Archive for the ‘Produce 101’ Category

Roasting Pumpkins & Winter Squash

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

With Fall quickly upon us and all  the lovely pumpkins and squash available in the Harvest packs, I couldn’t resist roasting one.

The process is simple, and the results are well worth the effort.  No more canned pumpkin puree for me!


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A Food for the Gods

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Think back over the basket contents of the last few months and ask yourself which item would be worthy enough to be used as currency in ancient Egypt and carried on golden platters as an offering to the Greek Gods. Many tantalizing and exotic fruits including pomegranates, mangoes, perhaps even grapes may be rushing to your mind but in all these cases you would be wrong. The item that captured the fascination of these ancient cultures was not a fruit at all- and most of us would not classify it as tantalizing or exotic. The pungent-tasting little root to which I am referring is actually a member of the cabbage family and is in fact…the radish.

Radishes are one of the oldest crops known to man and it’s really no surprise why they have been so successful. They grow just about anywhere, produce very quickly, require little care, and can thrive in small spaces. Well, small spaces now; the ancient Greeks and Romans would have snubbed their nose at the little guys we grow today. They were serious about their radishes, preferring them grown to an average of 100 lbs and then served up roasted and drizzled with honey and vinegar. (No wonder they were worthy of Olympus)
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Champagne Grapes 101

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

What’s in my basket?

Did you pick up your basket this morning and after examining the contents ask yourself, “What in the world is that and what am I supposed to do with it?” Well, I’m here to give you a tip or two on what to do with that item that you may not be familiar with.

This week the surpise item is Champagne Grapes.
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BANANAS for Bananas!

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

One of the most consistent items in our baskets from week to week is BANANAS! So, what do you know about bananas? Here’s a fun little FAQ I have assembled about bananas for you!

  • Bananas are one of the oldest cultivated plants, and are grown in over 100 countries. Bountiful Baskets bananas come from small farmers in Central Mexico.
  • Bananas grown wild have large, hard seeds, but through centuries of cultivation, the seeds in our bananas are very, very tiny.
  • Bananas are the fruit of the largest herb!
  • An individual banana is called a finger.
  • Bananas are slightly radioactive (it’s the potassium)!
  • Bananas can be used as an egg substitute in yeast-free baking (1/2 banana=1 egg) (except for when eggs act as leavening)

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Apple Pears – or Asian Pears

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

By advencap via Wikimedia Commons

Apple pears, also known as Asian pears, are the light-yellow or tan colored apple shaped fruit we saw in our baskets last week. Do you have any left? I know that in my house they disappear within minutes of hitting the kitchen, because there are few more refreshingly flavored fruits around. Crisp like an apple, these fruit keep well for ten to fourteen days in your refrigerator. They are picked when they are ripe on the tree and are ready for eating immediately unlike the European pears we are used to seeing. If you let them sit until they are soft, they will have a winey, fermented unpleasant flavor. Eat them when they are still crisp, and have that fresh, fruity fragrance.
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Herbs Are Your Friend

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

by Lisa Y

Occasionally we are fortunate to have the option of adding an herb pack to our Bountiful Baskets. One thing I noticed the last time we had this offering was the hesitation of so many who have never used fresh herbs, either because of fear of the unknown, or because they’ve never had fresh herbs available to them.

In this “mini tutorial I’m going to try to “unlock the mystery” of fresh herbs, give suggestions on using them, and give a couple of tips for drying fresh herbs to use later.
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Galia Melon

Sunday, August 5th, 2012
'Galia melon quarters' photo (c) 2009, Richard North - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

If your favorite Bountiful Baskets site is anything like mine, the question of the day was “What type of melon is this?” The Galia melon’s beautiful name comes from the original grower’s daughter, and its beautiful flavor comes from its parents- the cantaloupe and the honeydew. While that original melon was from Israel, the Galia is now harvested in South America and the Southern Untied States.
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Radicchio 101

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Radicchio is hard to say but not hard to enjoy.  For the record it is pronounced rah-DEE-kee-oh.  It is a member of the chicory family, and hales from Italy but is currently grown in New Jersey, California, Mexico and Italy.   The most common varieties in the United States are radicchio di verona is grown very similarly to head lettuce, and is also shaped like a head of lettuce, however the coloring is a deep red with white ribbing, while radicchio di treviso looks like a red belgian endive.  In Italy there are at lest 15 commonly found kinds of Radicchio and they aren’t just used in salads the are in everything!  The flavor is mildly bitter.  The hotter temperatures are when it is grown the stronger the flavor.  So for a nice head of Radicchio you need a long cool growing season. Good news though, roasting and grilling tend to mellow and sweeten the flavor.
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Plums

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

In 1905 California was experiencing a labor shortage. It is said that in an attempt to bring in his crop before it spoiled, plum grower Martin Seely paid to have 500 monkeys shipped from Panama to his fields in the Santa Clara Valley. He divided the primates into groups of 50 with one human overseer per group and set them to picking. The monkeys were very efficient workers- climbing trees with ease and picking the fruit quickly. Unfortunately, Mr. Seely did not see much return from that year’s crop. Area legend has it, that while the monkeys were eager pickers, they were also eager eaters and ate every one of the good plums produced that year. Today, California is still one of the largest producers of plums in the US and the world. The growers now have slightly stricter hiring procedures (little things like humans only) but one thing has stayed the same. The temptation to eat this delicious stone fruit remains strong no matter what your species.

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Cherries, Cherries, Cherries

Friday, July 6th, 2012

What do glass soda bottles- small plastics screws- and mops have in common? Cherry season of course! Still confused? Let me explain. My husband hails from the cherry-laden lands of Washington state and he knows a good cherry recipe when he tastes one. So it was pretty much a requirement that cherry season become a tradition in my house. Each year we sit down with our 20 plus pounds of cherries to pit and ultimately transform them into the jams, pies, cookies, and candies that will satisfy all cherry cravings for the year. We started this in the early days of our marriage- you know the tight times of college, babies, tiny apartments. That first cherry pitting session, we had enough money for a few pounds of cherries but not much left over for the coveted cherry pitter. So- we got creative. We had a glass soda bottle in the fridge which hubby graciously emptied. This served as a holder for the pits as they were pushed out. We tried several pitting tools including a pencil with the eraser pulled out of the metal part, but we finally settled on a small plastic screw left over from a desk we had recently assembled. We then took a cherry, rested it on the small opening of the bottle and, using our little black screw, pushed the pits right into the jar. It worked great! By the end of the night our fingers were stained a beautiful burgundy as was our table and floor. (Hence the mop which, I am sure, you can figure out how to operate).

Rainier Cherries

Rainier Cherries

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