2013 U.S. apple crop is up 13 percent

September 22, 2013 at 8:29 AM | Posted in fruits | Leave a comment
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The estimate was given during the association’s annual Apple Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference, held Aug. 22-23 in Chicago.

The 2013 estimate represents a 13 percent increase over 2012’s final crop of 215 million bushels, and a 9 percent increase over the five-year average (224 million bushels). It’s the largest crop since 2004, according to USDA statistics.

This was the first year the association prepared its estimate without the benefit of a parallel USDA survey, which was suspended due to budget constraints.

“This was a challenging task in light of the USDA not conducting its work this year,” said Mark Seetin, USApple’s director of regulatory and industry affairs.

“The national crop is up from last year, on the whole and countrywide, but I don’t think it’s a burdensome crop at all,” said Phil Glaize owner of Glaize Orchards in Winchester, Va. “It’s only the 13th largest crop this country has ever produced.”

East

In the Eastern states, the 2013 estimate is 58 million bushels, 39 percent greater than the 2012 crop and 6 percent greater than the five-year average.

“The big news is New York and North Carolina have come back with their production this year,” Glaize said.

New York is expected to be up 87 percent, with a total crop of 32,000 bushels. North Carolina should increase 339 percent, to 3,500 bushels.

“The production from North Carolina to New England is skewed a little bit more toward fresh this year,” Glaize said. “Any holes in the crops are basically in the processing plants.

“This year, there are no major quality issues do to weather,” Glaize said. “Sizing is good throughout the region. With an abnormal amount of rain, you might have thought apples are extra large, but I don’t really think we have that. There is a spread of sizes, not too many small ones, with mostly medium-size to medium-large apples.”

Midwest

The Midwest estimate is 35 million bushels, 472 percent greater than 2012 and 61 percent above the five-year average.

“My favorite number is the 996 percent increase in Michigan over last year,” said Mike Rothwell, president of BelleHarvest Sales in Belding, Mich.

“Michigan’s 16 million bushels for a five-year average has been influenced by crop failures in 2008, 2010 and 2012,” Rothwell said. “With the crop fluctuations we’ve had, we no longer have normals, just averages.”

Rothwell said marketers began pushing the 2013 crop earlier this year, looking for new markets with deeper penetration and increased exports.

Production and infrastructure improvements, combined with more cooperative weather, are leading to the crop’s recovery.

“The new state bird for the state of Michigan is going to be the frost fan,” he said. “Hopefully, these fluctuations from size will begin to level off. It almost has to.”

West

In the Western states, the 2013 estimate is 149 million bushels, down 11 percent from 2012 but 1 percent greater than the five-year average.

Washington state will be down 10 percent, to 140 million bushels. This follows a record crop of 154 million bushels in 2012.

“Washington has had some heat with some sunburn,” said Dan Kelly, assistant manager of Washington Growers Clearinghouse. “We’ve also had some hail. After a lengthy discussion about fresh and processing, we’ve come up with 140 million. That will be the second-largest apple crop on record.”

Kelly said Idaho has had issues with tight labor, early frost and a lot of heat. That state’s production was adjusted down to 1 million bushels, a 44 percent decrease from last year and 35 percent below the five-year average.

California’s 2013 estimate of 4.8 million bushels is 33 percent less than 2012’s crop, and 32 percent below the 5-year average.

“They are heavily into their harvest, having gone through a lot of Galas already,” Kelly said. “They’ve had 14 days of 100 degrees or higher heat, and they’re also 14 days early.”

– Gary Pullano

 

 

http://fruitgrowersnews.com/index.php/magazine/article/united-fresh-a-fresh-cut-for-the-future

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One of America’s Favorites – Barbecue Sauce

June 17, 2013 at 9:19 AM | Posted in BBQ, BEEF, bison, JB's Fatboy Sauces and Rub, One of America's Favorites, ribs | 1 Comment
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Barbecue sauce (also abbreviated BBQ sauce) is a flavoring sauce used as a marinade, basting (cooking) or topping for meat cooked in

The St. Louis barbecue

The St. Louis barbecue

the barbecue cooking style, including pork or beef ribs and chicken. It is a ubiquitous condiment and is used on many other foods as well.

 

 
The ingredients vary widely even within individual countries, but most include some variation on vinegar and/or tomato paste as a base, as well as liquid smoke, spices such as mustard and black pepper, and sweeteners such as sugar or molasses. The most common barbecue sauce in the United States is a commercialized Kansas City-style which uses tomato puree, corn syrup, molasses and vinegar and has a long shelf life. This style is less intense but similar to steak sauce, which is itself a direct relative of the ubiquitous British brown sauce. Other regional recipes elsewhere forgo the tomato sauce base in favor of a more penetrating vinegar-dominant marinade.

 
The precise origin of barbecue sauce is unclear. Some trace it to the end of the 15th century, when Christopher Columbus brought a sauce back from Hispaniola, while others place it at the formation of the first American colonies in the 17th century. References to the substance start occurring in both English and French literature over the next two hundred years. South Carolina mustard sauce, a type of barbecue sauce, can be traced to German settlers in the 18th century.
Early cookbooks did not tend to include recipes for barbecue sauce. The first commercially produced barbecue sauce was made by the Georgia Barbecue Sauce Company in Atlanta, Georgia. Its sauce was advertised for sale in the Atlanta Constitution, January 31, 1909. Heinz released its barbecue sauce in 1940. Kraft Foods also started making cooking oils with bags of spices attached, supplying another market entrance of barbecue sauce.

 
Different geographical regions have allegiances to their particular styles and variations for barbecue sauce. For example, vinegar and

Hunt's barbecue sauce. A nationally distributed Kansas City–style sauce brand

Hunt’s barbecue sauce. A nationally distributed Kansas City–style sauce brand

mustard-based barbecue sauces are popular in certain areas of the southern United States, while in the northern U.S. tomato-based barbecue sauces are well-known. In Asian countries a ketchup and corn syrup-based sauce is common. Mexican salsa can also be used as a base for barbecue sauces.

 
The U.S. has a wide variety of differing barbecue sauce tastes. Some are based in regional tradition.
* East Carolina Sauce – Most American barbecue sauces can trace their roots to the two sauces common in North Carolina.[citation needed] The simplest and the earliest were supposedly popularized by African slaves who also advanced the development of American barbecue. They were made with vinegar, ground black pepper, and hot chili pepper flakes. It is used as a “mopping” sauce to baste the meat while it was cooking and as a dipping sauce when it is served. Thin and sharp, it penetrates the meat and cuts the fats in the mouth. There is little or no sugar in this sauce. Due to the sharp taste, it has more of a cult following amongst people not of the region.
* Lexington Dip (a.k.a. Western Carolina Dip or Piedmont Dip) – In Lexington and in the “Piedmont” hilly areas of western North Carolina, the sauce is often called a dip. It is a lot like the East Carolina Sauce (above) with tomato paste, tomato sauce, or ketchup added. The vinegar softens the tomato.
* Kansas City – Thick, reddish-brown, tomato or ketchup-based with sugars, vinegar, and spices. Evolved from the Lexington Dip (above), it is significantly different in that it is thick and sweet and does not penetrate the meat as much as sit on the surface. This is the most common and popular sauce in the US and all other tomato based sauces are variations on the theme using more or less of the main ingredients.
* Memphis – Similar to the Kansas City style, typically having the same ingredients, but tending to have a larger percentage of vinegar and use molasses as a sweetener.
* South Carolina Mustard Sauce – Part of South Carolina is known for its yellow barbecue sauces made primarily of yellow mustard, vinegar, sugar and spices. This sauce is most common in a belt from Columbia to Charleston, an area settled by many Germans. Vinegar-based sauces with black pepper are common in the coastal plains region as in North Carolina, and thin tomato- and vinegar-based sauces are common in the hilly regions as in North Carolina.
* Texas – In some of the older, more traditional restaurants the sauces are heavily seasoned with cumin, chili peppers, bell peppers, chili powder or ancho powder, lots of black pepper, fresh onion, only a touch of tomato, little or no sugar, and they often contain meat drippings and smoke flavor because meats are dipped into them. They are medium thick and often resemble a thin tomato soup. They penetrate the meat easily rather than sit on top. Bottled barbecue sauces from Texas are often different from those used in the same restaurants because they do not contain meat drippings.
* Alabama White Sauce – North Alabama is known for its distinctive white sauce, a mayonnaise-based sauce, which is used predominantly on chicken and pork. It is composed of mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and black pepper.

Fish of the Week – Bluefish

March 5, 2013 at 10:51 AM | Posted in fish | Leave a comment
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The bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix) is the only extant species of the Pomatomidae family. It is a marine pelagic fish found around the

Large bluefish, about 20 pounds

Large bluefish, about 20 pounds

world in temperate and sub-tropical waters, except for the Northern Pacific Ocean. Bluefish are known as tailor in Australia, shad on the east coast of South Africa, elf on the west coast, lüfer in Turkey, and similarly, луфарь/lufar in Russian. Other common names are blue, chopper, and anchoa. It is good eating and a popular gamefish.
The bluefish is a moderately proportioned fish, with a broad, forked tail. The spiny first dorsal fin is normally folded back in a groove, as are its pectoral fins. Coloration is a grayish blue-green dorsally, fading to white on the lower sides and belly. Its single row of teeth in each jaw are uniform in size, knife-edged and sharp. Bluefish commonly range in size from seven-inch (18-cm) “snappers” to much larger, sometimes weighing as much as 40 pounds (18 kg), though fish heavier than 20 pounds (9 kg) are exceptional.

 

Bluefish are widely distributed around the world in tropical and subtropical waters. They are found in pelagic waters on much of the continental shelves along eastern America (though not between south Florida and northern South America), Africa, the Mediterranean and Black Seas (and during migration in between), Southeast Asia and Australia. They are found in a variety of coastal habitats: above the continental shelf, in energetic waters near surf beaches or by rock headlands. They also enter estuaries and inhabit brackish waters. Periodically, they leave the coasts and migrate in schools through open waters.
Along the U.S. east coast, bluefish are found off Florida in the winter months. By April, they have disappeared, heading north. By June, they may be found off Massachusetts; in years of high abundance, stragglers may be found as far north as Nova Scotia. By October, they leave New England waters, heading south (whereas some Bluefish, perhaps less migratory, are present in the Gulf of Mexico throughout the year). In a similar pattern overall, the economically significant population that spawns in Europe’s Black Sea migrates South through Istanbul (Bosphorus, Sea of Marmara, Dardanelles, Aegean Sea) and on toward Turkey’s Mediterranean coast in the autumn for the cold season. Along the South African coast and environs, movement patterns are roughly in parallel.

 

Adult bluefish are typically between 20 and 60 cm long, with a maximum reported size of 120 cm and 14 kilograms. They reproduce during spring and summer, and can live for up to 9 years. Bluefish fry are zooplankton, and are largely at the mercy of currents. Spent bluefish have been found off east central Florida, migrating north. As with most marine fish, their spawning habits are not well known. In the western side of the North Atlantic, at least two populations occur, separated by Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. The Gulf Stream can carry fry spawned to the south of Cape Hatteras to the north, and eddies can spin off, carrying them into populations found off the coast of the mid-Atlantic, and the New England states.

 

Adult bluefish are strong and aggressive, and live in loose groups. They are fast swimmers which prey on schools of forage fish, and continue attacking them in feeding frenzies even after they appear to have eaten their fill. Depending on area and season, they favor menhaden and other sardine-like fish (Clupeidae), jacks (Scombridae), weakfish (Sciaenidae), grunts (Haemulidae), striped anchovies (Engraulidae), shrimp and squid. They are cannibalistic and can destroy their own young. Bluefish sometimes chase bait through the surf zone, attacking schools in very shallow water, churning the water like a washing machine. This behavior is sometimes referred to as a “bluefish blitz”.
In turn, bluefish are preyed upon by larger predators at all stages of their life cycle. As juveniles, they fall victim to a wide variety of oceanic predators, including striped bass, larger bluefish, fluke (summer flounder), weakfish, tuna, sharks, rays, and dolphins. As adults, bluefish are taken by tuna, sharks, billfish, seals, sea lions, dolphins, porpoises, and many other species.
Bluefish should be handled with caution due to their ability to snap at unwary hands. Fishermen have been severely bitten, and it can help to wear gloves. It a not good idea to wade or swim among feeding bluefish schools. In July 2006, a seven-year-old girl was attacked on a beach, near the Spanish town of Alicante, allegedly by a bluefish.

 

In the U.S., bluefish are landed primarily in recreational fisheries, but important commercial fisheries also exist in temperate and

Pan frying the fillets

Pan frying the fillets

subtropical waters. Bluefish population abundance is typically cyclical, with abundance varying widely over a span of ten years or more.

 

Bluefish is a highly sought-after sportfish (and restaurant fish in some places) that had been widely overfished across the world’s fisheries of this species. Restrictions set forth by management organizations have somewhat helped the species’ population stabilize. In the U.S., specifically along the seaboard of the middle Atlantic states, bluefish were at unhealthy levels in the late 1990s, but management resulted in this stocks being fully rebuilt by 2009 In other parts of the world, public awareness efforts like Bluefish festivals, combined with catch limits, may be having positive effects in reducing the stress on the regional stocks. Some of these efforts are regionally controversial.

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