This week’s fruit is Oro Blanco Grapefruit and Butternut Squash Cubes.
Oro Blanco Grapefruit is excellent eaten fresh, but is also a great addition to salads or a sweeter substitute for other citrus in recipes. Oro blanco is a hybrid of pumelo and grapefruit and does not produce seeds. It has a very thick, pulpy skin that can be difficult to peel, but a sharp knife can make it much easier to get to the creamy flesh.
Butternut squash is a more familiar vegetable. It is great roasted, which sweetens and condenses its flavor. It can be seasoned simply with salt, mash with cream or butter, or sprinkle with any of the seasonings you might use with pumpkin like cinnamon, clove, ginger, or nutmeg. The seeds are also edible and can be roasted like pumpkin seeds. This vegetable is seasonally available in the fall and will last throughout the spring if stored in a cool, dry and dark place. Purchase squashes that are very firm with no soft spots. Eat squashes as soon as you detect softening.
This week’s vegetables are blueberries and zucchini.
Neither of these are exotic, but they are foods that a lot of people have never tried fresh. Blueberries are great by themselves, added to a salad, or using them in baked goods is always popular. The blueberry council has great information, recipes and activities for kids and adults that relates to blueberries. Zucchini is often baked, fried or shredded for use in baking, but it is also great sliced thin into a salad or with a dip instead of chips. Vegetable gardens often have an abundance of zucchini. It can be preserved by dicing or shredding it into cubes and freezing to last into the winter months. Dehydrated slices can be used in soups or stews to add some fiber and sweetness.
This week, the kids will be trying grapes and Chioggia Beet cubes.
I am sure that most of us have had grapes, but did you know that most wine and seedless grapes, Vitis vinifera, are not originally from North America, but were brought over by Europeans. Concord grapes, Vitis labrusca, are native to North America, and have been crossed with Old World grape varieties to produce many of the disease resistant grapes that are grown around the world today. California has some of the best conditions for growing grapes and wines, table grapes and raisins are shipped worldwide. Nevada is growing more grapes than ever and some varieties do well in our Northern Nevada climate. If you are interested in adding grapes to your gardens or landscape, contact us and we can assist you in selecting plants that will do well here.
I love vegetables, but I used to despise beets. Then, an office mate in graduate school introduced me to the roasted beet. I love them! Just like carrots caramelize and become sweet and savory when roasted, so will beets. Chioggia or Candy Cane beet varieties were developed in Italy and are a beautiful vegetable. This is a photo from my kitchen with 4 varieties of beets prepared to be roasted. Just peel the root, slice or cube, add a small amount of oil and salt and roast in a hot oven for 25-30 minutes until tender with brown crispy edges. I also have a great pickled beet recipe from an old cook book that is great. Email me and I will send you the recipe. Chard and beets are the same species of plant, just different varieties. You can eat beet greens just like you would chard. They can also be juiced or chopped into salads. Give beets a chance and you just might find a way that you like them.
This week’s fruit is dragon fruit and the vegetable is watermelon radish. Both of these foods are very popular in Asia and can be found in Asian cuisines. Dragon fruit is the fruit of a cactus originally from Central America. The fruit can be bright yellow or magenta pink with fleshy “scales” that look like dragon scales. You prepare it by scooping out the white center that is full of little black seeds. The texture is similar to a kiwi with a neutral sweet flavor. It is often eaten fresh or sliced into a salad. There are many Asian deserts that use dragon fruit for sweetness and flavor. Look for fruits that are firm with few blemishes for the best flavor. Dragon fruit usually travels a long distance to reach your grocery store shelf and soft fruits will be over-ripe.
Watermelon radish is a variety of the large white diakon radish. It is usually sliced thin and served as a side or in a salad. You can make an a quick pickle with vinegar, sugar, a squeeze of lime and fish or soy sauce. Watermelon radish can also be shredded finely, blanched quickly in salted boiling water, then shocked in an ice bath for a cold vegetable side dish. The cold radishes can be dressed with a little sesame oil and fish sauce with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds on top. Do not let the sometimes ugly outside of this radish fool you. Underneath the whitish, green skin will be a mild flavored, beautifully colored radish. Choose radishes that are firm and crisp for the best flavor. Limp roots can be revived by a 5 minute soak in some ice water.
Let me know if you enjoyed this week’s information on these interesting fruits and vegetables. Remember to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal. If you tried either of these, share your thoughts with the rest of the blog by commenting!
This week, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program participants will be receiving canary melon cups and parsnip coins. If time allows, I will include some additional information about the fruits and vegetables that is for the adults that might be interested in these fruits and vegetables and read the blog. This can supplement your knowledge as the educator and maybe make it more interesting to you. The FFVP focuses on youth trying and eating fruits and vegetables without cooking or adding dressings or sauces, but I frequently have adults involved with the fruits and vegetable programs ask what else can be done with the things the kids are trying. Let me know what you think.
Canary melon is sweet and juicy with a creamy texture. These melons are at their best when they have a bright, smooth skin and is firm with a slight give when squeezed. Due to the naturally high sugar content, chucks will not completely freeze at typical freezer temperatures and are great for adding to smoothies or as a slushy treat. Canary melon is usually just eaten plain, but can be thinly sliced with other melons and dressed with a little balsamic vinegar, a sprinkling of mint leaves and goat cheese for an elegant salad.
Parsnips are a very versatile vegetable. A carrot texture combined with a sweeter, turnip flavor they are a great addition or substitute for any recipes that include carrot, potato, turnip or other root vegetables. Roasting turnips will concentrate the natural sugar and give it a nice caramelized flavor. A quick search online will give you recipes for parsnip chips, mash, fries or salads that will add something different to your dinner routine. Look for firm, white roots. Flexible roots can often be crisped up by soaking in ice water for a few minutes. Smaller parsnips are sweeter, larger parsnips have a higher starch content and are more like potato. Parsnips do grow wild in North America, but do not pick and eat what you think is a wild parsnip, it might be poison hemlock and you will have just picked your last meal.