Produce News for Week of November 15, 2010
CELERY (Monday, November 15): Hey, get out the stock pot. The stalks are rising. Celery stalks that is. This time of year most of our celery is coming from Salinas, CA, and they’ve had an excellent crop of celery. Now when you start thinking, of course, for stuffing for your bird for next week, it all starts with celery so that means you have to pick out some of the best celery around. So how do you pick out some good celery for your Thanksgiving meal? The first thing, I’m going to look for color. The lighter the green color, the sweeter the celery. If it’s really, really dark green, you have more chlorophyll in there. That means a little more bitter flavor. The next thing I’m going to do, I’m going to pick it up with my hands…just hold it gently in my hands. What I’m feeling for is to feel how heavy it is. See, the heavier it is, the more juice content is right in there in the stalks. The more juice, the more flavor. Finally, how fresh is this celery? Give the stalk a little squeeze. Do you hear it squeak? Yeah, if it squeaks, that’s fresh celery.
CRANBERRIES (Tuesday, November 16): All right. It’s as easy as this. You get a saucepan. You get a cup of water. You get a cup of sugar. It goes on the stove. You get a package of cranberries. Cranberries go in saucepan. That’s all you need. That’s as simple as it gets in making your own cranberry sauce. Now, of course, you can go down the other aisle and you can maybe get the canned cranberries, but may I suggest you go fresh this year. Try doing everything with fresh cranberries. You will fall in love once again with the beautiful fresh cranberries. Now, of course, when you’re looking at the fresh cranberries, what I want you to do is just feel them in your hand and just roll…it needs to feel like a whole bunch of pebbles in your hands. If you start feeling a lot of mushy ones in there, well, maybe try to find another package. What I suggest, you need to buy a couple of them. Throw one of them in the freezer because the crop is about 8% short his year. Oh, by the way, when you’re in the produce aisle getting the fresh cranberries, also get some dried cranberries. You’ll love those for your holiday baking….and your green salads.
ASPARAGUS (Wednesday, November 17): All right. You need a nice vegetable for Thanksgiving? May I suggest…I know a lot of people do green beans and things like that, but may I suggest something really, really elegant? Perhaps some asparagus. This time of year, we are seeing some beautiful asparagus. Most Asparagus this time of year is coming from Peru, from the Valley of Ica near Lima,Peru. If I showed you the package that Asparagus is packed in, you would find at the bottom of the pack, a thin, wet item, kind of like a thin sponge. The packers will put ice water on the pack of Asparagus. The sponge at the bottom will hold some of that water, so that in the shipping, that sponge is actually keeping the spears hydrated, and keeps the spears from dehydrating. When you get your Asparagus home, you need to also keep these spears in some water. Perhaps a mug partly filled with water. That way they’ll last a lot longer. It may not be Spring here, but it is in Peru, so Asparagus would be a great vegetable for Thanksgiving.
GREEN BEANS (Thursday, November 18): Beautiful green beans. I know at our house for virtually every holiday meal growing up I can remember having fresh green beans, and of course, my dad and I would fight over the bacon that was put into the green beans. I don’t know about your house. But when you’re at the store, how do you pick out good green beans? First of all, I want you to wait as close to Thanksgiving as possible to buy your green beans because green beans are the fastest breathing produce items on earth which means they will go bad very quickly. But when you’re in the store, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to get one of those plastic produce bags. Put your hand in plastic bag. I want you to go up to the big display of green beans. Put your hand that’s in the plastic bag right on top of the Green Beans and give it a little push. What you need to hear is some squeaking going on because if the green beans do not squeak, that means they’re not very fresh. Just wait for the next lot coming in.
SWEET POTATOES (Friday, November 19): Sweet potatoes, one of the hottest things this new “milleneyam”. You get it? Yams. Okay. Hey, if I was stocking Noah’s ark with food, you know, going to be on that voyage. Here’s one of the things I would make sure was on Noah’s ark because this is the healthiest vegetable grown on planet Earth. Sweet potatoes, yams, whatever you want to call them. Yams are just the name given to the very sweet and the very moist sweet potatoes. And by the way, this time of year as we are picking out our sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving, these have all been cured which means they have been out of the ground for at least 45-60 days. They have been put in warm temperatures so it actually cured the skin and it’s actually set the sugar content in this potato, so that means there’s higher sugar content. They actually taste really sweet now. Now, when you’re going to buy them for Thanksgiving, I want you to buy them generally all the same size. I wouldn’t buy a big monster and a tiny one, and then go to bake them. They’ll bake at different times. So get them all about the same size…if you are baking them.