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  • 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.

  • Red Potatoes

    Feb 19, 2019



    Red potatoes got their start in a small Vermont town in the mid-1800s, but they've become one of the most important economic crops throughout the world.

    Appearance & Flavor
    These small potatoes are round to oval-shaped with smooth, thin skin. They are a reddish pink color, of course, with a few eyes around the surface. The creamy colored flesh is firm, and the flavor is described as earthy and slightly sweet. They have a high moisture content which leads to their crisp yet waxy texture. Chose the firm and smooth ones and avoid the wrinkled, decayed, greening or sprouting ones.

    Ways to Enjoy
    It's that time of year. Everyone is looking for some healthy recipes to try at home-like this one. These are all-purpose potatoes; boil, mash, bake, or roast them. Or use slices in salads, soups, stews, and curries.

    Availability & Origin
    Lucky us; we can have red potatoes all year long. Domestically, they are grown in more than 30 states-Idaho being the largest, followed by Washington. Abroad, they grow in Asia, South America, and Europe, which tops off as the highest production area in the world.

    Storage
    Whole potatoes should be stored in a cool, dry place with airflow for up to 2 weeks. If already cut, it's best to store them in water in an air-tight container in the fridge and you will get another day or so out of them.

  • Acorn Squash

    Jan 30, 2019

    Although the acorn squash is one of most perishable winter squashes, we are lucky that it's available year-round.

    Appearance & Flavor
    Shaped like its namesake, they look similar to an acorn with deep grooves and can be either gold, white, and green. Green is the most popular and the easiest to find; a dark forest green with a splash of orange usually on the sides or bottom. No matter the outside color, the flesh is a vivid orange and is dry and stringy yet with a sweet and nutty flavor. When selecting, make sure the skin is free of blemishes and mold and that they are heavy for their size.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Starting off the new year with a resolution to eat better? Maybe a healthier stuffed squash recipe will make you want to stick to that goal. Bake, sauté, steam, or stuff them, or add them to your sauces and soups. When cooked, their texture turns creamy. The seeds are edible and are great roasted.

     Availability & Origin
    You can get your hands on acorn squash any time of year. They grow in many states; California, Georgia, Illinois, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Illinois, along with the Northwest.

    Storage
    Your squash when whole and uncooked should be stored in a cool, dark place for up to two weeks. After being cooked, wrap up what's left in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge so it'll last a few days. They can also sit in the fridge in an air-tight container after being cooked for up to four months. When frozen, you'll get up to a year.


  • Turnips

    Jan 30, 2019

    Did you know that people originally only grew turnips to feed  livestock? Eventually, we realized that they make a hearty substitute to meats and potatoes during harsh winters.

    Appearance & Flavor
    The most common and plentiful turnip variety is purple on top and white on the bottom. The flesh is stark white, crunchy, and juicy with a sweet peppery taste. They are comparable to radishes. The whole turnip is edible; from the roots up to the leaves. However, you are more likely to see turnips without roots or stems in the grocery store, and the leaves are usually sold separately as turnip greens. When picking them out, ensure that they are smooth.

    Ways to Enjoy
    We know you have plenty of holiday parties coming up. Try making this addicting appetizer. Otherwise, you can braise, roast, sauté, and puree and add them to soups or salads. If you want to put a new spin on an old dish, they make a great substitute in any recipe that calls for carrots.

    Availability & Origin
    China is the largest turnip producer in the world, growing 16 times more than the entire US does. In the US, 94 percent grow in California, Colorado, Texas, Washington, Florida, Michigan, and Wisconsin. California tops the charts in the US producing 63 percent of them. Turnips are available year-round.

    Storage
    Your turnips will last you about 10 days if they are whole, unwashed, in a plastic bag, and in the fridge. After cutting them, you can wrap the sections tightly in plastic and they'll last up to three days in the fridge. If you have a root cellar, they will last many, many months there. Don't have a root cellar but want to keep your turnips longer? You can freeze them for almost a year.  

  • Kabocha Squash

    Jan 30, 2019

    This squash, also referred to as a Japanese pumpkin or a Japanese squash, has many diverse uses and it'll soon become one of your favorites.

    Appearance & Flavor
    This small to medium-sized winter squash will range in weight from as light as one pound to as much as eight. They are round, yet squatty since both the top and bottom are somewhat flat, with a short brown stem. The dark green grooved rind has light green specks with pale stripes. The deep orange-yellow flesh is thick, dense, and almost sponge-like. The center cavity houses stringy pulp with many flat off-white seeds. These seeds are edible, and you can roast them just like pumpkin seeds. Make sure to choose kabochas that are not moldy, scarred, and soft.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Ever tried vegetable tempura? This one uses a kabocha squash. Use them to make soups, stews, pastas, curries, breads, desserts, and sauces. You can also eat them solo if you roast, steam, bake, or sauté them. Like we said: very diverse.

    Availability & Origin
    This variety is available year-round but it's peak seasons are the fall and winter. Kabochas are grown primarily in California and some in the Northwest.

    Storage
    Kabochas can last up to three months if you store them in a cool, dry place. After cutting, they'll keep for up to five days as long as they're wrapped in plastic

  • Clementines

    Jan 30, 2019

    Clementines have reached a level of popularity over others in the mandarin orange family for being fairly new on the scene. They became commercially available in the 1990s.

    Appearance & Flavor
    Clementines are small, round, smooth, and wrapped in a deep orange rind. Just like a regular orange, only smaller. They have essential oils and release a strong citrus smell when punctured or zested. They peel easily and have a sweet flavor, which is why they are hit with the kiddos and plenty of adults too. 

    Ways to Enjoy
    We're swooning over these cute cookies-they're perfect for your holiday gathering. 
    Most popularly, people eat them just as they are. But they make a great addition to desserts, salads, cocktails, and vinaigrettes. Try garnishing or zesting a dish with a clementine peel.

    Availability & Origin
    This mandarin variety is available from November and into January. They mainly grow in California. 

    Storage
    You can leave them out on the counter for about two days but avoid direct sunlight. If they come in a mesh bag, then keep them in the bag and keep them in the crisper drawer. They'll last a couple weeks but keep an eye on them and trash the ones that get soft since they'll spoil the rest. After two weeks, you should discard them because they're considered old at that point. A side note: don't place in an air-tight container or plastic bag (unless they're peeled) since it will speed up the decay process.

  • Delicata Squash

    Dec 06, 2018

    This winter squash hails from a different season, but is still a  member of the summer squash family-others including zucchinis and patty pans.

    Appearance & Flavor
    These small to medium-sized squashes are narrow and long with grooved skin. The skin is thin and smooth with a whiteish yellow base, and you may see green or orange stripes. The orange-yellow colored flesh is thick and firm. The hollow center houses a stringy pulp in which you'll find hard, flat seeds. Delicatas taste similar to sweet potatoes when their cooked. Chose squashes that are heavy and firm-with no wrinkles or soft spots in sight.

    Ways to Enjoy
    If you are a pizza lover searching for a healthier alternative,  consider making your own delicata pizza!  They have such a thin skin that you can leave it on while you're preparing it. Try baking, boiling, roasting, and sautéing your delicatas. They hold their shape throughout the cooking process, so they would work well stuffed. Or, toss them into all sorts of pastas, soups, and salads.

    Availability & Origin
    Available from fall to early winter, delicatas are primarily grown in California, though some are produced in the Northwest.

    Storage
    When whole, they can be stored for several months in a cool, dark  place. After being cut, however, they will last about a week in an air-tight container.

  • Easter Egg Radishes

    Dec 06, 2018

    Easter egg radishes are the most colorful radish variety. On Easter or any other day of the year, these radishes can brighten any dish you add them to.

    Appearance & Flavor
    Easter egg radishes are small and round and in each colorful bunch, you'll find white, pink, purple, and crimson bulbs. Their flesh is bright white regardless of the exterior skin color. Their taproots are wire-like and they are crisp with a mild radish flavor. Despite all their colors, brown spots should not be one of them. Chose radishes with a smooth skin, but not soft. Also make sure they are heavy for their size.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Bring some color to the Thanksgiving table with this side. Fresh or cooked, they are sure to enhance your salads, sandwiches, soups, stir fries or tacos. If you choose to roast them, their sweetness will really come out.

    Availability & Origin
    They are grown year-round in many parts of the United States, though they peak in the spring up until the late fall.

    Storage
    If you purchase your Easter egg radishes in a bag, inspect the bag to ensure its free of mold. If they still have their tops, cut them off completely with scissors since they can draw the moisture out of the bulb. For 10 days of use, place them in a plastic bag slightly closed but not air-tight in the fridge's crisper drawer. If they are sliced, store in an air-tight container in the fridge and you should get up to five days.

  • Autumn Royal Grapes

    Dec 06, 2018

    This striking dessert grape is new on the grape scene. The variety is only a little more than 20 years old.

    Appearance & Flavor
    These elongated grapes are large in size. Their skin is firm, waxy, and can range in color from purple-black to black, which makes their green-yellow flesh surprising. They are seedless besides a random seed here or there. They are soft, highly succulent grapes that have a strong, spicy, sweet flavor. Avoid moldy, shriveled, or discolored ones, or those detached from their stem.

    Ways to Enjoy
    Most popularly eaten raw, but you can toss them in a fruit or regular salad, desserts, drinks, jams, and jellies. They can even be frozen and used as a quick snack or as ice cubes in your drink. If you have a gluten sensitivity or simply love pancakes, check this out. 

    Availability & Origin
    They have a very short season; California grows them from October to November. Did you know that California's San Joaquin Valley produces 99 percent of the grapes the United States consumes?

    Storage
    Get them in the fridge as soon as possible in their original bag or container, since those are the best ventilated to protect them. Place in the back part of the fridge-which is the coldest. Keep them away from foods with strong odors as they can absorb the smell. Also, make sure not put anything on top or up against them since they bruise easily. Lastly, do not wash until you're ready to use them because water starts the breakdown process. They'll last 10 days in the fridge, but after they're cut or peeled, they'll be good for about two days refrigerated in an air-tight container. They will keep for about two months, however, if you freeze them.

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