups and stews.


Malanga is a tropical root vegetable grown throughout the Latin America and the Caribbean. Today it is one of three main “Tropical Vegetables” grown in South Florida, along with calabaza and boniato. Malanga was originally planted Florida to meet the demands of the growing local Hispanic Community. Most of the commercial volume of malanga though, is cultivated in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. 

Malanga Blanca, is the most common variety of this tuber. Other varieties include Malanga Lila, Malanga Coco, Malanga Amarilla, and Malanga Eddo (Tarro) 

Covered in a brownish or grayish hairy skin, malangas are usually peeled before cooking. Commonly, the malangas are boiled or baked and can be mashed like a potato. They are enjoyed this way with garlic and olive oil or butter or are wonderful added to soups or stews. The texture is creamy and thick and very flavorful. Malanga can be milled into flour as well. It is considered one of the most hypoallergenic foods in the world, so it is easily digestible for people with allergies.

 Similar to a potato in texture, malanga has a woodsy taste with a hint of black walnut. It is a natural thickener, and makes stews and soups creamy. Don’t eat it raw as it can irritate the throat. 


Yellow Name root is a cylindrical, irregular-shaped tuber. The Yellow Name root, also known as Guinea yam, is a tropical plant that has vines that can climb to a height of about 80 feet. The Yellow Name tuber has spiky, thorny stems, broad green leaves and purple flowers above ground. Each Yellow Name tuber is typically 4 to 9 pounds in weight, but can grow to 50 pounds. Yellow Name roots have dark brown, thick, bark-like skins. When cut open, the Yellow Name root has a yellow to pink-orange interior flesh. The flesh is dense and mealy with a starchy, chewy texture that turns creamy when cooked. Its flavor is mildly nutty and sweet. Yellow Name roots can be used in recipes that call for sweet potatoes.

  Yellow Name (pronounced “nyah-may”) is botanically classified as Dioscorea cayenensis. There is also a white variety in the same family, classified as Dioscorea Rotundata. The Yellow Name root, is not cultivated as much as the white variety, perhaps because it takes longer to mature. Yellow Name root is harvested after around 12 months, while the white variety takes just 6 to 8 months. Yellow Name is also known as the Yellow Guinea yam in Africa and Yellow yam in Jamaica and other areas of the tropics. Yellow Name roots contain raphides, a naturally occurring oxalate which disappears when cooked, but which may irritate the skin when the root is freshly cut. 

Yellow Name roots are a versatile vegetable. They can be used in soups and stews, and may be baked, steamed, scalloped, fried or creamed. They can be eaten plain, or with a sauce or gravy. Yellow Name pairs well with savory seasonings, hot sauces, mustard sauces and dressings. A common preparation is to mash them, then shape them into a cake or patty, and fry them. They may also also be cut into strips, and fried like a potato chip. The skin is often removed before use. Store Yellow Name roots whole in aerated plastic bags or containers. They can be stored in a cool, dark, dry area for up to one week.

The exact origins of Yellow Name roots are unknown. They are found wild in the forests of West Africa.

Yellow Name roots are available year-round.

 When selecting Yellow Name look for well-formed, similarly shaped tubers. Name should be firm and free of cracks or soft spots. The flesh should be juicy, not dry. Store whole in a cool, dark, dry area for up to one week. 

The skin of the Name should be scrubbed with a brush under running water prior to use. To easily peel, cut into cubes. With a knife cut out flesh and remove all skin. Place in a bowl of water and lemon juice until ready for use 

This weeks segment was filmed in Brooklyn at a new supermarket, Pathmark, a old familiar name that was gone to the public. The Pathmark Banner was bought by this supermarket and opened up a couple of weeks ago, with great reviews from the customers in the area. The key to any business, is know your customers, we did that for over 60 years, knowing what our customer base needed. This store has done that and that's way i choose them for my show on Tropical Vegetables.

We will be back there in a couple of weeks talking more Tropical Vegetables.

 A thank you to my friend Joey B for his knowledge on Tropicals and I hope you learned as much as I did.

Click on link below for Tropical Vegetable Segment 




 I'm the first to admit I'm not an expert when it comes to Tropical Produce, never really sold much of it. But one thing is for sure, I've been getting alot of request from all of you about Caribbean/Dominican/Hispanic Vegetables, so I have decided to bring in an expert to talk Tropical Produce.  Joe Battaglia is head Tropical buyer at S Katzman Produce in the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx. You all know me "JACK OF ALL TRADES-MASTER OF NONE", that's me, so this week I'll be asking the questions, hoping to learn a lot for me and all of you. Tropical Produce consumption is on the rise with Fresh Cuts, Store Sampling and Education. A few years ago people didn't know much about Mangoes and now they are one of the most popular fruits.


Yuca commonly known as cassava or manioc ( not to be confused with yucca), is one of the world’s most versatile vegetables. Use it fried, boiled, or mashed, yuca is a nutty-flavored starch tuber native to South America that is also found in Asia and parts of Africa. Together with other tropical root vegetables like yam, taro, and most notably the potato, it is an indispensable part of the carbohydrate diet for many. Yuca is a major source of calories in the tropics and is considered a main food staple for millions. Because it is so drought-tolerant, it’s become a popular crop to harvest in the marginal countries that lack soil. Yuca, pronounced YOO-ka,  The large tapered yuca roots are similar in size and shape to a sweet potato and can be anywhere from one to several pounds in size. At most stores, you can find yuca roots in the produce aisle. They look very much like its close cousins the yam and potato, with a rough, bark-like skin that must be removed by grating or peeling.   The starchy flesh of the yuca root is a light white or cream color with a grainy texture similar to potatoes. The meaty flesh is often described as having a mild, sweet, somewhat nutty taste.  You can prepare it in the same way you would a baked potato, though it’s important to remove the skin first. Yuca have a high starch content which make them rather dry, so including a sauce helps. A common way to prepare a yuca is to make oven-baked yuca fries or chunks 

Chayote (pronounced CHAH-YOH-TEH) is a pear-shaped, light green vegetable belonging to the Cucurbitaceae or gourd family. It has a mild flavor and a slightly crunchy texture that resembles a combination of a cucumber and a potato.This vegetable has a thin layer of pale green skin, with multiple shallow, vertical furrows on the surface.Chayote also comes in different varieties, which may be easily differentiated by the surface texture and the color of the vegetables. It may also come in either a green or white shade, or have a spiky or smooth texture.Inside the chayote, you will find edible seeds, which are usually roasted or fried. Chayote grows on a perennial vine, with tendrils that enable the plant to climb and use a surface for support. The vine can cling to fences, shrubs and even on trees.Chayote grows best during a long and warm season and requires rich and well-drained soil. After about 120 to 150 days of maturation, chayote plants may start producing flowers.These flowers eventually develop into vegetables, with a chayote plant having the ability to yield up to 300 chayotes per year. Chayote have become popular in the U.S. and are found in many large markets. They are being cultivated in Florida, California, and Louisiana. They are very common in Latino grocery stores. Select firm, smooth, unwrinkled chayote.  Old chayote become very wrinkled and become dry and tough.  Chayote will keep refrigerated for many days but it is best to use as quickly as possible.Chayotes are available almost year round with main crops in fall and late spring. The chayote can be eaten raw in salads, or stuffed and baked.  Other preparations include mashing, pickling, frying or boiling. The plain squash tends to be bland and benefits from "aggressive" seasoning.   You can also eat the chayote tuber portion of the roots boiled or you can add it to a simple vegetable or meat stew.

A pumpkin-like squash, round in shape and ranging in size from small (cantaloupe) to large (watermelon). Grown in the Caribbean, Central and South America. Its flesh is a bright orange, and its skin ranges in color from green to beige to orange. The firm, succulent flesh has a sweet flavor like the butternut squash. The seeds are edible and can be toasted.  


Sold in chunks in Latin markets. Select fresh pieces with moist, tightly grained flesh . Avoid wet or soft spots. Whole calabase should be heavy for its size and unblemished with the stem still attached.


Store whole squash in a cool, dark place up to six weeks. Refrigerate wrapped chunks up to one week.
Calabaza has a sweet flavor and its texture is firm. This is similar to the taste and texture of more familiar varieties of squash, such as butternut or acorn.Pronounced  KAH-LAH-BAH-SAH Cabaza squash or ‘Pumpkin” is a Hispanic favorite. It’s also been called “West Indian Pumpkin” or “Cuban Squash.” It is cultivated throughout Central and South America. and Florida. It is one of the three major tropical vegetables grown. However, most of the commercial volume comes from Panama, Costa Rica, and Dominican Republic.Calabaza can be round or pear shaped, usually with a speckled surface which may be green, tan, or orange, or a combination of all of these colors. The bright orange flesh has a sweet taste and becomes very smooth once cooked. It can be halved and baked and then mashed with butter and garlic, or it can be peeled and cut up and boiled, or it can be cut up and added to soups and stews. The calabaza's wonderful bright color adds presentation to many dishes


Because of the great response we got from the Tropical Vegetable Show we did a couple of weeks ago we are back at Pathmark, Albany Street, Brooklyn  with three more tropical vegetablesHope you enjoy, and have a great Memorial Day Weekend

Click on link below for Tropical Vegetable Show







Artichokes are actually the giant, unopened buds of a flowering plant - an edible relative of the thistle. They've been a favorite in Spain, Italy, and other Mediterranean countries for hundreds of years, but many people here still think of them as fairly exotic. Although they take a little time to eat - there's no way you can wolf down an artichoke - they're actually fun to dismantle; and the tender flesh at the base of the leaves and especially at the heart has a distinctive sweet, nutty taste that's absolutely delicious. Artichokes can be prepared in dozens of ways, and I like all of them. The largest crop of artichokes is still produced in Mediterranean countries, but California is the biggest supplier in the U.S. Castroville, located near San   Francisco, calls itself the Artichoke Capital of the World; and the whole economy of the place revolve around the vegetable - there's even a statue of an artichoke in the middle of town. With its cool, humid, foggy weather, the area is perfect for growing good artichokes. There are three basic types of artichokes, plus a new "thorn less" variety that's beginning to appear on the market. The globe type is the most common, with a large fairly round shape and smallish barb on the tips of the leaves. The oval artichoke is very thorny, with a longer, more pointed leaf. The taste of both is identical and they can be cooked in the same way, but I find that glove artichokes are usually more-tender. The third type is the small, loose baby artichoke, which is often marinated whole in vinegar and oil after it has been washed and de-thorned. Most baby artichokes don't have many thorns in the first place, and they can be eaten whole, without removing the "choke". Thorn-less artichokes are also available. I find them to be excellent if they're from California but unreliable if they've been imported from Mexico or Chile. The imports are difficult to cook properly because it's hard to get the timing right - some cook fast and tender, others take an hour and either stay raw or suddenly turn to mush. The imports are usually a paler green than the California crop, but it you're in doubt, ask your produce manager.


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


Look for fat, firm-looking buds with dense, tightly packed leaves of a uniform dusty green. Lots of black spots tired color, or opened leaves indicate an older artichoke that will have a woody taste. An artichoke with one or two black spots, on the other hand, isn't always a bad risk. Don't worry if the artichoke is discolored on the stem end - you're going to cut that part off. When selecting an artichoke, gently pull back the central leaves, taking care not to prick yourself on the thorns, and look into the heart. If there is no black showing inside, the artichoke is good. At home you can be more aggressive - turn the artichoke upside down and give it a good whack or two on the counter to make the leaves open out more easily. Artichokes that have developed purpling on the leaves have been exposed to too much hot sun and will be much less tender. An artichoke that shows some bronzing and peeling has had a touch of frost, which won't hurt the flavor and may in fact improve it. If you're unsure about what kind of discoloration is okay and what kind is not a good rule of thumb is not to buy discolored artichokes in the summer.


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


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

Click on link below for Artichoke Show 





Everyone knows that I know about fruits and vegetables.

But plants?

Over the years, being in a family business that sold everything seasonal, we picked up a lot of knowledge on different things out of necessity — “A Jack of all trades, master of none,” I always called myself. In addition to helping my father sell produce door to door as a kid growing up in North Jersey, we sold Christmas trees and Easter plants each year to help boost the family income, so I got to learn about many of the popular plants, flowers and trees that help celebrate the different holidays.

Easter is an unusual holiday/holy day because it can occur anywhere from early March to late April, which can drive big differences in the plants and flowers that are available from year to year. A nice thing about this year’s late Easter and Passover is that concerns over frost should be behind us (though who knows with this year?), and most of the early spring flowers should all be in bloom.

I’m sure everyone agrees that with the overly cold and snowy winter we’ve had, we can’t wait to see something with bright color and a wonderful fragrance. Another thing I always love about a late Easter is that Mother’s Day and the planting of my tomatoes, eggplants and peppers isn’t too far off.

Bulb plants are most prominent, early in the season. They are plants such as tulips, hyacinths, lilies, and daffodils. These plants, after they have bloomed, and are starting to lose their flowers, can be cut back to about an inch or two from the bulb top and be planted in the ground and will come up again next year and years after that. These are called Perennial plants and they are a very strong and rugged plant. They take the cold very well. 

Now tulips are one of my favorite plants and the bud or flower of the tulip will open up in sunlight and close when it gets dark. Hyacinths have a real smell to them; almost like perfume and can overwhelm a room with their scent. When I remember my Grandma Morrissey, I always think of the Hyacinth; it was her favorite. Lilies are the most typical Easter flower and are very beautiful to look at. They also come back every year if you cut them back and plant them. A little tip to keep the lily clean and pretty is to pull out the pollen stems on the inside of the flower, but be careful not to get the pollen on the white flower, it will stain the flower and make the flower die sooner. 

Daffodils are another great flower to look at and are especially pretty when planted in your yard, when the Daffodil starts to peak out of the ground, you know spring and warmer weather are close. 

Mums, Hydrangeas, Cinerarias, Miniature Roses, and Azaleas, - all of these are also great plants for your Easter, Passover holidays. 

Mums come in many colors and stay bloomed for a long time, sometimes 2-3 weeks. Mums also will come back in the fall if you cut them back and plant them. 

Hydrangeas, also called Sno-Balls, are another great plant. Hydrangeas once planted in the ground will usually not flower for 2 to 3 years and then flower regularly. 

They might also change color from pink to blue or purple or vice versa. A trick to help your potted Sno-Ball stay healthy is aspirin, good old aspirin. Take 2 aspirins and dilute in water and give your Hydrangea a drink. It really works. 

Years ago my father had a whole truckload of Hydrangeas to sell for Easter. All of a sudden they started to wilt; the flower I mean, so my Mom, the smart one in the family, said to give them aspirins. We bought a case of aspirins, diluted them in water and gave each one of the Hydrangeas a drink and it worked! Mom was always right. 

Azaleas are another plant that are pretty but usually don't bloom this early, so they are forced to bloom, like I explained before. With Azaleas that are forced, you need to be careful when you plant them outdoors. Find a Southern exposure with a lot of light, out of the wind and plant; they will be fine. Forced plants are not as strong in the beginning but as time goes by they do just fine. 

Well I hope I've given you a little information on Easter plants and how to care for them. You know I know about fruits and vegetables, but plants? 

Well over the years, being in a family business that sells everything seasonal, you pick up a lot of knowledge on different things out of necessity. "Jack of all trades - master of none" - that's me! 

Nothing warms us up after a tough winter quite like the colors, fragrances and new growth of spring.

Hope you drink it all in.


North Jersey Area -  Here are  a couple of great places to get Beautiful Easter and Passover Plants

De Piero's Farm & Greenhouses 

Farms View Roadstand 






Click link below for Easter/Passover Flower Show 

RED PEPPERS 02/16/19



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

                          MY STORY , MOM AND HER STUFFED PEPPERS                       

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

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



Golden Berries


If you haven’t heard of golden berries before, you’re not alone! Their season is short (usually late spring — mid summer), and they don’t usually show up on grocery store shelves. Your best bet of finding these little orange nuggets of goodness (that are native to South America) is either in specialty stores or farmers markets.

Known by a few other names (ground cherries, husk berries, inca berries, Cape gooseberries), golden berries are properly classified as Physalis, and are members of the nightshade family. They require a temperate growing climate.

One of the world's most exotic fruits, these sweet and tangy sun-dried berries are more than just a tasty fruit .

Golden berries grow on a small shrub, often just one to three feet in height. Its small, cream-colored flowers produce a large, marble-sized yellowish-orange fruit surrounded by a papery yellow husk, like you find on the outside of a tomatillo.

Golden berries, scientifically known as Physalis peruviana  are small yellowish berries that have originated from South America. Oddly enough, goldenberries are more closely related to tomatoes and eggplants than other berries and are approximately the size of a marble. 

Golden berries have been cultivated in England since the late 1700’s and in South Africa since roughly the 1950’s.  Some sources claim that the popular name “Cape Gooseberry” has its origins in the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) however golden berries didn’t appear in any publications earlier than 1950. The name Cape Gooseberry, rather than being a geographical feature, most likely refers to the paper wrapper that surrounds the berry like a cape. The name is most common in South Africa, UK, Australia and New Zealand

Golden berries come wrapped in a paper lantern and are about the size of a marble (1-2 cm wide) 

This husk protects each individual berry while it matures and is quite decorative in its presentation.  The outer casing is green with dark vertical striations and eventually develops a golden-yellow color when ripe, at which stage it will easily fall off of the plant when touched. After harvesting, the thin sheath will turn a straw color and become somewhat veined and parchment-like over time.

The berries will continue to ripen off the plant and remain fresh within the husk for a shelf life of about 30 days at room temperature. They will then dry like raisins or can be dried immediately after harvest in a food dehydrator. Once it is removed from the calyx it can be consumed raw as a whole berry or used fresh in recipe

The berry is sweet and tart, which makes it a popular ingredient in various cakes, sweets, and baked goods, as well as salads and fruit salads. The berries can also be eaten by themselves, fresh or dried, as a healthy snack.

Golden berries like I said have a taste that’s anywhere from tart to sweet, but most of the varieties you can buy at farmer’s markets have a taste that can be described as a mildly acidic combination of a tomato and pineapple

Golden berries are considered a superfood, being low in calories and with moderate levels of vitamins and minerals. They are listed as being high in antioxidants, polyphenols and carotenoids. Many sources list golden berries as beneficial for treating weight loss, inflammation, diabetes, liver and kidney health and improving the immune system.

Other parts of the golden berry plant are known to be medicinally useful, including the leaves, stems and roots as well as the berries. However, the leaves and stems are traditionally used for external skin treatments rather than ingested. Golden berries are grown commercially in regions of Colombia and Peru, where they are dried like raisins and sold for international export.



It is a known fact that the wild golden berry plant was a utilized food source of the Incan civilization, but to what degree is unclear. The Incas are believed to have been one of the first people to cultivate the plant from its wild origins

Click link below for Goldenberry Show 




The Best Tasting Tomato in The Winter is a Campari

We all know how supermarket tomatoes are picked unripe, to get them to market while they are still attractive.  But if you want a tomato that tastes like homegrown, the only choice is a Campari tomato, also known as a cocktail tomato.The only problem with this type of tomato is the small size.  However, a small Campari tomato adds way more flavor than a large bland tomato. Campari is a type of tomato noted for its juiciness, high sugar level, low acidity, and lack of mealiness. Camparis are deep red and larger than a cherry tomato but smaller and rounder than a plum tomato..They are often sold as "tomato-on-the-vine" (TOV) in supermarkets, a category of tomato that has become increasingly popular over the years. Campari tomatoes can be produced from different varieties, such as Mountain Magic. As a hybrid, the seeds cost around $150,000 per pound.  This variety of tomato is similar in appearance to Cherry Tomatoes, only they are slightly larger. They are treasured for their sweetness and juicy texture, and are often served fresh over salads, mozzarella, or specialty meats.  Campari Tomatoes can also be used in cooking, when the high sugar content is desired.  Campari tomatoes make superb bruschetta, as they pair wonderfully with basil and garlic.   Campari tomatoes are regarded as some of the sweetest and most flavorful tomatoes in the market. They are known for their superior texture and their distinct acid and sugar balance, which gives them their signature taste. Campari tomatoes are classified as a cocktail tomato, slightly bigger than a cherry tomato but smaller and rounder than a plum tomato. They are deep red in color, redder than most store-bought tomatoes, because they are grown hydroponically and ripened on the vine, which also eliminates the need for pesticides. They are shipped with the vine still attached, so they continue to ripen naturally and do not have to be ripened with ethylene gas. Once the tomato on the vine is harvested, the tomatoes ripen from the top of the cluster down  Campari is a variety of tomato, member of the Solanum family, and its botanical name is Solanum lycopersicum 'Campari.' The Campari tomato is a hybrid tomato that was developed for the late 20th Century market. Like many other fruits and vegetables that evolved out of the last few decades of the 1900s, Campari tomatoes were branded from the beginning to distinguish them from the diluted array of tomatoes already in the market. Campari tomatoes were branded as the "tomato lover’s tomato." Their tagline was so convincing that within the first few years of their debut, Campari tomatoes became a supermarket favorite.     Though Campari tomatoes account for just two-percent of total U.S. tomato sales, their popularity is considered to be relatively high for a single variety, considering there are 6,000 known tomato varieties in the market today.  Though they are nearly always red, somewhat round, and often juicy on the inside, there is an art to choosing the right tomato for a particular dish.  To the untrained eye, they may all look alike, but the world of tomatoes is as diverse as it is delicious.   Campari are just a part of a handful of tomato varieties.   They are the most common, and they are probably all sitting in your local grocery store right now. The Campari tomato is available nearly year-round, with occasional, short gaps in availability. Campari tomatoes are sought after for their inherent sweetness. They are great for snacking, and are often served fresh over salads, mozzarella, or specialty meats. Campari tomatoes can also be used in cooking, when the high sugar content is desired. Try roasting and serving on pizza, sandwiches, or in salsa. Campari tomatoes also make superb bruschetta, as they pair wonderfully with basil and garlic. Store Campari tomatoes at room temperature away from direct sunlight until completely ripe, and please like Produce Pete always says DON'T REFRIGERATEA great tomato is worth looking for, and the way you handle it at home is almost as important as what you choose in the first place. Refrigerating tomatoes kills the flavor, the nutrients, the texture. It just kills the tomato-period.
The Campari tomato had a taste of fame in 2002 when it made an appearance on the popular television series, "The Sopranos." The cameo actually boosted the Campari tomato’s relevancy, and perhaps its level of respect, within the Italian-American community. The following year, the Campari tomato recorded more than a fifty-percent increase in sales. With competition from thousands of other tomato varieties, the strategic product placement certainly gave the Campari tomato an edge in the market.  Click the bottom link for Campari tomato show



 If you are not that familiar with this orange variety you might be asking yourself: “What is Cara Cara oranges?”Cara Cara oranges are pink-fleshed citrus fruits that originated as a mutation that occurred on a Washington Navel orange tree in 1976. The first mutated fruit was found at Hacienda Cara Cara in Venezuela and thus was given the name Cara Cara.Cara Cara oranges are extremely sweet and have a slightly lower acidity than Navels with a hint of cranberry or blackberry flavor. Furthermore, aside from their supreme taste and beautiful coloring, Cara Cara oranges contain 20 per cent more vitamin C and 30 per cent more vitamin A when compared to regular Navels.. Cara Cara navel oranges may appear similar to Ruby red grapefruit, but other than color and being citrus fruits, they are not the same. Cara Cara navel oranges are a result of a mutation in the navel orange which was found in Venezuel Cara Cara is a medium-size orange with a glossy, textured rind. The inner flesh of the Cara Cara is pink, resembling the color of a ruby grapefruit. The peel clings to the flesh. It tastes sweeter than any given orange with flavors far more comparable to tangerines with robust and complex citrus aromatics. Its flesh is also seedless, an advantage among any fruit. When ripe, the Cara Cara orange's flesh is tender, succulent and extremely juicy.  You know the saying, "It's what's on the inside that counts"? Well, that couldn't be more true when it comes to Cara Cara oranges. From the outside, these citrus beauties look like your run-of-the-mill, bright-skinned navel oranges. Cut them open, though, and you'll be pleasantly surprised.  Cara Cara oranges are a type of navel orange.  Grown in California they reach their peak season between December and April.Cara Caras have the same round shape and bright orange rind as traditional navels. What really sets these oranges apart is what's on the inside! Cara Cara oranges have distinct pinkish-red and orange flesh. It's not just their beautiful color that makes them stand out — they have a remarkable taste that goes right along with it. Compared to traditional navels, Cara Caras are sweeter, slightly tangy, and less acidic, with a hint of red fruit, like cranberry or blackberry. And if that's not enough, they're seedless, too. 

Buying and Storing Cara Cara Oranges

While other navel oranges can vary in size, cara caras are all generally medium-size fruits. Choose oranges that are firm, shiny, and heavy for their size. Avoid pieces that have soft spots and blemishes.As with other citrus fruits, store Cara Cara oranges in a cool spot. Kept on the counter, they'll last three to four days, so you're better off storing them in the refrigerator where they'll last up to two weeks.

Ways to Eat Cara Cara Oranges

Eat Cara Cara oranges just as you would other types of navel oranges! Peeling away the rind and eating them section by section, blending them into smoothies or a fresh-squeezed glass of juice, and making citrus curd are just a few of my favorite ways to use Cara Cara They also make a beautiful addition to salads. Just like regular navels, Cara Cara has a bright exterior and has a crisp citrus aroma. But unlike your run-of-the-mill navels, Cara Cara’s flavor is more complex; it is extremely sweet with a tinge of raspberry or cranberry zing and a hint of cherry and rose. It is also low in acidity and is not sour like other citrus fruits.  Select Oranges that feel heavy for their size – a sign of juiciness. They don’t have to be hard, but the orange should not feel so soft that it is squishy either.

  • Skin scars and shape do not impact the internal fruit flavor, but oranges with sunken areas, black spots or extra soft areas should be avoided.
  • Keep Oranges refrigerated to extend shelf life, especially here in the later part of the season when sugars are running higher. Room temperature is fine for a day or two, but will cause dehydration thereafter or allow decay to happen
  • Placed on your counter, the fruit will last for 4 days, but when stored in a fridge can last up to 2 weeks.
  • Cara Caras have 30 per cent more Vitamin A and 20 per cent more Vitamin C compared to regular navels.
  • Cara Cara orange is seedless and has rich pink flesh due to lycopene.

Reasons to Love Cara Cara Oranges

1. They’re unique. Cara Cara Oranges look like regular oranges on the outside, but with pink or red flesh on the inside.

2. They’re similar to grapefruits. Because of their flesh, they remind us of grapefruits with their pink flesh. Only these Cara Cara Oranges have such sweet flavors that you don’t need to add any sugar.

3. You don’t have to pucker up. They’re low in acid – so they aren’t sour like other types of citrus.
4. The Cara Cara Orange has nodes of berry flavors.Once you taste a Cara Cara Orange, you won’t be able to forget how delicious it is.
5. These oranges are extremely juicy and refreshing. With every bite, thirst-quenching juices spill out. Plus, squeezing these oranges for juice is easy and provides a delicious homemade beverage.
6. They are a healthy snack. Cara Cara Oranges are low calorie, fat-free, and full of vitamins and minerals. Give yourself a dose of vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, protein, and antioxidants with every orange.
7. The orange tree is the perfect container tree. Grow it indoors or out in a pot and watch it flourish. It will look great on the porch, patio, and inside of your home. Just remember to place it by a sunny window, and be prepared to watch it thrive.
8. Cara Cara Orange Trees are fuss-free. They are happy, healthful citrus trees that don’t need a lot of attention. Give your tree a little water every few days, and you’ll have oranges growing in no time.
9. The citrus aroma provided by Cara Cara Trees is irresistible. It will naturally sweeten and freshen the air around your home. You won’t need candles or chemical sprays to give your home a clean citrus scent.
10. Once the white blossoms erupt, your Cara Cara Tree’s citrus scent will be even stronger. The white flowers will pop against your tree’s lush green foliage for an eye-catching display of color.

 Click link below for Cara Cara Orange show.

ASIAN PEARS 01/12/19

Asian Pears

 When the first frost arrives, the summer growing season is officially over. Storage crops console us as cold settles in — apples, potatoes and winter squash grace our tables with their rosy hues and sweet flavors as we, like the plants, slow down. And even as we lament the loss of summer, delights abound at fall farmers markets: quince, cranberries, black walnuts and Asian pears. Also known as apple pears, Asian pears are harvested from late August through October. They are rarely show-stoppers — they tend to have an ordinary round shape, yellow or dusty brown skin and a firmness that lacks the sensuous yield of a ripe peach, but they have charms all their own: bright crunch, refreshing juiciness and subtle sweetness.  Asian pears are native to Japan and China where they have been grown for over 3000 years. The first documented appearance of an Asian pear in the United States was recorded in 1820 when a Chinese sand pear was imported to Flushing, New York. In the mid-1800’s Asian pears made their way to the west coast via Chinese and Japanese immigrants relocating to California after the Gold Rush. Today Asian pears can be found at farmers markets and specialty grocers and are grown not only throughout Asia but in Italy, Spain, Australia, France, Chile, and New Zealand. In the United States, the bulk of commercial production comes from California and Oregon with a smaller supply coming out of Washington State, Kentucky, and Alabama.    Asian pears are often called "apple pears" due to their appearance and texture. Asian pears range in size from small to medium and vary in shape from round, globular, and squat to oval with a bulbous base that tapers into a rounded top. The firm skin can be golden yellow, green, or bronze and may be smooth, have some russeting, or covered in visible lenticels or pores. The flesh is ivory to white and is crunchy, juicy, and creamy with a central fibrous core encasing several small, brown-black seeds. When ripe, Asian pears are crisp with a sweet, floral flavor, low acidity, and a fragrant aroma.  Fairly new to the United States, there are over 1000 varieties of Asian Pears, also known as "Apple Pears", originally from Japan. But don't let the name "Apple Pear" confuse you. Even though the Asian pear looks like a cross between an apple and a pear, the resemblance is only skin deep. There are also several other differences between Asian pears and the more common European pear. Asian pears reach optimum quality when allowed to ripen on the tree, similar to apples and peaches and are more crisp and tart then other pears. European pears are usually harvested in a green stage and allowed to ripen at room temperature and have a sweeter, more mellow taste.
SEASONS/AVAILABILITYAsian pears are available year-round, with peak season in the early fall through winter. 
HOSUI Medium sized, sweet, fruity, extremely juicy and with a melt-in-your-mouth texture, this is our most popular Asian pear variety, developed at the National Horticultural Research station in Tsukuba, Japan. Ripens in late August.

  • NIITAKA Large, crisp, and very juicy, with a mild nutty flavor. Somewhere between Hosui and Olympic in terms of flavor and texture. A good cooking pear and one of the best storage varieties. It will also last in the refrigerator several days after being cut up. Japanese variety. Ripens in late October. 

Very juicy and very sweet, typically on the smaller side. A Japanese variety that ripens in mid-August. 


Choose pears that feel firm. They should be ready to eat immediately, but they keep well at room temperature for 10 days, and up to three months under refrigeration. Store them separately, as ethylene released by other fruits will hasten their demise. NUTRITION 101As with apples, their close relatives, Asian pears are low in calories, but high in fiber, as well as potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K and the micronutrient copper. Fiber. One large Asian pear contains 116 calories and only 0.6 grams of fat. ...

  • Potassium. ...
  • Vitamin K and Copper. ...
  • Vitamin C

Eating the skin of an Asian pear is a good source of fiber. The skin of most brown varieties of Asian Pears are edible, however they are thick and tough, so these fruits are best eaten peeled. If eating the peel, it is easier eaten in slices. Although delicious on their own, the light sweetness and crispy texture of Asian pears makes them a unique addition to any salad or stir fry.

 Click link below for Asian Pear Show 



 Ever since I was a little boy helping my father sell Christmas trees, the Napolitanos have been a Christmas family. I still remember Pop getting up from the Thanksgiving day table, changing his clothes, getting into his truck, and heading up to Canada and northern New York to get a load of Christmas trees – that ritual went on for most of my youth until farmers starting delivering to him.
Our slogan was “10,000 trees, $1.99, none higher,” and we sold out every year, but that was a long time ago and as trees started to be pruned and farmed, their prices rose.
Most of the trees that we sold grew wild and were “Charlie Brown” trees, but as years passed and cultivated trees came along, we still sold thousands each year. It was hard work standing in the cold by the fire barrel, roasting yams, potatoes and corn, but I have fond memories of those great days.
As the years passed and I took over our family store, Napolitano’s Produce in Bergenfield,  we still carried on the tradition of selling trees and, of course, operating the fire cans – my customers loved the potatoes and yams we cooked as they picked out their trees.
I miss that Christmas tree business very much. Even now, though the store has been closed for years, I still drive my wife, Bette, nuts by stopping by as many Christmas tree stands as I can and just watching people experience the joy of picking out a Christmas tree. This weeks segment on Christmas Trees was shot at Goffle Brook Farm in Ridgewood New Jersey, a great family run business .
CHRISTMAS TREESChristmas trees sold in America hail largely from Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Washington and Canada. The nation’s most popular varieties – and also my favorites – are Balsam, Douglas Fir, and Fraser Fir. The planting and growth of Christmas trees as an industry has positive effects on the environment, from improving soil stability to reducing greenhouse gases.

  • There are 350 million Christmas trees currently growing in all 50 states
  • There are approximately 25-30 million real Christmas trees sold in the U.S. every year
  • For every Christmas tree harvested, 1-3 seedlings are planted the following spring
  • It takes 15 years to grow a typical 6- to 7-foot-high Christmas tree
  • When a Christmas tree is cut, more than half of its weight is water. To ensure freshness, always make a fresh cut on the bottom of the trunk and make sure the stand never runs out of water; if that happens, the tree will sap over, prevent the tree from getting water, and the tree will dry out.


  • Many people are under the impression that Christmas trees can cause fires. A well cared-for Christmas tree, however, will remain fresh and shouldn’t catch fire – in fact, there have been many examples of houses that have burned completely except for the Christmas tree. Others believe that live Christmas trees dry up and shed needles. The truth is that fresh trees, which have been properly hydrated and cared for, shed very little and can last for two months or more. Here’s some other useful advice regarding tree selection and maintenance:
  • When buying a tree outdoors, be aware that the sky is your ceiling, so what looks small outside may be big indoors. Choose a tree sized at least 1 foot below your ceiling height so there’s adequate room for the stand and decorations.
  • Make sure the bottom of the tree is long enough to be placed in the stand. About an inch must be cut off the bottom when setting up the tree at home.
  • When assessing a tree’s freshness, run your hand over the branches – needles shouldn’t be brittle, break, or come off.
  • Keep your newly-purchased tree in a sheltered, unheated area such as a porch or garage to protect it from the wind until you’re ready to decorate it.
  • Before installing the tree in your home, cut the butt end of your tree 1 inch above the original cut, and immediately place the tree in a stand that holds a minimum of one gallon of hot water.
  • Be sure to check the water level of your tree stand every day to ensure that it never runs out of water. A new tree will absorb up to a gallon of water on the first day and will consume about a quart per day thereafter. Water is important because it prevents the needles from drying out/dropping off and maintains the fragrance of the tree. If your tree runs out of water (for a period exceeding two hours), make another straight cut across the base of the trunk.
  • Keep your tree away from heat and draft sources like fireplaces, radiators and television sets. Test your light cords and connections before hanging them on the tree to make sure they’re in good working order and don’t use cords with cracked insulation or broken or empty sockets. Also, use only UL or FM-approved light strings on a live tree and no spotlights, floodlights or candles. Be sure to unplug lights before you go to bed or leave the house.
  • Avoid overloading electrical circuits or creating octopus connections and make sure there’s an operational smoke detector installed nearby.
  • Use only noncombustible decorations.
  • Don’t burn tree branches in the fireplace, as they could throw off a large amount of heat and cause a fire. Christmas trees also create an oily soot, which could damage the fireplace.

Here is an inexpensive solution you can make at home to help preserve the life and freshness of your tree:PRODUCE PETE’S CHRISTMAS TREE PRESERVATIVEINGREDIENTS:1 gallon hot water2 cups Karo syrup4 teaspoons bleach (plain)6 iron tablets, crushed and dissolvedDIRECTIONS:

  • Make a fresh cut on the tree with a saw by cutting 1-inch off the bottom of the trunk.
  • Place the tree in the stand, then add the hot water mixture so that the fresh cut doesn’t dry up and resist taking the water.
  • Always keep the stand full of water mixture.

For me and my family, Christmas and the holidays are a very special time – I guess I’m still a kid at heart. From the Produce Pete family to all of you, wishing you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday Season, and a Happy and Healthy New YearClick on the link below for our Christmas Tree segment.





Cranberries have been a part of the American holiday scene for many years. Raw berries are pretty strung with popcorn to make old-fashioned garlands for the Christmas tree. They're also used during the Jewish high holy days to construct little houses used in the celebration of Succoth. And although a lot of people have become accustomed to using canned cranberry sauce, it's quick and easy to make a delicious sauce from whole fresh berries. People are also starting to discover how useful cranberries are beyond Thanksgiving and Christmas. These festive, very firm red berries add great flavor to a lot of foods. Generally a half inch to an inch in diameter, cranberries are oval in shape, with a smooth, glossy, red to deep red skin, and contain tiny, soft, edible seeds. They are too tart for most people and require some sweetening. Cranberries are a member of the health family (Encaceae), which also includes blueberries, loganberries, and huckleberries. Their natural habitat is a swamp or bog in temperate climates, such as Wisconsin, Cape Cod, and Long Island. Native Americans used cranberries for dyes, medicines, and food, including a dish made of cranberries and dried meat. The various Indians names for cranberries translate as "sour berries" but settlers called them crane berries, possibly because they were favored by cranes or because the plant and flower look like one of these elegant birds. By the nineteenth century, American sailors and loggers were using cranberries to make a drink to prevent scurvy. Today cranberries are cultivated in shallow bogs that are flooded with water at appropriate times during the season. They are important crops in Massachusetts and New Jersey and are also cultivated in Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington State, British Columbia, and Quebec. 

Season and Selecting

Fresh cranberries are available from September to January. They're usually packaged in twelve-ounce cello bags, which yield about three cups. Packaged cranberries are always sold in good condition unless there has been a problem with refrigeration. Their high acid content gives them a long shelf life. 


Packaged unwashed fresh cranberries will stay fresh up to four weeks in the refrigerator. You can freeze unwashed berries in doubled, well-sealed plastic bags, and they'll keep for as long as a year. Rinse them briefly, pick out the stems and use directly in recipes without thawing - they collapse when thawed. 


Wash well just before using, discarding the stems and any soft, wilted or bruised berries. Cranberries need to be sweetened with sugar, honey, maple syrup or other fruit juices. The high pectin content in cranberries makes them an ideal fruit for jellies or fruit chutney. Besides the popular cooked sauce and jelly used to accompany poultry and meats, cranberries can be made into an equally delicious uncooked relish. Grind or mince one package of cleaned berries with the grated zest and chopped pulp of one orange. Mix with 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar, add cinnamon if desired, and let the mixture stand overnight in the refrigerator. Cranberries are excellent mixed with apples or pears in pies and tarts. Apples are delicious stuffed with sweetened cranberry sauce, or try stuffing pears with cranberry sauce, sprinkling them with orange juice and cinnamon, and baking in a 325¡F oven for twenty minutes. Cranberry muffins are understandably popular, but your family will also enjoy cranberry nut loaf, cranberry upside-down cake, and cranberry cheesecake. Cranberry juice is delicious mixed with apple juice or lemonade, and cranberry sorbet is a refreshing treat.

Yams - Potato, Sweet

Ninety percent of what you see in the stores marked "yams" is actually a variety of sweet potato. The true yam is a tuber that can get as large as 100 pounds and grows primarily in the tropical zones of Africa. The potato with the sweet orange-red flesh that grows in the American South was dubbed a yam years ago and the name stuck. American sweet potatoes are members of the morning glory family. The rich orange-fleshed variety is harvested beginning in August; the fresh ones that show up on the market then have not been cured. The bulk of the crop is held in a heated, humidity-controlled environment for about a week. This "cures" the potato and converts much of its starch to dextrins and sugar. A cured sweet potato is actually much sweeter than an uncured one and is what usually shows up on the Thanksgiving table. There are two other varieties of sweet potato that are much less frequently seen these days than the one that masquerades as a yam. The red sweet potato has a yellow flesh that's a bit sweeter than the white sweet potato, which has a white, more fibrous flesh. The red sweet potato has a dark, reddish skin and is in season about the same time as the yam type - starting in September. It keeps better than the white sweet potato, which has a very short season - usually the last couple of weeks in August. 


Avoid buying sweet potatoes in June and July, by then most of them have been stored for nearly a year. Uncured sweet potatoes start showing up on the market in late August; cured sweet potatoes arrive around the end of October. By Thanksgiving almost all that are on the market have been cured. The less common white and red sweet potatoes have a much shorter season at the end of the summer. 


Look for bright-colored, un-bruised skin with no soft spots. Look at the ends of the potatoes, which should be firm. Most sweet potatoes have some fibrous roots on them; these are not a problem.





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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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. 


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

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

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

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


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

New Jersey Peach Industry Facts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click on link below for N J Peach Show