Archive for the ‘Produce 101’ Category

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)


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.

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.

Galia Melon

Sunday, August 5th, 2012
'Galia melon quarters' photo (c) 2009, Richard North - license:

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.

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.


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.


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


Cilantro 101

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Cilantro can be found in Mexican, Asian and Caribbean cooking.  Like many fresh herbs, cilantro possesses several health benefits.  Cilantro is virtually calorie and fat free bringing only 5 calories to the table for 9 sprigs!  Fortunately, those nine sprigs are packed full or beta-carotene which is a necessary precursor to vitamin A and can be stored up unlike vitamin A, and Vitamin K which contributes to proper blood clotting and bone formation.  According to the National Cancer Institute cilantro is an herb with anti-cancer properties.  In naturopathic medicine it is known as a blood cleaning herb that can help detoxify you.

Mangoes 101

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Mangoes are one of the more exotic fruits we see in our baskets. When they are in season, generally in the late spring and fall, we can get cases of them as a add-on. There are usually two types of mangoes available to us commercially, the Tommy Atkins, which are the big green mangoes kissed with red highlights, and the Ataulfo, or Champagne mango. This week, we’re getting Ataulfos.

These little yellow orange delights are my favorite mango. They make a superior lassi or smoothie because they are so smooth. There are none of those fibers that you find in the bigger mangoes, and their small pit give you more mango meat for their weight. All in all, they are an excellent value.


Spaghetti Squash 101

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Spaghetti squash

From Wikipedia,the free encyclopedia


The spaghetti squash (Cucurbita pepo) (also called vegetable spaghetti, noodle squash, spaghetti marrow, squaghetti, gold string melon (金糸瓜 (kinshi uri) in Japanese) is anoblong seed-bearing variety of winter squash. The fruit can range either from ivory to yellow or orange in color. The orange varieties have higher carotene content. Its center contains many large seeds. Its flesh is bright yellow or orange. When raw, the flesh is solid and similar to other raw squash; when cooked, the flesh falls away from the fruit in ribbons or strands like spaghetti.