Sweet BBQ Chicken Kabobs w/ Whole Grain Brown Rice

July 3, 2016 at 4:56 PM | Posted in fruits, Johnsonville Meats, Uncle Ben's Rice | Leave a comment
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Today’s Menu: Sweet BBQ Chicken Kabobs w/ Whole Grain Brown Rice

 
Went outside last night about 10:00 and was able to watch several Fireworks Shows around the area. A lot of the Firework Shows were moved up because of heavy rain prediction for the 4th of July (Monday). Mom went to ChurchSweet BBQ Chicken Kabobs w Whole Grain Brown Rice 013 this morning and I stayed home to keep an eye on Dad and it was house cleaning day today. I made some Pancakes for Breakfast this morning. Made them with Bisquick Heart Smart. Also fried up 3 slices of Jennie – O Turkey Bacon. After Lunch went over to see a friend of mine, he had bought a new car and he wanted me to stop by and check it out. Amazing what the new cars are equipped with now! For dinner tonight staying with the Chicken. So last night it Chicken and Fries and tonight It’s Chicken in a different way, tonight it’s Sweet BBQ Chicken Kabobs w/ Whole Grain Brown Rice.

 

 

Sweet BBQ Chicken Kabobs w Whole Grain Brown Rice 002

Came across a new item at Meijer yesterday and couldn’t wait to give it a try! Tonight I’m trying the new Johnsonville Sweet BBQ Chicken Kabobs. Meijer had 3 different kinds but I wanted to give the Sweet BBQ Chicken Kabobs first. You can grill them or bake them, so I’m baking mine. Our grill died and I haven’t replaced it. So the Kabobs come fresh and in a sealed package of 4 seasoned and skewered Kabobs.

 

 

 

 

Sweet BBQ Chicken Kabobs w Whole Grain Brown Rice 004
To prepare them I preheated the oven to 425°F. Placed the Kabobs on foil-lined backing pan coated with Pam Cooking Spray. Baked for 15 minutes, turning once. And done! How easy is this, a one pan cleanup. Johnsonville has it’s self another winning dish! The Chicken is moist and so tender with nice seasoning. The easiest Kabob I’ve ever prepared! These would be great for parties or grilling out for the family. Looking forward to trying the other types.

 

 

 

Sweet BBQ Chicken Kabobs w Whole Grain Brown Rice 007
To go with the Kabobs I prepared some Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice – Whole Grain Brown Rice. To prepare it just microwave. It comes in a microwavable Pouch. Just heat for 90 seconds and serve! Rice comes out perfect, steaming hot and fluffy.

 

 

 

 

I wanted something else to go with everything, something light and fresh. So I went with a Fruit Medley. So out of the pantry I grabbed a can of Del Monte Diced Mango and a can of Dole Pineapple Chunks. I then I chopped up someSweet BBQ Chicken Kabobs w Whole Grain Brown Rice 001 Cilantro. I opened the cans of Mango and Pineapples up and drained the Juice from each one in separate bowl. I’m going to use juices to flavor the dish. Place the Mango, Pineapple, and Cilantro in a mixing bowl. Stir in the Juice of 1 of the fruits or combinations of all the Juices, no certain amount just adjust it to your own tastes. Stir, and cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Turned out great, it hit the spot! Fresh and Fruity, nice side. For dessert later a Jello Sugar Free Dark Chocolate Pudding.

 

 
Johnsonville Sweet BBQ Chicken Kabobs

ABOUT THIS PRODUCT

Get some BBQ flavor on your plate with Johnsonville Sweet BBQ Chicken Kabobs! The sweet and smoky seasonings will get your mouth watering, and the all-natural chicken breast will help you feel good about smart eating. Johnsonville Kabobs are an excellent choice for quick, delicious meals.

COOKING DIRECTIONSJohnsonville Sweet BBQ Chicken Kabobs
Grill
Preheat grill to medium. Grill kabobs once. Wrap kabobs in foil; grill 8-10 minutes longer or until cooked through.
Electric contact grill
Perheat grill to medium. Grill kabobs for 5-7 minutes; or until cooked through, turning once.
Oven
Preheat oven to 425°F. Place kabobs on foil-lined backing pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until cooked through, turning once.

INGREDIENTS
NO MSG ADDED
GLUTEN-FREE
Chicken breast, BBQ seasoning (sugar, vinegar powder [maltodextrin, modified corn starch, vinegar], dehydrated tomatoes, spices, molasses solids, smoke flavor, dehydrated red bell peppers, maltodextrin, sodium diacetate, less than 1% of salt, artificial flavor, caramel color, chili, garlic, extractives of paprika, onion powder, citric acid), water and less than 2% of the following: salt, sugar, sodium phosphates.

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving Size: 1 kabob
Servings per Container: 4
Calories: 90
Calories from Fat: 15
% Daily Value *
Total Fat: 1.5g 2%
Saturated Fat: 0g 0%
Trans Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 40mg 13%
Sodium: 230mg 10%
Total Carbohydrates: 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber: 0g 0%
Sugars: 3g
Protein: 16g

http://www.johnsonville.com/products/kabob-sweet-bbq.html

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Fall Fruits and Vegetables

September 17, 2015 at 4:55 AM | Posted in fruits, vegetables | 1 Comment
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Here’s a handy guide for all the Fall Fruits and Vegetables Harvest that’s coming in now. It’s from the about.com website. You can see the entire article by clicking the link at the bottom of the page.

 

Fall Fruits and Vegetablesaboutfood
What’s in Season in Fall?

Look for these fall fruits and vegetables at farmers markets and in produce departments for the best flavor (and greatest value) in season.
Apples are one of those fruits people have forgotten have a season. But they do, and in the Northern Hemisphere they’re harvested late summer through fall.

Artichokes produce a second, smaller crop in the fall (the first go-around is in the spring) that tends to produce small to medium artichokes.

Arugula is a cool weather peppery green harvested at different times in different places (winter in warm climates, summer in cool ones) but grows in many places during autumn.

Beets are in season in temperate climates fall through spring, and available from storage most of the year everywhere else. Fresh beets are often sold with their greens still attached.

Belgian Endive are mostly “forced” to grow in artificial conditions. Their traditional season (when grown in fields and covered with sand to keep out the light), like that of all chicories, is late fall and winter.

Broccoli can be grown year-round in temperate climates so we’ve forgotten it even has a season. It is more sweet, less bitter and sharp when harvested in the cooler temperatures of fall in most climates……….

 

http://localfoods.about.com/od/whatsinseason/a/FallFruitVeg.htm

Diabetic Dish of the- Fruit Kabobs

February 24, 2015 at 6:13 AM | Posted in diabetes, diabetes friendly, Diabetic Dish of the Week, fruits | Leave a comment
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Add some fruit to your meals, and it’s Diabetic Friendly!

 

Fruit Kabobs
Ingredients:

3/4 cup bite size Cantaloupe Chunks
3/4 cup bite size Honeydew Melon Chunks
3/4 cup small fresh Strawberries, hulled
3/4 cup bite – size fresh Pineapple chunks
1 small Banana cut into 1 – inch – thick slices
1 cup Orange Juice
1/4 cup Lime Juice
1 6 – ounce Vanilla Low – Fat or Fat – Free Yogurt
2 tablespoons frozen Orange Juice Concentrate, thawed
Ground Nutmeg or Ground Cinnamon (Optional)

 
Directions:

1 – On eight 6 – inch skewers, alternately thread Fruit chunks and slices. Place Kabobs in a glass baking dish. In a small bowl combine Orange Juice and Lime Juice; pour evenly over Kabobs. Cover; chill Kabobs for at least 30 minutes or up to 60 minutes, turning occasionally.

2 – Meanwhile, for Dip, in a small bowl stir together Yogurt and Orange Concentrate. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

3 – To serve, arrange Kabobs on a serving platter; discard Juice Mixture. If desired, sprinkle Nutmeg or Cinnamon over Kabobs. Serve with Dip.
Nutrition: 62 calories, 0 g total fat, 20 mg sodium, 14 6 carbs, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

April 14, 2014 at 7:22 AM | Posted in fruits, Kitchen Hints | Leave a comment
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To help keep those bananas as fresh as possible, try these tips. Put ripe bananas into a sealed plastic bag and place the bag into the fridge. Avoid storing them with other fruits. Store for no more than 2 weeks. Its skin may be blacken after a week but inside will not soften until 2 weeks.

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

April 9, 2014 at 5:48 AM | Posted in fruits, Kitchen Hints | Leave a comment
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If you are going to prepare a fresh fruit salad or a tart, sometimes it’s very difficult not to crush the berries in a mixing bowl or keeping them intact when you are adding trying to sugar them. Try the method of placing the berries in a large plastic bag and adding the sugar. Hold the bag closed with one hand and gently move the berries about with other hand. If you are going to use the berries in a tart, just empty the berries into the pastry shell.

Eat Local Longer: A Winter Farmers Market at Findlay!

December 3, 2013 at 10:41 AM | Posted in Food, fruits, vegetables | 2 Comments
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Findlay Market

 

Eat Local Longer: A Winter Farmers Market at Findlay!

 
We’ve been working for several years to bring a winter farmers market to Findlay Market and this year you’ll finally have an opportunity to “eat local longer!”

Join us for the kick-off of our winter farmers market on Saturday, December 7 from 8am to 2pm. We will host the market every Saturday in the somewhat warm and friendly confines of the former Globe Furniture building on the corner of Elm and Elder across from the OTR Biergarten. Lots of the same vendors from our regular farmers market will be there, along with some new faces. Check back soon for a full listing of the participating famrers and food artisans you’ll find in our winter market.
The mission of our farmers market is to promote local, sustainable agriculture; increase economic opportunities for small family farms and innovative food businesses; provide equitable access to wholesome food; and build a vibrant gathering place for residents and visitors.
Products change at all farmers markets as availability waxes and wanes. What may be there one week may not be available the next. So shop often, snap up the goodies you see and you’ll be eating well all winter long.

 

 

http://www.findlaymarket.org/blog/index.php?newsId=422

Fall Harvest: Pomegranates

October 12, 2013 at 8:15 AM | Posted in fruits, vegetables | 2 Comments
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Pomegranates only ripen in warmer climates. They are in season starting in October and are usually available fresh through December.

 

A pomegranate fruit

A pomegranate fruit

The pomegranate /ˈpɒmɨɡrænɨt/, botanical name Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing between 5–8 meters (16–26 ft) tall.
The pomegranate is widely considered to have originated in the vicinity of Iran and has been cultivated since ancient times. Today, it is widely cultivated throughout the Mediterranean region of southern Europe, the Middle East and Caucasus region, northern Africa and tropical Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia and the drier parts of southeast Asia. Introduced into Latin America and California by Spanish settlers in 1769, pomegranate is also cultivated in parts of California and Arizona.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the fruit is typically in season from September to February. In the Southern Hemisphere, the pomegranate is in season from March to May.
The pomegranate has been mentioned in many ancient texts, notably in Babylonian texts, the Book of Exodus, the Homeric Hymns and the Quran. In recent years, it has become more common in the commercial markets of North America and the Western Hemisphere.
Pomegranates are used in cooking, baking, juices, smoothies and alcoholic beverages, such as martinis and wine.

 

 

The Punica granatum leaves are opposite or sub-opposite, glossy, narrow oblong, entire, 3–7 cm long and 2 cm broad. The flowers are bright red, 3 cm in diameter, with four to five petals (often more on cultivated plants). Some fruitless varieties are grown for the flowers alone. The edible fruit is a berry and is between a lemon and a grapefruit in size, 5–12 cm in diameter with a rounded hexagonal shape, and has thick reddish skin. The exact number of seeds in a pomegranate can vary from 200 to about 1400 seeds, contrary to some beliefs that all pomegranates have exactly the same number of seeds. Each seed has a surrounding water-laden pulp—the edible aril—ranging in color from white to deep red or purple. The seeds are embedded in a white, spongy, astringent membrane.

 

 

Pomegranate in cross section

Pomegranate in cross section

After the pomegranate is opened by scoring it with a knife and breaking it open, the arils (seed casings) are separated from the peel and internal white pulp membranes. Separating the red arils is easier in a bowl of water because the arils sink and the inedible pulp floats. Freezing the entire fruit also makes it easier to separate. Another very effective way of quickly harvesting the arils is to cut the pomegranate in half, score each half of the exterior rind four to six times, hold the pomegranate half over a bowl and smack the rind with a large spoon. The arils should eject from the pomegranate directly into the bowl, leaving only a dozen or more deeply embedded arils to remove.
The entire seed is consumed raw, though the watery, tasty aril is the desired part. The taste differs depending on the subspecies of pomegranate and its ripeness.

The entire seed is consumed raw, though the watery, tasty aril is the desired part. The taste differs depending on the subspecies of pomegranate and its ripeness. The pomegranate juice can be very sweet or sour, but most fruits are moderate in taste, with sour notes from the acidic tannins contained in the aril juice. Pomegranate juice has long been a popular drink in Armenian, Persian and Indian cuisine, and began to be widely distributed in the United States and Canada in 2002.
Grenadine syrup is thickened and sweetened pomegranate juice and is used in cocktail mixing. Before tomatoes (a New World fruit) arrived in the Middle East, grenadine was widely used in many Iranian foods, and is still found in traditional recipes such as fesenjān, a thick sauce made from pomegranate juice and ground walnuts, usually spooned over duck or other poultry and rice, and in ash-e anar (pomegranate soup).

Wild pomegranate seeds are used as a spice known as anardana (from Persian: anar + dana, pomegranate + seed), most notably in Indian and Pakistani cuisine, but also as a substitute for pomegranate syrup in Persian cuisine. Dried whole arils can often be obtained in ethnic Indian subcontinent markets. These seeds are separated from the flesh, dried for 10–15 days and used as an acidic agent for chutney and curry preparation. Ground anardana is also used, which results in a deeper flavoring in dishes and prevents the seeds from getting stuck in teeth. Seeds of the wild pomegranate variety known as daru from the Himalayas are regarded as quality sources for this spice.
Dried pomegranate arils, found in some natural specialty food markets, still contain the seed and residual aril water, maintaining a natural sweet and tart flavor. Dried arils can be used in several culinary applications, such as trail mix, granola bars, or as a topping for salad, yogurt, or ice cream. Chocolate covered arils may be added to desserts and baked items.
In the Caucasus, pomegranate is used mainly as juice. In Azerbaijan, a sauce from pomegranate juice (narsharab) is usually served with fish or tika kabab. In Turkey, pomegranate sauce (Turkish: nar ekşisi) is used as a salad dressing, to marinate meat, or simply to drink straight. Pomegranate seeds are also used in salads and sometimes as garnish for desserts such as güllaç. Pomegranate syrup or molasses is used in muhammara, a roasted red pepper, walnut, and garlic spread popular in Syria and Turkey.
In Greece, pomegranate (Greek: ρόδι, rodi) is used in many recipes, including kollivozoumi, a creamy broth made from boiled wheat, pomegranates and raisins, legume salad with wheat and pomegranate, traditional Middle Eastern lamb kebabs with pomegranate glaze, pomegranate eggplant relish, and avocado-pomegranate dip. Pomegranate is also made into a liqueur, and as a popular fruit confectionery used as ice cream topping, mixed with yogurt, or spread as jam on toast. In Cyprus and Greece, and among the Greek Orthodox Diaspora, ρόδι (Greek for pomegranate) is used to make koliva, a mixture of wheat, pomegranate seeds, sugar, almonds and other seeds served at memorial services.
In Mexico, they are commonly used to adorn the traditional dish chiles en nogada, representing the red of the Mexican flag in the dish which evokes the green (poblano pepper), white (nogada sauce) and red (pomegranate arils) tricolor.

 

Green salad with roast beef, pomegranate vinaigrette, and lemon juice

Green salad with roast beef, pomegranate vinaigrette, and lemon juice

 
In preliminary laboratory research and clinical trials, juice of the pomegranate may be effective in reducing heart disease risk factors, including LDL oxidation, macrophage oxidative status, and foam cell formation. In mice, “oxidation of LDL by peritoneal macrophages was reduced by up to 90% after pomegranate juice consumption…”.
In a limited study of hypertensive patients, consumption of pomegranate juice for two weeks was shown to reduce systolic blood pressure by inhibiting serum angiotensin-converting enzyme. Juice consumption may also inhibit viral infections while pomegranate extracts have antibacterial effects against dental plaque.
Despite limited research data, manufacturers and marketers of pomegranate juice have liberally used evolving research results for product promotion, especially for putative antioxidant health benefits. In February 2010, the FDA issued a Warning Letter to one such manufacturer, POM Wonderful, for using published literature to make illegal claims of unproven antioxidant and anti-disease benefits.

 

 

 

Fall Harvest: Persimmon

October 11, 2013 at 8:53 AM | Posted in fruits | 1 Comment
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Persimmons are available for a short window in the fall and early winter – look for bright, heavy-feeling fruits.

A branch heavily laden with persimmons

A branch heavily laden with persimmons

Persimmons are the edible fruit of a number of species of trees in the genus Diospyros. Diospyros is in the family Ebenaceae. In color the ripe fruit of the cultivated strains range from light yellow-orange to dark red-orange depending on the species and variety. They similarly vary in size from 1.5 to 9 cm (0.5 to 4 in) in diameter, and in shape the varieties may be spherical, acorn-, or pumpkin-shaped. The calyx generally remains attached to the fruit after harvesting, but becomes easy to remove once the fruit is ripe. The ripe fruit has a high glucose content. The protein content is low, but it has a balanced protein profile. Persimmon fruits have been put to various medicinal and chemical uses.
Like the tomato, persimmons are not popularly considered to be berries, but in terms of botanical morphology the fruit is in fact a berry.

Commercially and in general, there are two types of persimmon fruit: astringent and non-astringent.
The heart-shaped Hachiya is the most common variety of astringent persimmon. Astringent persimmons contain very high levels of soluble tannins and are unpalatably astringent (or “furry” tasting) if eaten before completely softened. However, the sweet, delicate flavor of fully ripened persimmons of varieties that are astringent when unripe, is particularly relished. The astringency of tannins is removed in various ways. Examples include ripening by exposure to light for several days, and wrapping the fruit in paper (probably because this increases the ethylene concentration of the surrounding air). Ethylene ripening can be increased in reliability and evenness, and the process can be greatly accelerated, by adding ethylene gas to the atmosphere in which the fruit are stored. For domestic purposes the most convenient and effective process is to store the ripening persimmons in a clean, dry container together with other varieties of fruit that give off particularly large quantities of ethylene while they are ripening; apples and related fruits such as pears are effective, and so are bananas and several others. Other chemicals are used commercially in artificially ripening persimmons or delaying their ripening. Examples include alcohol and carbon dioxide which change tannin into the insoluble form. Such bletting processes sometimes are jumpstarted by exposing the fruit to cold or frost. The resultant cell damage stimulates the release of ethylene, which promotes cellular wall breakdown.

One traditional misconception is that persimmons are to be ripened till rotten. This is a confusion of the processes of controlled ripening with the processes of decay, possibly arising from problems of translation from Asiatic languages onto English. Rotting is the action of microorganisms such as fungi, and rotting persimmons are no better than any other rotting fruit. Sound persimmons should be ripened till they are fully soft, except that the carpels still might be softly chewy. At that stage the skin might be splitting and the calyx can easily be plucked out of the fruit before serving, which often is a good sign that the soft fruit is ready to eat.
Astringent varieties of persimmons also can be prepared for commercial purposes by drying. Tanenashi fruit will occasionally contain a seed or two, which can be planted and will yield a larger more vertical tree than when merely grafted onto the D. virginiana rootstock most commonly used in the U.S. Such seedling trees may produce fruit that bears more seeds, usually 6 to 8 per fruit, and the fruit itself may vary slightly from the parent tree. Seedlings are said to be more susceptible to root nematodes.
The non-astringent persimmon is squat like a tomato and is most commonly sold as fuyu. Non-astringent persimmons are not actually free of tannins as the term suggests, but rather are far less astringent before ripening, and lose more of their tannic quality sooner. Non-astringent persimmons may be consumed when still very firm, and remain edible when very soft.
There is a third type, less commonly available, the pollination-variant non-astringent persimmons. When fully pollinated, the flesh of these fruit is brown inside—known as goma in Japan—and the fruit can be eaten firm. These varieties are highly sought after and can be found at specialty markets or farmers markets only. Tsurunoko, sold as “chocolate persimmon” for its dark brown flesh, Maru, sold as “cinnamon persimmon” for its spicy flavor, and Hyakume, sold as “brown sugar” are the three best known.
Before ripening, persimmons usually have a “chalky” taste or bitter taste.

A ripe hachiya persimmon fruit

A ripe hachiya persimmon fruit

Persimmons are eaten fresh, dried, raw, or cooked. When eaten fresh they are usually eaten whole like an apple or cut into quarters, though with some varieties it is best to peel the skin first. One way to consume very ripe persimmons, which can have the texture of pudding, is to remove the top leaf with a paring knife and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Riper persimmons can also be eaten by removing the top leaf, breaking the fruit in half and eating from the inside out. The flesh ranges from firm to mushy, and the texture is unique. The flesh is very sweet and when firm due to being unripe, possesses an apple-like crunch. American persimmons and diospyros digyna are completely inedible until they are fully ripe.
In China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam after harvesting, ‘Hachiya’ persimmons are prepared using traditional hand-drying techniques, outdoors for two to three weeks. The fruit is then further dried by exposure to heat over several days before being shipped to market.

In Korea, dried persimmon fruits are used to make the traditional Korean spicy punch, sujeonggwa, while the matured, fermented fruit is used to make a persimmon vinegar called gamsikcho (감식초). The hoshigaki tradition traveled to California with Japanese American immigrants.
In Taiwan, fruits of astringent varieties are sealed in jars filled with limewater to get rid of bitterness. Slightly hardened in the process, they are sold under the name “crisp persimmon” (cuishi 脆柿) or “water persimmon” (shuishizi 水柿子). Preparation time is dependent upon temperature (5 to 7 days at 25–28 °C (77–82 °F)). In some areas of Manchuria and Korea, the dried leaves of the fruit are used for making tea. The Korean name for this tea is ghamnip cha (감잎차).
In the state of Indiana (US), persimmons are harvested and used in a variety of dessert dishes most notably pies. It can be used in cookies, cakes, puddings, salads, curries and as a topping for breakfast cereal. Persimmon pudding is a dessert using fresh persimmons. An annual persimmon festival, featuring a persimmon pudding contest, is held every September in Mitchell, Indiana. Persimmon pudding is a baked pudding that has the consistency of pumpkin pie but resembles a brownie and is almost always topped with whipped cream. Persimmons may be stored at room temperature 20 °C (68 °F) where they will continue to ripen. In northern China, unripe persimmons are frozen outside during winter to speed up the ripening process.

Compared to apples, persimmons have higher levels of dietary fiber, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and manganese, but lower levels of copper and zinc. They also contain vitamin C and provitamin A beta-carotene (Nutrient table, right).
Persimmon fruits contain phytochemicals, such as catechin and gallocatechin, as well as compounds under preliminary research for potential anti-cancer activity, such as betulinic acid. In one study, a diet supplemented with dried, powdered triumph persimmons improved lipid metabolism in laboratory rats.

Fall Harvest: Figs

October 1, 2013 at 8:00 AM | Posted in fruits | 1 Comment
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Figs have a short second season in late fall (the first harvest comes in summer) just in time for Thanksgiving.

 

Fresh figs cut open showing the flesh and seeds inside

Fresh figs cut open showing the flesh and seeds inside

The common fig (Ficus carica) is a species of  flowering plant in the genus Ficus, from the family Moraceae, known as the common fig (or just the fig), anjeer (Iran, Pakistan), and dumur (Bengali). It is the source of the fruit also called the fig, and as such is an important crop in those areas where it is grown commercially. Native to the Middle East and western Asia, it has been sought out and cultivated by man since ancient times, and is now widely grown throughout the temperate world, both for its fruit and as an ornamental plant.

 

 

Figs can be eaten fresh or dried, and used in jam-making. Most commercial production is in dried or otherwise processed forms, since the ripe fruit does not transport well, and once picked does not keep well. The widely produced fig newton or fig roll is a biscuit (cookie) with a filling made from figs.

 

 

Figs are among the richest plant sources of calcium and fiber. According to USDA data for the Mission variety, dried figs are richest in fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and vitamin K, relative to human needs. They have smaller amounts of many other nutrients. Figs have a laxative effect and contain many antioxidants. They are a good source of flavonoids and polyphenols including gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, syringic acid, (+)-catechin, (−)-epicatechin and rutin. In one study, a 40-gram portion of dried figs (two medium size figs) produced a significant increase in plasma antioxidant capacity.

 

 

 

Fall Harvest: Cranberries

September 30, 2013 at 9:10 AM | Posted in fruits | 2 Comments
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Cranberries, native to North America, and are harvested in New England and the Upper Midwest in the fall.

 

 

Cranberry bush with fruit partially submerged

Cranberry bush with fruit partially submerged

Cranberries are a group of evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines in the subgenus Oxycoccus of the genus Vaccinium. In some methods of classification, Oxycoccus is regarded as a genus in its own right. They can be found in acidic bogs throughout the cooler regions of the northern hemisphere.
Cranberries are low, creeping shrubs or vines up to 2 metres (7 ft) long and 5 to 20 centimetres (2 to 8 in) in height; they have slender, wiry stems that are not thickly woody and have small evergreen leaves. The flowers are dark pink, with very distinct reflexed petals, leaving the style and stamens fully exposed and pointing forward. They are pollinated by bees. The fruit is a berry that is larger than the leaves of the plant; it is initially white, but turns a deep red when fully ripe. It is edible, with an acidic taste that can overwhelm its sweetness.
Cranberries are a major commercial crop in certain American states and Canadian provinces (see cultivation and uses below). Most cranberries are processed into products such as juice, sauce, jam, and sweetened dried cranberries, with the remainder sold fresh to consumers. Cranberry sauce is regarded as an indispensable part of traditional American and Canadian Thanksgiving menus and some European winter festivals.
Since the early 21st century within the global functional food industry, raw cranberries have been marketed as a “superfruit” due to their nutrient content and antioxidant qualities.

 

 

There are three to four species of cranberry, classified in two sections:
Subgenus Oxycoccus, sect. Oxycoccus
8 Vaccinium oxycoccos or Oxycoccus palustris (Common Cranberry or Northern Cranberry) is widespread throughout the cool temperate northern hemisphere, including northern Europe, northern Asia and northern North America. It has small 5–10 mm leaves. The flowers are dark pink, with a purple central spike, produced on finely hairy stems. The fruit is a small pale pink berry, with a refreshing sharp acidic flavour.
* Vaccinium microcarpum or Oxycoccus microcarpus (Small Cranberry) occurs in northern North America,[6] northern Europe and northern Asia, and differs from V. oxycoccos in the leaves being more triangular, and the flower stems hairless. Some botanists include it within V. oxycoccos.
* Vaccinium macrocarpon or Oxycoccus macrocarpus (Large cranberry, American Cranberry, Bearberry) native to northern North America across Canada, and eastern United States, south to North Carolina at high altitudes). It differs from V. oxycoccos in the leaves being larger, 10–20 mm long, and in its slightly apple-like taste.
Subgenus Oxycoccus, sect. Oxycoccoides
* Vaccinium erythrocarpum or Oxycoccus erythrocarpus (Southern Mountain Cranberry) native to southeastern North America at high altitudes in the southern Appalachian Mountains, and also in eastern Asia.

 

Cranberries

Cranberries

Cranberries are related to bilberries, blueberries, and huckleberries, all in Vaccinium subgenus Vaccinium. These differ in having stouter, woodier stems forming taller shrubs, and in the bell-shaped flowers, the petals not being reflexed.
Some plants of the completely unrelated genus Viburnum are sometimes inaccurately called “highbush cranberries” (Viburnum trilobum).
Cranberries are susceptible to false blossom, a harmful but controllable phytoplasma disease common in the eastern production areas of Massachusetts and New Jersey.

 

 

Cranberries are a major commercial crop in the U.S. states of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Quebec. 20% of the world’s cranberries are produced in British Columbia’s lower mainland region. In the United States, Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries, with over half of U.S. production. Massachusetts is the second largest U.S. producer. A very small production is found in southern Argentina and Chile, the Netherlands, and Eastern Europe.[citation needed]
Historically, cranberry beds were constructed in wetlands. Today cranberry beds are constructed in upland areas with a shallow water table. The topsoil is scraped off to form dykes around the bed perimeter. Clean sand is hauled into a depth of four to eight inches. The surface is laser leveled flat to provide even drainage. Beds are frequently drained with socked tile in addition to the perimeter ditch. In addition to making it possible to hold water, the dykes allow equipment to service the beds without driving on the vines. Irrigation equipment is installed in the bed to provide irrigation for vine growth and for spring and autumn frost protection.

 

 

Cranberry vines are propagated by moving vines from an established bed. The vines are spread on the surface of the sand of the new bed and pushed into the sand with a blunt disk. The vines are watered frequently during the first few weeks until roots form and new shoots grow. Beds are given frequent light application of nitrogen fertilizer during the first year. The cost of establishment for new cranberry beds is estimated to be about US$70,000 per hectare (approx. $28,300 per acre).
A common misconception about cranberry production is that the beds remain flooded throughout the year. During the growing season cranberry beds are not flooded, but are irrigated regularly to maintain soil moisture. Beds are flooded in the autumn to facilitate harvest and again during the winter to protect against low temperatures. In cold climates like Wisconsin, Maine, and eastern Canada, the winter flood typically freezes into ice, while in warmer climates the water remains liquid. When ice forms on the beds, trucks can be driven onto the ice to spread a thin layer of sand that helps to control pests and rejuvenate the vines. Sanding is done every three to five years.

 

 

Cranberry harvest in New Jersey

Cranberry harvest in New Jersey

Cranberries are harvested in the fall when the fruit takes on its distinctive deep red color. This is usually in September through the first part of November. To harvest cranberries, the beds are flooded with six to eight inches of water above the vines. A harvester is driven through the beds to remove the fruit from the vines. For the past 50 years, water reel type harvesters have been used. Harvested cranberries float in the water and can be corralled into a corner of the bed and conveyed or pumped from the bed. From the farm, cranberries are taken to receiving stations where they are cleaned, sorted, and stored prior to packaging or processing.
Although most cranberries are wet-picked as described above, 5–10% of the US crop is still dry-picked. This entails higher labor costs and lower yield, but dry-picked berries are less bruised and can be sold as fresh fruit instead of having to be immediately frozen or processed. Originally performed with two-handed comb scoops, dry picking is today accomplished by motorized, walk-behind harvesters which must be small enough to traverse beds without damaging the vines.
White cranberry juice is made from regular cranberries that have been harvested after the fruits are mature, but before they have attained their characteristic dark red color. Yields are lower on beds harvested early and the early flooding tends to damage vines, but not severely.
Cranberries for fresh market are stored in shallow bins or boxes with perforated or slatted bottoms, which deter decay by allowing air to circulate. Because harvest occurs in late autumn, cranberries for fresh market are frequently stored in thick walled barns without mechanical refrigeration. Temperatures are regulated by opening and closing vents in the barn as needed. Cranberries destined for processing are usually frozen in bulk containers shortly after arriving at a receiving station.

 

 

About 95% of cranberries are processed into products such as juice drinks, sauce, and sweetened dried cranberries. The remaining are sold fresh to consumers.
Cranberries are normally considered too sharp to be eaten plain and raw, as they are not only sour but bitter as well.
Cranberry juice is a major use of cranberries; it is usually either sweetened to make “cranberry juice cocktail” or blended with other fruit juices to reduce its natural severe tartness. Many cocktails, including the Cosmopolitan, are made with cranberry juice. At one teaspoon of sugar per ounce, cranberry juice cocktail is more highly sweetened than even soda drinks that have been linked to obesity.
Usually cranberries as fruit are cooked into a compote or jelly, known as cranberry sauce. Such preparations are traditionally served with roast turkey, as a staple of English Christmas dinners, and the Canadian and US holiday Thanksgiving. The berry is also used in baking (muffins, scones, cakes and breads). In baking it is often combined with orange or orange zest. Less commonly, innovative cooks use cranberries to add tartness to savory dishes such as soups and stews.
Fresh cranberries can be frozen at home, and will keep up to nine months; they can be used directly in recipes without thawing.
Cranberry wine is made in some of the cranberry-growing regions of the United States and Canada from either whole cranberries, cranberry juice or cranberry juice concentrate.

 

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