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In Season for July
Summer is in full swing and each week brings fresh, mouthwatering new varieties of delicious summer produce. July is an especially good month for enjoying all that summer has to offer. Indulge the many varieties of sweet juicy melons, vibrantly flavored berries, and of course the summer stone fruits.
These fragile peach-like fruits, with their perfumed aroma and ultra-sweet flavor, contain impressive amounts of beta-carotene. They are also a fair source of potassium, and supply a good amount of fiber.
- • Mini Meatball Appetizers with Apricot Dipping Sauce
- • Dessert Pancakes
- • Brandied Dried Apricot Jam
Trivia:Apricots are known as, "Moons of the Faithful" in China where they originated. Their cultivation spread westward from China to Persia and the Mediterranean, eventually coming to the New World with Spanish settlers.|It is interesting to note that both the fresh and dried apricot are a main food staple of a tiny Hunza principality in the Himalayas, who are known for their extreme longevity, excellent health, and an almost exclusive vegetarian diet.
Avocados are commonly thought of as vegetables, but they are actually fruits. These delicious creamy fruits are known to be high in fat, however, keep in mind that it is a healthful fat. They add a creamy mellow flavor and texture that complement a wide variety of dishes.
Trivia:Avocados date back to 8,000 B.C., and are native to Mexico and Central America.|Until recent years, the avocado had a well-entrenched reputation for inducing sexual prowess and wasn't purchased or consumed by any person wishing to protect their image from slanderous assault. Growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to dispel the ill-founded reputation before avocados became popular.| Avocados must reach full maturity before they are picked, but they will not soften on the tree. The tree is actually used as a warehouse; the fruit can be kept on the tree for many months after reaching maturity.
Tips:To ripen an avocado, place it in a sealed plastic bag with a ripe banana at room temperature. Another method is to bury the avocado completely in a jar of flour. Do not refrigerate avocados until they are ripe.
Beets are grown year round, but June through October are the peak months. At the start of the season you can find young beets with small tender roots that are suitable for cooking whole. Fresh beets in season are usually sold with the top on. This greens are just as edible and delicious as the sweet beetroot!
Sweet, juicy cherries are one of summerâ€™s best treats. There are several delicious varieties to choose from, the most popular being the Bing, the Lambert, and the Rainier. Bing cherries are large, round, extra-sweet with purple-red flesh and a deep red skin that verges on black when fully ripe. Lambert cherries are a smaller, heart-shaped red cherry similar in taste and texture to the Bing. Rainier cherries have golden yellow flesh and skin with blushing rosy overtones, and they have a flavor that is sweeter more mellow than the bing.
- • Tomato and Mozzarella Bites
- • Lemon-Pepper Seasoned Ribeye Filets with Roasted Tomatoes
- • Spicy Asian Pulled Chicken Salad
Trivia:Bing is the leading variety, developed first in Oregon by a pioneer grower, just over 100 years ago, who named it for one of his Chinese workmen.
Trivia:Maize is the proper word for corn, taken from the Indians of the New World who introduced it to European explorers and settlers. The word corn goes back to Biblical days, and means any particle of grain or any small pellet of anything. In some lands, corn meant wheat; in others it meant barley or oats. Only Americans adopted the word to describe maize.|In many American dialects, the word for corn meant, "that which gives us life." Indeed, corn was the dietary staple of Indians. Aztec and Mayan civilizations were built on a corn economy, as corn provided food, currency, fuel, fodder for animals, silk for smoking, sugar and even fermented beverages.
Just in time for warm weather, cucumbers are crisp, cool and moistâ€”refreshing attributes due to their exceptionally high water content. These are a delicious snack, and a welcome addition to salads, sandwiches and cold soups such as gazpacho.
- • Steak Milanese Salad
- • Garden Vegetable Salad
- • Chopped Veggie Salad with Watermelon and Feta Cheese
Trivia:The cucumber is an immigrant from southern Asia, coming in a fantastic assortment of sizes, colors and shapes.
Super nutritious, with a clean flavor that is tart, yet sweet, pink grapefruits make a great snack. They are also excellent paired with many varieties of fish, and are great for added zing in salads.The three major types of grapefruit include white, pink/red and Star Ruby/Rio Red. Each variety has it's own unique flavor nuances, but they all have a clean refreshing, sweet-tart flavor. Grapefruits are traditionally halved, then eaten with a spoon, but they can also be peeled or sliced and eaten like an orange. Grapefruits are excellent paired with many varieties of fish, and are great for added zing in salads.
Trivia:The principal ancestor of this subtropical evergreen was called pomelo, brought by a captain Shaddock to Barbados from the Malay Archipelago. The pomelo fruit, borne in clusters that gave rise to the name grapefruit, was also called shaddock, and is quite different from the grapefruit we know today. | In the mid-1700's, grapefruit was called, "Forbidden Fruit." |The West Indies were the point of origin for grapefruit, probably as a cross between the pomelo and an orange. It came to Florida in 1840 where a seedless fruit was found fifty years later and propagated to give us the Marsh Seedless variety.
Tips:Grapefruit keeps at room temperature for at least a week. For longer storage, refrigerate in a plastic bag or in the covered vegetable crisper.
This crispy, sweet tasting, delicate flavored member of the Brassica family of vegetables is often referred to as "cabbage turnip." The bulb-like stem is similar to a turnip in flavor and is naturally sweet and can be eaten raw or steamed or shredded into soups and salads. It is a versatile, nutritious staple food throughout Asia and Eastern Europe, and recently has begun to gain more popularity in the US.
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There are about 30 different varieties that will be available at the supermarket at different times during the summer. Ranging in color from black to pale yellow, and from sweet to tart in flavor, youâ€™ll only find each of these special varieties for a short period of time, so when you see a new one, be sure to take the opportunity to try it.
Trivia:Although plums are native to Asia, Europe and America, most U. S. production is in the Japanese varieties which are red and yellow (European varieties are blue and purple). | The difference between plums and prunes is small. Plums are clingstone (the pit does not separate easily from the flesh) and prunes are freestone. While there are at least 125 prune varieties, most (except for Italian prunes) are grown for drying.
Rhubarb, which looks like a pink celery stalk, is botanically a vegetable, but it is used as a fruit, largely in pies and sauces. Field-grown rhubarb appears on the market from April through July. Rhubarb is sold loose and in 1-pound bags, like celery. Choose well-colored, good-sized, straight, firm crisp stalks. Avoid stalks that are limp. If the leaves are attached, they should look fresh and crisp; small leaves usually indicate younger, more tender stalks. Never eat the leaves. They are poisonous.
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Not only are strawberries a delicious treat, they are incredibly good for you too. The deep red color of these berries comes from a high content of anthocyanins, a potent antioxidant that has repeatedly been shown to help protect cell structures in the body.
Trivia:Ancestors of the strawberry were discovered in the 18th Century by French explorers in Chile. The plump, red berries were cultivated by the Indians in South America. The explorers brought several plants back to France, where the berry was crossed with a wild meadow strawberry that previously had been discovered in Virginia. The resulting berry was a forerunner of our modern strawberry. (Source: California Strawberry Advisory Board)
Trivia:The Massachusett Indian word for "eaten raw" is "Askutasquash." An important Indian food, few white men shared the desire to eat squash raw, until the past few years when raw summer squash types began to appear in salads.| Squash was unknown in Europe until early explorers returned from America with squash seeds.
Nothing reflects the vibrant color and warmth of summer like tomatoes. While tomatoes are available year round, the flavor of fresh summer tomatoes simply canâ€™t be beat!