Broccoli Rabe


When i think of Broccoli Rabe, my father always comes to mine, you see in Italy where he was born they ate Broccoli Rabe which grew wild with every meal. Meat was exotic and hard to come by so vegetables that grew wild were the meal of the day. For someone that ate some much Rabe, he still loved it, but one thing bother him, the PRICE.  Broccoli Rabe in America became a sort of a pricey vegetable that showed up in trendy restaurants , and when pop would go out to eat and see the price he would always bring up when he was young they ate broccoli rabe sandwiches, broccoli rabe and eggs, broccoli rabe and just about everything just to fill them up. Times might have changed, but in the Napolitano family Broccoli Rabe is still our favorite vegetable.


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

Once highly prized by the Romans and cultivated all over the southern Mediterranean, broccoli rabe didn't appear in more northern areas of Europe until the sixteenth century, and didn't appear in North America until the 1920's, when Italian farmers brought it to the United States. For years broccoli rabe was favored mainly in the Italian and Asian communities here. In the old days broccoli rabe was a staple and sold for twenty-five cents a pound, maybe ten cents a pound. In my father's family broccoli rabe was used to flavor all kinds of filling dishes when meat was just too expensive. They'd have it with pasta, with potatoes--they'd even make broccoli rabe sandwiches! They had it so much that my father once swore he'd never eat it again. Now it's a yuppie food that shows up in trendy restaurants and fetches $2.99 a pound at the market.

Even though it's a little pricey now, broccoli rabe is still a great vegetable. It packs a wallop and has a bitter zest that gives a real lift to bland foods.

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


At the market you'll usually find broccoli rabe displayed in a refrigerator case sprinkled with ice because it wilts very easily. Choose firm, green, small stems with compact heads. Like broccoli, the flower buds that make up the florets should be tightly closed and dark green, no yellow buds. The AndyBoy label is the top of the line when it comes to broccoli rabe and should be bought whenever 


Store broccoli rabe in your refrigerator crisper unwashed, either wrapped in a wet towel or in a plastic bag. It will keep two or three days. For longer storage, blanch and freeze.


To prepare, rinse thoroughly in cold water, shake off, and cut off the bottoms of the stalks (they're too tough to eat). Broccoli rabe is much better cooked than raw. Raw, it's very bitter but has no other flavor. Even a light steaming brings out its distinctive taste. As a side vegetable, broccoli rabe yields only about one serving per pound because it cooks way down. You can cook it like broccoli, but whether you braise, saute, boil, or steam it, you only need to cook it for eight to ten minutes. Most Italians like broccoli rabe al dente--cooked about six minutes. You can steam it in water or chicken broth, or saute it with oil and garlic. Some people like it as a cold salad, steamed then cooled and dressed with oil, hot peppers, garlic, and other seasonings. For terrific potatoes, add steamed broccoli rabe to boiled potatoes and dress with olive oil and garlic. Broccoli rabe also makes a great sauce for pasta when steamed and combined with olive oil, garlic, and hot sausage.

Don't forget to check out our Broccoli Rabe Christmas Pie at the top of the page under Bette's Recipes, it's GREAT!!!

Click link for Broccoli Rabe Show




 This is the last week of our Thanksgiving Day Table, boy did this holiday come fast. When i was young it seem like it took forever for the holidays to come around, but now that i am an old man the holidays come too quickly, i'm looking for time to slow up, but i guess it's what it is. This week my families favorite Artichokes and Yams, a must on our Thanksgiving Day Table.  There are a couple of good recipes for these two items on Bette's Recipes, so don't forget to check them out. From the Produce Pete Family to all of you a Healthy and Happy Thanksgiving.

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

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

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

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

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


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


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



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


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


Ninety percent of what you see in the stores marked "yams" is actually a variety of sweet potato. The true yam is a tuber that can get as large as 100 pounds and grows primarily in the tropical zones of Africa. The potato with the sweet orange-red flesh that grows in the American South was dubbed a yam by African people, and the name stuck. American sweet potatoes are members of the morning glory family. The rich orange-fleshed variety is harvested beginning in August; the fresh ones that show up on the market then have not been cured. The bulk of the crop is held in a heated, humidity-controlled environment for about a week. This "cures" the potato and converts much of its starch to dextrin's and sugar. A cured sweet potato is actually much sweeter than an uncured one and is what usually shows up on the Thanksgiving table. 

There are two other varieties of sweet potato that are much less frequently seen these days than the one that masquerades as a yam. The red sweet potato has a yellow flesh that's a bit sweeter than the white sweet potato, which has a white, more fibrous flesh. The red sweet potato has a dark, reddish skin and is in season about the same time as the yam type - starting in September. It keeps better than the white sweet potato, which has a very short season - usually the last couple of weeks in August.


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


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



 Though I grew up in Bergen County and we had our family produce store (Napolitano’s Produce) in Bergenfield for years, I’ll never forget the first house my father bought in Florida in the late 1950s. The first time we traveled down there after Christmas, my younger brother David and I were absolutely amazed to see grapefruit hanging from a tree in the backyard—we Jersey boys had never seen anything like that before! Although the house was older, the yard was full of beautiful citrus trees, and for the time we were there we relished the opportunity to pick and eat grapefruit and oranges right off the trees.

The Scoop on Grapefruit

Experts believe that the name “grapefruit” originally came from the way grapefruit grows—in clusters just like grapes, with up to as many as 25 fruits in a cluster hanging from a tree. Although grapefruit grows in many parts of the world, the U.S. is the main producer and consumer of grapefruit, with Florida currently producing over two-thirds of the domestic crop, followed by Texas (a distant second) and California. However, based on property values and weather conditions, Texas may someday become the grapefruit capital of the world, unseating the position Florida has held for nearly a century.In Florida, grapefruit are grown in two distinct geographic areas—Central Florida and the Indian River area on the state’s eastern coast, where the soil and climate offer ideal growing conditions. Because the Indian River valley runs parallel to the Gulf Stream, the warm ocean current shields the groves from temperature changes and spares them from frost even when groves much farther south are damaged. Compared to grapefruit from California, Florida grapefruit have a thinner rind and are sweeter and less pulpy.Grapefruit with a clear yellow rind are called “goldens,” while those with some bronzing are “bronzes” and those with heavy bronzing are called “russets.” Flesh color runs from yellow-white to pink to nearly red, but while their colors vary, there’s not much difference in their flavor and juiciness; those qualities are determined by the lateness of the season, the specific variety, and how the fruit has been handled. Among varieties, the “Marsh seedless” has a nice flavor and texture; hybridizers have since developed a pink Marsh and an even darker-pink strain called the “Ruby Red,” which is a very good grapefruit that’s now grown primarily in Texas. The large Marsh rubies from Florida are now called “Star Rubies” and are probably the sweetest of all and great for segmenting, juicing, or eating with a spoon.


Grapefruit are available year-round, but the best fruit—hailing from Florida and Texas—are found between November and June, with the peak starting around Christmas and continuing through April. Small early golden and pink grapefruit are the first to show up on the market in October; they’re very juicy but not as sweet as they are later in the season. Don’t be afraid to buy a small grapefruit. As the season progresses into winter and early spring, the smaller varieties get sweeter even as they maintain their high juice content. Whether they’re large or small, the Florida and Texas crops improve in quality from October to December and are at their sweetest and juiciest in late winter and early spring.

Other Fun Facts About Grapefruit

—Grapefruits are about 90 percent water (there’s four ounces of water in a medium grapefruit) and eating them helps keep the body hydrated.—At only 50-70 calories each, grapefruit are high in Vitamins A and C and antioxidants and can boost the immune system.—Because grapefruits contain fiber, they induce feelings of fullness and have been found to promote weight loss.—Dark pink and red grapefruit are slightly more nutritious than yellow or white grapefruit; specifically, red grapefruit has 25 times more vitamin A than golden types, but otherwise they’re almost equivalent nutritionally.—Grapefruit contains substances that inhibit an enzyme the body needs to metabolize certain medications, so they’re not for everyone. Avoid grapefruit if you’re taking such medications as Allegra, Claritin, BuSpar or a statin.

Selection and Storage

Look for smooth, thin-skinned fruit that’s either round or slightly flattened at each end. Like other citrus fruits, grapefruit should be firm, shiny, and heavy in the hand for their size, as this promises the most juice and flavor. Avoid coarse or rough-looking fruit that has a puffy or protruding end, which indicates that it’s dry and flavorless. Leave grapefruit out on the counter if you’re going to consume it in less than a week, or else refrigerate it for longer storage.


Grapefruit are great on their own or served broiled with a little brown or white sugar and a dot of butter. Or you can serve peeled and sectioned grapefruit in a salad of mixed mild and bitter greens with a light dressing, as offered in the following recipe, which is a longtime favorite in the Napolitano household based on its interesting flavor profile and refreshing and nutritious qualities.
Check out Pete's Perfect Grapefruit Salad , under Bette's Recipes at top of page.
Click link below for Ruby Red Grapefruit Segment




Move over Popeye to eat more kale. Gaining in popularity, kale is an amazing vegetable being recognized for its exceptional nutrient richness, health benefits, and delicious flavor.

Eating a variety of natural, unprocessed vegetables can do wonders for your health, but choosing super-nutritious kale on a regular basis may provide significant health benefits, including cancer protection and lowered cholesterol.

Kale, also known as borecole, is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. A leafy green, kale is available in curly, ornamental, or dinosaur varieties. It belongs to the Brassica family that includes cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, collards, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

What makes kale so exceptional? Here is why it's a superstar vegetable -- and ways to work it into your diet.


One cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K -- and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.

Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.

Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.


Eating a diet rich in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K can reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vitamin K is abundant in kale but also found in parsley, spinach, collard greens, and animal products such as cheese.

Vitamin K is necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions, including normal blood clotting, antioxidant activity, and bone health.

But too much vitamin K can pose problems for some people. Anyone taking anticoagulants such as warfarin should avoid kale because the high level of vitamin K may interfere with the drugs. Consult your doctor before adding kale to your diet.

Kale might be a powerhouse of nutrients but is also contains oxalates, naturally occurring substances that can interfere with the absorption of calcium. Avoid eating calcium-rich foods like dairy at the same time as kale to prevent any problems.


In summer, vegetable choices abound. But during the cooler months, there are fewer in-season choices -- with the exception of kale and other dark, leafy greens that thrive in cooler weather.

To find the freshest kale, look for firm, deeply colored leaves with hardy stems. Smaller leaves will be more tender and milder in flavor. Leaves range from dark green to purple to deep red in color. 


Store kale, unwashed, in an air-tight zipped plastic bag for up to five days in the refrigerator. 

TUSCAN KALE   ( Known by many different names )

What is the difference between Tuscan kale and regular kale

Tuscan kale (also called dinosaur, Lacinato or black kale) is not as tough and fibrous as its curlier kale cousin, so it is often served raw in salads. But as delicious as it is raw, it is especially good cooked .

Hearty, ridged, and almost frilly in appearance, curly and red kale can be used interchangeably; the main difference between the two is merely aesthetic. ... Dinosaur kale, also know as lacinato or Tuscan kale, is more tender than curly and red kale, making it a good candidate for raw and shortly cooked dishes

Lacinato Kale 

literally known as black kale, is a variety of kale with a long tradition in Italian cuisine, especially that of Tuscany. It is also known as Tuscan kale, Italian kale, dinosaur kale, kale, flat back kale, palm tree kale, or black Tuscan palm .Lacinato kale has been grown in Tuscany for centuries, and is one of the traditional ingredients of minestrone soup and ribollita.

Tuscan kale, like all kales, is extraordinarily nutritious: a cup provides more than 100 percent of the daily value (DV) of vitamins K and A, and 88 percent of the DV for vitamin C. Like other members of the brassica family such as cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts, kale is a rich source of organosulfur compounds that have been linked to cancer prevention. 

Check out Tuscan Kale Recipe under Bette's Recipes at top of page.

Click link below for Kale Show 



 For the third week of our Thanksgiving Day Table, we are talking about two of the mostpopular vegetables for Thanksgiving, Broccoli and Cauliflower.  A must on Bette and Pete's table, what would this holiday be without these traditional side dishes.Don't forget to checkout Bette's Thanksgiving Day Recipes at the top of this page. the Broccoli and Cauliflower ones are great.

Kids who call broccoli "trees" are imitating the Romans, who called it brachium, meaning "strong branch or arm." Their nickname for it was "the five green fingers of Jupiter," and they ate a lot of it. Broccoli is one of the cruciferous vegetables--in the cabbage family--that is packed with beta-carotene; the precursor to vitamin A that researchers believe has anticarcinogenic properties. Thomas Jefferson first brought broccoli seeds form Italy to Monticello. Although broccoli flourished there, Jefferson wasn't fond of it--probably because it was cooked to death. Broccoli didn't really catch on in the U.S. until the twentieth century; as Italian immigration increased, Italian farmers started growing it in California. They knew how to cook it, and by the mid - 1920's broccoli was becoming more popular. Although broccoli is grown almost everywhere, the bulk of the crop is still grown in California.


A cool - weather crop planted in the spring and fall, broccoli is available year round, but the peak of the season is March through November. It's usually very consistently priced, but when the price jumps up 30 to 40 percent, you know it's out of season and in short supply.


Look for a firm, clean stalk with tight, bluish-green florets. Check the stalks to make sure they're not too thick and hard--they will be a bit woody. Most important, the florets should be tightly closed and the broccoli should have little or no fragrance. Broccoli is eaten at an immature stage; left to grow in the field, the buds will open into yellow flowers. Buds that are starting to open and look yellowish will be mushy and have a strong cabbage taste. Use your nose when you're selecting broccoli: if a head has an odor, it's not good.


Broccoli will keep up to seven days if refrigerated and kept moist. You can break apart the stalks and put them in ice water or spread crushed ice on top. Or wrap broccoli in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel and place in the crisper. 


Cup for cup, broccoli has as much Vitamin C as oranges and as much Calcium as milk.


The less you do to broccoli, the more it will do for you. Broccoli will lose up to 30 percent of its vitamins and minerals when it's cooked, so for nutritional reasons as well as good flavor, never overcook it. Broccoli is also very good raw on a platter of crudités, added to other vegetables in a salad, or served with dips. At certain times of the year, broccoli may harbor a bug or worm or both. When cleaning, soak the head in salted water about fifteen minutes, and the critters will float to the top. Broccoli can be prepared in countless ways. Sauté it with a little garlic and onion. Add it to pasta, or serve it blanched and cooled in vinaigrette. It's excellent simply steamed for a few minutes and serve with a dab of butter or squeeze of lemon--or both. To steam, put it in about half an inch of salted water, stem ends down. Don't let the buds touch the water--they'll cook very quickly and will get mushy and disintegrate. Cover and cook over low to medium heat for not more than four to five minutes--just until its fork tender. Check the pot once or twice to make sure there is adequate liquid in the bottom to keep from burning, and add a few tablespoons of water as needed. Properly cooked, broccoli has a delicate flavor and arrives at the table tender-crisp and bright green. If you're going to add lemon or vinegar, do it at the last minute because they tend to drab the color. 



  Known as the "queen of garden vegetables", cauliflower is actually a densely packed head of tiny, unopened flower buds that form clusters called florets. Straight off the farm, cauliflower is enclosed by large, green, edible leaves. In the field these are bundled up around the head to keep it white. Left exposed to the sun, the head turns yellow. When you see cauliflower with the leaves on, it's been grown locally. Cello-pack cauliflower, usually shipped in from California, is what you see in the store 90 percent of the time.


Look for a good-sized cauliflower that is hard and heavy, with a touch of dew on the head. The florets should be compact and tightly packed. If florets have started to spread apart and the head looks very light and granular, that's called ricing, and it indicates changes in growing conditions. Ricing doesn't mean the cauliflower is spoiled, but it won't have quite the flavor or crispness of a firm, compact head. Riced cauliflower is a little softer and should be cooked for a shorter period. 


Cauliflower must be refrigerated. Wrap it in plastic and store in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, where it will keep for several days.


Cook whole heads in just an inch or two of water until fork-tender - no more than ten minutes. Broken into individual florets, cauliflower takes a little less time to cook. Cauliflower can be eaten raw, steamed or braised, or breaded and fried. It can be curried, served in a cream or cheese sauce, or mixed into vegetable salads, and it makes a terrific pickle.
Click link below for Broccoli and Cauliflower Segment 





Each year Americans consume greater quantities of almost every sort of fresh vegetable except rutabagas. This neglected vegetable deserves better. Rutabagas can be cooked like potatoes, and if they're prepared right, they have a creamy, potato like texture and a distinctive taste. They've been a must on my family's Thanksgiving table for years, thanks to my Irish mother. Sure, the rutabaga is homely, but this inexpensive vegetable has a long shelf life, can be cooked in a number of ways, is very nutritious and is generally a terrific, hearty winter vegetable.Large and squat, a rutabaga looks a lot like a big darkened white turnip with the top and tail cut off. The skin is purple at the top, yellowish below, and the whole root is heavily waxed to prevent it from losing moisture and shriveling. Rutabagas are grown in cooler climates everywhere, but for the U.S. market, Canada grows the best.


Rutabagas are in season from October through early summer.


Choose roots that are heavy in the hand for their size, more rounded than pointed; and hard as a rock - with no soft spots. The tops should be purple and bright looking, and the wax should have a good shine on it. You can tell right away if a rutabaga is old, the wax will look dull, and the rutabaga will feel light.


If you can, store rutabagas in a cool, dark place like a root cellar. Even at normal room temperature, however, rutabagas in good condition will keep for a couple of months.


Prepare rutabagas as you would potatoes, or as if they were acorn squash, with a little sweetening (they aren't stringy like acorn squash). We mash them just like potatoes, peel, cube, boil, and mash; add butter, salt and pepper. Or combine with potatoes before mashing for a milder flavor. I love mashed rutabagas straight, they've got a distinctive taste and they really stick to your ribs. They're excellent as a side dish with turkey, roast chicken, pork roast, pork chops, or ham.



String beans are so named because years ago they had a "string" - a tough fiber that ran from one tip to the other. While the string has been bred out of most varieties you'll see on the market, the name has stuck. Although there are several varieties, they're generally divided into two categories - bush beans, which have a rounded pod, and pole beans, which are usually large and relatively flat. One of the best of the flat pole beans is the Kentucky Wonder - a bright green, fairly broad bean that reaches six to eight inches in length. When fresh, young, and velvety, Kentucky Wonders have a sweet taste and an excellent, crisp texture.One virtue of pole beans is that they're usually picked by hand. There is a definite difference between hand-picked and machine-picked beans. Machine-picked beans are usually a less tender variety - they have to be tough to survive machine picking.Machines also pick everything off in the row, while farm workers are a bit more selective. Although hand-picked beans are more expensive than others, they may be a better buy in the long run because there's less waste.


Fresh green beans are available year round, but they are best in early winter, early summer, and early fall. That's when you'll get the early part of the crop. Beans picked early in the season are smaller, sweeter, and more velvety. You don't want a long, thick or bumpy pod that shows the outline of the beans inside. These are too mature, and will be tough and tasteless.


Look for small to medium-sized pods that are velvety-looking and bright green, with no signs of wilting or wrinkling. Fresh green beans should be tender enough to eat raw. The USDA classifies string beans as snap beans, and that's exactly what the bean should do when you bend one - snap. If it's rubbery and bends, it will taste rubbery too.


Do not wash string beans until you're ready to use them. Refrigerate in a paper bag or unsealed plastic bag, and they'll keep well for a day or two, although it's best to use them as soon as possible. If you've had them longer and they're starting to wilt, you may be able to revive them in ice-cold water. Otherwise, add them to soups or stews.


Tender young green beans can be added raw to crudités. To cook, simply steam or cook in a small amount of water in a covered pan for five to eight minutes, adding a dab of butter, salt, and pepper if desired. Don't overcook! String beans also freeze well if blanched for two minutes before freezing. 



What's the Difference ?? When you’re in the supermarket and looking to buy some green beans, you’re often presented with two options: green beans, and usually right next to them, haricots verts, sometimes called French beans. What’s the difference between the two?The answer? Not very much. In fact, haricots verts just means “green beans” in French. There are two main differences, though: haricots verts tend to be skinnier than traditional green beans, and are also more expensive. They’re actually bred that way: not only are they thinner, they’re also more tender and flavorful than comparably sized traditional green beans. They’re also younger than traditional green beans; if you were to pick regular old green beans at the same age at which haricots verts are harvested, they’d be missing a lot of that “beany” flavor. In France, all green beans are called haricots verts; the skinnier, pricier ones are called haricots verts filets extra-fins.


Click link below for Wax Turnip and Stringbean Segment 



 All my life, perhaps nothing has reminded me of my mother more than navel oranges at Christmas.Growing up in Bergenfield to Italian immigrant parents in the ’50s and ’60s, money was always tight and, while northeastern apples were plentiful in our area all fall and winter, oranges from Florida or California were an exotic novelty for our family. I’ll never forget how mom would wrap navel oranges in colored foil or paper and put them in my and my younger brother David’s stockings for Christmas—and the joy we’d get when we’d unwrap them! We never wasted anything in our house—not even the peels from the oranges, which my mom would put in a used tin pie plate with water and place on the radiator to give our house a great citrusy aroma.I remember once telling these stories to my granddaughter Alexandra, to which she rolled her eyes and said “really, Poppy?” It’s a whole different era today—one where kids get expensive video games or keys to cars as gifts, not oranges—but I still get choked up when I think of what mom did with so little and the love and care she always put into making our holidays special. To me, that’s what families and holidays are all about. 

All About Oranges

You’ll see oranges in the supermarket all year, but navels—which are renowned for their clean, discernible sections—are available now through Easter and are truly at their best and sweetest right around Christmas. While the two most familiar varieties of oranges are navels and Valencias, California navel oranges are considered by many to be the best oranges in the world for eating out of hand. They have a meaty flesh, their thick rinds are easy to peel, the segments separate easily, and they have no seeds. All navel oranges have a navel at the blossom end (an opening with a convoluted interior that looks like, well, a navel); some have a very small navel while others have a larger one.
While California is the largest producer of navel oranges, it’s not always safe to assume that a Florida orange is a Valencia juice orange and a California orange is a navel. Texas and Florida also grow navel oranges, which are on the market between late fall and the end of January. The Florida navel comes in all sizes, from tennis-ball to softball size, and doesn’t have as much color as the California variety; the rind will be bronze to light orange, with a richer orange color later in the season. Florida navels are, of course, seedless, but they have a higher juice content and a thinner rind that’s not as easy to peel as California navels. Despite their relatively pale color, they’re good oranges and very sweet. Here again, check the blossom end—if it’s stamped ‘Florida’ but has a navel, it’s a navel orange. 


Five Fun Facts About Oranges

There are over 600 different varieties of oranges. An orange tree is highly productive and with proper care can produce fruit for well up to 70-80 years. Oranges are outstanding sources of vitamin C and fiber. Florida is the top orange producer in the U.S., but Brazil leads the world in orange production, producing about half of the world’s orange juice and 80 percent of the world’s orange concentrate.The word “orange” hails from a Sanskrit dialect and translates to “fragrant.”

Selecting and Storing Oranges

Whatever the variety, look for oranges that are shiny and heavy in the hand. Also check the scent—the orange should smell good, not fermented, and the rind should never feel puffy. (It shouldn’t feel like there’s any space between the rind and the flesh.) There should also be no spotting, no signs of shriveling, and no white patches on the rind.
Unlike more perishable tangerines, oranges can be kept out at room temperature for three or four days with little problem. Refrigerate them in a plastic bag or in the crisper drawer and they’ll keep well for one to two weeks.


In the Napolitano family, my wife Bette’s famous navel orange cake represents the best of the holiday season and is always a big hit in our household at Christmas time. We hope you like it too and wish you all the best for a happy and healthy holiday season!

 Click link for Navel Orange Show





New Jersey Red and Green Leaf Lettuce, Boston and Romaine

Come the spring is when New Jersey farms are just coming into season with all the great lettuces that are fresh and on your table the very next day. The boston lettuce, romaine and leaf lettuces, to my way of thinking, are the best I have ever eaten. When the weather starts to get hot boston lettuce, romaine and leaf lettuces don't really do too good but they use a drip irrigation system that works great for them and keeps the lettuce from burning up. When I went down to see some of my farmer friends, they had me out in the field picking lettuce, not a job I am suited to!!! But it was fun. So if you can't make it to a farm, a farmers market or your local supermarket here is some information on how to pick the best local boston, romaine or leaf lettuces when you are out shopping, and a quick tip, never wash until you are ready to use and store in your refrigerator in a paper bag (you get 2-3 more days out of them ).


Red and green leaf lettuces are the most popular leaf lettuces, and the ones you'll readily find at the market. Both have very soft curly leaves and a semisweet taste. Red leaf lettuce is softer, sweeter, and also more fragile than the green. It makes a good salad, but it wilts and turns black very quickly, especially at the red tips of the leaves.  Green leaf lettuce is a little coarser and not quite as sweet, but it's a bit crisper. I love it on sandwiches.

Supplies from California and Florida are available year-round. Local leaf lettuces are available May thru the first frost.

You don't want to see any dark green or brown slime on leaf lettuces - a sign that the head will deteriorate very quickly. Look at the rib to make sure it's not discolored. As with iceberg and other head lettuces, the butt should be white to light brown, and there should be no pink color on the ribs, which indicates the lettuce has had too much rain and will rot quickly in your refrigerator.

Red leaf lettuce is probably the most fragile of all the lettuces. The tender red edges of the leaves deteriorate rapidly and should be used as soon as possible after purchase.

Red and green leaf lettuces contain large amounts of Vitamin A and K, Calcium, Iron plus, Antioxidants, and Beta carotene.


A soft bright green, round ball lettuce.  Boston is one of the sweetest of the lettuces.  The leaf texture is more-tender, and it forms a looser, generally smaller head than iceberg.  Like most lettuces, the leaves get whiter and whiter as you get toward the heart, but unlike iceberg, the inner leaves of Boston lettuce tend to be sweet and soft.  When you get to the middle of a good head of Boston lettuce, its leaves are very pale and crisp.

There is a red leaf Boston that’s popular at our market.  It looks the same as the green except for a little red at the tip.  It’s pretty and I think even sweeter than the green.


Boston lettuce is available year-round from California and Florida, which are the two main producers.  Local crops are available in May, June, and occasionally in July, but Boston lettuce particularly hates the heat.


Look for crisp-looking heads with outer leaves that are bright green, especially toward the edges.  Around the base the color should be nearly white.


Tender Boston lettuce won’t keep long – generally three to five days.  Unlike leaf lettuce, however, Boston wilts from the outside in.  You can peel off any wilted or slimy outside leaves and find good, usable leaves inside.  With leaf lettuces, once you discard everything that has deteriorated, all that is left is the ribs.


Boston grows in very black soil, and because it’s a loose head, a lot of that soil finds its way inside.  Peel off leaves as needed and wash them carefully, especially toward the base of the ribs.

Boston makes a great tossed salad and is becoming more and more popular as the public discovers its virtues.  As a result, it’s also becoming less expensive than it was just a few years ago.  Boston makes an attractive bed for tuna or fruit salad and is fine on sandwiches.  It can’t be cut into wedges as iceberg can, but other than that you can use it any way you’d use iceberg.


Romaine dates back to the days of the Roman Empire, its name was coined because each leaf is shaped something like a roman tablespoon.  I like its extra-tender crisp inner leaves the best.


Although it’s available year-round, romaine is essentially a cold-weather lettuce that in most regions has its peak seasons in early spring and mid-autumn.  All lettuces tend to bolt – send up a seed head – in hot weather, and romaine is particularly susceptible.  Don’t buy it if it has a stalk protruding from the center, it has bolted and will be bitter.


Good romaine usually has very green outer leaves that should curl away from the center.  A smaller head of romaine isn’t necessarily a more tender lettuce – a big one can be just as tender and tasty.  Look for a crisp leaf and a fresh green color, avoid tire-looking, limp, yellow, or discolored heads and any heads that have bolted.

California and Florida are the biggest shippers.  Florida romaine is usually greener than romaine from California, but my personal preference is for California romaine – I think it’s sweeter.


Like iceberg, romaine should be kept in the coldest part of the refrigerator, either in the crisper drawer or in a plastic bag.  It also should not be exposed to apples or other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas.



There’s a reason it is called the “Garden State.” New Jersey’s diverse agriculture enables the state to hold its own with the largest fruit, vegetable and nursery-stock producing states in the nation. Each year New Jersey is a top-10 producer for such items as cranberries, blueberries, peaches, bell peppers, spinach and tomatoes. In fact, New Jersey is the most productive farmland in the United States based on highest dollar value per acre .

Farming is a billion - dollar industry in New Jersey. One good thing farming in New Jersey isn't shrinking any more, the number of acres used for farmland had been dropping, but it ticked up in 2017 for the first time in 20 years. Even thought the big farms are decreasing, only 113 farms of a 1000 or more acres left, there is a number of smaller farms, over 800, that have started up since 2012.


Click link below for Local Lettuce Segment 

ST PATTY'S DAY 03/16/19

Cabbage and Potatoes


The wearing of the green is nearly upon us, and so the season of green beer, bagels and milkshakes has begun. While there’s nothing particularly Irish about shamrock-shaped cookies or green-frosted cupcakes, you might be surprised to learn that the traditional St. Patty’s meal—corned beef and cabbage—is no more authentic. Like many aspects of St. Patrick’s Day, the dish came about when Irish-Americans transformed and reinterpreted a tradition imported from the Emerald Isle.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Dublin but in New York City, in 1762. Over the next 100 years, Irish immigration to the United States exploded. The new wave of immigrants brought their own food traditions, including soda bread and Irish stew. Pork was the preferred meat, since it was cheap in Ireland and ubiquitous on the dinner table. The favored cut was Irish bacon, a lean, smoked pork loin similar to Canadian bacon. But in the United States, pork was prohibitively expensive for most newly arrived Irish families, so they began cooking beef—the staple meat in the American diet—instead.

So how did pork and potatoes become corned beef and cabbage? Irish immigrants to America lived alongside other “undesirable” European ethnic groups that often faced discrimination in their new home, including Jews and Italians. Members of the Irish working class in New York City frequented Jewish delis and lunch carts, and it was there that they first tasted corned beef. Cured and cooked much like Irish bacon, it was seen as a tasty and cheaper alternative to pork. And while potatoes were certainly available in the United States, cabbage offered a more cost-effective alternative to cash-strapped Irish families. Cooked in the same pot, the spiced, salty beef flavored the plain cabbage, creating a simple, hearty dish that couldn’t be easier to prepare.

After taking off among New York City’s Irish community, corned beef and cabbage found fans across the country. It was the perfect dish for everyone from harried housewives to busy cooks on trains and in cafeterias—cheap, easy to cook and hard to overcook. It was even served alongside mock turtle coup at President Lincoln’s inauguration dinner in 1862.

Far from being as Irish as a shamrock field, this St. Patrick’s Day classic is as American as apple pie.  Growing up in an Italian household with an Irish mother, Corned beef and cabbage was a must on St Patty's day even though my pop wanted to put tomato sauce on it. Actually my pop got to like it and in later years when he retired he would dress up in green and take his motorcycle, pickup the nuns's at my sister Lu Anne school and ride them in the St Patrick's Day Parade. I guess the old saying everyone is Irish on St Patty's day is true.

The Cabbage Story

One of the least expensive and most available of all vegetables, cabbage is a food staple in Europe and northern Africa and has been around for more than four thousand years. Long associated with boarding-house cooking and lingering smells, cabbage has been reinstated as one of the members of the important crucifer family--vegetables that contain important anticancer nutrients.

The problem with cabbage is the usual one most people overcook it. When it's cooked quickly and evenly, cabbage s a mild, sweet flavor and a pleasing texture, eaten raw, it has a spicier flavor and crunchy texture.

The difference between green and white cabbage is that the green comes straight in from the field, while the white has been blanched. In upper New York State, for example, growers cut the heads and then bury them in trenches to blanch the leaves and protect the heads from freezing. This method gives us cabbage all winter long. Many people think cabbage with a touch of frost on it is sweeter too.

Savoy cabbage has puckered, wrinkly leaves and forms a looser head. Red cabbage is a different variety altogether. Both are good simmered in vinegar and allowed to cool overnight, then served as a side dish with veal or pork.


Available year round at reasonable prices.


Select hard, round heads with crisp outer leaves that are free of rust or yellowing. Red cabbage and Savoy cabbage should be crisp and brightly colored. None of them should show black edges or other signs of rot.


Refrigerate in a plastic bag or in the crisper drawer. Cabbage will keep well for weeks. If the outer leaves turn yellow or dry out, just peel them off. The cabbage underneath will still be good.


Pull off and rinse the green outer leaves for stuffing. The head may be cut into wedges for steaming, sliced thin for sautéing, shredded raw and mixed with salad greens, or made into coleslaw. For a tasty winter salad, shred cabbage together with apples and carrots, then add raisins and nuts and toss with a dressing. Cabbage is excellent added to stir-fries, pickled, made into sauerkraut, or cooked and served with corned beef, smoked pork, or German sausage.


With over 4000 varieties of potatoes to choose from whats the best for my St Patty's Day meal, well I

do what mom always use to, she liked the Red Potatoes, and you know Mother Knows Best !!

Red-skinned potatoes (as well as round whites) are considered “waxy;” slice into one, the flesh looks translucent and firm. Though not all red potatoes are “new” (they can only be considered that if they were picked young) red potatoes, like all true new potatoes have a low-starch content and so can be used interchangeably. When boiled and sliced, they will hold their shape, which makes them perfect for potato salad; their low starch content means they only lightly absorb salad dressing, which makes a potato salad that’s chunky, rather than creamy. Red potatoes may also be mashed, but be careful: they easily turn gluey if over mashed; use them when you want a more rustic, lumpy mash smashed with a spoon.  

Try to buy loose so you can easily evaluate them. They should feel firm and heavy for their size and never soft, wrinkled, or blemished. Avoid those with even a hint of green, which indicates the presence of solanine, produced when potatoes are exposed to light. This mildly poisonous alkaloid has a bitter flavor that can cause an upset stomach. If your potatoes turn green after you get them home, peel off all traces of the colored flesh before

Potatoes should be stored in a dark, cool (ideally 45° to 50°F), dry place. Never refrigerate raw potatoes. If the temperature is too cold, some of the potatoes’ starches will turn into sugars. Not only does this taste unpleasant, but the extra sugars also lead to overbrowning during cooking. If a potato winds up in cold storage, you can convert the sugars back to starches by storing it at room temperature for a few days. 

Click on link below for ST PATTY'S Day show 



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

A Childhood Remembrance

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

What Makes a Navel Orange a Heirloom?

 The word heirloom itself means something that has been passed down from generation to generation. The heirloom navel is the same fruit that got California’s citrus industry booming. It’s the original or “old line” Washington Navel. The navel has been bred over the years to produce more fruit, easier, and faster without considering flavor. Heirloom navels are grown using certain farming practices. The grower gives special attention to the soil, just like it was done since navels were introduced to America from Brazil in the 1800s. The secret is to use the best root stock. The heirlooms grow best in a sour root stock. But these are not commonly used anymore because the trees don’t produce fruit as heavily or as quickly than in newer root stocks. Doing things the right way is what gives the heirloom navels there amazing taste. If you have tried one of these, I think you will be disappointed if you ever buy the grocery market standard navel again.  While these hybrids are brighter in color with increased per tree production number, they also contain less sugar in order to extend shelf-life at retail level. While improved farming practices have expanded both volume and availability, the trade-off for this success has also degraded the original flavor characteristics of this icon citrus fruit.

  When are Heirloom Navels in Season? 

Growing things the right way sometime takes more time. The first California Navels start to hit the market more than a month before the heirlooms. Around mid-January is when you can realistically begin expecting to see Heirloom Navels show up in your local store.  Sometimes you find find heirloom navels still with their leaves intact and sometimes you won’t. Unlike the navel you are used to, heirlooms aren’t in stores year around. They typically will find them in stores from December into late April/early May with the peak being in the winter months  California Seedless Navel Oranges remain in peak season and are great for snacking during late Winter and early Spring. But if you want to improve your likelihood of a great Navel eating experience – look for Heirloom Navels


Selecting Oranges

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

Storing Oranges

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

.Click link below for Heirloom Navel Orange 




Did you know December is National Pear Month? No? Yes? You don’t care? Well, that’s okay, we don’t pay too much attention to fake food holidays either. But we do care about pears, and since the best time to eat them is now, December is a great month to talk about this juicy fruit.

Commercially, the United States harvests 10 types of pears, each with their own nuances and uses. Some are great to just munch on plain, others sing when paired with a soft, ripe cheese or sliced thin and put between bread with cheddar for a lovely grilled sandwich. You can also bake pears with warming spices for a festive dessert and toss some chopped fruit in a salad with pecans to give winter greens a nice, crisp sweetness.

 During the holidays, line a basket with napkins, pile up Comice or Red Barlett's or a mix of pears, 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. Money was always tight in our family when i was growing up but mom always made the best of it, especially around christmas. i remember she would always put the pears in a colorful basket and decorate them just like i mention above.

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.


Because they crossbred so easily, there are somewhere between four thousand and five thousand cultivated varieties. Two of those are commonly available to shoppers below.


A very large, round, short-necked pear, the Comice is my personal favorite. Of all the pears, I think it's the sweetest and most fragrant. Comice pears have a greenish yellow skin, sometimes with a red blush. Originally a French variety, they have been grown in North  America for more than one hundred years. Because they scar very easily, they're sometimes hard to sell here. Ethnic groups buy them, but a lot of Americans just don't like the way they look. With a peak season in November and December, they're one of the best things going around the holiday season. 

Called the  Christmas Pear (note the red and green hue). A word to the wise: It’s popular during the holidays, but they are still available from August to March


Pretty much everything that was said about the green Bartlett can be said about the red, save that this variety came about as a sport, just like the Starkrimson. It was found on a standard Bartlett tree in Washington state in 1938, just a little bud that naturally sprouted. They dubbed it Max Red, a name that surely would have made this pear even more popular today. Still, you will find these blushing beauties all over the place, and they make a nice complement to their paler brethren.


Green pears should be free from blemishes. Ripe pears- especially tender varieties like the Comice, are going to have 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. 

Check out Bette's pear recipe on Bette's Recipes above.

Click link below for Christmas Pear Show

Satsuma Stem and Leaf Mandarin 01/13/18 Show


Satsuma Stem and Leaf Mandarin Oranges


HISTORY : Satsuma mandarin may have originated in China but it was first reported in Japan more than 700 years ago where it is now the major cultivar grown. It was first introduced in the 1800's by early settlers to the state along the banks of the Mississippi River near New Orleans.  The 'Owari' Satsuma arrived from Japan, first in 1876 and next in 1878. During the period 1908-1911, nearly a million budded trees from 1908 to 1911 for planting in the Gulf   States. The first recorded introduction into the United States was in Florida by George R. Hall in 1876. The name "satsuma" is credited to the wife of a United  States minister to Japan, General Van Valkenberg, who sent trees home in 1878 from Satsuma, the name of a former province, now Kagoshima Prefecture, on the southern tip of Kyushu Island, where it is believed to have originated.

Among the sunny-colored citrus fruits that brighten produce aisles during winter, satsumas hit peak season this month. Part of the mandarin orange family, which also includes tangerines and clementines, satsumas are one of the sweetest citrus varieties, with a meltingly tender texture. Their moderately thick skin peels off readily, and with easy-to-separate segments, they make convenient and healthful out-of-hand snacks. 

Typically classified a mandarin, the mandarin is the big category, which contains all the zipper-skinned [easy-peel] fruits. They probably originated in northeast India but like most citrus fruits were cultivated in China and then brought to the west." Hence the name "mandarin." Satsumas, a Japanese variety named for a former province of that country, were developed in the 16th century and introduced to Florida in 1876. Today most American satsumas are grown in California, followed by coastal Louisiana and Alabama, where mild winters allow the fruit to flourish. 

"Satsumas have that perfect balance of sweet and tart, with a rounded flavor and a great acid edge," and they just melt in your mouth." 

Because of their relatively similar size and appearance, satsumas are often confused with tangerines and clementines, all members of the mandarin orange family. The main difference is what lies inside the satsuma: particularly thin membranes filled to capacity with liquid, which mean less pulp and more of the prized juice.


One of the first mandarins to hit grocery store shelves in early winter, satsumas is best from October to February. Look for satsumas with firm, tight peels, with no hollow-feeling or dented spots; heavier ones are generally juicier. Seek fruit with fresh-looking, bright green twigs and leaves still attached; this signals careful picking (each stem must be clipped by hand), meticulous handling, and freshness, all indicators of high quality. Store at room temperature or, if you prefer, in the refrigerator (refrigeration may prolong storage but can dry them out). Fresh satsumas are most enjoyable, so use within four or five days. 

Satsuma oranges are an excellent source of Vitamin C and a good source of fiber and folate. 

  Click on Link for Show !!!



Grape Tomaooes


A fruit--oh yes, it's a fruit--but in the United States we treat the tomato like a vegetable. Thomas Jefferson grew tomatoes at Monticello back in 1781, but they didn't really start to become popular here until after the Civil War. Now the tomato is the third most popular vegetable in the United States--after potatoes and lettuce.
Once called the Peruvian apple, the tomato is a member of the nightshade family. It originated in South America, and our name for it comes from the ancient Nahuatl name tomatl. The French called it the love apple, and the Italians named it the golden apple because the first tomatoes were small yellow fruits. After the early Spanish explorers sent seeds to Naples, the Italians went crazy for tomatoes, and the rest--all the way down to pasta and pizza sauce--is history. A really good tomato is sweet, tender, juicy, and except for the yellow varieties, a deep rich red color. When you get one of those hard tomatoes that taste like cardboard, you've got one of the hybrids that started coming onto the market in the 1950's, when the businessmen and scientists got together and produced a tomato that could be shipped from one coasts to the other without bruising. Unfortunately, at the same time they also bred out all the flavor.
A great tomato is worth looking for. And the way you handle it at home is almost as important as what you choose in the first place. The three most important rules to remember about tomatoes are:

  1. Never refrigerate! 
  2. Never refrigerate! 
  3. Never refrigerate! 

Refrigerating kills the flavor, the nutrients, and the texture. It just kills the tomato--period.
When grape tomatoes first hit the market in the late nineties, they were a novelty available only in specialty food stores. But it didn't take long for people to fall in love with these tiny, tasty treats. Grape tomatoes have a sweet flavor, a firm texture, and less juice, so there's no need to worry about any squirting when you bite into one. Averaging between one-half and three-quarters of an inch in length, they're perfect for popping whole into your mouth like candy, which is probably why kids adore them too. They're low in calories and high in vitamin C, potassium, antioxidants, and lycopene, so what's not to like? When buying, look for bright, shiny skin and firm flesh.
A grape tomato is a class of tomatoes originally believed to be of Southeast Asian origin, shaped similarly to the oblong plum tomatoes but having the small size and sweetness of cherry tomatoes. Grape tomatoes produce small and typically oblong fruits.
The most well-known and commercially significant variety, the "Santa F1" was introduced into the United States market in 1997 by grower Andrew Chu, who obtained the seeds from Taiwan's Known-You Seed Company. Procacci Brothers Sales Corporation (PBSC) in Philadelphia acquired global exclusivity of this fruit and has aggressively marketed it under its subsidiary Santa Sweets, Inc.
Because the grape tomato is a hybrid, seeds produced directly from the fruit cannot be used to grow more plants. Anyone interested in producing a grape tomato commercially must obtain seeds from the original hybrid strain. This is precisely what a grower from Florida did during the 1990s.
The life cycle of the plants is short in comparison to larger varieties, but the yield during that short period of production is usually ample. Some examples include cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes. One of the best known varieties of tomato plants is the beefsteak tomato plant.
Available year-round they vary in price due to weather conditions. Supply and demand equals price and quality


We have all kinds of upscale restaurants, and there is a lot of interest in complicated cuisines, but sometimes it's the really simple things that give you the most pleasure. When I was a kid, I had to help my father sell produce out of the back of his truck. At lunchtime he'd stop at some little store and buy a loaf of Italian bread. Then we'd find a place where we could pull off to the side of the road. He'd put down a piece of cardboard for a cutting board, slice the bread, cut up a tomato and an onion, and make tomato sandwiches.
Sometimes when I come home from the store and I'm too bushed to prepare or even eat a full meal, I'll make myself a tomato sandwich. Food brings back memories. You can sit down with the most ordinary things on your mind and eat something good and it will bring back memories - things you haven't thought about in years. Even memories that might not start out being so good seem to improve as time goes by. At the time I hated peddling fruits and vegetables out of that truck with Pop, but now I wish I had the time to pull off to the side of the road they way we did then. We don't have the luxury of slowing down - everything is geared to working and being productive. Produce, produce, produce. Wouldn't I love to be able to take my son and go sit by the side of the road and have a tomato sandwich? With the perfect ripe red tomato and good bread, there's nothing' better. 

Click on link for show !!




Escarole and chicory are two varieties of basically the same plant, but they have different shapes and uses. Although they are not true lettuces, they are in the same broad family--Asteraceae--and their leafy heads are usually found alongside lettuces at the market. Chicory, sometimes called curly endive, is simply called endive in Europe, and although it's related, it's not the same thing as Belgian endive. Chicory is a wild-looking, spreading head, with long, slender, very curly notched leaves. Escarole leaves are a bit broader and flatter than chicory leaves and have a smoother edge. The outer leaves are a fairly dark green but get paler toward the inside of the head. The heart is nearly white and has a semisweet flavor.Both escarole and chicory are zesty, bitter greens. Chicory is almost always used raw, while escarole can be used cooked or raw. Escarole is very popular among Italians. One of my all-time favorite dishes is a simple combination of escarole, beans, and seasonings. When I was a kid, we got to choose whatever we wanted for our birthday dinners. My brother David would choose steak or leg of lamb, but no matter what, I always chose escarole and beans. Mom said she loved to feed me because I was the cheap date in the family. Escarole is less bitter than other chicories and the level of bitterness varies throughout the head, with the inner, lighter-colored leaves being less bitter then the outer, darker leaves
Available year round from Florida and California during the winter and spring months, in May and June buy locally.
Escarole: Look for green outer leaves with a white to yellow center. The butt end should be white to light brown. The leaves should be free of wilt and decay. For a salad, the inner , lighter-colored leaves are a good choice, the outer green leaves are good for cooked dishes.
Chicory: Exactly the same as escarole, but the outer leaves should be very crispy and sharp. Chicory is mostly eaten raw, never cooked.
Store escarole and chicory as you would lettuce. Both keep reasonably well--up to a week--when properly refrigerated.

Escarole Nutrition

Escarole provides more vitamins and minerals by weight than common iceberg lettuce. Escarole is low in calories and high in vitamin A, fiber, calcium, iron, and vitamin C. A serving of 1/6 of a medium head (about 86 grams) has 15 calories, 3 g carbohydrates (all fiber), 1 g protein, and provides 35 percent of the RDA of Vitamin A, 10 percent vitamin C, 4 percent calcium and iron.Compared to iceberg lettuce, escarole has two to three times more of each of those nutrients for the same weight and provides much more vitamin A and fiber than radicchio.Adding escarole to soup will add fiber as well as the other nutrients, in addition to providing some color when using the dark green leaves.

Chicory Nutrition

Curly endive contains significant amounts of Vitamin A and Vitamin K as well as some Vitamin C. Additionally, it contains phosphorus, potassium and dietary fiber with the darker green leaves offering more nutrients than the white leaves.  

Both escarole and chicory can be sandy, so wash the leaves well before using. The outer leaves of escarole, which are relatively bitter, are the ones to use for cooking. They're excellent in my favorite dish and delicious added to soups, cooked with noodles, or mixed with lettuce to top Mexican dishes like tacos and burritos. The sweeter inner leaves are very good in salads.Chicory is a zesty, attractive addition to other greens, including bitter greens, for salad.
If you've ever had the experience of drinking chicory coffee ( and chances are, you were in New Orleans when you drank it ), you might've had to wonder just exactly what chicory even is. For the record, chicory is a pretty flowering plant , sometimes called Curly Endive, and great for salads. The secret is underneath the plant, it's root, and that's what gets roasted and ground to be coffee.

Click link for show on escarole and chickory



Artisan Sweet Gem Lettuces

 According to the Dictionary the word artisan means , a worker who practices a trade or handicraft , a person that makes a high-quality or distinctive product usually by hand or using traditional methods, which is what the term must mean in relationship to lettuce, the leaves are not plucked from it's root and the lettuce stays in it's natural cluster like form, non-processed, hence the name Artisan lettuce.

In 2006, one of T&A growers was handed a handful of seeds that Bob Antle had received from a friend in Europe.  Curious as to what they would be, the seeds were planted.  Unlike other lettuces available at the grocery store, what grew wasn’t a spring mix or a baby lettuce.  What grew were full grown, petite red and green varieties of specialty lettuces:  Gem, Tango, and Oak.  And so the story of Artisan Lettuce began.  They began to develop the seeds in the United States.  Through trial and error, we learned and mastered the art of growing six unique seed varieties side by side.  Today, this program is called Artisan Lettuce and is still grown side by side, cut, packed, and shipped at the same time from the field. The three varieties they came up with are gem, tango,and oak. There are red and green versions of each. The gem is sweet, the tango is bitter, and the oak is on the bland side. Mix them all together and you have a wonderful, flavorful salad. It takes about 60-85 days, on average to grow. They plant the red and green Artisian Lettuce varieties side by side in the same field. 


Each package of Artisan Lettuces contains four heads from the six varieties of Artisan Lettuce that they grow. Green or red, ruffled or scalloped, each variety has a distinct, complementary flavor. Mix them together or try them individually.

Did You Know?

A fresher alternative to processed lettuce blends, Artisan Lettuces last longer in your fridge. Leave the heads whole in the stay-fresh package until ready to use. You’ll be amazed at how many days of freshness you’ll enjoy!The longtime problem with pre-mixed salads is the high spoilage rate. The mixture of lettuce varieties always means that some leaves decay before others, forcing us to either pick out the slimy ones from the remaining crisp leaves. With the Artisian pack because they are tightly packed whole heads of red and green lettuces they have a much longer shelf life. 

Pro Tips:

  • Artisan Lettuces are field-packed for freshness and are not washed. Please wash and dry before serving.
  • Store in your refrigerator’s vegetable crisper drawer
  • One package makes 8 side salads or 4 main meal salads.
  • Great for salads, wraps, sandwiches, & dipping.
  • Stands up to all kinds of dressing
  • Fully mature, yet petite in size, they offer a more flavorful alternative to processed salad
  • Available Year round

Like must salads the health lies in the nutritional facts, and Artisan Lettuce is loaded with Vitamin A, numerous B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium,manganese, iron,potassium, copper, phosphorous, just a few of the nutritional treasures found in lettuce.
SELECTING   Because they come in a clear container, check top and bottom of container for dark red or green slime on lettuces. a sign that they will deteriorate quickly. The red variety usually goes bad faster then the green but like i said because these lettuces are mature and are whole heads they should be fine. There also should be no pink color on the ribs, which indicates the lettuce has had too much rain and will rot quickly in  your refrigerator.
Most beneficial to consumers, when properly stored, the clear containers contribute to the lettuces' refrigerated shelf life of more than two weeks.  

Click on link for Artisan Lettuces Show


Green and Ripe Cooking Plantains

In the Southern Hemisphere, a good part of the dinner is this cooking banana, which is served not for dessert but as a main dish. In the tropics and subtropics, it’s treated like a staple – fried, baked, boiled, grilled, or combined with other fruits and vegetables.Imported from Central America, the plantain is often ignored here because people judge it as if it were a banana and decide it’s either too-green, too black, or too large. Don’t let its looks deceive you. Unless a plantain is rock hard, moldy, or practically liquid, chances are it is good. For each stage of ripeness, the plantain has a different taste and different cooking requirements.When the peel is green to yellow, plantains are bland and starchy and can be cooked like potatoes. As the peel changes from yellow to black, the plantain gradually changes its character from vegetable to fruit, developing greater sweetness and a banana aroma but holding its firm shape, even after cooking. Unlike a banana, a black plantain is merely ripe. Take the greener ones home and let them ripen. At room temperature, they’ll ripen slowly to the stage you want.
Like bananas, plantains are imported year-round.
You can usually find plantains at all stages of ripeness. Because they’re firmer, a ripe plantain is less likely to be bruised than a banana, but you don’t want it mushy. A black plantain should still feel firm. Avoid plantains that are cracked or moldy.
Plantains last a long time at room temperature, gradually ripening and changing color. When a plantain is black, it should still feel as firm as a firm banana. If it’s still very hard, throw it out. Even when it’s ripe, a plantain keeps well. It can be refrigerated if you wish, and unlike a banana it can also be frozen. To freeze, peel the plantain first and wrap tightly in plastic.

Plantains contain more starch and less sugar than dessert bananas, therefore they are usually cooked or otherwise processed before being eaten. They are always cooked or fried when eaten green. At this stage, the pulp is hard and the peel often so stiff that it has to be cut with a knife to be removed.Mature, yellow plantains can be peeled like typical dessert bananas; the pulp is softer than in immature, green fruit and some of the starch has been converted to sugar. They can be eaten raw, but are not as flavourful as dessert bananas, so are usually cooked. When mature, yellow plantains are fried, they tend to caramelize, turning a golden-brown color. They can also be boiled, baked, microwaved or grilled over charcoal, either peeled or unpeeled.Plantains are a staple food in the tropical regions of the world, ranking as the tenth most important staple food in the world. As a staple, plantains are treated in much the same way as potatoes and with a similar neutral flavour and texture when the unripe fruit is cooked by steaming, boiling or frying.Since they fruit all year round, plantains are a reliable all-season staple food, particularly in developing countries with inadequate food storage, preservation and transportation technologies. In Africa, plantains and bananas provide more than 25 percent of the carbohydrate requirements for over 70 million people.

In countries in Central America and the Caribbean, such as Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and Jamaica, the plantain is either simply fried, boiled or made into plantain soup. In Kerala, an Indian state, ripe plantain is steamed, a popular breakfast dish.In Ghana of West Africa, boiled plantain is eaten with kontomire stew, cabbage stew or fante-fante (fish) stew. The boiled plantain can be mixed with groundnut paste, pepper, onion and palm oil to make eto, which is eaten with avocado. Ripe plantains can also be fried and eaten with black eyed beans cooked in palm oil – a popular breakfast dish. Kelewele, a Ghanaian snack, is spiced ripe plantain deep fried in palm oil or vegetable oil.In Nigeria, plantain is eaten boiled, fried or roasted; boli – roasted plantain – is usually eaten with palm oil or groundnut. In Guatemala, ripe plantains are eaten boiled, fried, or in a special combination where they are boiled, mashed and then stuffed with sweetened black beans. Afterwards, they are deep fried in sunflower or corn oil. The dish is called rellenitos de plátano and is served as a dessert. In Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba, it can also be mashed after it has been fried and be made a mofongo, or fried and made into tostones, tajadas, or platanutres, or it can be boiled or stuffed. Tostones, also known as patacones are a popular staple in many South American countries, including Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.

The greener the plantain, the harder it is to peel. A black plantain will peel like a banana, other stages are unpredictable. For greener plantains, cut off both ends, then score the skin lengthwise in several places to make peeling easier.Experience will teach you what degree of ripeness is best for your purposes, but generally, a green or greenish plantain will be very hard and starchy, with little banana flavor and no sweetness. They require a fairly long cooking time and, like potatoes, can be boiled or mashed. They are excellent sliced thin and fried like potato chips, or cut into chunks, boiled, and added to salty or spicy soups and stews.Yellow-ripe plantains can be prepared in the same ways, but they will have a lovely creamy texture and a light banana scent when they’re cooked. They are much more-tender than green plantains but much firmer than bananas. You can rinse them, cut into fairly thick cross sections, boil until tender, then peel the chunks and serve them as a side dish. If you plan to add them to soups, stews, or vegetable mixtures, peel them first.Half-ripe plantains are also excellent grilled. Cuban cooks peel the plantains, cut them on the diagonal, and grill them slowly over a low fire with a little oil or melted butter. Turn and brush them with additional oil or butter until they are tender and creamy inside.Black-ripe plantains are superb cooked any way you would cook a ripe banana. They’re delicious sautéed and will cook for a longer time than bananas without falling apart, permitting full development of their flavor and aroma. They’ll also absorb the flavors of whatever seasonings you use.

 Click on link below for Plantain Show





Along with the date, the coconut is an indispensable member of the Palmaceae family, plants of utmost importance to hundreds of millions of people throughout the tropical areas of the world. The coconut palm has provided food, drink, oil, sugar, fuel, housing, and even clothing materials for thousands of years. It probably originated in Southeast Asia, but because coconuts (which are actually huge seeds) can stay afloat for weeks at sea, the plant spread to the islands of the Indian Ocean, throughout the Pacific, and finally to the West Coast of the Americas. Coconuts were introduced to the Caribbean and to tropical areas of the Atlantic coast in the sixteenth century.

Coconuts are very large fruits encased in elongated green husks. Inside is the fibrous brown nut familiar to most Americans. A coconut takes about a year to mature, but it can be enjoyed at several stages of development. In the tropics, coconuts are consumed at early stages. At six months they contain milky liquid and a thin interior coating of meat that is extremely nutritious and so tender it can be eaten with a spoon. As the coconut matures, the milk is gradually absorbed by the meat.

The mature coconut is what is exported. The green husk is usually removed to expose the hard, dark brown, fibrous shell. Inside, the nutty-tasting white flesh is covered by a paper-thin brown peel.


Available year round but most plentiful from October to January.


When buying a coconut, look for a heavy one. Shake it and listen for a sloshing sound--the coconut should still contain some milk. There are three "eyes" or indentations fairly close together on the shell, this is where it's softest and thinnest. There should be no sign of moisture near the eyes nor any smell of fermentation--check the coconut eyes with your nose.


Coconuts keep at room temperature for three or four weeks or more. They'll last for weeks in the refrigerator, but the milk will eventually dry up. Once opened, a coconut must be wrapped and refrigerated, and it will only keep two or three days. To store longer, you can grate it, then either freeze it or dehydrate it and store tightly covered.


Here is an easy way to open a coconut, drive a screwdriver or nail into the eyes 

and drain the liquid, which can be chilled and added to fruit juice, then place the whole coconut in the oven at 250ᵒ to 325ᵒF and roast about fifteen minutes. This will make the shell easier to crack and cause the flesh to shrink away from the shell slightly. Remove from the oven and tap the shell with a hammer, it will break easily and the flesh should be easy to remove. If the flesh clings to the shell, return the pieces to the oven for five to ten more minutes.

You can eat the flesh with the thin brown skin on--I think it's good that way--or you can peel it. Grated coconut can sprinkled over fruit salad or ice cream, added to granola, or made into macaroons, coconut cake, or cream pie. Use it in curries or tropical drinks. I love to add it to my cereal in the morning.

Coconut milk is used in a number of cuisines, including Thai and Indian. You can make coconut milk by grating the flesh by hand or using a food processor. Combine the grated meat with three or four cups of water, bring to a boil, and let it simmer a few minutes, stirring constantly. Allow to cool and strain it through a cheesecloth, squeezing the cloth to wring out all the milk. Discard the solids and store the milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Coconut milk makes a terrific rice pudding, and it can be added to the filling for coconut pie. It's a key ingredient in tropical drinks like the coconut (coconut milk and rum) and pina colada (pineapple juice, coconut milk, and rum).


1.Coconuts grow from sandy beaches with lots of rain and sun. Often they are found near the ocean and can handle a lot of salt in the air.

2. Coconuts are considered a type of nut but actually are the seeds of the coconut palm tree.

3. The “meat” of one coconut has 13g of protein; whereas the milk is light and low in sugar with only .5g per tablespoon. The two compliment each other very well.

4. Coconut oil is an effective moisturizer for skin and hair of all ages. It has a valuable amount of the antioxidant vitamin E, which can protect your skin and hair from the elements.

5. Coconuts support the development of strong, hearty bones and teeth by improving the body’s ability to absorb calcium and magnesium.


They can be eaten from seven months old to twelve months

The Ripening Process

At just 6 months old, coconuts are usable for drinking.

Young coconuts like this contain only water (no meat).

At 7 months old, thin "jellymeat" begins to build on the inside shell.

(as this happens the water gets sweeter)

As the coconut ripen, the water will continue to sweeten & the meat will keep thickening.

At 8 months delicate "spoonmeat" is forms.

At 9 months the meat begins to firm up into "rubbermeat"

Each month the fat content of the meat increases.

At 10 months the meat conatins enough fat to make milk.

The sweet water is transforming into fat.

For that reason the coconut is no longer full of water and when you shake it, you hear water sloshing around inside

Thats why these coconuts are called "shakers"

A few months later the nuts will turn brown & fall naturally from the tree.

These are the fully mature seeds of the coconut!

Brown coconuts are the richest in fat and are used to make creme and oils.

Scroll up to Produce Pete Shows. Past and Present for Coconut Show or click link below!! 




 Spring Tomatoes That Taste Good

A fruit--oh yes, it's a fruit--but in the United States we treat the tomato like a vegetable. Thomas Jefferson grew tomatoes at Monticello back in 1781, but they didn't really start to become popular here until after the Civil War. Now the tomato is the third most popular vegetable in the United States--after potatoes and lettuce.Once called the Peruvian apple, the tomato is a member of the nightshade family. It originated in South America, and our name for it comes from the ancient Nahuatl name tomatl. The French called it the love apple, and the Italians named it the golden apple because the first tomatoes were small yellow fruits. After the early Spanish explorers sent seeds to Naples, the Italians went crazy for tomatoes, and the rest--all the way down to pasta and pizza sauce--is history.A really good tomato is sweet, tender, juicy, and except for the yellow varieties, a deep rich red color. When you get one of those hard tomatoes that tastes like cardboard, you've got one of the hybrids that started coming onto the market in the 1950's, when the businessmen and scientists got together and produced a tomato that could be shipped from one coasts to the other without bruising. Unfortunately, at the same time they also bred out all the flavor.A great tomato is worth looking for. And the way you handle it at home is almost as important as what you choose in the first place. The three most important rules to remember about tomatoes are:

  1. Never refrigerate!
  2. Never refrigerate!
  3. Never refrigerate!

Refrigerating kills the flavor, the nutrients, the texture. It just kills the tomato--period.Unless you live in a really cold climate, the best tomatoes you can buy will be at your local farm stand, when tomatoes are in season in your area. That's true for most produce, but it's doubly true for tomatoes. About half the tomatoes shipped and sold in the United States come from Florida. They are the ones you find in the store in the winter. They're hard, they're thick, they never turn red, and they have no taste. A few winter tomatoes come out of Mexico and California, as well as from Holland, Belgium, and Israel. There are also more and more hydroponic tomatoes on the market.
I may be biased, but I think that in season the Jersey tomato is the best around--maybe because of the soil. The truth is, any local tomato, picked ripe, is going to be good. In the summertime, in season, buy local tomatoes.In the winter I think Canada beats out the rest, with hydroponics a close second. Canada tomatoes are grown in greenhouses, picked ripe, and then shipped by truck. For that reason they're a little more expensive. If you have to have a good tomato in the dead of winter, choose one from Canada, Hydroponics grown in the U.S. are also excellent.Mexican tomatoes are a little better than most of the other winter varieties here because they're usually picked by hand and are a little riper when they come off the vine. Most tomatoes in the U.S. are shipped green because ripe tomatoes are just too fragile for machine picking.California tomatoes, which usually arrive in the late spring, have a thick wall and are very solid inside. A lot of people like them because they're easy to slice, but I don't think they're any better than Florida tomatoes. They look better and ripen more easily, but they're very dry.Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with a Florida tomato in Florida. Or a California tomato in California. The problem isn't the source--it's that the tomatoes are picked green, gassed with ethylene to make them turn more or less red, then refrigerated and shipped. Even if the tomatoes are picked ripe, they're refrigerated before they're shipped, and that's the final insult.


The grape and cherry tomatoes with the stems still attached are your best bet.  With the stems still attached, this will let the cherry or grape tomato still receive the nutrients from the stem and make the tomato sweeter.  They are always about 50 per cent sweeter than your regular tomato.  This also makes it possible to pick the tomatoes when they are deep red in color and fully matured.  When picked fully matured, the taste is always much better. Like all tomatoes you never want to refrigerate these because they will lose their flavor and texture. In the winter and early spring, it is very hard to find a good tasting tomato.  This is probably the best tasting of all the tomatoes this time of year.  These stem tomatoes are tomatoes you can pick by just smelling them.  They have a fresh, sweet smell that tomatoes from years ago had. Stem tomatoes, like all tomatoes, are a fruit.  You should not wash or remove the stem until you are ready to use.  Also, never ripen on the window sill or sun.  Just leave out on the counter and never, never, never, refrigerate!When selecting, look for a good red color.  Avoid those that look orange in color.  Check to see if the stems are still attached, if the stem are missing or tomatoes are off the stems, chances are those tomatoes have been sitting around too long.A great tomato is worth looking for, and the way you handle them at home is almost as important as the way you choose them.  The sweetness from the grape, cherry stem tomato is due to the high sugar to acid ratio.  

More About Cherry Tomatoes

Like other tomatoes, local cherry tomatoes, picked ripe, are going to be the best. Look for small ones. One local variety, called Tiny Tim, is not much bigger than your fingernail, and it's as sweet as sugar.In the winter cherry tomatoes from Israel again are your best bet. Picked ripe, they're very small and very sweet. The Canadians have also produced a "baby tomato" that's a little smaller than a golf ball. It has excellent flavor too. Your next best bet is Mexican cherry tomatoes, which again are picked a little later and a little riper. I don't recommend cherry tomatoes from California. They tend to be too watery and mushy.When choosing cherry tomatoes, look for a good red color--avoid those that look orange. Also check to see if the stems are still on. If the stems are missing, chances are those tomatoes have been sitting around too long.

Campari is a variety 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 tomatoThey are originally from Europe; the European seed variety has been used to introduce them to North America beginning in 1996. OTHER VARIETIESTomatoes come in scores of different varieties, colors, and markings--striped, purple, even white--but these are found almost exclusively in season, from local sources like farm markets or markets that carry specialty produce. Again, if you want to see a wider variety where you shop, ask for what you want and help create a customer demand.

Local Tomatoes: Depending on the local climate, from July through September, with the peak in late July and AugustFlorida Tomatoes: October to July, with the peak from December through MayCalifornia Tomatoes: May to December, with the peak from June through OctoberImports: Usually year round, with the peak usually from January through April

Tomatoes are considered "vine ripe" by the industry if they have developed a little color "break"--that is, a small yellow or reddish patch of color on the skin or a starburst of yellow at the blossom end. If the tomato has a color break or the starburst, you'll be able to ripen it at home.Don't ripen tomatoes on the windowsill. Never put them in the sun to ripen. Just put them out on the counter, stem end up, in a relatively cool place--not right next to the stove or the dishwasher. Put on a little Frank Sinatra music if you want them to ripen fast. If you want them to ripen faster--well, you can always put on the Stones. Never, ever refrigerate--not even after the tomato is ripe. If you've got too many ripe tomatoes, make a salad or a raw tomato sauce for pasta. Or make a cooked sauce, freeze it, and you'll have something nice for the winter.

We have all kinds of upscale restaurants, and there is a lot of interest in complicated cuisines, but sometimes it's the really simple things that give you the most pleasure. When I was a kid, I had to help my father sell produce out of the back of his truck. At lunchtime he'd stop at some little store and buy a loaf of Italian bread. Then we'd find a place where we could pull off to the side of the road. He'd put down a piece of cardboard for a cutting board, slice the bread, cut up a tomato and an onion, and make tomato sandwiches.Sometimes when I come home from the store and I'm too bushed to prepare or even eat a full meal, I'll make myself a tomato sandwich. Food brings back memories. You can sit down with the most ordinary things on your mind and eat something good and it will bring back memories - things you haven't thought about in years. Even memories that might not start out being so good seem to improve as time goes by. At the time I hated peddling fruits and vegetables out of that truck with Pop, but now I wish I had the time to pull off to the side of the road they way we did then. We don't have the luxury of slowing down - everything is geared to working and being productive. Produce, produce, produce. Wouldn't I love to be able to take my son and go sit by the side of the road and have a tomato sandwich? With the perfect ripe red tomato and good bread, there's nothing' better.  Click link below for Spring Tomatoes that taste good 




I think arugula (ah-roo-goo-lah) is my favorite salad green. While this Italian favorite hasn't been discovered in all parts of the country yet, its popularity is growing. In New York City's Little Italy, you'll see people growing arugula in tiny backyard plots and even in pots on windowsills. Few self-respecting Italian cooks will go without it for long. Also known as rocket or rocket salad in Great Britain and the United states, rucola in Italy, and roquette in France, arugula originated in the Mediterranean and was introduced to North America by Italian immigrants. It's another ancient cultivar-the Romans thought eating it would bring them good luck. It is now cultivated worldwide and is in such demand from restaurants that it is now grown world-wide and in greenhouses. Arugula has fine, smooth, dark green leaves that are notched toward the bottom of the stem. A member of the mustard family and closely related to radishes, it has a sharp, spicy flavor that is somewhat similar to watercress, if it has no bite, it isn't fresh. The peppery taste actually gets hotter in the field as the weather gets hotter. 


Available year round, arugula is most plentiful in the fall and spring, because it is a cool weather vegetable. 


Always buy arugula with the roots still attached. It will lose its zip and flavor fast enough with them on-and even faster with them off. Look for bright, tender, fresh-looking leaves with no signs of yellowing or dark spots. They should not be at all limp. 


Because the flavor and texture fade very fast, use arugula as soon as possible after purchasing. If you have to keep it a day or two, don't wash it or remove the roots-just sprinkle with a little water, wrap in paper towels or a clean cloth towel, put in a plastic bag, and refrigerate. Remove the roots and wash only when you're ready to use it. Arugula tends to be very sandy, so wash it well, as you would spinach. 


Arugula makes a terrific salad all by itself, dressed with a little vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. It also adds a wonderful tart, peppery taste mixed into a saled of milder lettuces and greens. I think it's great on sandwiches, especially tomato sandwiches. Arugula is delicious added raw to pasta with a little garlic and oil-the hot pasta steams is just enough. Or you can sauté some minced garlic in olive oil, then toss in a bunch of arugula, sauté briefly, and pour over cooked pasta. The oil will pick up the flavor of the arugula. Be careful not to overcook arugula or it will lose its characteristic peppery flavor. Arugula can also be frozen or dried and used as an herb. When it's dried, it loses some of its bite, but not all of it, as it tends to do when it's overcooked.


The spring planting season has barely begun and already some growers in the southern part of the state have wrapped up their harvest of the first crop of the year: dandelion.South jersey farmers say demand for dandelion greens is in decline, and fewer farmers are growing the plant. Farmers plant there dandelion crop in the fall. The dandelions go dormant during the winter and start to grow again in March.Dandelion's are commonly described as a garden nuisance, but the key is to pick the dandelion greens before the yellow flower appears. The younger greens are most tender. The leafy greens tagged "dandelion" that are found at market usually are chicory hybrids, such as the San Pasquale and Catalogna varieties. Also called cultivated dandelion, dandelion chicory, or summer dandelion, these greens, unlike true dandelion, grow upright instead of low to the ground, have longer leaves that can measure 12 to 14 inches, and bear tiny blue instead of yellow flowers.True dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, is seeded in the fall, overwintered, and harvested in early spring before it flowers. The chicories, Cichorium intybus, are seeded at this time of year for harvest from June through frost. Sometimes growers will label them "pissenlit," which is French for the old English name for the vegetable, "pissabed," which speaks to its diuretic properties. The name dandelion, too, is from the French -- "dent de lion," which means "lion's tooth," and refers to the look of the plant's serrated leaves. True dandelion is hard to harvest because "it doesn't get very big as far as the leaves are concerned.Summer dandelion is easier to grow. "It's an annual crop instead of an overwintered crop and the seed is much easier to get. "There are more people growing the cultivated than the true dandelion."Many, like Peter Scapellato of Scapellato Farms in Vineland, switched from cultivating the spring dandelion that his immigrant grandfather, Sebastiano Scapellato, had planted a half century ago, to summer dandelion as demand for the more traditional green dropped. "All the Italians, when they came from Italy, brought their ways with them, and that's one of the things they brought," said Scapellato.From a business standpoint, however, dandelion offered only "a short window," he noted -- about a month before the plants start to flower and turn too bitter to eat. "The sales slowed on it,and who wants to take the time to clean it. Prized since ancient times for its medicinal properties, dandelion -- both spring and summer types -- is exceptionally rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. And though often considered a weed, the dandelion is actually a vegetable.  Dandelions can be made into a coffee substitute  from roasted dandelion root, barley, rye, chicory and beets. "Eighty percent of what we call weeds are plants that were brought here as food and medicine from overseas.  Dandelions  can be treated just like spinach in most dishes. The youngest, most tender spring dandelion are ideal in salads. The old -school italians will like to eat it on its own. More assertive tasting dandelion works well as a stuffing in pasta and even sausage.  The thing with dandelion is you need to make sure you take the bitterness away. Garlic and olive oil work wonderfully to mellow out the bitterness. As a side dish, dandelion can be adapted to many styles of cooking. Dandelions are a generational thing, the old folks love it, the younger generation don't know about it.Getting people to enjoy these bitter greens isn't always easy, they spit it out , or they love it, it all depends on your age. The Italian immigrants who settled in South jersey, decades ago and became farmers, grew the dandelions for dishes that they enjoyed in Italy, amd even turned the dandelions into wine. Wagons and carts filled with dandelions were once common at the produce auctions some 60 years agoAs long as your lawn is free of dangerous weed killers and pesticides, you can keep your wild dandelion population in check by harvesting them. The younger leaves are more tender and a little more bitter than the older leaves. Young dandelion leaves (cultivated or wild) are excellent raw in salads, where they add a refreshingly tangy, slightly bitter flavor. Although the leaves are not as peppery, dandelions can be substituted for arugula in many salads.
Dandelion Greens are in season from March to December

Click link below for Arugula and Dandelion show. 




As a boy growing up in North Jersey, I peddled produce off the back of my father’s truck, selling whatever we got from farms in the summer and from the market the rest of the year.

In late summer, we’d sell plum tomatoes to people who would make and jar sauce for the winter. Some households would take 100 bushels at a time, and the same went for wine grapes, which usually came into season at the end of September.I remember going up and down the cellar stairs of family homes carrying hundreds of cases of wine grapes, which they would use to make their homemade wine. Of all the different varieties of these grapes, my favorite was always the muscatel grapes – they came in 40-45 pound boxes and always had bees circling around the boxes because the grapes were so ripe and sweet.I sure hated all those bees buzzing around my head all the time, but the reward of being able to eat those grapes was well worth it.Sadly, those days are long gone, but thanks to production in Chile, I can get that great taste back. Beginning in the first week of March and lasting through the second week of May, seedless pink Muscatel grapes are available and they taste just like they look, very sweet and delicate – and look Ma, no bees! I love to cover what I think is the very best in produce and  you’re in for a real treat because these grapes are my favorite. So enjoy and buy plenty (or ask for them if you don’t see them in the store), because the season is short!


 The characteristic trait of the Muscat grape is its sweet, musky, floral flavor. In addition to being eaten fresh out of hand and dried to make Muscatel raisins, true Muscat grapes are used to make a popular variety of fragrant wines.The Muscat family of grapes is among the oldest known and evidence of Muscat wine has been found in a tomb in Turkey dated back to the seventh century B.C.While their colors can vary from golden to black, all of the varieties share a distinctive floral aroma and Muscat wine is claimed to be the only type that shares the aroma of the grape from which it was made.Today’s seedless Muscat grapes – all 200 varieties of them! -- have the same distinctive Muscat flavor without those pesky seeds, and they’re best served at or close to room temperature for maximum enjoyment. The varying color of these grapes (which ranges from greenish to bronze, pink, and light red) has nothing to do with their very sweet and gentle perfumed taste – that’s derived from their high Brix content, or the natural sugar level of this specialty variety. The Muscat grape has a floral taste with a high brix level - 20 to 24 vs 16 to 20 for most grapes. The taste is so unique, as is the color, which runs from a rosy pink with a green backround to golden yellow, Because they are such an attention grabber, and so popular with shoppers, retailers will often place them in the center of a grape display. There are a lot of consumers who have never tried a Muscat grape, but when they try them, they buy them.Muscat raisins are praised as larger and more flavorful than raisins made from conventional seedless grapes and are available over the internet from providers like Sunmaid and Bella Viva Orchards. 


Look for plump, smooth grapes with good color that are 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; much like that found on blueberries, this dusty bloom is 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.As for storage, 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, so it’s best to refrigerate them dry in a plastic bag. And like many other fruits, never wash them until you’re ready to eat them, as moisture will make them deteriorate very quickly. Grapes will last up to a week when properly stored in the refrigerator, but it’s best (and most enjoyable) to eat them as soon as possible.Muscatel grapes are delicious tossed in green or fruit salads, paired with cheese, frozen for a twist on ice cubes and added to lemonade or sparkling wine, made into sorbet, or simply enjoyed raw as a juicy snack.


The weather in Chile has provided ideal growing conditions, especially when compared to 2017's less-than-perfect weather, creating an optimal environment for Muscatel Grapes . It has been a normal spring and a very good summer - hot days and cool nights, which promotes quality, coloring and edibility.This years harvest looks like higher Brixx ( sugar levels) which will produce richer flavor and aroma.Unlike other varieties that depend on spray additives to produce red color, Pink Muscatel Grapes get there color from natural weather. The real uniqueness of this grape is the exotic perfumed sweet flavor that comes from an exact type color, when the grape hits it's full Brixx and is ready to be harvested. Maturity is the key and the Pink Muscatel grape, is picked at full maturity for a great tasting flavor.


 Sickles Market, Little Silver, N J   Citarella's NY and Long Island ,   All Shoprite Supermarkets  ,   Fairway Markets,     Kings Supermarkets ,          2 Guys from Brooklyn,      The Orchard   ,   Berry Fresh Farms  ,    Ave Z  ,    North Shore Market Place   

   Just ask your local market to bring them in, remember you are the boss, and ENJOY

Click link below for Pink Muscatel Show