Tomatoes

The tomato is a sprawling plant in the nightshade family widely cultivated for its edible fruit. Savory in flavor (and accordingly termed a vegetable), the fruit of most varieties ripens to a distinctive red color. There are many different varieties of tomato plants and most produce red fruit, but there are also tomato plants that produce yellow, orange, pink, purple, green and white fruit. Tomato plants also vary in size from small cherry tomatoes to elongated plum tomatoes.

Tomatoes are high in Vitamin A and C and are naturally low in calories. They are also an excellent source of lycopene, which is the pigment that makes tomatoes red and has been linked to the prevention of many types of cancer.

Slicer-tomato-1                         Red-Roma-1

Slicer Tomato                                                               Red Roma Tomato

Sungold-Tomatoes

Sungold-Tomatoes

cherry tomato

 

Cherry Tomato                                                            Sungold Tomatoes

 

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Lettuce

Lettuce is a fairly hardy, cool-weather vegetable that thrives when the average daily temperature is between 60 and 70°F. It should be planted in early spring or late summer. At high temperatures, growth is stunted, the leaves may be bitter and the seedstalk forms and elongates rapidly. Some types and varieties of lettuce withstand heat better than others.

There are five distinct types of lettuce: leaf (also called loose-leaf lettuce), Cos or romainecrispheadbutterhead and stem (also called asparagus lettuce).

Leaf lettuce, the most widely adapted type, produces crisp leaves loosely arranged on the stalk. Nearly every garden has at least a short row of leaf lettuce, making it the most widely planted salad vegetable. Cos or romaine forms an upright, elongated head and is an excellent addition to salads and sandwiches. The butterhead varieties are generally small, loose-heading types that have tender, soft leaves with a delicate sweet flavor. Stem lettuce forms an enlarged seedstalk that is used mainly in stewed, creamed and Chinese dishes.

Crisphead varieties, the iceberg types common at supermarkets all over the country, are adapted to northern conditions and require the most care. In areas without long, cool seasons, they generally are grown from transplants, started early and moved to the garden as soon as the soil can be worked. They are extremely sensitive to heat and must mature before the first hot spell of summer to achieve high-quality heads. If an unseasonably early heat wave hits before they have matured, they almost certainly fail. In many locations, crisphead lettuce plants started in late summer to mature in the cooler weather of fall have a much better chance of success.

sourced: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/lettuce.cfm

Mustard Greens:  Mustard greens are the most pungent of the cooking greens and lend a peppery flavor to food. They originated in the Himalayan region of India more than 5,000 years ago.

How to Select Mustard Greens: Look for a green color with leaves that don’t have blemishes or show any yellowing or withering. Mustard greens should have stems that look freshly cut that aren’t thick, dried out, browned, or split.

Butterhead lettuces (includes Boston and Bibb) have small, round, loosely formed heads with soft, buttery-textured leaves ranging from pale green on the outer leaves to pale yellow-green on the inner leaves. The flavor is sweet and succulent. Because the leaves are quite tender, they require gentle washing and handling. Butterhead lettuce is fat free, cholesterol free, sodium free, and a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate

 Endive

Endive is very closely related to the dandelion plant.

Select endive heads that are crisp and bright green. Avoid heads with wilted or browning leaves.

Endive is a member of the chicory family, which includes radicchio, escarole, frisee and curly endive. It has a crisp texture and a sweet, nutty flavor with a pleasantly mild bitterness — great served raw or cooked.

Sourced:  http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/endive 

Radicchio

Radicchio is a red variety of chicory and is mainly produced in Italy.

Look for bright maroon/red/purple leaves that are fresh, young, moist, and tender. Leaves that are injured, torn, dried, limp, or yellowed indicate poor quality.

butterhead_lettuce_VG_lg.

Butterhead Lettuce

Loma Lettuce   Romaine-Lettuce-2

Loma Lettuce                                                       Romaine Lettuce

red romaine    Magenta-Lettuce

Red Romaine Lettuce                                          Magenta Lettuce

Mizuna-Lettuce         Red-Mustard-Giant

Mizuna Lettuce                                                   Giant Red Mustard Lettuce

 

Ermosa-Lettuce     Raddichio

Ermosa Lettuce                                          Raddichio Lettuce

Arugula-closeup       Endive-Neos-2

Arugula Lettuce                                            Endive Lettuce

 

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Radish

Summer Radish

Radishes have often been dismissed as decoration and garnish. They are actually members of the cruciferous vegetable family so eat the greens. Because they vary in keeping quality, radishes are classified as winter or summer. Summer radishes are the small ones of bold red, pink, purple, white or red and white. They may be globe-shaped or elongated, fiery hot or mild.

Harvest summer radishes when they are small and tender for optimal flavor. Oversize summer radishes can become tough, woody, hallow and strong in flavor. To check a large radish squeeze gently, if it yields to pressure it is likely to be fibrous. These will do well in the compost heap.

Winter Radish

Harvest winter radishes when they are large and mature. Winter radishes may be white, black or green. Black radishes have a pungent flavor and should be used sparingly. Remove greens and roots before storing black radishes. Chinese radishes, round and fat, are milder in flavor. Remove greens before storing; remove roots just before preparing.

The word daikon means “great root” in Japanese. In cool weather, daikon growth is quick and steady. The fully mature daikon can grow up to about 18 inches long and weighs 5 or 6 pounds. There are several varieties. Some are thin and long, while others are short and round. All radish greens are edible.

Sourced from: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/radish.cfm

Easter Egg Radish        Daikon-Radish

Easter Egg Radish                                                      Daikon Radish

French-Breakfast-Radish

French Breakfast Radish

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Kale

Kale as a crop has been in cultivation for over 2,000 years.  There are presently over 50 varieties of Kale that come in a range of colors from green, purple, blue-green, and white.  Part of the Brassica family like cabbage, bok choi, and broccoli; it is the oldest member to be cultivated.  Like other Brassicas, Kale it is full of antioxidants, nutrient dense and is linked to cancer prevention.   It’s also one of the richest vegetable sources of calcium, protein and it contains vital minerals such as iron, magnesium and potassium.

While not only being very good to eat, it also easy it grow.  Kale is a hardy crop that can even grow with light snow on it and actually sweetens with frost.  If kept in good health, Kale can grow continuously for over a year.  During WWII, Europeans were encouraged to grow this hardy Brassica in their backyards to supplement their diet during times of strict rations and lack of fresh produce.

Sources: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/7-fun-facts-about-kale

               http://nationalkaleday.org/

              “From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce” by Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition

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Turnips

Turnips grow wild in Siberia and have been eaten since prehistoric times. Rutabagas are a cross between cabbage and turnip.

Turnips are easy to grow if sown in the proper season. They mature in two months and may be planted either in the spring, late summer or fall for roots or greens. The spring crop is planted for early summer use. The fall crop, which is usually larger and of higher quality, is often stored for winter use.

Because rutabagas require 4 weeks longer to mature than turnips, they are best grown as a fall crop. The leaves are smoother and the roots are rounder, larger and firmer than those of turnips. Rutabaga is most commonly grown in the northern tier of states and Canada but should perform fairly well anywhere there is a fairly long cool period in the autumn or early winter

Sourced: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/turnip.cfm

Turnips come in all shapes and colors, from round to cylindrical and rose to black. They may be eaten raw or cooked.

How to Select:

Select pearly, heavy turnips without soft spots and fresh leaves if still attached. Small to medium ones are sweetest.

Sourced: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/turnip

Turnip-220x198 Hakurei-Turnip

Turnips                                                         Hakurie Turnip

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Squash

Squash may have been first cultivated in Mesoamerica some 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. Squash was one of the “Three Sisters” planted by Native Americans. The Three Sisters were the three main indigenous plants used for agriculture: maize (corn), beans, and squash. Usually planted together so the beans can climb the cornstalk, and both shade the squash, which provided ground cover to limit weeds. The beans also provide nitrogen for all three crops.

Even though most people identify squash with vegetables, from a botanical standpoint, they’re considered fruits because they contain the seeds of the plant. Squash are divided into two categories — summer and winter squash.

Summer vs Winter Squash

Summer squash are generally divided into four groups — crookneck, zucchini (green and yellow), straightneck, and scallop (pattypan). They have thin, edible skins and soft seeds, and are high in vitamins A and C, and niacin. The tender flesh has a high water content, sweet and mild flavor, and requires little cooking. For best flavor, choose small squash (4 to 6 ounces each) with blemish-free skin. They keep well refrigerated in a plastic bag for no more than five days.

Winter squash is a warm-season vegetable that can be grown in most of the country. It differs from summer squash in that it is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage, when the seeds within have matured fully and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. When ripened to this stage, fruits of most varieties can be stored for use throughout the winter.

 

Sources:http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/vegetables/a/squash.htm

               http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/wsquash.cf

               http://localfoods.about.com/od/wintersquashpumpkin/ss/Types-Of-Winter-   Squash_9.htm

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Herbs

Curled parsley has beautiful, dark green leaves well known as the classic garnish for deviled eggs and an ingredient in tabbouleh (parsley salad) or white clam sauce for pasta. However, it has many more uses. Hardy through zones 7 and warmer, it is a great winter garden plant and looks beautiful in containers with pansies or other winter color. It is also a favorite food of the black swallowtail caterpillar, so you can plant extra to attract these beautiful butterflies to your garden.

sourced:http://bonnieplants.com/products/herbs/curled-parsley

Fennel is crunchy and slightly sweet, adding a refreshing contribution to the ever popular Mediterranean cuisine. Most often associated with Italian cooking, be sure to add this to your selection of fresh vegetables from the autumn through early spring when it is readily available and at its best.

Fennel is composed of a white or pale green bulb from which closely superimposed stalks are arranged. The stalks are topped with feathery green leaves near which flowers grow and produce fennel seeds. The bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds are all edible. Fennel belongs to the Umbellifereae family and is therefore closely related to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander.

Sourced: http://www.whfoods.com/index.php

Basil is a highly fragrant plant whose leaves are used as a seasoning herb for many different types of foods. Basil has become one of the most recognizable herbs ever since pesto, the mixture of basil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese, has become popular.

Basil has round leaves that are oftentimes pointed. They are green in color, although some varieties feature hints of red or purple. Basil looks a little like peppermint, which is not surprising since they belong to the same plant family.

There are more than 60 varieties of basil, all of which differ somewhat in appearance and taste. While the taste of sweet basil is bright and pungent, other varieties also offer unique tastes: lemon basil, anise basil and cinnamon basil all have flavors that subtly reflect their name. The scientific name for basil is Ocimum basilicum.

Mint Dill-2

Mint                                                                       Dill

Fennel Santo-Cilantro

Fennel                                                                    Cilantro

Curled-parsley    Basil

Curled Parsley                                             Basil

Italian-Parsley

Italian Parsley

 

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Okra

Okra comes from a large vegetable plant thought to be of African origin, and it was brought to the United States three centuries ago by African slaves. The word, derived from the West African nkruma, was in use by the late 1700s. Grown in tropical and warm temperate climates, it is in the same plant family as hibiscus and cotton.

Okra is usually available fresh year-round in the South, and from May to October in many other areas. You can also find okra frozen, pickled, and canned, and in some regions you might find frozen breaded okra for deep frying. When buying fresh okra, look for young pods free of bruises, tender but not soft, and no more than 4 inches long. Okra may be stored in the refrigerator in a paper bag or wrapped in a paper towel in a perforated plastic bag for 2 to 3 days, or it may be frozen for up to 12 months after blanching whole for 2 minutes. Cooked okra can be stored (tightly covered) in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

When cut, okra releases a sticky substance with thickening properties, often used in soups and stews. Gumbos, Brunswick stew, and pilaus are some well-known dishes which frequently use okra.

Okra can be served raw, marinated in salads or cooked on its own, and goes well with tomatoes, onions, corn, peppers, and eggplant. Whole, fresh okra pods also make excellent pickles. Its mild flavor can be compared to eggplant, though the texture is somewhat unusual.

Sourced: http://southernfood.about.com/library/weekly/aa081401a.htm

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Cauliflower

Cauliflower, as its name implies, is a flower growing from a plant. It is a member of the cabbage family and closely related to broccoli, kale, and turnips. It can come in a variety of colors ranging from white to purple and orange. Cauliflower is fat and cholesterol free, very low in sodium, and a good source of Vitamin C and folate.

You’ll want to include cauliflower as one of the cruciferous vegetables you eat on a regular basis if you want to receive the fantastic health benefits provided by the cruciferous vegetable family. At a minimum, include cruciferous vegetables as part of your diet 2-3 times per week, and make the serving size at least 1-1/2 cups. Even better from a health standpoint, enjoy cauliflower and other vegetables from the cruciferous vegetable group 4-5 times per week, and increase your serving size to 2 cups.

As with all vegetables be sure not to overcook cauliflower. We suggest Healthy Sautéeing cauliflower rather than the more traditional methods of boiling or steaming, which makes them waterlogged, mushy and lose much of its flavor. Cut cauliflower florets into quarters and let sit for 5 minutes before cooking. For great tasting cauliflower add 1 tsp of turmeric when adding the cauliflower to the skillet.

All cruciferous vegetables provide integrated nourishment across a wide variety of nutritional categories and provide broad support across a wide variety of body systems as well. For more on cruciferous vegetables see:

Cauliflower, a cruciferous vegetable, is in the same plant family as broccoli, kale, cabbage and collards. It has a compact head (called a “curd”), with an average size of six inches in diameter, composed of undeveloped flower buds. The flowers are attached to a central stalk. When broken apart into separate buds, cauliflower looks like a little tree, something that many kids are fascinated by.

Surrounding the curd are ribbed, coarse green leaves that protect it from sunlight, impeding the development of chlorophyll. While this process contributes to the white coloring of most of the varieties, cauliflower can also be found in light green and purple colors. Between these leaves and the florets are smaller, tender leaves that are edible.

Raw cauliflower is firm yet a bit spongy in texture. It has a slightly sulfurous and faintly bitter flavor.

The milk, sweet, almost nutty flavor of cauliflower is at its best from December through March when it is in season and most plentiful in your local markets.

sourced: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=13

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Potatoes

Red potatoes are a firm, thin skinned vegetable perfect for many recipes. Current Facts: Of the more than five thousand varieties of potatoes in the world, the most common variety in the United States is the Red potato. Red potatoes are often labeled as “new potatoes’ though this a reference to a potato harvested immaturely. Red potato varieties can grow beyond 2” in diameter and length. Description/Taste: Though there are literally hundreds of varieties of Red potatoes the most common Red potato is ruby red smooth-skinned with a waxy firm white flesh. Red potatoes are roughly rounded to oval in shape and small to medium in size. The entire potato is edible. Their flavor is more robust compared to many pale skinned varieties. The Red potato holds its shape well and should be used beyond the assumed baking and frying recipes.

Sourced: http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Red_Potatoes_2015.php

Because of their waxy texture, the flesh of red potatoes stays firm throughout the cooking process, whether they are being roasted or cooked in a stew. Their thin yet vibrant red skin adds appealing color and texture to side dishes and salads.Reds are frequently used to make tender yet firm potato salad or add pizazz to soups and stews, as well as being served baked or mashed. Round reds are often referred to as “new potatoes,” but the term “new” technically refers to any type of potato that is harvested before reaching maturity

Sourced: http://www.potatogoodness.com/all-about-potatoes/potato-types/

About Yukon Gold Potatoes It’s got such a potent name. The Yukon Gold. Burly, brawny, capable and of course, golden. Yukon Golds fall somewhere between Idaho potatoes and red potatoes in terms of texture. They are lower in starch content than La Sodas, Idahos or russets. Hearty and golden, this all-purpose spud is good for any potato dish. Yukon Golds actually do come from the North Country. They owe their existence to the potato-breeding program at Canada’s University of Guelph, in Ontario, where a team of researchers crossbred a North American white potato (Norgleam) with a wild, South American yellow potato. The result was the Yukon Gold. It was officially licensed in 1980 and then exported to the United States and beyond. Yukon Golds are identified by their thin, light gold skin and yellow “meat.” The yellow color comes from anthoxanthins, which are a type of flavonoid also found in onions, apples and cauliflower. Yukon Golds are slightly higher in sugar than other potatoes, which means they do not store as well as other potatoes. Keep them in a paper bag or perforated plastic bag in the fridge and use within a week. Wash and scrub before using. They don’t need to be peeled: being organically grown, their skin is safely edible and delicious, as it concentrates a lot of the flavors.

Red-potatoes-3      Yukon-Gold-Potatoes-4   Red Potatoes                                                             Yukon Gold Potatoes

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