Call me a romantic, but Valentine's Day has held a special place in my heart ever since I was a kid growing up in north Jersey. One day when I was 16 years old.
I went out with a bunch of friends and we met some girls from a nearby town. One girl really stood out to me — her name was Bette Lynn and she was 14 years old. As strange as this seems because at that age, who knows about marriage or even love? — I told one of my friends that I was going to marry that girl someday.Sure enough, that girl and I got married in 1967, and have been married for over 52 years and have two children and seven grandchildren together. I feel lucky and grateful every day to have found that one special person for me.
When Bette and I took over my family's store, Napolitano's Produce, in 1969, we sold roses on Valentines Day, but because we were a fruit and vegetable store, we also sold a lot of strawberries.
Stem strawberries were a particularly big seller, especially when Bette made chocolate-dipped ones, because nothing goes better together than chocolate and strawberries.This year, however, berries and strawberries in particular have been especially high-priced, largely due to weather conditions. Florida had very warm weather day and night this past October, November and December, causing the fruit to come on early.
In my 65 years in the produce business, I've never seen this much bad weather in all areas, causing an overall shortage of product. The good news is that help is on the way and prices should start falling, and quality improving, by mid-February. So I hope everyone will get out and enjoy their strawberries this season.
Did You Know?
Legend has it that clever children were behind the naming of strawberries. After picking the fruit, children strung them on glass straws and sold them "by the straw." Strawberries are now sold by the pint or pound.- Shaped like a heart and red in color, strawberries are considered a romantic fruit and are a natural symbol of love. But we weren't the first to see their romantic nature — in Germanic mythology, the strawberry was sacred to Frigg, the northern goddess of love.- Hundreds of years ago, Native Americans crushed strawberries into a mortar, mixed them with meal, and made a strawberry bread. After trying this bread, the colonists developed their own version and the famous summer dessert known as Strawberry Shortcake was born. Every region has its own unique way of serving strawberries. In Venice, strawberries are served with a wedge of lemon and sugar. Berry flavor in France is sharpened with a splash of red wine vinegar.In Greece, strawberries are half-dipped in cheese fondant and served on polished leaves.In America, we like our strawberries "as is" or served with whipped cream.
California produces an overwhelming majority of the nation's strawberries, providing an almost year-round supply.The California strawberry season begins in January in southern California and continues through November in the northern part of the state, with peak season occurring from April to June. Mexico is another major source of strawberries, as is Florida, where the season begins in December and runs through March.Strawberries flourish under growing conditions of warm, sunny days and cool, foggy nights. All strawberries are picked, sorted, and packed by hand in the field; the trays of strawberries are then rushed to shipping facilities where they're cooled down to about 34°F.Within 24 hours of harvest, the strawberries are loaded onto refrigerated trucks for delivery to a store near you.Stem strawberries are picked differently, however. With this variety, the runners coming off the strawberry plant are cut, leaving a long stem on the strawberry, which requires more time in the picking process. The largest and most premium berries are typically the ones picked for stem varieties.
When you're selecting strawberries, look for bright, deep red, glossy berries with fresh green caps, leaves, and stems. They should also be dry. Look at the bottom of the box: there should be no red stains or seepage showing. And, of course, stay away from berries that have turned dull and bluish. They're goners.
Rule 1: Refrigerate
Rule 2: Refrigerate
Rule 3: Refrigerate
Strawberries, like most other berries, won't ripen any further once they're pulled from the vine. Nothing you can do at home will make a green berry ripen. And once the berry cap is pulled, it will deteriorate very quickly. You can hold ripe strawberries in the refrigerator a day or two and still have pretty good berries, but the best thing to do is to eat strawberries the same day you buy them.
Just as important: store the strawberries untouched. Never, ever wash or remove the strawberry cap until you're ready to eat the berry. Then just wash the berries with a gentle spray of cool water and remove the caps after the berries have drained. The no-touch rule also holds if you're planning to freeze the berries. Just pop them into a plastic bag and put them into the freezer unwashed and uncapped. Rinse briefly and remove the caps only when you're ready to serve.
STRAWBERRY FUN FACTS
Over 53 percent of seven to nine year olds picked strawberries as their favorite fruit.
Go to Bette's Recipes for her Chocolate -Covered Strawberries
Click link below for Strawberry Show
After New Year’s, Christmas is the second most celebrated festival around the world and there’s nothing
more synonymous with Christmas than the iconic Christmas tree. The Napolitanos have always been big into Christmas and as long as I can remember,
our holiday officially started on Thanksgiving, when Pop
would get up from the Thanksgiving table, change his clothes, get into his truck, and head upstate to New York, New England, and / or Canada to bring back at load of
Christmas trees that we could sell at our store, Napolitano's Produce in Bergenfield.
Back in those days, we sold thousands of trees, none higher than
$1.99, and though it was hard work standing in the cold by the fire barrel, I have great memories of those times!!
Fun Facts About Christmas Trees
In the U.S., Christmas trees typically hail from Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin,
Washington, and Canada. Here are some other interesting facts about Christmas trees:
** According to the National Christmas Tree Association, there are approximately 25-30 million real
Christmas trees sold in the U.S. every year and some 350 million real Christmas trees currently growing on farms throughout all 50 states.
**For every Christmas tree harvested, 1-3 seedlings are planted the following spring
** It takes 15 years to grow a typical 6-7-foot Christmas tree
**The Fraser and Balsam are among the most popular types of Christmas trees sold in the U.S. Balsam firs flourish in cooler climates and are therefore found in
abundance in Canada. Fraser firs are very similar in form and appearance to
Balsams and are found in Canada and some regions of the U.S.
**The planting of Christmas trees has positive effects on the environment. Specifically, Christmas trees produce oxygen and rid the air of carbon dioxide,
improve soil stability, enable the use of land that
couldn’t be used to grow other crops (e.g., barren slopes, land under power lines, etc.), provide a habitat for wildlife, and are a renewable resource.
** Many people believe that real Christmas trees dry up and leave needles on their floor or carpet, but in fact, fresh trees don't shed any needles.
Kept in water, it’s not unusual for Christmas trees to last two
months or more in your home, shedding very few needles.
FARMS VIEW FARM
At Farms View in Wayne, NJ ( Where i am doing this weeks segment) (www.farmsview.com), a family-owned farm since 1894, the Kuehm family
offers a range of produce, annuals, and perennials on 65 acres and also sells Christmas trees, wreaths, and grave blankets during the holiday season.
“We buy from growers and sell nearly 1,500 Christmas trees
ranging from six to 12 feet high at this time of year,” shared family member Dana Kuehm. “We offer premium Fraser, Balsam, and Douglas firs,
but Frasers are our most popular because they have the
strongest branches for holding ornaments.” According to Kuehm, “there’s nothing like the pine smell of a real Christmas trees or the joy and tradition they bring
to the holiday season.” She added that the Farms
View team will provide measuring sticks, cut trees, and bag/net them for customers.
You can also consider cutting your own Christmas tree, an experience offered by such places as Fairview Farm in Long Valley, New Jersey
(www.fairviewfarmchristmastrees.com), which will have over 6,000 Christmas trees up
to 12 feet tall available for cutting as of November 29th .
Top Tips for Maintaining Your Tree
Whether you buy a pre-cut Christmas tree or cut your own the following are some tips on their selection and
maintenance to help enhance the safe enjoyment of your tree this holiday season:
** 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 that’s at least one foot shorter than your ceiling height so that there’s
adequate room for the stand and decorations. “And buy trees during daylight hours so that you can see their height and depth most clearly"
added Farms View’s Dana Kuehm.
** When assessing a tree’s freshness, run your hand over the branches – needles shouldn’t be brittle, break, or come off.
**If you’re not ready to put it up immediately, keep your newly-purchased tree in a sheltered, unheated area such as a porch or garage to protect it from the elements
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. In addition to
preventing the needles from drying out/dropping off and maintaining the fragrance of the tree, “this step will help open the veins of the tree and enable its
pathways to stay hydrated, which will keep it
fresher and able to last longer,” Kuehm agreed.
** Be sure to check the water level of your tree stand every day to ensure that it never runs out of water. this is a very important step to keep the tree fresh.
A new tree will absorb up to a gallon of water on the first day and about a quart per day thereafter. If a continuous supply of water isn't there,
the tree will sap over and then it won’t let water in.
** Keep your tree away from heat and draft sources like fireplaces, radiators, etc. Test your light cords
and connections before hanging them on the tree to make sure they are 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 (no spotlights, floodlights, or candles). Be sure to unplug lights before you go to bed or leave the house.
** 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.
**Finally, consider preserving the freshness and life of your tree with the following inexpensive solution you can make right at home.
Produce Pete’s Christmas Tree Preservative
1 gallon hot water
2 cups Karo syrup
4 teaspoons bleach (plain)
6 iron tablets, crushed and dissolved
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.
Enjoy your tree and, from the Napolitano family to yours, wishing you a Happy and Healthy Merry Christmas.
Click the link for Christmas Trees
A lot of people think of Brussels sprouts as cute little cabbages but prefer not to eat them, usually because they've only had them mushy and overcooked. Brussels sprouts should be steamed or simmered very briefly, just until they're beyond the raw stage. That way they'll stay nice and green on the outside, they'll have a beautiful white color inside, and they'll be delicious. Trust me! Brussels sprouts are the newest member of the cabbage family - a mere two hundred years old - compared to head cabbage, which has been cultivated for thousands of years. They grow clustered on a thick stalk, although they are most often sold loose or packaged in pint cartons. In the fall you may see them fresh on the stem, especially at local farm stores. Buy them that way when you can. They're fresh, and they'll stay fresh a lot longer than cut sprouts. If you have room, you can put the whole stalk in the refrigerator, and the Brussels sprouts will keep a long time without wilting or yellowing.
Brussels sprouts are available most of the year, but they thrive in cold, damp weather and are best in the late fall and early spring. Brussels sprouts from California - the biggest producer - are available from October through March. High-quality sprouts are also grown on Long Island and in upper New York State; these are most likely to be on the market in the fall.
Look for fresh green sprouts that are free of wilt, yellowing, or spots. Buy them on the stalk when you can.
Cut Brussels sprouts will last up to a week in the refrigerator, even longer if they're still on the stem.
To cook, rinse the sprouts and remove any wilted or yellow leaves. Score the stem ends with a knife. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat, then add the sprouts and cook just until tender - about seven to ten minutes. To steam, place in a steamer basket over, but not touching boiling water, cover, and steam just until the sprouts are tender but still firm - al dente, as the Italians say - which will take about ten to fifteen minutes. Do not overcook! You should be able to pierce each sprout easily with a cooking fork. The very tiny sprouts are very sweet and good raw. Try adding them to a platter of crudites or to a green salad - they're delicious.
BRUSSEL SPROUTS FUN FACTS
Brussel Sprouts are named after Brussels, the capital of Belgium, where they were a popular 16th century crop.
The Brussels sprout was introduced to North America by 18th century french settlers in Louisiana.
By the early 1900s, the little vegetable became an established commercial crop in California.
The U.S. produces 70 million pounds of sprouts each year.
Brussel Sprouts look like mini cabbages because they’re members of the same cruciferous vegetable family.
Colorful purple sprouts are the result of a hybrid developed from purple cabbage in the 1940s.
A little under one ounce of these vegetables provides 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.
Weighing in at just 26 calories per cup, Brussels sprouts are a delicious and nutritious diet food choice.
One 80-gram serving of these healthy veggies delivers four times more vitamin C than an orange.
Brussels sprouts stay fresh in a plastic bag in the refrigerator vegetable drawer for as long as 10 days.
One cup holds an average of five Brussels sprouts, and they steam up in just 6 to 8 minutes.
Carving an X in the bottom of the stems before steaming helps sprouts cook more evenly.
A sulfur - like smell is a sure sign that Brussels sprouts have been overcooked
This versatile veggie tastes great grilled, stir-fried or roasted, and its size makes it a perfect snack food.
Click link below for Brussel Sprout Show
Cultivated for nearly four thousand years, pears have been known to man since ancient times. They originated in Asia and spread throughout Europe during the Roman Empire. Until the sixteenth century pears were tough and always eaten cooked, but in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, gardeners for European noblemen began to crossbreed varieties, competing with each other to get a pear with a soft, buttery flesh. Most of the pears we know today are derived from those cultivars. Pears are grown throughout the United States and Europe and are now being introduced as commercial crops in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Chile. In the United States, Oregon, Washington, and California produce particularly excellent pears. This is one fruit you do not want tree-ripened. Pears have a characteristically gritty texture caused by cells in the flesh called stone cells. Although more and more of these have been bred out, all varieties still contain them. Picking pears before the fruit has matured and holding them under controlled conditions prevents the formation of too many stone cells. Pears are delicate even when they're hard and green, so they're always picked by hand. Most markets don't sell really ripe pears because they bruise so easily, but it's very easy to ripen them at home.
BARTLETT OR WILLIAMS
The Bartlett Pear we know today in North America is the same variety that is called the "Williams" in many other parts of the world. Discovered originally in 1765 by a schoolmaster in England named Mr. Stair, the Bartlett was first referred to as Stair's Pear. A nurseryman named Williams later acquired the variety, and after introducing it to the rest of England, the pear became known as the Williams Pear. Its full name, however, is Williams' Bon Chretien, which translates to "Williams' good Christian." Around 1799, Mr. James Carter imported several Williams trees to the United States, and they were planted on the grounds of Thomas Brewer in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Later, Enoch Bartlett of Dorchester, Massachusetts acquired the Brewer estate. Not knowing the identity of the trees, Bartlett propagated and introduced the variety to the United States under his own name. It was not until 1828, when new trees arrived from Europe, that it was realized that Bartlett and Williams pears were one and the same. By then it was too late... the variety had become widely popular in the U.S. under its adopted name: the Bartlett
Because they crossbred so easily, there are somewhere between four thousand and five thousand cultivated varieties. Eight of those are commonly available to shoppers here.
The Bartlett (pronounced BART-let) carries a true pyriform "pear shape:" a rounded bell on the bottom half of the fruit, then a definitive shoulder with a smaller neck or stem end. Bartletts are extremely aromatic pears, and have that definitive "pear flavor." Often, the Bartletts found in grocery stores are green, and then they change to yellow as they ripen at home when left at room temperature. Red Bartletts are another variety to choose, and they are usually located in produce departments right next to the Yellow Bartlett's. Aside from color, there are only slight differences in flavor between the two Bartlett pears. Consider Red Bartletts as a second color alternative for displays in fruit baskets and bowls. Together in a beautiful fruit bowl, Red & Green Bartletts make a striking table-top centerpiece. Bartletts are traditionally known as the canning pear, and you'll find many different recipes in most cook books and from family members. Because Bartletts have a definitive flavor and sweetness, they are a good all-around choice for many forms of processing. Consider them in preserves, syrups, chutneys, and more. They also make excellent dried pears
Green pears should be free from blemishes. Ripe pears - especially tender varieties like the Comice, that are going to show a few scars. Avoid bruised or too-soft fruit, but don't be afraid to bring home pears that are still green. That's the way you're going to find most of them.
Place unripe pears in a bowl or paper bag, leave them at room temperature, and they'll ripen in a few days to a week, depending on how green they are when you buy them. Most pears show a subtle change in color as they ripen, and some develop a sweet fragrance. You can test a pear for ripeness by applying gentle pressure to the stem end with your thumb - it should yield a bit. You can hold off the ripening process by refrigerating them, and they'll hold for a long time - as long as three to four weeks. A few days before you want to eat them, bring them out to ripen. You can refrigerate a ripe pear too, but at that point it's only going to last a couple days.
There are lots of ways to eat pears. They're good with prosciutto. You can use them in any recipe that calls for apples. Use several different varieties, all on the green side, to make a terrific pie. My aunt used to make pear pies just like apple pies, mixing in one or two quinces. You can poach pears and serve them with strawberry sauce for a simple, very pretty dessert that tastes great. During the holidays, line a basket with napkins, pile up Comice or Forelles or a mix, tuck in sprigs of holly and maybe a few ornaments, and you'll have a pretty centerpiece that's also a good way to ripen the fruit.
Click link below for Bartlett Pear Show
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ROMAINE HEARTS AND ROMAINE LETTUCE.
Romaine Hearts are the center leaves of Romaine lettuce Smaller, more yellow, and sweeter, these leaves have a delicious flavor and texture that is perfect for Caesar salads. Look for crisp-looking, un-wilted leaves free of dark spots or cracked ribs.
Not all lettuce is created equal, but if you start your meal with a salad made of romaine lettuce you will be sure to add not only a variety of textures and flavors to your meal but an enormous amount of nutritional value. Most of the domestic U.S. harvest of romaine lettuce and other salad greens comes from California and is available throughout the year.
Romaine is truly one of the world’s great Lettuces — nutritious, delicious and versatile. Romaine has medium-to-dark green, long, crisp leaves with firm white ribs almost to the tip of the leaf. As you reach the center, the Romaine heart leaves become smaller, more yellow and sweeter.
Sometimes referred to as Cos lettuce, Romaine boasts layers of crisp, elongated leaves which are supported by a distinctive rib that spans their length. The leaves range in color from deep green to red or bronze. With 5,000 years of history, this classic vegetable may be the oldest variety of cultivated lettuce. And for good reason! With a subtle sweet and sometimes nutty flavor, Romaine lettuce can be paired easily with most salad fixings. Most known for its staring role in the Caesar salad, this hearty lettuce has the spine to support even the creamiest of dressings. The core of a head of Romaine contains the smallest, crispiest, and most tender leaves, which are sold on their own as Romaine Hearts.
Romaine Hearts are the center leaves of Romaine lettuce. Smaller, more yellow, and sweeter, these leaves have a delicious flavor and texture that is perfect for Caesar salads. Look for crisp-looking, un-wilted leaves free of dark spots or cracked ribs. Avoid heads with any browning or discoloration. Romaine Hearts can stay in their plastic bags and go right into the crisper section, for five to seven days.
Lettuce is synonymous with salads as they are predominantly made from crispy green lettuce leaves. Most varieties of lettuce exude small amounts of a white, milky liquid when their leaves are broken. This "milk" gives lettuce its slightly bitter flavor and its scientific name, Lactuca sativa derived from the Latin word for milk.
ARE ROMAINE HEARTS GOOD FOR YOU
A dieter's dream, romaine lettuce has about 8 calories and 1-2 grams of carbohydrates per cup. Although it's low in fiber, it's high in minerals, such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and potassium. It's naturally low in sodium. Plus, romaine lettuce is packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate.
Store unwashed, whole heads in the refrigerator, in a plastic bag to retain natural moisture and maximum nutrients. Romaine hearts and heads will keep for up to one week. To wash, rinse, never soak, before using and set to dry on a clean tea towel or give your Romaine a twirl in a salad spinner.
Do not store lettuce near bananas, apples or pears. These fruits release ethylene gas, which causes other fruits and vegetables, including lettuce, to ripen quicker
I myself, like to store in a paper bag, unwashed. I think they last longer
Please check out the Caesar Salad Recipe under Bette's Recipes
Click link below for Romaine Heart Segment
Well this week I'm back at one of my favorite farms in New Jersey, Donaldson's. The Donaldson Family takes great pride in their farm and their heritage. They are dedicated to maintaining their reputation as a well-respected neighbor and business in the community. The Donaldson tradition of commitment to farming and to their community will continue with the next generation. Seasonal visits to Donaldson Farms have become an annual tradition for families and friends, both in and far beyond the Hackettstown community. The visitors look forward to the beautiful scenery and the simple charm of spending the day outdoors. On fall weekends, the Farm Market has hosted up to 7,000 guests. Seasonal pick-your-own activities, festivals and agricultural education events welcome new and familiar faces. Today I'm out in the field seeing how they grow there cucumbers in a different way, not on the ground but on trellises, which makes for a much better cucumber
NEW JERSEY CUCUMBERS
Though commonly thought to be a vegetable, the cucumber is actually a fruit. The cucumber is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, along with squash and different kinds of melon. Cucumbers are high in water and low in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium.They have a mild, refreshing taste and a high water content. They can be refreshing and pleasant to eat in hot weather and help prevent dehydration. It is eaten savory, but it is strictly a fruit. Few foods are as cool as a cucumber. These low-calorie veggies contain many nutritional benefits, including hydrating properties and valuable nutrients.There are hundreds of varieties of cucumber, and they come in dozens of colors, but the edible types are classified as being for either slicing or pickling, .Slicing cucumbers are cultivated to be eaten fresh, while pickling cucumbers are intended for the brine jar. Slicing cucumbers are usually larger and thicker-skinned than pickling ones. You are probably familiar with the phrase “cool as a cucumber”, which speaks directly to the soothing and cooling nature that cucumbers have when eaten. These fruits are grown mainly to be eaten fresh, and in India, you will often find sliced cucumbers being sold on sunny afternoons. They are usually cylindrical in shape and vary in length from about six to nine inches. However, the size of cucumbers varies according to a variety of cultivating factors as well.The skin of the cucumbers can vary in color from green to white, and sometimes it may be smooth or ridged depending on the variety. Inside the cucumber skin, you will find pale green flesh that is thick yet aqueous and crispy at the same time. The interior core of cucumber has numerous, edible fleshy seeds. Cucumbers are 95.2 % water and the inside of a cucumber can be 20 degrees F cooler than the temperature of its’ outside skin.
Fun Facts about Cucumbers
Very simple, the darker the cuke, the better - except for the kirby, which is naturally very pale. Cucumbers should be long and slender, stay away from the jumbo size as they will be mostly seeds. Avoid soft, withered-looking, or yellow cukes ( the belly of the cuke goes yellow first) which are more likely to be bitter. The reason I like cucumbers right off the farm is that usually they are unwaxed, and all you need to do before eating, is rinse them under cold water. Waxed cucumbers are only coated with vegetable oil, which prevents them from drying out when they are shipped from other states.
The cucumber is a creeping vine that roots in the ground and grows up trellise or other supporting frames, wrapping around supports with thin, spiraling tendrils.The plant may also root in the ground and will sprawl along the ground if it does not have supports. The vine has large leaves that form a canopy over the fruits. Cucumbers that are grown on a trellise are so much better because they keep the fruit from yellowing, keep the fruit from being misshaped and easier for the farm hands to harvest.
Keep cucumbers in a plastic bag in the fridge for about a week. American Cucumbers from the grocery typically have a wax coating to retain moisture. English Cucumbers and cucumbers you may find at a farmer’s market do not, so these will lose moisture faster and should be wrapped in plastic wrap. You can also pickle the cucumbers, using either a shorter slicing or a pickling cucumber.
Click link below for Cucumber segment
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.
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.
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!!
BABY SEEDLESS GRAPES
A tradition takes place in California in the fall with the growing of baby seedless grapes from Thompson seedless grapes. This happens by letting the grapes grow naturally and not thinning them out. This process is usually initiated to make raisins, but over the past few years farmers have discovered that the fresh market for eating out-of-hand has come to enjoy the sweet, tender taste of these delicate grapes.I got hooked on these grapes years ago and find them to be one of the sweetest and best-eating grapes of the fall season. This is really a seasonal grape, usually only produced in the fall when the sun is still strong and the weather starts to turn cool. Treat them like you would any other seedless grape and enjoy them, but remember they’re full of sugar so they won’t last long … so eat them, don’t store them!
STANDARD SEEDLESS GRAPES
There are basically three types of seedless grapes — white, red, and black. California Pearlettes usually arrive in early May. They’re round, very light green, and have a firm and crisp texture. Look for grapes that have a golden yellow undertone because they’re sweeter; ones that are very green are extremely tart and will make your mouth pucker. Since the season is six to eight weeks long, it’s best to wait a week or two after they first arrive before you buy them.The familiar California Thompson seedless, another pale green grape, is among America’s favorites. Thompsons are larger, more oval than round, and have a sweeter taste and more tender skin and flesh than Pearlettes. Here, too, you should look for a grape that has a golden glow, which indicates ripeness. The Thompsons start coming in about a month after the Pearlettes and stay on the market a couple of months longer.White grapes from Chile start arriving in December and tend to have a more-raisiny look compared to California varieties. Some people pass them up because they think they’re overripe, but they’re not; their golden color is a sign that they’re good and sweet.Red seedless grapes, which arrive on the market after Thompsons, have become the most popular grapes around. A cross between the seeded Tokay and round seedless grapes, Red Flame varieties are firm and sweet with a very good, crisp texture. Ruby seedless types have a richer, deeper color than the Flame, but the grapes are smaller, with a shape like a Pearlette. They have a tougher skin and less flavor than Flames and are the last of the season for seedless grapes.Black Beauty is a newer variety of seedless grape with a relatively short season. It doesn’t have quite the flavor that the other varieties do, but the Chilean black seedless grapes are better than those from California. Domestic black grapes are available in June and July, while Black Beauties from Chile are available in mid-winter.Champagne grapes are probably the sweetest of all. These tiny red grapes are available virtually year-round because they’re cultivated everywhere, mainly for restaurant use. You’re most likely to find them in gourmet or specialty markets and are easiest to eat by putting a small branchful into your mouth, then pulling the stem out between your teeth to remove the grapes, sort of like eating an artichoke leaf.
SELECTION AND STORAGE
Look for plump, smooth grapes with good color. They should be firmly attached to a fresh-looking green stem, with no evidence of wrinkling or withering. There should be a dusty bloom on the skin of the grape itself, like the dusty bloom on blueberries, it’s a naturally occurring substance that helps protect the grapes and is a good indication of freshness. Green or white grapes will have a golden glow when they’re ripe, while red grapes will be a soft, rich red, and black grapes will have a deep, blue-black color.Grapes don’t ripen off the vine, so what you buy is what you get. They’re very delicate and need to be handled carefully. Refrigerate them dry in a plastic bag and never wash them until you’re ready to eat; moisture will make them deteriorate very quickly. Grapes will last up to a week if properly stored in the refrigerator, but it’s best to eat them as soon as possible.Following are some of my favorite tips for serving and enjoying grapes !!
PETE'S TOP GRAPE PICKS
Grapes are great for out-of-hand eating or as a luncheon dessert, snack, or complement to wine and cheese.
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!
Soon to be published research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that watermelon is as much as 60% higher in lycopenes than tomatoes. Lycopene is a pigment that gives the bright red color to tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit and guava. Recent studies show the intake of lycopene is associated with reductions in several forms of cancer, including prostate, breast, lung and cancer of the uterus. The anti-cancer properties of lycopene appear to be due to its effectiveness as an antioxidant. Warm days and cool nights in the watermelon growing areas help increase lycopene content. The riper or redder the melon…..the more lycopene. In addition to lycopene, watermelons also contain other properties beneficial to the body, including citrulline, an amino acid compound, which helps flush out the kidneys.
Top 10 Watermelon Fun Facts
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.
ENJOY YOUR SUMMER !!
Click link below for PRODUCE PETE STEVE CARELL WATERMELON SHOW
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: LOVE OR HATE
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!
GETTING THE JUICE
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.
BENEFITS OF COCONUT WATER
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.
STORES IN METRO AREA THAT CARRY HAMONA COCONUTS
Sickles Market Little Silver, N.J.
Citarella New York and Long Island
Stew Leonards New York, Connecticut, Long Island
Mortan Williams New York
Ranch 99 New Jersey
Bad Apple Produce
Grass Roots Long Island
IF YOU CAN'T FIND -- JUST ASK YOUR PRODUCE MANAGER TO BRING IN -- REMEMBER YOU ARE THE BOSS !!!!
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.
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.
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
Click link below for Honeydew Show
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:
Cold weather will be here before we know it, so be sure to enjoy those last sweet tastes of summer that nectarines can provide.
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
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.
JAMAICAN YELLOW NAME
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 WHAT IS YUCA?
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
BACK IN BROOKLYN
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
Everyone knows that I know about fruits and vegetables.
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.
WISHING EVERYONE GREAT HEALTH AND A HAPPY EASTER AND PASSOVER
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
PLEASE CHECK OUT
BETTE'S EASTER RICOTTA PIE
PETER RABBIT COCONUT CAKE RECIPE
BETTE'S EASTER CUPCAKES
ON BETTE'S RECIPES 2
Click link below for Easter/Passover Flower Show
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.
PRODUCE PETE FUN FACTS
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
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.
PRODUCE PETE FUN FACT
The Campari tomato had a taste of fame in 2002 when it made an appearance on the popular television series, "The Sopranos." The cameo actually boosted the Campari tomato’s relevancy, and perhaps its level of respect, within the Italian-American community. The following year, the Campari tomato recorded more than a fifty-percent increase in sales. With competition from thousands of other tomato varieties, the strategic product placement certainly gave the Campari tomato an edge in the market. Click the bottom link for Campari tomato show
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.
SOME OF THE MOST POPULAR ASIAN PEAR VARIETIES
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.
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. ...
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
Great fragrance is the hallmark of a good ripe cantaloupe. In my younger days, when I had the store and I would come home from the market the smell from a crate or two of cantaloupes in the truck would fill the air, it didn't matter what other produce was in there. When I opened the door to unload, the warm, rich, sweet summer smell of melons is the first thing that hits me. Usually the least expensive and probably the most popular melons on the market, cantaloupes are sweet, fragrant, and juicy, with a pinkish orange to bright orange flesh. Grown primarily in California and other western states, cantaloupes are round, with a golden, tightly netted skin. Although good cantaloupes from the West are available from June through December, they are best between June and September. That's when the California crop is at its peak, and I think that state grows the best cantaloupes. Arizona is next, New Mexico and Texas also grow big cantaloupe crops.
ORIGAMI CANTALOUPE VARIETY
Origami cantaloupes have the signature rough, tannish, netted skin of other cantaloupe varieties and range in size from 8 to 12 centimeters in diameter. Unlike other cantaloupes the Origami cantaloupe is prized for its thin rind and smaller seed cavity thus giving it more edible flesh. The orange flesh is succulent, juicy and sweet. When ripe the Origami cantaloupe has one of the strongest floral musky aromas of any cantaloupe. For best flavor pick cantaloupes that have a full slip, raised netting and a sweet aroma.
Almost all cantaloupes commercially grown in California are of the Hale's Best group of varieties. Several strains are on the market, each with a few distinct characteristics. Other varieties include Hymark and Mission. California provides the bulk of supplies to the U.S. with Arizona and Texas also producing considerable amounts. U.S. availability begins in late April and the peak months are June through September. If the stem end is rough with portions of the stem remaining, the melon was harvested prematurely. Shriveled, flabby or badly bruised product signals poor quality. Also avoid melons with growth cracks, mottling or decay (mold or soft sunken spots on the surface). A mature cantaloupe will be well netted or webbed with a smoothly rounded, depressed scar at the stem end. When ready to eat, cantaloupe will take on a yellow background appearance, acquire an aroma and soften. Because cantaloupe is shipped in a firm state to avoid damage, it usually needs a few days at room temperature to soften and become juicier. To prevent bacteria on the melon netting from passing through to the flesh when cutting, follow these FDA rules:
The best time to buy western cantaloupes is between June and September, when the California melons are at their peak. During December, January, and February, we get cantaloupes imported from Central America. Although you'll occasionally get lucky and find a good one, most of these are both overpriced and lousy. In February, March, April and May we start to see Mexican cantaloupes. They aren't as good as summer cantaloupes from the States, but over the last few years the quality has improved and the price has become more reasonable.
Color and, more important, fragrance - not softness at the stem end - indicates ripeness. A cantaloupe with golden color and ripe, sweet aroma is going to be a ripe, sweet melon. Don't push the stem end - if your neighbor presses a thumb there, and I press mine there, you're going to feel something soft even if the melon is grass green. For some reason, cantaloupes with tighter netting seem to have a firmer, crisper texture and cut better than those with the looser, more open netting. A cantaloupe on the green side will ripen if you leave it out at room temperature until any green undertones in the rind have turned golden and the melon has a rich smell. But in season, during the summer, there's no excuse for taking home a green melon. In-season melons should have been picked fully mature and fully ripe, with little or no green showing. I think melons taste better and have a better texture at room temperature, but if you like your melon chilled, refrigerate it right before you're going to eat it. Cut melons, of course, have to be refrigerated, but wrap them tightly in plastic to preserve moisture. If you don't want everything in your refrigerator to smell and taste like cantaloupes (and vice-versa), it's a good idea to put the melon in a heavy plastic or glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Cantaloupes are fine eaten as is for breakfast or dessert or cut up with other melons and fruits in a salad. Nutrient content descriptors for cantaloupes include: fat-free, saturated fat-free, very-low-sodium, cholesterol-free, high in vitamin A, high in vitamin C and a good source of folate (add 10% folate to label). Because cantaloupe is easy to cut, it can be used as an appetizer, in salads, as a breakfast plate garnish and in compotes and desserts.
A FEW FUN FACTS FROM PRODUCE PETE
– Cantaloupes are considered a luxury and are commonly given as a gift in Japan.– Cantaloupes were first brought to America by Christopher Columbus is 1492.– Did you know that “down under” in Australia they refer to cantaloupe as “ROCKMELON”? Makes sense to us – they kind of do look like rocks.– An average sized cantaloupe contains just 100 calories. Who knew something so sweet could be good for you?– Cantaloupes are the most popular melon in the United States. Try them freeze dried for an all natural, portable, healthy snack.– They are members of vine-crop family, including other melons, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and gourds. They have plenty of relatives – one big happy family.– Not only do they taste good, they also fight against lung and oral cavity cancers.– Because cantaloupes are high in Vitamin A, they help maintain good eye health. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy mucus membrane and skin of your eye.– Cantaloupes protect you from UV rays. Forget the sunblock! Just joking, you should still definitely wear sunblock on top of adding more cantaloupe into your diet.– Cantaloupes also help fight infections due to being filled with Vitamin C.– Cantaloupes trailing vine can reach up to 5 feet in height.– Fruits develop after 90 days of planting. Don’t plant them if you’re craving one right away – you’re better off going to the grocery store.– Cantaloupes have many roles. They can be consumed fresh and as an ingredient in a fruit salad or used to create sorbets, smoothies and ice-creams. Even freeze dried, cantaloupes are a healthy snack.– The cantaloupe was first cultivated in the 1700s, in the Italian papal village of Cantalup. Now we know where they got the name from.These are just a few of our favorites! We hope you share these interesting cantaloupe fun facts with your family and friends, and try to incorporate cantaloupe in your diet if you haven’t already. They are super nutritious and packed with vitamins.
Serving Size: 1/4 Med. Cantaloupe (134g) Amount Per Serving Calories: 50 Calories from Fat 0 % of Daily Value Total Fat: 0g 0% Saturated Fat: 0g 0% Cholesterol: 0mg 0 % Sodium: 25mg 1 % Total Carbohydrate: 12g 4 % Dietary Fiber 1 g 4 % Sugars: 11g Protein: 1g Vitamin A: 100% Vitamin C 80% Calcium: 2% Iron 2 % *Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Source: PMA's Labeling Facts
Click link below for Cantaloupe Show