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  • Taro Root

    May 16, 2017

    You may know that the taro root is the main component to the Polynesian food called poi. But, did you know that even people who dislike poi can enjoy the taro root prepared other ways? 

    Availability & Origin
    This vegetable is grown year-round and is native to Southeast Asia, India, China, and Hawaii. When explorers discovered Hawaii, they found hundreds of varieties of the taro root. 

    Appearance & Flavor
    You can find the taro root in a small variety or large variety. Large taro is cylindrical, but the small taro is plump in the middle and tapers to the ends. Both have dark brown skin. Their flesh can range between creamy white and pale pink and can have a purple tinge or purple spots. They both taste nutty, though the small variety is creamier than the large. When choosing, neither variety should be cracked, split, moldy, soft, or shriveled. 

    Storage
    Whole taro roots will last a few weeks in a dry, dark, room-temperature location. Stored in the crisper drawer, they'll keep for a week. After cooking taro, refrigerate the leftovers in an air-tight container for up to four days' worth of use. 

    Ways to Enjoy
    Both the leaves and the root are edible, but don't eat either raw as they are toxic-so cooking the taro is the way to go. Boil, steam, bake, or fry them like you would a potato. After cooking the root, serve it hot because its texture changes after it cools (except when fried). You can also create a paste to be used in desserts, such as this unique mooncake that will blow your guests away. 

    History
    The taro root is one of the earliest cultivated plants dating back to Roman times. Explorers spread the vegetable across the world. In Hawaii culture, the taro root is considered a sacred plant and a large part of their history.

  • Porcini Mushrooms

    May 05, 2017

    Porcini Mushrooms 

    We always recommend fresh produce, but in this case, consider eating dried porcini mushrooms due to the expense and limited availability.

    Availability & Origin
    They are at their freshest in June, July, and September. You can find them growing wild in the Northwest and California during the spring. They also grow in Europe, China, and Mexico, and their true origin country is Italy. In the U.S., it's easier to find them dried rather than fresh since dried porcinis are available nearly year-round.

    Appearance & Flavor 
    These plump, white mushrooms have thick stems and red or brownish-orange caps. They tend to have a sticky texture and a yeasty aroma. When picking porcinis out, find firm, mold-free ones. If you see small holes in the stalk, this is a sign of worms-another reason why some people prefer them dried. If your mushrooms have holes, don't worry; just stand the mushroom on its cap and the worms will work their way out.

    Storage
    Fresh porcini mushrooms will stay fresh for a week if laid out, not overlapping, in a pan or on a baking sheet topped with a damp paper towel. When sautéed, they can be frozen for up to two months in an air-tight container, if you let them cool beforehand. Commercially-dried mushrooms can last up to a year in these conditions: at room temperature, in the original packaging, and in a cool, dry place. You'll get up to a year's worth of use from the leftovers if stored in an air-tight container. Frozen in doubled-up freezer bags, they'll last several years.

    Ways to Enjoy 
    Eat porcini mushrooms grilled, sautéed, roasted, and added to sauces. Raw porcini mushrooms have a protein that can irritate your stomach, so avoid eating them uncooked. Whether you prefer fresh or dry, we have the recipe for you.
      
    History 
    It is highly likely that porcinis could be considered what the Romans called fungi suilli (Latin), which translates to 'pig mushrooms.' Though porcinis were originally found in Italy, they naturally grow in certain states.

  • Rambutan

    May 05, 2017

    Rambutan

    This hairy fruit has a startling appearance, and yet a sweet, tart orb inside.

    Availability & Origin
    Rambutans are available between October and May. The most prominent growers are Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Hawaii.

    Appearance & Flavor
    The shells range from crimson red to orange and are covered in hair-like spines. After peeling back the skin, you'll find a white-gray orb that conceals an inedible pit. Once de-pitted, you can taste the globe's tart, juicy flavor. Chose rambutans that do not have cracks, show moisture or appear moldy. The spines should be flexible and look fresh.

    Storage
    Store rambutans at room temperature and they'll last one to two days. In the fridge, they'll keep for up to seven days in a perforated plastic bag. You can freeze either whole or pitted, and for up to two months. Keep in mind that when frozen, their orbs can become mushy, but they will keep their flavor and are still good to eat.

    Ways to Enjoy
    These orbs taste great raw, in fruit salads, pureed, in jams and jellies, and in sorbet. Turn some heads at your next function by preparing this rambutan pie.

    History
    Originating in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, rambutans were trialed in the early 1930's in Malaysia, and in the mid-1950's, they were registered officially. The U.S. attempted to grow them in the southeast in the early 1900's, but the test failed. They came to find out that rambutans grow wild in Hawaii, ever since, we've been getting our rambutans from there.

  • Rhubarb

    May 05, 2017


    Rhubarb

    If you think you're looking at a delicious vegetable, think again. Rhubarb was actually designated as a fruit back in the 1940's.

    Availability & Origin
    You'll find that rhubarb comes in two different varieties; field and hothouse grown. Field rhubarb starts in the spring and ends early fall. Hothouse rhubarb starts early spring and ends around January, with a peak in the winter. These types grow in Canada, Europe, and the United Kingdom. Within the U.S., you'll see them growing in Maine, Michigan, Illinois, California, and the Pacific Northwest. 

    Appearance & Flavor
    Rhubarb has a texture similar to celery and a tart flavor when unsweetened. You'll know field-grown rhubarb by its dark red stalks and green leaves. The hothouse variety has pink to light red stalks and yellow leaves. Regardless of the variety, rhubarb leaves are toxic and should never be eaten.

    Storage
    Fresh, uncooked, and unwashed rhubarb wrapped in plastic wrap will last up to a week in the fridge. If you prefer to freeze it, take a look at these tips.  

    Ways to Enjoy
    After cooking the stalks with a sweetener, usually sugar, your rhubarb is then ready to be added to jams, pies, and other desserts. You can even pickle them. 

    History
    In China around 2800 B.C., rhubarb was used for trade and medicine. It wasn't until the 1800's that it was recognized as a food item. It is assumed that a London botanist sent rhubarb seeds to an American botanist around the same time.

  • Coconuts

    May 05, 2017




    There's more to coconuts than meets the eye. Aside from the milk they produce, coconuts are used in making ropes, baskets, instruments, and oil-to name a few.

    Availability & Origin
    Over 80 percent of the world's supply of coconuts comes from the Philippines and Indonesia. Available year-round, they also grow in Africa, other areas in Asia, and two states in the U.S.; Hawaii and Florida.

    Appearance & Flavor
    There are two different varieties of coconuts: common and young. The common variety are brown and the young are a whiteish-brown. Coconuts have their own unique flavor and that flavor hits in the back of the throat. The best coconuts are dense and contain a lot of water, not to mention should not have cracks or mold. To check for water, shake it and listen for sloshing. Less water inside the coconut can indicate a crack that allowed the water to leak or that air got in and caused the water to evaporate. Common coconuts have three spots-called eyes-and one of those eyes is not surrounded by a raised shell. Ensure that this eye is clean and shows no discoloration.

    Storage
    Whole common coconuts can last a week on the counter, two weeks in the fridge, and four months in the freezer in a tolerant bag. Whole young coconuts will last a few weeks when refrigerated. After cutting them open, either variety can be placed in plastic wrap in the fridge and will last one week. The common coconut flesh can be frozen in a freezer bag or container for up to three months, but do not freeze the young variety.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Not sure how to open your coconut? We've got you covered. Take a look at these instructions for opening and draining common and young coconuts. Young coconuts are mainly used for their water/milk as a sweetener in soups, drinks, and dressings. The flesh and water of the common variety can be added to pudding, cakes, cookies, pies, and enjoyed raw. Whether you prefer common or young, we found you a delicious recipe.

    History
    Fossil records in New Zealand state that coconut-like plants existed over 10 million years ago. It is believed that Hawaii's coconut plants came from Polynesian voyagers and that southern Florida's coconuts washed ashore and rooted themselves on the beach. For the full story, click here.

  • Sugar Snap Peas

    Apr 25, 2017

     
















    You guessed it; these snap peas are as sweet as sugar.

    Availability & Origin
    Sugar snap peas are grown year-round, but you'll get the best flavor in spring. In the U.S., they grow in California, Washington, Montana, and North Dakota. Globally, you'll find them growing in Peru, Colombia, and Guatemala.

    Appearance & Flavor
    The snap pea is aptly named; if it snaps when you break it in half, you know it's fresh. Avoid the ones that are limp or faded from their normal bright green color. Sugar snap peas are sweet, juicy, and tender with glossy pods, and you can eat the entire pea. However, if it still has a string, remove it-though many come string-less nowadays.

    Storage
    When placed in the fridge's crisper in a perforated bag, raw sugar snap peas will last up to five days. After cooking, let the leftovers cool before storing them in an air tight container in the fridge, and they will last three days at the most.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Raw is a simple favorite way to eat sugar snap peas. If you cook them, dry heat for a short time will do the trick. Other options include roasting them, adding them to soups, mixing them into salads, and, for a backyard barbecue, grilling them like this.

    History
    The sugar snap pea is a hybrid of the English pea and snow pea that was created around the 17th century. It wasn't until the late 1970's that it become commercially popular.

  • Nopales

    Apr 03, 2017

    A.k.a. prickly pear cactus paddles. They are delicious after you get past the spines.
      
    Availability & Origin
    You can get nopales year-round, but they peak in mid-spring. The largest growers are Mexico, Central America, the Middle East, India, and Africa. In the U.S., you'll see them most in the southwest where cacti flourish. 

    Appearance & Flavor
    When picking out your nopales, keep these tips in mind; look for rigid, medium-sized (about seven inches long) leaves that are not limp or wrinkled. The larger the leaf, the tougher it is, and the smaller ones can disintegrate when cooked. Nopales have a light, tart flavor and a crisp texture. 

    Storage
    Your grocery store will have de-spined nopales, but be careful with handling them in case they missed a spot. When whole, they will last a week when wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerated. After being cut, they will last three to five days in an air-tight container in the fridge. If well-sealed in a freezer-tolerant bag or container, your nopales can be kept in the freezer for up to two months, regardless of if they've already been cooked. 

    Ways to Enjoy
    You can eat nopales raw, roasted, and grilled, or in your salads, soups, salsa, and stews. Plus, there's the ever-popular nopalitos with eggs. If you're looking for a unique recipe, you won't want to miss this cactus chili.   

    History
    The leaves are said to have been an everyday vegetable in Central Mexico, prior to the Spanish explorers arriving. Once they discovered it, the explorers took nopales back to Spain with them. This tasty cactus grew in popularity throughout North America after that.

  • Beets

    Apr 03, 2017


    Fun fact: beets are not just for eating... Their juice was used as a cosmetic for women in the early 19th century, forming the phrase "red as a beet."

    Availability & Origin
    You can have them any time of the year, but you'll get the best flavor between June and October. Italy, Great Britain, Canada, Chile, and Russia are all big beet producers. In the United States, you'll find them growing mostly in the northwest, plus Arizona and California. 

    Appearance & Flavor
    Some beet varieties include the classic red, gold, baby red, baby gold, and Chioggia, otherwise known as candy cane. When picking out beets, look for a smooth, firm bulb. Small and medium bulbs tend to be more tender. They should have fresh, crisp, green stems, which by the way, are also edible. Beets are known to taste similar to a mix of carrot and wild mushrooms.

    Storage
    Remove all but one inch of the steams from your beets and place them in a plastic bag and into the crisper drawer, and they will last up to two and a half weeks. The stems in a plastic bag will last up to two days. Baby beet varieties can be steamed whole with their stems intact. They can be stored in the fridge whole, though they expire quickly, so try to consume them within a day.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Try this unique, savory tart recipe if you're hoping to "wow" guests at your next gathering. Looking for an easier way to eat your beets? Try them raw, peeled, grated, steamed, baked, or boiled. 

    History
    It is said that the Greeks consumed beetroot leaves as early as 300 B.C. We have 19th century European colonists to thank for the introduction of beets in the U.S. People used the juice as a natural sugar. Later that same century, California was the first state to start production and that was the beginning of advising people in the U.S. to eat the bulbs, not just the juice.

  • Parsnips

    Apr 03, 2017

    This carrot look-alike is one versatile vegetable.

    Availability & Origin
    Parsnips are available year-round, though they peak during the winter. In the United States, Michigan, New York, Washington, and California are our top producers. The most prominent world-wide growers are  Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

    Appearance & Flavor
    Similar in shape to a carrot, parsnips are much sweeter, plus they have a nutty undertone. No orange here... Parsnips range from yellowish beige to bright white. They have a smooth skin and their flesh is white and creamy with a fine grain. If you're looking for a sweeter parsnip, chose the whitest and the smallest ones you can find-the smaller or whiter they are, the sweeter. Check your parsnips for firmness and intact roots, and avoid any with yellowing or brown cores that are beginning to shrivel.

    Storage
    When whole, wash your parsnips, cut off the tops, and let them air dry. After loosely wrapping them in a plastic bag and putting them in the back of the crisper, you should get two to five months from them. If they are already cut, store them loosely-covered in cold water or wrap them in a moist paper towel to get a few days-worth of use.

    Ways to Enjoy
    There are endless ways to prepare the parsnip. Baked, broiled, roasted, fried, steamed, pureed, in soups, in stews, and in casseroles. And we saved the best for last: you can make your own wine out of them.

    History
    Native to Europe and Asia and cultivated by the Romans, parsnip taproots were used to add starch to meals for several decades prior to potatoes. They are said to have come to the U.S. with the colonists in the early 16th century.

  • Savoy Cabbage

    Apr 03, 2017

    Availability & Origin
    Savory cabbage is available year-round, but it has the best flavor from November to April, so now's the perfect time to get your hands on some. Grown around the world, China and India are the top producers. In the U.S., New York, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and California make up 60 percent of our production.

    Appearance & Flavor 
    Unlike your everyday red or green cabbage, savoy cabbage is deep green in color with tender, wrinkled leaves. The inner leaves can range from white to light green due to the lack of sunlight. When picking one out, choose a bright-colored head that is heavy for its size with compact, unblemished leaves. 

    Storage
    A whole savoy cabbage should be stored in the crisper-no bag necessary-separated from your other fruits and vegetables. Don't rinse the whole head as this will start the breakdown process. Under these conditions, it will last two weeks, and in some cases, up to a month. When you have a cut head, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate to get the remaining few days from it.

    Ways to Enjoy
    When it comes to preparing a savoy cabbage, they are mainly used raw, in stir-fries, sautéed, braised, pickled, added to soups, and roasted. Speaking of roasted savoy cabbage, we found this recipe for you.  

    History
    Savoy cabbage originated in England and was introduced to Germany in the 18th century. Around the same time, this cabbage variety was also making its way across the pond to the U.S. with English colonists.
  • Cherimoya

    Mar 06, 2017


     
    This scaly, tropical fruit may resemble something out of science fiction movie, but it just so happens that a fragrant, tropical, creamy center hides behind the leathery exterior.

    Availability & Origin
    Cherimoyas, also known as custard apples, grow year-round. Domestically speaking, they only come from California and Hawaii, and are available from December through June. Beyond the U.S., they come from Central and South America and South Asia.

    Appearance & Flavor
    Don't let the scaly look of the green skin deter you. After slicing into a cherimoya, you'll see the white creamy flesh, which has a pleasant tropical flavor with hints of mango, banana, and coconut. Amongst the delicious center, there are black seeds. Do not eat them; they contain alkaloids and are hard enough to break a tooth. When picking your cherimoyas, a slight brown color is okay, however avoid any that are black or shriveled. Ripe ones should yield to a gentle touch and will be more brown in color. Their skin is very delicate, so you'll often find them covered by mesh bags in the store to protect them from bruising or puncture.

    Storage
    When ripe, they can be stored in the fridge for one or two days. Any longer will cause the fruit to lose its flavor and become more vulnerable to chill damage. Once cut, they turn brown quickly. Not to worry; to slow the browning effect, put a little orange juice on your cherimoya or put it in a lemon or lime water mixture. 

    Ways to Enjoy
    Room temperature or chilled, raw is the way to go. Use cherimoyas in dressings, compotes, jams, smoothies, and salads to add a new flavor to the usual. Spring is coming, so consider making unique drinks for your events. 

    History
    Cherimoyas were native to Ecuador, Colombia and Peru in their beginning. It is said that the seeds from Mexico were planted in California in the late 1800's. Fun fact: Mark Twain is quoted in The Sacramento Daily Union (October 25, 1866) saying that the cherimoya is "the most delicious fruit known to man" after a visit to Hawaii.

  • Lychee

    Mar 06, 2017


    This spiny, alien-like fruit may look tough on the outside, but the inside hides a delicate surprise. 

    Availability & Origin
    China and India are the main producers, but you can also find them growing in California, Hawaii, Florida, and Texas, June through September. 

    Appearance & Flavor
    Fresh lychees have bright red-brown shells, are an inch or two in length, are firm to the touch, and have no splits or wrinkles. The heavier they feel, the better they will taste. When you crack open its shell, you'll find a white, grape-like ball that houses a seed. The seed is not edible, but the ball holds all the flavor and sweetness. 

    Storage
    Refrigerated in a plastic bag, lychee will last up to ten days. Frozen in a freezer-tolerant bag or container, they will last up to three months. The texture and fragrance of your lychees may reduce after sitting in the freezer for four hours, but not to worry, they will keep their flavor. 

    Ways to Enjoy
    You can always eat them raw, but they're also great in salads, rice dishes, syrups, salsas, drinks, and desserts. If you've been searching for a truly imaginative dish, look no further than this scone recipe

    History
    Ever since 1100 A.D., the lychee grew in its native land of China, and eventually made its way to the western world in the late 1700's. The first lychee tree on U.S. soil bore fruit in the early 1900's.

  • Jicama

    Mar 06, 2017


     
    You might not know it from looking at it, but this flavorful vegetable is part of the bean family. 

    Availability & Origin 
    Jicama is available year-round, but peaks from October to May. Mexico and Central America are top growers, but you can still find them thriving in the United States; Florida, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico to be exact.

    Appearance & Flavor
    With the looks of a turnip or large radish and the texture of an uncooked potato, Jicamas tend to taste similar to water chestnuts. They have white flesh and can range from tan, brown, or even grey in the color of their thin skin. When selecting your jicama, chose one with dry roots and no bruising. NEVER consume the leaves, stems, or mature seeds; they are highly toxic.

    Storage
    When preparing jicamas, make sure to wash them thoroughly and peel them with a knife instead of a vegetable peeler-due to the delicate skin. When cut, place them in a plastic bag for up to ten days in the fridge. Keep whole jicamas in a cool dry place for up to four weeks. 

    Ways to Enjoy
    Eat it raw, mix it into stews, throw some in your salsa, toss it in your stir-fry. For an even better idea, take a look at this refreshing jicama salad recipe.

    History
    Once exclusive to Mexico and South America, 17th century Spaniards introduced the jicama to the Philippines. Eventually, it spread farther, to places such as China and India.

  • Asparagus

    Mar 06, 2017


     
    Asparagus can be used in a wide variety of dishes and it has a rich historic past. Fun fact: it is part of the lily family. 

    Availability & Origin
    Asparagus is available year-round, but we get the best flavor from February to June, especially in April. China, Peru, and Mexico being the top three growers, the United States comes in 7th on that list. Our top growing states are California, Michigan, and Washington. 

    Appearance & Flavor
    Though asparagus is usually known for being green, there are also white and purple varieties. They have a mild flavor, similar to broccoli, with an earthy undertone. If your asparagus tastes sour, it may be aged or there may have been a problem with preparation (oops! We've all done it). While selecting asparagus, check for fresh color, firm, yet tender spears that are tightly closed, and moist, plump ends. Signs of aged asparagus include loose tips on the spears, dry or cracked ends, or a yellowed skin.

    Storage
    Rubber band whole stalks together, cut an inch off the ends, stand them in a cup or jar submerged in an inch or so of water, and loosely cover them with a plastic bag. Using this method, they can last up to one week. If the water gets cloudy, replace it. Cut asparagus should be stored in the fridge in an air-tight container in order to last a week. If you prefer to freeze your asparagus, store the stalks, whole or cut and dried of any water, in a freezer-tolerant bag, and they will last several months. 

    Ways to Enjoy
    Asparagus goes great in salads, stir-fries, soups, pastas, stews, and dips, or simply as a roasted side dish. Dazzle any guest by preparing this unique flan dish.    

    History
    Loved by Ancient Greeks and Romans around the 1st century A.D., asparagus was considered a worthy gift offer to their gods. It was even said that Emperor Caesar Augustus would advise his troops to get up and going quicker than you can cook asparagus. Around the late 15th century, asparagus became popular in France and England, making its way to the U.S. shortly after.

  • Meyer Lemons

    Mar 06, 2017



    These lemon look-alikes may have you fooled... 

    Availability and Origin
    Meyer Lemons are available year-round, but they peak from November to March. They are used as an ornamental plant in China, their origin country, and are grown in the United States and New Zealand. 

    Appearance and Flavor
    At first glance, a Meyer Lemon looks just like your typical lemon. But take a closer look and you'll notice they are smaller, rounder and smoother. The rind is thinner and deep yellow-orange in color, with dark yellow pulp. They are said to be a cross between a lemon and an orange. Acidic as they are, they lack the traditional lemon zing. Meyer Lemons give off a herbal spice-smelling aroma. 

    Storage
    When whole, these lemons can last two weeks out on the counter (at room temperature) and up to four weeks refrigerated in a sealed bag. After being cut, store the slices in an air-tight container in fridge to get a week out of them. 

    Ways to Enjoy
    Besides the obvious way to use your lemons-Meyer lemonade-they are perfect for desserts, salads, dressing, sauces, and pastas. They can even provide an interesting twist to your salsa

    History
    In the early 1900s, the U.S. government sent Frank N. Meyer, a USDA agricultural explorer, to Asia to bring plant species back with him. This lemon was named in his honor. Read more about the story here.

  • Bok Choy

    Mar 06, 2017



    Bok Choy, a member of the cabbage family, is one of the oldest crops in China. No wonder it's a staple in Asian kitchens.

    Availability & Origin
    Grown in their homeland of China, as well as in the United States and Europe, Bok Choy is available year-round and peaks during the winter.

    Appearance & Flavor
    All parts of Bok Choy are edible. Their crisp white stalks have a nutty flavor. Their dark green leaves are similar to the flavor and texture of spinach.

    Storage
    Bok Choy will last a few days if left unwashed in a perforated bag in the crisper drawer. Do not wash them until you're ready to use them, however, because water will start the breakdown process. But when you do, wash them thoroughly since the stalks tend to hide dirt.

    Ways to Enjoy
    When raw, Bok Choy is great in salads and sandwiches, and the stalks can be filled like a celery stick. Most commonly, you will see them used in stir-fries and other Asian dishes. Make Grilled Bok Choy like a pro with this recipe. Here's a tip: try cooking baby Bok Choy for its milder flavor.

    History
    Not only did a 5th century text in China mention Bok Choy, an excavation in China also unearthed Bok Choy seeds, or at least that of its close relative, and they dated back more than 5,000 years. We have 19th century Chinese immigrants to thank for the introduction of Bok Choy in the U.S.

  • Rutabagas

    Jan 24, 2017


    Rutabaga is a bit of an underdog; it's one of the more overlooked root vegetables, but it is interesting and worth a try.

    Availability & Origin
    They are available year-round, but they peak during the winter. Rutabagas are grown in the Northern United States, Canada and parts of Europe.

    Appearance & Flavor
    With yellow tips and dark purple blotchy skin, rutabaga is mild and less bitter than the turnip. Their flesh is yellow with a firm, grain-like texture.

    Storage
    After slicing off the tops, peel the outer skin, slice it into cubes and then blanch. When stored in the freezer in a durable bag or container, it will last up to eight months. Placing rutabaga in your fridge's vegetable drawer, after rinsing them, cutting the tops off and placing them in a plastic bag, will allow them to last up to three months.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Roast them, boil them, steam them, braise them, or put them in a soup. When cooked, rutabagas are sweet like a gold potato. Speaking of, here's an interesting twist on French fries.

    History
    A Swedish botanist is credited with crossing a cabbage and a turnip in the 17th century to create the rutabaga, or "baggy root" in Swedish. In the 19th century, it made its way to the U.S.

  • Leeks

    Jan 24, 2017


    Leeks are one of the oldest vegetables, but that doesn't mean that they can't add a unique flavor to your dishes.

    Availability & Origin
    These vegetables are available year-round, but they peak during late winter and early spring. The top three producing countries are Indonesia, Turkey, and Belgium. The top producing states in the U.S. are California, New Jersey, Michigan, and Virginia.

    Appearance & Flavor
    Their long, cylindrical stem closely resembles that of a scallion. This stem is white at the root and grows more green the closer to the top you look. Leek leaves are stiff and have a blue-green hue. 

    Storage
    To get up to a week from your leeks, wrap them tightly in plastic and store them in the refrigerator.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Enjoy them raw in your salads and dips or cooked in your soups, casseroles, and sauces. Try this leek dish and switch things up at your dinner table.

    History
    Remember how we said the leek is one of the oldest vegetables? Well, the oldest cookbook from Roman times-written by Apicus around the 3rd century-mentioned the leek. Fun fact: The Roman Emperor Nero's love of leeks was said to be so outrageous that he was given the nickname of Poropahgus, meaning "leek-eater."

  • Santa Claus Melon

    Dec 30, 2016

    Availability and Origin
    Santa Claus Melons are grown in California and Arizona during the late spring and summer months. During the winter, we get them from South America. 

    Appearance and Flavor
    The Santa Claus is an oval-shaped melon with hard, wrinkled skin, which is how it got its Spanish name Peil De Sapo, meaning 'Toad Skin'.
    The thick rind doesn't even give off an aroma when it's ripe. You'll know that they're ripe when the ends become soft to the touch. The color of the rind can range from green to yellow-the more yellow in color, the sweeter it is. The flesh underneath can be white or pale green, and is very juicy and sweet. 

    Storage
    When your melons are whole and ripe, they can be stored at room temperature for five days or in the refrigerator for three days. When cut, refrigerate the slices in an air-tight container and you may get three days out of them. 

    Ways to Enjoy
    Just like the princess who kissed the frog, you can turn this frog-like melon into a prince with a tart recipe like this. They also go well in sauces, soups, fruit salads, and desserts.

    History
    A type of Casaba Melon, the Santa Claus variety is native to Turkey and it began commercial cultivation in Spain. The name Santa Claus or Christmas Melon, however, came from the American interpretation of the fruit's longevity. They come to the U.S. all the way from South America just in time for Christmas

  • Cara Cara Oranges

    Dec 30, 2016


    Availability and Origin
    These oranges are available from winter until the beginning of spring and are grown mostly in California and Florida, as well as South Africa and Venezuela.

    Appearance and Flavor
    Don't be fooled; Cara Caras look comparable to standard oranges, but there are some differences. The flesh is a red-pink color, similar to a grapefruit. They peel easy and they taste similar to a tangerine. Some say that their intense aroma resembles a rose. 

    Storage
    When whole, keep them refrigerated and they'll last you two weeks. If your oranges are cut, refrigerate them in an air-tight container for up to a week. Juiced Cara Cara oranges can last up to six months in the freezer when housed in an air-tight freezer bag or container.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Juices, jams, sauces, salads, raw, or in dessert. Here is an interesting tart recipe to wow your holiday guests.

    History
    Stated to be a naturally occurring mutation, these oranges were discovered in Hacienda de Cara Cara in Venezuela in 1976. Subsequently, they were brought to the U.S. in the 80s. The Cara Cara is considered a specialty citrus variety, so is very prominent in boutique-style stores and road side stands.
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