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  • 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.
  • Comice Pears

    Dec 30, 2016

     

    Availability and Origin
    These pears are available from September to March and are primarily grown in the northwestern United States and France.

    Appearance and Flavor
    More plump than others in the pear family, with a rounder body and a shorter neck, they are also the sweetest pears.
    Their buttery flesh is often green, sometimes showing a red blush, and they are very juicy. 

    Storage
    Their fragile skin must be handled lightly to avoid bruising. Click here to determine if your pears are ripe. If the pear is ripe, store in the fridge between 35 and 45 degrees for up to two days. If it is not ripe, leave it out at room temperature.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Due to its delicate texture, the Comice Pear is not an ideal candidate for cooking. However, this soup recipe is a good option.
    Other ideas include eating them raw, throwing a few in your salad, or using them to compliment a plate of soft cheese, such as Blue or Brie.

    History
    These pears made their start in France in the 1800's and were named Doyenné du Comice. They were first discovered on U.S. soil during the 1900's in Oregon

  • French Beans

    Dec 30, 2016

     

    Availability and Origin
    French Beans are available year-round, but they really peak in the summertime. The U.S. produces 60% of these beans; Illinois, New York and Oregon being the highest contributing states. The remaining 40% are produced worldwide, coming mainly from France, Mexico and Iraq. 

    Appearance and Flavor
    It isn't easy being green, so French Beans can also be yellow and purple. They have a mild, sweet flavor, yet have a bit of a starchy texture.

    Storage
    To get up to 10 days out of your beans, refrigerate them in a tightly-sealed plastic bag.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Raw, steamed, or sautéed - these beans are a triple threat. Check out this recipe for a great Thanksgiving side dish idea for your celebration. 

    History
    The beans are native to Central and South America, but were brought to France in the 16th century. By the 19th century, France had dubbed them as their household bean and gave them the French name Haricot Verts.

  • Turban Squash

    Dec 30, 2016


     
    Availability and Origin:

    From Mexico to the United States, these squash are available from the late summer through the winter.  

    Appearance and Flavor:

    This colorful squash's greens, oranges and yellows tend to look like a painter's drop cloth after a masterpiece is created.
    The flesh is very fine and it ranges from mild to sweet. The American Turban is known as the most flavorful variety.
     

    Storage:

    When whole, store your squash in a cool, dry place for no longer than 90 days.
    Cut up, it should be refrigerated in an air-tight container and it may last up to a week. 
     

    Ways to Enjoy:

    These eye-catchers are primarily used in ornamental displays. However, they can be pureed, stuffed, or added to soups as well.
    They are quite challenging to cut so be patient, as can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.
    If you're up to it, here is a video on how to cut up Turban Squash. CuttingTurbanSquash
    For something new to try, check out this recipe for stuffed squash. StuffedTurbanSquash

     History Lesson:

    The squash was first mentioned in a French publication in 1818, but the French Turban variety is said to pre-date that year.
    However, it had a poor eating quality. Its name came from the appearance of the blossom end that resembles a turban.

  • Sugar Pie Pumpkins

    Nov 18, 2016


    Availability and Origin

    Sugar Pie Pumpkins are available during the fall months. The largest growing areas are found in the United States, but the best producing states are Illinois, Ohio, and California.

    Appearance and Flavor
    One of the sweetest of all pumpkin varieties, this one is smaller, smoother, and brighter in color than traditional pumpkins.

    Storage
    If your pumpkin is whole, store it in a cool, dry place like your pantry for up to a month. When cut, you have two options. One is to refrigerate it in an air-tight container or bag, and it will last up to six days. The other option is to place them in the freezer in a freezer-tolerant bag or container. With this option, it will last up to six months. Save some pumpkin for April!

    Ways to Enjoy
    These pumpkins are the ones you want to use if you want that sugary pumpkin pie, making them perfect for baking. Another idea is to hollow out and stuff the pumpkin like this.

    This variety can also make a great side to your Thanksgiving dinner when cubed and roasted. When the flesh is cooked down, it can actually be a base for curry. Take a look at this recipe for details.

    History
    It is said that the Native Americans gave them to the early colonists as gifts. Rumor has it, the very first pumpkin pie may have been baked with this pumpkin variety.

     

  • Lettuce tell you what the Ariz. Governor just did

    Nov 09, 2016

    Guess what billion-dollar industry in Arizona is being recognized this month?
    According to the Governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, November is now Leafy Greens Month. Check out the official proclamation.

    In honor of the greens we love, here are a few of the unique ones:



    Broccoli RabeBroccoli Rabe

    When raw, it has a very bitter taste. But when cooked, the bitterness reduces and leaves a nutty, robust flavor. 

    It’s meant to be cooked, so sauté it using your favorite spices or oils. Use it as a side dish to compliment any meal.








    Dinosaur Kale

    Commonly known as Black or Lacinato Kale, Dinosaur Kale is the heartiest of all the kale varieties.

    Much like some actual dinosaurs, these greens can survive a frost.
    .  
    Cold temperatures actually make the leaves sweeter and more tender.  Use it in soups, pastas or eat it raw.







    Mache
     
    Mache, also referred to as Lamb’s tongue, has a sweet and creamy flavor. 

    The leaves are so delicate, that they can start to melt with incorrect harvesting. 

    Due to their delicacy, they cannot be cooked so use in small salads or as an edible garnish for appetizers.

     


  • Fingerling Potatoes

    Nov 02, 2016
    shutterstock_127293224fingerlingpotatoes

    Availability/Origin
    Year-round. Growing is restricted to 15 states to reduce disease. The main states are Maine, New York and Pennsylvania followed by Idaho, Washington and Colorado.
     
    Appearance/Flavor
    Add some color to your plate with fingerlings - reds, purples and yellows. They naturally grow smaller and are often confused with new potatoes which are harvested at their immature state, but take it from Snoboy, there's no mistaking these - they are small, shaped like a finger and often stubby.
     
    Storage
    Keep in a cool, dry place between 40-50 degrees and should last up to a month. If they become warm they will begin to sprout and due to the thin skins they will breakdown quicker. (Don't tease them as they are thin-skinned and their feelings may get hurt) :)
     
    Ways to enjoy
    Roast, bake broil and grill. There are plenty of recipes online, but here's an unusual one that includes pesto. Pesto Recipe
     
    History
    The first seed came to America by Mark Fulford of Maine. He went to France to buy a race horse and came back with the Fingerling seed. Wait? What!!! Check out the link for the rest of the story. Fingerling History
  • The Cinderella Pumpkin

    Oct 26, 2016
    Cinderella Pumpkin

    Availability/Origin

    Fall and winter months, 60% of crop is grown on the East Coast.
     
    Appearance/Flavor
    Vivid red and orange with some green. More of a flattened look with deep lobes. The flesh is thick and sweet almost like a custard. (All little girls want to be Cinderella. Now, you can buy her the pumpkin that resembles her carriage.)
     
    Storage
    Whole
    Keep indoors and do not place on a wooden table top or on carpet because it can cause breakdown. Another good idea is to place a cloth or cardboard between the pumpkin and the surface.

    Cut
    Refrigerate in a covered container or in aluminum foil, will last up to 5 days.
     
    Freeze
    Cut flesh away from the outer skin and remove the seeds, cook until soft. Then mash, let cool and place in a heavy-duty freezer bag or covered container. Will last up to a year or more.
     
    Ways to enjoy
    Roasted, breads, cakes, cookies. Can even puree to make ice cream or butter. (See, there's more than just those lattes) :)
     
    History
    An heirloom variety from France which began in 1830 and gained popularity in the 1880s. Supposedly, the pilgrims served this form of pumpkin on the second Thanksgiving. Pumpkin types.
     
  • Rainbow Carrots

    Oct 20, 2016
    rainbow carrots

    Availability/Origin

    Year-round. Grown in Asia, the Mediterranean and the United States.
     
    Appearance/Flavor
    Variety of colors (yellow, purple, red). Tender, crisp and sweet, however have an earthy flavor. They are harvested before maturity to preserve color and taste. (We tell them we are preserving their youthful appearance. No chance to get to grow up to be an adult carrot, poor things.)
     
    Storage
    Cut off the green tops and place in a container with water, ensuring they are fully submersed. They will last up to two weeks. If they are stored properly, the green tops will attempt to grow back. (Just like growing your hair out after a bad haircut.) :)
     
    Ways to enjoy
    Raw, salads, pastas, cakes, roasted, steamed, boiled and microwaved.
     
    History
    Carrots in general have been consumed for over 1,000 years and originated in Afghanistan and were actually yellow and purple at the time.
     
  • Purple Cauliflower

    Oct 13, 2016
    purple cauliflower

    Availability/Origin

    California (year round), Northeast (fall).
     
    Appearance/Flavor (The purple is real! No GMOs here.)
    Outside florets are purple, while the stem and core remain cream. Texture of the stems and florets are the same as white cauliflower. However, the taste is milder and less bitter with a nutty undertone.
     
    Storage
    The head will last up to two weeks when loosely wrapped in plastic and stored in the fridge. The cut florets will last up to one week when sealed in a plastic bag and stored in the fridge.
     
    Ways to enjoy
    Raw, roasted, steamed, soups.
     
    History
    The wild grown origin is unknown, most likely a heritage variety from either South Africa or Italy. (Can we be anymore vague?) :)
     
  • Produce Facts: Baby Broccoli

    Oct 06, 2016
    baby broccoli

    Availability/Origin

    Year-round. Grown in Central California (spring to fall) and Yuma, Arizona (winter).
     
    Appearance/Flavor
    Smaller florets with a thinner stalk than broccoli. Baby broccoli isn't young broccoli, it is a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese kale. Flavor is sweet and tender. (Tell kids it's broccoli's mini-me, and I bet they will eat it.)
     
    Storage
    In a plastic bag tightly sealed in the refrigerator. Will last up to five days.
     
    Ways to enjoy
    Raw, steamed, pastas, stir-fries, salads.
     
    History
    Created by Sakata Seed Company of Japan in Salinas, California in the early 90s. Originally called "Aspabroc". In the late 90s, Sakata partnered with Mann Packing Company and registered its trademark name. (Starts with a B, ends with ini.)
     
  • Produce Facts: Green Tomatoes

    Sep 28, 2016

    Green Tomatoes
    Availability/Origin
    Summer and fall. No one knows the true origin, yet they were published in an 1877 Chicago paper as part of recipe. 

    Appearance/Flavor
    Yellowish-green to bright green with a very firm, dense skin. Sharp, tart flavor. (Saliva gland overload.)

    Storage
    In a box, one-layer high, cool, dry place. Do not let them touch. (Don’t ask, but when they touch they ripen red, aww tomatoes in love.) They can last up to 10 days.

    Ways to enjoy
    Fried, in sauces and baked. Can actually be used in place of green apples in apple based desserts (gives a whole new meaning to mom’s apple pie.)

    History
    Their jump in mainstream popularity came in 1991 with the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes.”
     
  • Produce Facts: Cipollini Onions

    Sep 22, 2016

    cipollini onions



    Availability/Origin
    Year-round from the United States and around the globe.

    Appearance/Flavor (If it doesn’t look good, it’s not Snoboy!)
    Small, flat, thin-skinned onion. Depending on variety, colors range from white, pale yellow to brownish red. They are one of the sweetest onions, right behind shallots. 

    Storage
    Cool and dry with good air flow. Can store up to two weeks. Once cut, must be tightly wrapped in plastic, refrigerated and should last up to four days.

    Ways to enjoy (Have gum handy afterward - no one likes onion breath)
    Roasting is the Cipollini's claim to fame, due to its high sugar content which assists in browning and carmelization. They are also great on the barbeque as well as in soups, salads, stews and casseroles.

    History (Yep. History is here at the bottom, because well, it is history you know.)
    Developed in Italy and came to the U.S. via Italian immigrants. (If someone tells you something different, fuggedaboutit.)

    Watch this video for tips on preparing and peeling the Cipollini Onion.
  • Produce Facts: Heirloom Tomatoes

    Sep 15, 2016

    heirloom tomato slices












    Availability/Origin
    Depending on variety, heirlooms can be a year-round item coming from North America and/or Mexico.

    Appearance/Flavor
    Due to their genetics, heirlooms are actually sweeter than other tomatoes. You will notice that they do not have the typical red color associated with tomatoes. In fact, they have a wide variety of colors from brown to multi-color (green, red and yellow).

    Varieties

    • Commercial - Varieties before 1940 or that have been around more than 50 years.
    • Family - As the name ‘heirloom’ indicates they are passed down from generation to generation.
    • Created - Occur from crossing an heirloom with another tomato variety or another heirloom. They are crossed and bred until the desired characteristics are achieved, and this can be a decade long process.
    • Mystery - Byproduct of different heirlooms varieties that naturally cross-pollinate one another.
    Storage
    • Room temperature, never refrigerate or store in bags. Keep out of direct sunlight. They can be frozen after dicing.
    Ways to enjoy
    • Pastas, sandwiches, salads, sauces and soups. Remember to wash and core prior to use.
    History
    It is actually hard to determine - refer to the four types of heirlooms above to gain a better understanding.
  • Yellow Onions are the Most Popular Onion Variety in the U.S.

    Sep 08, 2016

    Trivia to Impress Your Friends

    Yellow onions are full of flavor and are the most widely grown onion variety in the United States; they comprise 87% of the U.S. onion crop according to the National Onion Association.

    Yellow onions range in size from a golf ball to a softball and have light yellow flesh and golden, papery skin. They are available year-round, and can last several weeks in a cool dry location. Note that their taste is sweetest in summer and early fall, when they haven't been in storage long.

    They are ideal for long-cooking in soups, stews and braises, and they are delicious when caramelized. 

    More onion facts:

     

    Storage Facts

    • Look for firm, unbruised onions that are heavy for their size.

    • Cut or peeled onions can be stored and wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator for only a few days before they go mushy.

    • Whole dry bulb onions should be kept in a cool, dry, dark place with plenty of air movement.

    • Do not store onions in plastic, because lack of ventilation will reduce their storage life.
  • Produce Facts: Lettuce

    Sep 01, 2016

    Trivia to Impress Your Friends

    We're wrapping up "lettuce month" with this week's spotlight on general lettuce facts.

    Did you know that two thirds of restaurant consumers are eager to try new and unique varieties of salad greens? That's according to the Technomic survey, "The Lettuce Revolution."

    Here are some other facts from that same survey:

    - 66% of consumers perceive salad greens with a darker color as more upscale.

    - Seven in ten consumers agree that curly/robust/leafy salad greens enhance the visual appeal of salad.

    - 77% of respondents say that the nutritional value of salad greens is important or extremely important to them whenever they order a salad at a restaurant.

    More lettuce facts:

    • Lettuce is categorized into two types: head, which is iceberg; and leaf, which includes romaine, butterhead and other leaf types.
    • California produces more than 70% of the nation's head lettuce.
    • Iceberg lettuce presumably got its name from after California growers started shipping it covered with heaps of crushed ice in the 1920s. It had previously been called crisp head lettuce.
    • Iceberg lettuce takes about 85 days from sowing to maturity. Leaf lettuces average 45 to 50 days from sowing to maturity.
    • Lettuce started out as a weed around the Mediterranean basin. Served in dishes for more than 4500 years.
       
    • Lettuce is a good source of vitamin K, and darker green lettuce leaves are more nutritious than lighter green leaves. Get more nutritional facts from the USDA.


    Storage Facts

    • Lettuce should be stored at 32-35 F with 90-98% relative humidity.
    • Translucent outer leaves are an indication of freeze damage.
    • Keep lettuce away from drafts to prevent dehydration. Store away from ethylene-producing fruits. Lettuce may wilt if it is exposed to drafts or stored at warm temps. It may exhibit russet (brown) spotting if exposed to ethylene gas.

    • Heads should be springy-firm and give slightly to gentle pressure. 
    • Some browning of the core end is natural and occurs from oxidation after harvested and trimmed. 

  • Produce Facts: Radicchio

    Aug 25, 2016

    Trivia to Impress Your Friends

    radicchioRadicchio looks like red cabbage, but it’s actually a chicory family member. It has white-veined leaves, is lightly crisp with a slightly bitter taste, and its tightly packed heads range in size from a baseball to a softball. 

    It was first cultivated in Italy during the 15th century and was first grown commercially in the United States in 1981 in California.

    Treviso radicchio is a milder variety of radicchio and has long, magenta leaves, creamy white veins and a delicate crinkled texture. Treviso radicchio is harvested in the morning to ensure its unique character, form and flavor is retained.

    Fresh radicchio is an excellent source of vitamin K. Get more nutritional information from the USDA.


    Important Facts


    • Radicchio should be stored at 32 F with a relative humidity of 90-95%.

    • Good-quality radicchio will have deep-red to purple leaves with bright-white veins.

    • The edges of the leaves will be fairly thick and crisp.

    • Avoid product that looks wilted or has leaves that are brown on the edges.
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