Market News

Featured Specialty Crop – Spinach!

Spinach Facts & Trivia

Spinach, botanically classified as Spinacia oleracea, has three varieties: savoy, semi savoy and flat-leafed. The savoy spinach has crinkled leaves and is the primary commercial type. Semi-savoy has partially crinkled leaves and is most often processed but can also be found in markets, while flat-leafed is mainly processed. Spinach seeds come in two varieties, round and prickly, the variety of seed having no impact on the type of spinach grown from it. Some trace the name Spinach to a Latin in origin, Spinacia, which translates to “spine” referring to the spiny seed coat found on some spinach seeds. Others say it gets its name from the old Persian word aspanakh.

Spinach is a native to Persia, and today it is still found growing wild in modern day Iran. The domestic cultivation of Spinach goes back over two millennia when it was first brought to China in 647 BC. Trade routes are most likely to thank for its European introduction, when the Sicilians imported Spinach sometime during the ninth century. It later spread to Spain and England and was known by a plethora of aliases such as spinech, spinage, spinnedge, or even spynoches. Spinach thrives in cool temperatures and sandy soil with conservative watering.

Why is Spinach So Good For You?

An excellent source of antioxidants, Spinach has four times the beta carotene of broccoli. Its high lutein content helps to lower cholesterol and aid in eye health. Spinach also contains carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron and folic acid. For best nutritional value, eat raw or slightly cooked.

What does it look/taste like?

Spinach is a leafy green producing succulent, dark green, spoon-shaped leaves. It offers a subtle, yet assertive vegetal flavor often with iron or metallic notes. Depending upon variety and maturity, Spinach can be sweet, earthy, nutty and even tangy.

How do you eat them?

  • Spinach can be eaten fresh or cook and stands up well to heat, baking and sauteing.
  • Use as in a salad mix or as a dark, leafy green.
  • It is highly versatile and pairs well with spring vegetables, citrus, berries, eggs, nuts, bacon, pasta, cream and fresh cheeses.
  • Flavor with Indian or Middle Eastern spices, creams, ginger, garlic, shallots, chiles and soy.
  • Spinach will keep, dry and refrigerated, for one to two weeks.

Source: www.specialtyproduce.com

Market News

Featured Specialty Crop – Garlic!

Garlic Facts & Trivia

Garlic, botanically known as Allium Sativum, is the name dedicated to many softneck, artichoke varieties that are commonly found in commercial markets. Softneck varieties are favored as they are easy to grow, less particular about growing conditions, slower to bolt, and produce more cloves per bulb. In general, 98% of Garlic found in the supermarket is one of two types, California Early and California Late. A unique feature of California Early is its ability to be used to make powders, seasonings, and salts.

Garlic has long been used by a variety of cultures such as Greek, Italian, Chinese, Egyptian and European for its culinary, medicinal, and spiritual properties.

Garlic is mainly produced in Gilroy, California, which is known as the commercial garlic capital of the world. Some Garlic may also be imported from China, as China is one of the top producers and exporters of Garlic. The type of Garlic found in supermarkets largely depends on the commercial company and the supplier they choose to purchase the garlic from.

Why is Garlic So Good For You?

Garlic is rich in manganese and vitamin B6, as well as vitamin C and copper, and contains selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B1 and calcium. Garlic contains allicin, a sulfur-containing compound that provides antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Allicin is produced when garlic is crushed and is more potent in raw form.

What does it look/taste like?

Garlic bulbs range from medium to large, averaging anywhere between 5-8 centimeters in diameter, and consist of several cloves arranged in a number of layers depending on the variety. Each clove of Garlic is encased in its individual wrapper, and the bulb itself has layers of thin, flakey wrappers to protect the cloves. Once the cloves are crushed or pressed, enzyme compounds are released, producing a sulfur-based molecule known as allicin, which is responsible for giving garlic its renowned pungent aroma and flavor.

How do you eat them?

  • Garlic can be consumed in both raw or cooked applications.
  • Raw garlic tends to have a stronger flavor than cooked; and crushing, chopping, pressing or pureeing garlic releases even more of its oils providing a sharper, more assertive flavor than slicing or leaving it whole.
  • Garlic can be used in any dish that calls for garlic such as garlic chicken, spaghetti Bolognese, potato soup, to stews, but it also does especially well as the central flavor in marinades, dressings, sauces, and salts.
  • Roasting garlic will enhance its flavor and add a subtle sweetness.
  • Pair Common garlic with acidic fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, tomatillos, and citrus, meats such as poultry, beef, pork and seafood, herbs like basil, thyme, and oregano, and other vegetables such as artichokes, snap peas, broccoli, asparagus, and Brussel sprouts.
  • Garlic will keep between one to four months, depending on the specific variety, when stored in a cool and dry place.

Source: www.specialtyproduce.com

Market News

Featured Specialty Crop – Chestnuts!

Chestnut Facts & Trivia

The Chestnut is considered an ancient nut which was probably one of the first foods consumed by mankind. The Chestnut was spread throughout Europe by the Greeks and Romans. Most Chestnut trees found in North America are of the European variety, Castanea sativa. However, there were Chestnut trees that were native to North America, Castanea dentata, that were wiped out in the early 1900’s by a deadly Asian fungus. The only native Chestnut trees that survived were located on the west coast, in California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why are Chestnuts So Good For You?

Chestnuts are a delicious treat, either roasted or cooked in soups or other recipes, and have considerable nutritional value.

  • The fiber content of chestnuts, 3 g per 100 g, is higher than that of walnuts, with 2.1 g per 100 g, pecans, 2.3 g per 100 g, and pistachios 1.9 g per 100 g but about half that of hazelnuts. Their fiber content makes them a low glycemic index food — one that raises blood sugar slowly.
  • Chestnuts are high in vitamin C, minerals, such as potassium, copper and magnesium, amino acids and antioxidants.
  • Chestnuts contain high levels of essential fatty acids, including linoleic acid, which are beneficial to cardiovascular health and proper neurological development in infants.
Source: https://www.livestrong.com/article/470050-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-eating-chestnuts/

 

What does it look/taste like?

The Chestnut has a creamy white flesh and crisp texture. The flavor of the Chestnut is sweet and somewhat starchy. These nuts have a round shape and are surrounded by a spiny case when harvested from the tree. Fresh Chestnuts have the consistency of potatoes when boiled or roasted.

How do you eat them?

  • Chestnuts are consumed raw, deep-fried or roasted
  • Chestnuts are dried into flour to make cakes, breads, muffins, soup thickener and polenta.
  • Chestnuts can be candied, steamed, boiled, grilled or used in savory or sweet dishes.
  • It could be tossed in soups or added to salads.
  • The nuts are used to prepare chocolates, pastries, ice cream etc.
  • Chinese use chestnuts as snacks.
  • They are used in the desserts.
  • Chinese chestnuts are added to the lamb and mutton dishes.
  • Chestnuts are used on puddings.
  • The nuts are used a vital ingredient in poultry stuffing.
  • Chinese chestnuts are used to make the chestnut butter–cream.