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  • Oyster Mushrooms

    Jun 28, 2019

    Growing wild since the ancient times, this mushroom is one of the most cultivated in the world.

    Appearance & Flavor
    These are very curious looking fungi. Ranging from medium to large in size, their stems come short or with no stem at all. The caps resemble fans and their color can range from soft brown to grey-yet they are even some that are yellow or pink-and both their gills and flesh are white. As they mature, their edges curl. The texture is described as firm, meaty, and slightly chewy and the aroma is bittersweet with hints of anise. When cooked, they have a mild nutty flavor that some say is similar to that of, as you may have guessed, an oyster.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Chose smooth mushrooms that are free of blemishes. There is no need to wash these, but make sure to trim any roots from the stem that may have remained there. Cooking oyster mushrooms is the safest bet because there are some people that are allergic to them in their raw form. Try frying, braising, or sautéing and tossing them into soups, sauces, stir fries, and pasta dishes. Pizza night can get repetitive with the same pie over and over again. Try this homemade pizza out. 

    Availability & Origin
    Oyster mushrooms grow year-round and peak during later summer and into fall. They're native to Asia, Europe, and North America. China is the largest exporter and here in the US, they grow all over and are found growing in Canada as well.

    Storage
    They are highly perishable. If you purchase in bulk, store the rest in a paper bag in the fridge for up to five days. If yours are in a container wrapped in shrink wrap, leave them in the container, but remove the wrap. Replace the wrap with a loose-fitting paper towel and put the container in the fridge and you will get about five days of use from them.

  • Boysenberries

    Jun 28, 2019

    A cross between a raspberry, loganberry, and blackberry, the boysenberry is one of the largest berries in its genus.

    Appearance & Flavor
    When ripe, deep maroon-colored boysenberries may have streaks of red throughout. Each drupelet contains a seed and they're tightly compacted around a solid center. They are a bit sweeter than a blackberry, yet they have more acidity. They're juicy and fragile as well, due to their extremely thin skin. Chose shiny, firm, and plump berries and avoid bruised or leaking ones.

    Ways to Enjoy
    They can be used the same ways a blackberry can. Make jams, jellies, sauces, baked goods, and ice cream with them. Or, after rinsing, you can eat them raw. Offer to bring dessert to your next summer gathering and then wow them with this crumble

    Availability & Origin
    Boysenberries grow from late spring into early summer. Originally developed in the Napa Valley region of California, Knott's Berry Farm began growing them commercially and it's said that this put the boysenberry on the map. They are grown all along the West Coast. Due to their high perishability and fragileness, you're more likely to find them at farmers markets instead of stores.

    Storage
    Keep your berries in their original packaging and removing all moldy and deformed ones is essential. After doing that, place them in the fridge for up to five days of use. Don't rinse them off until you're ready to use them since the water starts the breakdown process. Since these berries have such a short season and limited growing area, here are some tips on how to freeze them so you can enjoy them year-round. 

  • Slicer Cucumbers

    Jun 25, 2019

    Slicer cucumbers are considered your run-of-the-mill, everyday cucumber which originated thousands of years ago.

    Appearance & Flavor
    They are large and cylindrical. Ranging from dark green to slightly yellow or even some white in color, the thick skin is smooth or ribbed with small bumps. Inside, the flesh is light green with pale seeds that are edible, yet they can be bitter. Their texture is crisp and succulent and tastes a bit floral and grassy.

    Ways to Enjoy
    You can enjoy these cucumbers raw or cooked in salads, with dips, on sandwiches, in marinades, or to garnish drinks. Summer heat calls for refreshing infused water

    Availability & Origin
    It is said that these cucumbers originated in India. They grow year-round. From June to September, they grow domestically in California, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and the Carolinas. From October to May, Mexico is our main importer.

    Storage
    When whole, wrap them in a paper towel in an open plastic bag and place in crisper drawer for up to five days. If you only use part of the cucumber, cover the rest in plastic wrap and then place in the crisper drawer in a paper towel and plastic bag. If you have sliced the entire cucumber, submerge them in water in an open container or wrap them in soaked paper towel and store in crisper. Either way should give you about five days of use from them.

  • Thyme

    Jun 25, 2019

    It's thyme to hear a fun fact: this is the most used herb across the globe.

    Appearance & Flavor
    Their tiny sphere-like leaves surround their thin stems. When young, the leaves are bright green and as they age, they take on a grayish green hue. The flavor of thyme is woodsy with mint undertones. Chose bright-colored herbs and avoid those that are wilted, dried out, or are becoming black in color.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Thyme is a blending herb with many applications. Use it to season meats, sauces, soups, eggs, breads, and so many others. As you enjoy the holiday weekend, try making this refreshing drink for you and your friends. 

    Availability & Origin
    Native to the Mediterranean, thyme is now also grown all over the US and northern regions of Canada year-round.

    Storage
    Store your thyme loose in a plastic bag or wrap it and place in the warmest part of the fridge. You should get up to 10 days of use.

  • Curly Kale

    Jun 25, 2019

    This particular kale is one of the most common varieties and-surprise-it's one of the oldest forms of cabbage.

    Appearance & Flavor
    Pale green stems hold green curled leaves. The stems are tough and should be discarded, however, the leaves are crunchy and moist. The leaves taste earthy with nutty undertones that become even more pronounced as you cook it. Chose kale with plump, crisp leaves and avoid those with limp, yellow leaves or a strong odor.

    Ways to Enjoy
    When young, this kale is better for salads, but as it matures it becomes more fibrous. Steam it, sauté it, bake it, juice it, and use it in soups. However, if you are feeling a healthy snack, try frying them to make kale chips.

    Availability & Origin
    Though it peaks in winter, curly kale grows year-round in the US, California being the largest producer followed by Georgia, New Jersey, and Texas. This vegetable is native to the Mediterranean.

    Storage
    Whole and unwashed, wrap them in paper towel in an air-tight plastic bag and store them in the fridge's crisper drawer for up to five days. After washing and prepping, make sure they are well dried and use the same storage technique already mentioned, however, they will last a few days less.

  • Dill

    Jun 25, 2019

    You'll never guess which family this centuries-old herb is a part of... if you guessed the carrot family, you must be a produce expert too!

    Appearance & Flavor 
    This herb with thin stalks and feathery leaves tastes like celery, parsley, and anise with a lemon finish. Chose herbs that have a fresh scent. Dill is green, so avoid those with brown or wilted leaves.

    Ways to Enjoy 
    Dill can be used fresh, cooked, or simply as a garnish. When tossing it into sauces, remember it has a strong flavor that you may want to use sparingly. Hosting a BBQ? Trust us, you'll have the best corn on the cob on the block with this recipe

    Availability & Origin
    Dill grows year-round. Native to Southern Russia and the Mediterranean, dill is now grown all over the US and in Western Canada.

    Storage
    Dill is a delicate herb that needs to be used as soon as possible. Store in a plastic bag with some air in the crisper drawer and you may get two days out of it.

  • Portabella Mushroom

    Jun 25, 2019

    This mushroom covers 90 percent of the mushroom production in the United States. Its popularity grew after being introduced as a good substitute for meat.

    Appearance & Flavor
    You may be familiar with portabellas; large, dark brown to tan-colored flat caps with dark brown gills and a thick, dense white stem. Pick out firm ones that have no blemishes on their caps. Make sure to check that the under piece (the gills) are dry, not moist or slimy. When raw, their flavor is quite plain, but cooking them brings out the taste of their smoky, earthy flavor.

    Ways to Enjoy 
    The cap is the most commonly used because the stem is so thick and tough. Yet, the stem can be added to stocks and stews for flavor. The cap can be boiled, sautéed, grilled, and chopped for stews, soups, and rices. Its meaty taste makes it a great protein substitute, such as in burgers, or you can hollow it out and use it as a bowl. If you like a classic chicken parmesan, you're sure to love this take on stuffed portabellas.

    Availability & Origin
    Portabellas are grown year-round. Since ancient times, they grew in Italy,  but now China is the largest producer. The US comes in third as they are grown in more than half the 50 states.

    Storage 
    When sliced, portabella mushrooms begin their breakdown process and should be used immediately. Store whole mushrooms in a paper bag or wrapped in paper towel in the fridge for up to five days. However, you can keep them even longer (up to a month) by freezing them

  • Vidalia Onions

    Jun 25, 2019

    This trademarked sweet onion sports a nationwide appeal while sticking to its roots. They legally can only be grown in certain areas in Georgia.

    Appearance & Flavor
    Vidalias are medium to large-sized squatty onions, ranging in color from brown-gold to light yellow skin. They are crisp, tender, juicy, and sweet, with a thinner skin than regular onions. Their flavor and aroma aren't as strong, so you won't have to grab the tissue box while you're cutting them.

    Ways to Enjoy
    For your next spring get-together, try making this addicting dip. Do not use these in recipes that call for regular onions if you think you'll miss that traditional punch of onion flavor. Diverse applications include raw in salads, sandwiches, burgers, and as a garnish. You can also grill, fry, and sauté Vidalias.

    Availability & Origin
    Vidalia onions grow between April and June. In the late 1980s, legislation passed that the trademarked Vidalia onion could only be grown in 20 counties within Georgia, where it was discovered in the 1930s.

    Storage
    Whole with skin intact, store them at room temperature in a paper bag in a cool dark place for up to one week. When the bulbs have been taken out, they can be wrapped in paper towel in the crisper drawer for up to a month and a half. When prepared, store in an air-tight container in the fridge, you can get about three days of use from them.

  • Arugula

    Apr 25, 2019

    This leafy green was first noted long ago, back in the 1st century A.D., but somehow only became popular in the US in the mid-1990s.

    Appearance & Flavor
    You're probably familiar with arugula, a bright green leafy vegetable with a white-green stem. Its strong flavor and aroma are often compared to that of pepper with a hint of mustard and nuts. If it's too mature, you'll taste a more bitter flavor. Avoid wilted or yellowed arugula leaves.

    Ways to Enjoy
    You may not think adding arugula to your salsa would give it a kick, but try this technique. Enjoy it raw, or cook it for a more mild flavor. Use arugula in sauces, soups, salads, and as a pizza topping, or you can sauté or steam it. Have a recipe that calls for spinach? Substituting arugula will kick it up a notch in the peppery flavor department.

    Availability & Origin
    Though arugula peaks from late spring to early fall, it does grow all year long. On the west coast, Arizona grows it from fall to spring and then California takes over from spring into summer. Along the East Coast, New York grows the bulk of the arugula from May to September.

    Storage
    Uncut arugula will keep if wrapped in a paper towel in a plastic bag or air-tight container in the fridge for 10 days. When already prepared, store the arugula in an air-tight container for about two days of use.

  • Maradol Papayas

    Apr 25, 2019

    This is the most widely cultivated papaya in Mexico, which covers  approximately 95 percent of production. Maradols can bring new life to a wide variety of your usual dishes.

    Appearance & Flavor
    Maradols are large, elongated fruits with thin skin. When they ripen, they turn from green to yellow and orange with green speckles. When stored at room temperature, they'll only take a few days to become ripe, but if you refrigerate them, that process will take more time. The flesh is juicy, sweet, and mild that is a range of beautiful pink to red. Inside, you'll also see small, shiny black seeds that are indeed edible and taste a bit peppery. Avoid papayas that are bruised or blemished when buying them.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Looking for a relish that is both sweet and tart? Take a look at this papaya and pineapple pair. Can be eaten raw or used in desserts, salads, smoothies, juices, and sauces. It also works wonderfully as a garnish or as a marinade for a meat dish.

    Availability & Origin
    These papayas are grown in Central America and Mexico all year long, though they peak between the late fall and early spring.

    Storage
    When whole and ripe, eat them within a few days, and after preparing them, store them in the fridge in an air-tight container for about three days.

  • Horseradish Root

    Apr 25, 2019

    Noted to go back to the days of ancient Egypt and Greece, this root doesn't get its kick until it is grounded or crushed. 

    Appearance & Flavor
    It's scruffy, gnarled, knobby, and dirt-covered appearance may put off some, but once you peel away this layer, you reveal a white crisp flesh that when smashed gives that familiar pungent smell and hot taste. Choose those with firm ends that have been cut and look fresh. Avoid wilted and soft horseradish root with green spots or any sign of mold.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Want your deviled eggs a little more devilish? Try these. Horseradish roots have diverse applications, like in dressings, sauces, dips, salsa, drinks, condiments, and as a garnish. Toss this in anytime you want to give something a kick.

    Availability & Origin
    You can get them year-round, yet they have a break in late fall through early spring. Domestically, over 60 percent of the world's horseradish root is grown in North America. In fact, Southern Illinois is known as the horseradish capital of the world.

    Storage
    Unpeeled horseradish wrapped in a damp paper towel in the fridge will last up to one week. Already peeled, they'll last about three days in plastic wrap in the fridge. When grated, it will deteriorate fast, so you'll only get about a day or two even if it's refrigerated in an air-tight container.

  • White Asparagus

    Apr 25, 2019

     This variety of asparagus grows in the dark, and conversely, it gets a white hue.

    Appearance & Flavor
    You'll know the white asparagus when you see it-they are bright white with thicker and more rounded tips than other varieties. As it doesn't see the light of day, it is more brittle than its green counterparts. You'll also need to eat them quicker since they tend to get stringy and bitter faster. They have a mild, nutty flavor that some say has undertones of artichoke or white corn. Make sure the spears are firm and straight with closed tips. Also ensure they are not discolored or yellowed when you purchase them.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Want an Au Gratin that sets itself apart? Try this. They're tasty raw, roasted, sautéed, and blanched and even more tasty in salads, stir-fries, soups, pastas, stews, and dips.

    Availability & Origin
    Sometimes hard to come by fresh, white asparagus is more commonly found canned so it can be enjoyed year-round. They can be grown throughout the year, but the best flavor comes between February and June, April being its peak. China is the number one grower followed by Peru and Mexico. The US falls at seventh on the list-California, Michigan, and Washington being the top producing states.

    Storage
    When whole, wrap the ends in a wet paper towel and place them in a plastic bag and it'll last up to three days. Store cut pieces in the fridge in an air-tight container for about four days.

     

  • Stem Strawberries

    Apr 25, 2019

    Here's a fun fact that you may not have realized you already know: strawberries are the only fruit with their seeds on the outside. Stem strawberries are custom packed to have special long stems versus a normal trim.

    Appearance & Flavor
    They are usually chosen to be larger and plumper than other strawberries. Their stems are cut to a minimum of two inches. Stem strawberries tend to be more red, juicy, and glossy than non-stem berries. Avoid purchasing soft, moldy, and bruised ones.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Strawberries are most popular dipped in chocolate, and here is a step-by-step guide on how to make your own.  Plus, they can adorn many a dessert. Another idea is to core them and fill them with compotes or cream cheese.

    Availability & Origin
    California grows stem strawberries year-round. Their supply is also supplemented by Florida and Mexico for the months from January to April.

    Storage
    More than likely, stem strawberries will come in a plastic container, which is ideal for storage since they are set-up for proper ventilation. Inspect the berries and remove any with signs of decay-those ones will affect the rest of the container. Do not wash them until you are ready to use them since water activates the breakdown process. Stored in the fridge, they should last between five and seven days.

  • Baby Pineapple

    Apr 25, 2019

    This smaller version of a regular pineapple is sweeter and more fragrant.

    Appearance and Flavor
    They are less than 5 inches tall and the fronds are no longer than 2 inches from the top. The fronds are sharp and have more spikes than the larger version. The skin is golden orange and the flesh is bright yellow.

    Ways to Enjoy
    They are mostly used as a garnish or décor; however, they can be used like regular pineapple in salads, dessert, and juices. The only difference is they are entirely edible minus the fronds. They are picked when ripe and will not ripen further. To tell if they are ripe, check for the signature pineapple smell and their center leaves should be a bit loose. They will also turn a deep green with a glossy hue. Avoid those that are brown or have soft spots. If they have brown leaves they are inedible. For you next spring gathering; try this eye appealing salad

    Availability/Origin
    Year-round. They are imported from Brazil, Hawaii and Thailand.

    Storage
    Whole on the counter they will last 2 to 3 days when in the fridge you will get another 2 days. When cut and kept in an air tight container in the fridge they will last around 3 days.

  • Minneolas

    Mar 21, 2019

    One of the most popular of the tangelo varieties, the minneolas got their name from the town just outside of where they were bred in Florida in the early 1930s.

    Appearance & Flavor
    Minneolas, a cross between a grapefruit and tangerine, are the largest fruits in the mandarin family, coming in at 3.5 inches in diameter or more. They are round with a pronounced knob on the stem. The rind is deep reddish orange and can be described as slightly smooth and thin. Their flesh is orange with a few seeds. These fruits are juicy with a bright flavor that's tangy almost sweet-tart. In the store, you're looking for those that are heavy for their size, unwrinkled, and free of blemishes. Remember, the deeper the red-orange color, the better.

    Ways to Enjoy
    You know what screams spring? A light, airy cake with a citrus twist. They are so easy to peel that they make a good snack as is! You can substitute a minneola in the place of oranges, grapefruits, and even lemons for any recipe, or you can use them in desserts, salads, and vinaigrettes.

    Availability & Origin
    You'll find them growing from mid-December through April. Assumed to be from Asia originally, they are now produced mainly in California and Florida.

    Storage
    When whole, they'll last at room temperature for a few days and up to 10 days in the fridge. After peeling, store them in an air-tight container for about three days' worth of use out of them.

  • Snow Peas

    Mar 21, 2019

    You might guess that the snow pea is a vegetable like others in its variety, but botanically speaking, they come from flowers which makes it a fruit!

    Appearance & Flavor
    Both the wide, flat pods and the small peas are crisp, pale green, edible, and resemble the flavor of a sweet pea. Chose bright ones with flat pods and small seeds, making sure to avoid those that are pale, discolored, and flimsy. 

    Ways to Enjoy
    Bring on the garlic! Try this snow pea stir-fry. Enjoy these snow peas raw in a salad or alone as a snack. They are popular in Chinese dishes such as stir-fries, rice dishes, and noodles. They also make a great addition to curries and soups. Their high sugar content causes them to brown faster when cooked than other peas.

    Availability & Origin
    With a name like "snow" you'd think these peas would be a winter crop, but in fact, they peak from spring to early summer. Another warm factor for the snow pea is its origins in the Mediterranean, and that many are produced in Guatemala. Almost all 50 states grow the peas and they are available all year long.

    Storage
    Their shelf life is short, so store them unwashed in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper drawer and they will last up to a week.

  • Radicchio

    Mar 21, 2019

    Merely looking at this leafy vegetable, you might assume it tastes like red cabbage because of their resemblance. However, its flavor is quite different.

    Appearance and Flavor 
    Imagine a red cabbage, but smaller. Its deep purple-red leaves have bright white veins throughout and on the bottom, and are smooth and crisp. Uncooked, their flavor is bitter with a slight taste of spice and cooked, their color changes, turning deep brown and the flavor becomes sweeter with reduced bitterness. Ideal heads are firm, crisp, and have full color. Avoid brown or wilted radicchios that have damaged bottoms.

    Ways to Enjoy
    If salad is the route you want to take this veggie, try this interesting dressing that'll play up the radicchio's bitterness. You can also use them in any recipe that calls for a radish. You can enjoy them raw, for example, they'd make a good wrap or bowl. They can be sautéed, grilled, and tossed into sauces.

    Availability & Origin
    Though they peak between mid-winter and early spring, radicchios grow year-round. Italy produces the most, followed by France. Mexico also produces them, and they grow in California and New Jersey as well.

    Storage
    Store your radicchios unwashed in the fridge's crisper drawer in a perforated bag. They'll last up to 10 days. If already cut, you'll want to place them in an air-tight container or bag for about three days' worth of use.

  • MIni Sweet Peppers

    Feb 19, 2019

    Mini sweet peppers are like a small hybrid of bell and hot peppers-more sweet than hot, though more like hot peppers in texture. 

    Appearance & Flavor
    Colored like bell peppers yet smaller in size. They have seeds in small amounts and their skin is thinner than their larger counterpart. When picking them out, choose firm, bright-colored ones that have a sheen to them.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Many people enjoy mini sweet peppers raw after removing the seeds. You can use these in any recipe that calls for bell peppers. If you're going low carb/keto or not in the mood for anything spicy? Similar to jalapeno poppers, try making these sweet pepper poppers

    Availability & Origin
    Mini sweet peppers are available year-round. Mexico is the largest commercial grower, but they are also grown in Baja, California, and Florida.

    Storage
    You'll more than likely see them sold in their own bag, so you can keep them in it and in the fridge for up to 10 days. After being cut, you'll need to put them in an air-tight container and will last up to two days.

  • Kumquats

    Feb 19, 2019

    Kumquats were originally categorized as citrus fruits. But they were so unique, that they got their own category around the early 1900s.

    Appearance & Flavor
    There are four varieties of kumquats; two of which are the most common. The most common of the two is an oval and the second is round and known to be sweeter. These small orange look-alikes are, in fact, nothing like oranges. They are entirely edible-seeds included. Their peels are bright orange when ripe and give off most of the aromas and sweetness of the fruit. The flesh is tart, juicy, and bold. Some say it's like SweeTarts candy. Avoid soft and green thus not yet ripe kumquats. Also, ensure the skin is evenly colored around the entire fruit.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Top a dessert or garnish a meat dish with candied kumquat. They are also great for punches, salsas, salads, and teas. Plus, you'll be able to make jams, juices, and syrups.

    Availability & Origin
    Native to China, you can now see kumquats growing within the US in California and Florida. They are available from November through March.

    Storage
    Whole kumquats can survive at room temperature for up to two days or if you want 10 days out of them, place them in a plastic bag in the fridge. Sliced kumquats will need to be placed in an air-tight bag or container for about three days.

  • Blood Oranges

    Feb 19, 2019

    Don't be turned off by the name "blood." This orange variety is even sweeter and brighter than your average everyday orange. 

    Appearance & Flavor
    They are smaller than a traditional orange, but they have a thicker pitted skin. Blood orange skin is darker orange. Their flesh ranges from dark pink to maroon, thus where the name "blood" comes in. Their flavor can be described as sweet, bright, mildly acidic, with a hint of raspberry. When choosing blood oranges, make sure they are heavy for their size, not soft, and mold-free. They say, "the darker the rind, the darker the flesh." The darker rind and flesh mean more sweetness.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Pancakes and waffles are terrific on their own. But why not dress them up with a new compote recipe. You can eat blood oranges out of hand but be prepared that they are tricky to peel. Utilize them in a variety of applications; juices, cocktails, smoothies, salads, desserts, syrups, or as a zest.

    Availability & Origin
    Blood oranges grow between December and April. Originally from Italy and Spain, you'll find them growing in California and Texas today.

    Storage
    If you keep them whole in the fridge, they will last up to two weeks. After being cut, wrap the slices in plastic and foil or in an air-tight container or bag for up to four days. If you juice them drink it up within a few hours because they ferment easily.

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