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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Fruits & Nuts

FOOD FUN: Pink Pearl Apples

Like a purple cow, most people have never seen a Pink Pearl apple. The difference is that Pink Pearls exist.

The Pink Pearl apple is an apple cultivar developed in 1944 from Surprise, another red-fleshed apple, by Albert Etter, a northern California breeder. It has distinctive pink flesh beneath translucent, pearly yellow skin. As with blood oranges, the skin can develop a pink blush.

Pink Pearls are harvested in August through mid-September, and don’t last long in storage; they’re a summer apple. Check at farmers markets to see if you can find them; or grow your own: Buy a tree from TreesOfAntiquity.com.

The crisp flesh is tart to sweet-tart. Enjoy them as a hand fruit bake them, especially in tarts where their pink color will be a standout.

 

Pink Pearl apples have a yellow skin and rosy flesh. Photo courtesy Comfort And Joy.

 

  

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TIP: Mango, A Year-Round Fruit

Mango is a fruit we think of as summery: tropical, juicy, yellow-orange and just heavenly as sorbet and in a frozen Mango Margarita.

But mango is a year-round fruit, with different varieties coming into season at different times. So it can be enjoyed in desserts, incorporated into dips and relishes, and enjoyed in hundreds of recipes year-round, alone or combined with seasonal fruits.

That’s good news for people who like flavorful food, because one simple mango can upgrade and transform everyday dishes and holiday specialties.

For the health-conscious, mangoes contain more than 20 vitamins and minerals and are an excellent source of the powerful antioxidant vitamins A and C.

We adore mango, and would consider it as a go-to fruit except for the frustration of slicing it. That long, flat pit—and the thick skin—used to frustrate us every time.

 

The easy technique is to slice the flesh into cubes. Photo courtesy National Mango Board.

 
We’d even purchased a specialty mango slicer—to find out that it only accommodated an “average” size mango. We don’t know what that is, except the mangoes we purchased didn’t fit.

So we reached out to the National Mango Board, which provides a video and photo stills to demystify the process of how to cut a mango.

Now all you need is a mango, a sharp vegetable peeler and a knife. (We’ve had the greatest success with a Y-shape peeler.)

 

Slicing a mango can be relatively easy. But peel the mango before you slice it. Photo courtesy National Mango Board.

 

MANY WAYS TO USE MANGOES

Unripe mangoes (firm to the flesh) can be used in curry, chutney, relish, slaw and pickled. Unripe mangoes have a tart, green apple flavor and are crispy and crunchy.

A ripe mango gives slightly to the touch, and has a tropical floral scent. The juicy, flavorful, yellow-orange flesh can be used to give a “mangover” (that’s a mango makeover) to:

  • Beverages: liquado (pureed with orange juice), mango lemonade, sangria (non-alcoholic), smoothies
  • Breakfast: blintzes, crepes, mango bread (loaf cake), muffins, yogurt parfait
  • Cocktails: Egg nog, Margarita/Mango-rita, michelada, sangria
  • Desserts: bread pudding, custard, granita/sorbet, grilled with ice cream, mango ice cream, panna cotta, shortcake, tart, tiramisu
  • Fish & Seafood: in ceviche, shrimp cocktail
  • Salads: Caprese salad (mango instead of tomatoes), chicken salad, crab salad, fruit salad
  • Salsas and Sauces: for chicken wings, coconut shrimp, pork, tacos, quesadillas
  •  
    You’ll find hundreds of recipes at Mango.org, including eye openers such as Mango and Bacon Barbecue Pizza and Sweet Caramel Mango Nachos.

    Make one of them this weekend!

    FIND MORE GREAT HOW-TO’s AND FRUIT RECIPES.

      

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    PRODUCT: Coconut Grater From Microplane

    Your coconut cake deserves fresh-grated
    coconut. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.
    Here’s the recipe.

     

    Recently, the folks at Microplane wrote to tell us that their Microplane Elite Extra Coarse Grater was terrific for grating coconut. The grater has large grating holes that give fresh coconut a texture similar to commercial shredded coconut—but if you’re a coconut lover, you’ll really prefer the superior taste and natural crunch of freshly-grated coconut.

    We love moist, grated coconut in and on ambrosia salad, cakes, cupcakes, lemon-coconut bars, macaroons and ice cream. On the savory side, there’s coconut batter shrimp, coconut rice, Thai chicken and soups, numerous Indian dishes and other Pacific Rim cuisine.

    The grater also works on cheeses and root vegetables. The suggested retail is $16.95, and you can buy it online. If you have a friend who makes a great coconut dish, you can make a gift of the grater and a fresh coconut.

     

    A COCONUT IS A FRUIT, NOT A NUT

    Actually, it’s a drupe—a category of fruits that includes the coffee cherry (bean), mango, olive, most palms (date and coconut palms, e.g.), strawberry and all members of the genus Prunus, including the almond, apricot, cherry, nectarine, peach and plum.

    Here’s what we dug up at the Library of Congress:

    Is a coconut a fruit, nut or seed? Botanically speaking, a coconut is a fibrous one-seeded drupe, a classification of fruit.

    A drupe is a fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed (like a peach or olive) and comes from the word drupa meaning overripe olive. A coconut, and all drupes, have three layers: the exocarp (outer layer), the mesocarp (fleshy middle layer), and the endocarp (hard, woody layer that surrounds the seed). When you buy a coconut at the supermarket the exocarp and the mesocarp have been removed and what you see is the endocarp.

     

    So why is it called a nut?

    Food names were bestowed long ago, often by explorers and others who had no botanical training.

    Eggplants have nothing to do with eggs, but the early small, white oval varieties looked like eggs to the folks who named them. Grapefruit growing on trees looked like jumbo clusters of grapes. To Columbus’s crew, the heat in chiles reminded them of the black peppercorns back home, so they called chiles “peppers.” They were ignorant of the fact that there is no relation between chiles and peppers.

    The oldest reference to the coconut comes from a 5th century Egyptian traveler, Cosmas, who wrote about the “Indian nut” or “nut of India” (the coconut more than likely originated in the Indian Archipelago or Polynesia). “Coconut” was derived from old Portuguese and Spanish, where coco meant head or skull.

    Why skull?

     

    It’s not a nut, but a fruit. Photo courtesy Microplane.

     
    The three small holes on the coconut shell resembled human facial features. According to one source, the sailors of Vasco da Gama, who came across the fruit in India and first brought it to Europe, were reminded of a ghost or witch in Portuguese folklore called coco. The first known recorded usage of the term is 1555.

    FOOD TRIVIA: THE PALM TREE IS NOT A TREE

    Botanically, the coconut palm is not a tree since there is no bark, no branches, no secondary growth. The coconut palm is a woody perennial (flowering plant) called a monocotyledon; what we see as the trunk is a very thick, woody stem.

    Other monocotyledons include the true grains (maize, rice, wheat, etc.), the pasture grasses, sugar cane, bamboo, banana, ginger and the amaryllis family—which includes onions and garlic plus flowering plants such as the amaryllis, daffodil, lily, iris, orchids, and tulip.

    Isn’t botany enlightening?

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Blueberry & Yogurt Parfait

    When summer gives you affordable fresh blueberries, go all Bubba Gump on them and make every type of blueberry recipe you can think of: blintzes, cheesecakes, cobbler/crisps, coffee cakes/crumb cakes, cookies, fruit salads, ice cream, lemonade, pancakes, pies, preserves, muffins (try corn muffins or this blueberry muffin recipe), sauces, smoothies, sorbet, sundaes, tarts, trifles, whatever.

    We often toss blueberries and Greek yogurt (instead of milk) onto a bowl of cereal, but lately we’ve been getting fancier with a blueberry granola parfait. You can have it for breakfast, lunch, a snack or dessert.

    In this recipe, the orange yogurt is a refreshing change. If you can’t find orange yogurt, you can use lemon yogurt and lemon zest, or mix chopped orange segments into plain or vanilla yogurt.

    BLUEBERRY YOGURT PARFAIT RECIPE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 cup granola or your favorite breakfast cereal (we’ve used Cheerios and Corn Flakes)
  • 3 five-ounce cartons of lowfat orange yogurt
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • Fresh orange zest
  • Optional: chopped orange segments
  •  

    Blueberry yogurt parfait with orange or lemon yogurt. Photo courtesy Fruits From Chile.

     
    Preparation

    1. DIVIDE and layer ingredients into four sundae glasses, large-bowl wine glasses or other interesting dish or glass. Start with granola, then blueberries, then yogurt. If you’re using chopped oranges as a layer, add them between the granola and the blueberries.

    2. REPEAT layers. Garnish with orange zest.

    Find more fruit recipes at ChileanFruitOnline.com.

    BLUEBERRY HANDLING & STORAGE TIPS

  • Do not wash blueberries—or any other fruit—until ready-to-eat.
  • To freeze berries, place them one layer deep on sheet pans, freeze, then store in freezer containers.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit Cones

    Today’s tip is an easy, kid-friendly, guilt-free, handheld snack or dessert.

    Ice cream cones filled with fruit are a way to bring the fun without the refined sugar, calories or drippiness of ice cream.

    Simply cut up a fruit salad into a small dice (the size of raspberries). Blueberries and raspberries can go into the cone as is; blackberries and strawberries should be halved or quartered.

    You can add a little ice cream or frozen yogurt as a topping, using a small scoop or a tablespoon. Or, top with:

  • Plain Greek yogurt, lightly sweetened (we use a noncaloric sweetener)
  • Vanilla yogurt
  •  
    GLUTEN-FREE CONES

    We really enjoyed these gluten-free ice cream cones from Goldbaum’s.

     

    Photo courtesy Stephanie Jackson | Pinterest.

     
    They’re also available in gluten-free, sugar-free ice cream cones.

    The line is certified kosher by OU.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: More Red, White & Blue Food

    A healthful dessert or snack for Independence Day Weekend: You can’t go wrong with Red, White & Blue Fruit Salad. This fanciful fruit dessert was created by the National Watermelon Promotion Board.

    RECIPE: RED, WHITE & BLUE FRUIT SALAD

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 cups watermelon balls
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 4 dollops prepared whipped topping or substitute*
  • Optional garnish: red, white and blue star sprinkles
  •  

    *Whipped Topping Substitutes

    Prepared whipped toppings typically have high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils, which we avoid. Instead, use crème fraîche, mascarpone, sweetened sour cream, vanilla frozen yogurt, whipped cream or miniature white meringue cookies.

     

    Another beautiful dish of red, white and blue. Photo courtesy National Watermelon Promotion Board.

     

    Preparation

    1. MIX together the watermelon and blueberries. Divide among 4 sundae bowls.

    2. TOP each with a dollop of topping and sprinkle with red, white and blue sprinkles. Serve immediately.

     
    HOW ABOUT SOME RED, WHITE & BLUE COOKIES TO GO WITH THE FRUIT SALAD?

     

    Another way to enjoy the red, white and
    blue. Photo courtesy CookieMadness.net.

     

    Here‘s a delicious idea from Knicole of CookieMadness.net, where you can find many wonderful cookie recipes.

    It’s essentially a chocolate chip cookie with added dried raspberries and blueberries. You can incorporate the red, white and blue into other cookies, including oatmeal. If you don’t like white chocolate, use macadamia nuts.

     
    RECIPE: RED, WHITE & BLUE COOKIES

    Ingredients For 24 Cookies

  • 1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips or 3 ounces white chocolate, cut into chunks
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Have ready two ungreased cookie sheets.

    2. MIX together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium size bowl.

    3. CREAM butter and both sugars together in a second bowl. Add egg and vanilla and beat for 30 seconds.

    4. ADD flour mixture and stir with a mixing spoon until well mixed. Stir in all dried berries and white chocolate.

    5. DROP by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

     
    MORE JULY 4TH FOOD RECIPES

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Things To Do With Overripe Bananas

    Dolce de bananas becomes a banana toffee
    pie. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy
    OurBestBites.com.

     

    We went overboard at Trader Joe’s, buying too many bananas with the thought that we’d eat one or two each day. You can guess the outcome: a lot of overripe bananas.

    So we headed to our mental archive of delicious things to make with overripe bananas:

  • Banana bread/banana cake/banana muffins
  • Banana cream pie
  • Banana daiquiris
  • Banana ice cream
  • Banana pancakes
  • Banana pudding
  • Banana smoothies
  •  

    Dolce de bananas (in Italian) or dulce de bananas (in Spanish) is a type of banana pudding. Some recipes are “wet”—the consistency of American chocolate pudding—or “dry,” like a bread pudding.

     

    Here’s a basic “wet” pudding recipe from Dole, which slow-cooks the overripe bananas into a pudding consistency. Unlike American puddings, it uses no dairy. The recipe makes 4 servings. Prep time 15 minutes, cook time: 3 hours.

    RECIPE: DOLCE DE BANANAS or DULCE DE BANANAS or BANANA PUDDING

    Ingredients

  • 5 very ripe medium bananas or 2 large bananas, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 cups water
  • Optinal garnish: chopped nuts, crème fraîche, ice cream, mascarpone, mini chocolate chips, sour cream, toffee bits, whipped cream
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a saucepan.

    2. COOK slowly over low heat for 3 hours. If the mixture becomes too thick, thin with a little water.

    3. COOL for 10 minutes. Garnish as desired; serve.
     
    MORE RECIPES FOR OVERRIPE BANANAS

    Dolce De Bananas Pie. Blogger Kate from OurBestBites.com fills a chocolate cookie pie crust with her own recipe for dolce de bananas, using sweetened condensed milk and cream, plus brown sugar, cream cheese and toffee chocolate bars. She calls it a “naughty, naughty pie that should only be eaten once a year.”

     

    Pretty ripe but not really overripe (those bananas aren’t as pretty). Photo courtesy BakingLibrary.Blogspot.

     

    But you can throw caution to the wind and have it more frequently. Here‘s the recipe.

    Banana Chocolate Cake.
    This recipe, from BakingLibrary.com, turns those overripe bananas into a delicious cake.

    Bananas & Sour Cream. One of our favorite childhood treats with ripe—but not overripe—bananas: Top them with sour cream and brown sugar. We still love this in adulthood. Try it for dessert or a snack.
     
    No time to bake right now?

    Mash the bananas and freeze them in cup or half-cup portions, in airtight containers. You can add the frozen bananas into a milkshake or smoothie when the mood strikes.

    Or, blend in some sweetener and freeze the mashed banana in ice pop molds.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Storing Fresh Fruit, Part 2

    Yesterday we featured Part 1 of How To Store Fresh Fruit. Continuing in alphabetical order, here are:

    GRAPES

    Grapes continue to ripen after picking, and can be refrigerated to slow the ripening process. You can determine freshness by examining the stems. Fresh grapes will have green and pliable stems, while grapes that have been stored for a while will have twiggy and woody ones.

    KIWI

    Keep kiwifruit at room temperature until ripe. Once ripe, kiwi will keep in the fridge for a few days. Very firm unripe kiwi will keep refrigerated for up to two months.

    MANGOES

    Mangoes can be stored at room temperature and will continue to ripen. When they give slightly to touch, they are ready to eat. They can be refrigerated to slow down the ripening process.

     

    Grapes look great in a pedestal bowl. Photo courtesy California Grape Commission.

     
    MELONS

    Store melons at room temperature until ripe. The FruitGuys say that the best indicator of ripeness is aroma: If a melon’s sweet fragrance is noticeable, it’s probably ready to cut and eat. In our own experience, we may not get the aroma but the outside of the melon gives slightly to pressure, particularly on the end where the stem was. If the melon feels rock-hard, give it a little more time. The exception is watermelon: A ripe watermelon has a yellow or light-colored bottom. If it’s covered with stripes, it’s not yet ready.

    NECTARINES

    Nectarines are climacteric, which means that they ripen after picking. They should be stored at room temperature, away from sunlight and heat, until they give softly to touch and have a sweet aroma. Ripening can be hastened by placing the fruit in a paper bag on the counter. When they’ve reached the desired ripeness, they can be refrigerated for several days.

     

    Perfect peaches. Photo courtesy Washington
    State Fruit Commission.

     

    PASSION FRUIT
    Passion fruit is a fragrant fruit. You can tell a passion fruit is ripe when it begins to look shriveled. For the best flavor, store it on the counter out of direct sunlight and give it a few days to “wrinkle-up.”

    PEACHES

    Like nectarines, peaches are climacteric: They ripen after picking. They should be stored at room temperature, away from sunlight and heat, until they give softly to the touch and have a sweet aroma. Ripening can be hastened by placing them in a paper bag on the counter. You can refrigerate peaches, but cold temperatures may change their texture and taste.

    PEARS

    Pears are picked hard to avoid bruising and should be stored at room temperature, away from heat and sunlight. They ripen from the inside out, so when they give to the touch, particularly near the stem end, they are ready to eat.

    PLUMS, PLUOTS & APRIUMS

    Both pluots and apriums are plum-apricot crosses. Like nectarines and peaches, plums continue to ripen after picking. They should be stored at room temperature, away from sunlight and heat, until they give softly to the touch and have a sweet aroma. Once ripe, refrigeration is necessary to prevent spoiling, but cold temperatures may change their texture and taste.

    Now that you know how to store it, it’s time to buy some fresh fruit…and enjoy it three times a day.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Storing Fresh Fruit, Part 1

    Don’t toss fresh fruit in the fridge: Most fruits are best kept in a cool, dry place, such as on a countertop, away from sunlight and heat. As with tomatoes, refrigeration can actually alter the flavor. That’s why you should only buy what you can reasonably expect to consume before it becomes overripe.

    Today’s tip comprises fruit ripening tips from The FruitGuys founder Chris Middlesteadt. The FruitGuys delivers farm-fresh fruit and vegetables to businesses, homes and schools nationwide. The company pioneered the “fruit at work” concept in San Francisco in 1998 to help companies provide healthy snacking options to employees.

    APPLES

    Apples should be kept in a cool space (below 60°F-70°F), away from sunlight and heat, where they will keep well for two weeks or so. Refrigerated apples can last as long as six weeks and still maintain their qualities.

     

    Apricots ripening on the counter. Stone fruits in general, taste better if they aren’t refrigerated. Photo courtesy FrogHollow.com.

     

    APRICOTS & ANGELCOTS

    Angelcots are a white-fleshed variety of apricot. Apricots and all stone fruits continue to ripen after picking and should be stored at room temperature, away from sunlight and heat, until they give softly to the touch and have a sweet aroma. Once ripe, you can refrigerate the fruit as necessary to prevent spoiling; but cold temperatures may change their texture and taste.

    AVOCADOS

    Store avocados at room temperature until they are ripe. They’ll give slightly to pressure when they’re ready to eat. Speed up the ripening process by putting them in a paper bag for a couple of days. After ripening, they can be refrigerated for several days. Avocado halves should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge with the pit still in place.

     

    Queen Anne and Bing cherries. Photo
    courtesy Washington State Fruit Commission.

     

    BANANAS

    Store bananas at room temperature away from direct sunlight and heat. Bananas become yellow, soft and sweet as they ripen. To speed the ripening process, put bananas in a paper bag overnight along with an apple. The natural ethylene gas released by the apple will help ripen the bananas. Bananas are very delicate and can be easily damaged by extreme temperatures, hot or cold. If bananas turn black then most likely the fruit was exposed to extreme cold temperatures. Refrigerating bananas turns the skin black, but not the flesh. If you have too many ripe bananas, stick them in the fridge, slice and freeze, or make some banana bread or Banana Daiquiris!

    BERRIES

    Berries are picked ripe; these fragile fruits should be enjoyed as soon as possible. For overnight storage, they should be refrigerated. But don’t wash them until you’re ready to eat (or freeze) them.

    CHERRIES

    If your cherries last uneaten for more than a day, store them unwashed in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to a week or so. When ready to use, rinse and let warm to room temperature for best flavor. They’re also great pitted and frozen for a refreshing cold treat, or tossed into smoothies.

    CITRUS FRUITS

    Grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges, pomelos and tangerines can be stored at room temperature for a week or so, out of direct sunlight; or refrigerated for several weeks.

    FIGS

    Figs are picked ripe and should be stored in the refrigerator until ready to eat. You can enjoy them cold or at room temperature. Figs and fresh goat cheese are one of our favorite treats.

    Tune in tomorrow for Ripening Tips Part 2, from grapes and melons to peaches and plums.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Breakfast Salad

    If you haven’t been getting your recommended portions of fruits and vegetables*, how about starting your day with a breakfast salad? You can have one of these fruit-based salads with your regular breakfast foods—cereal, eggs, a bagel—or with a side of cottage cheese, ricotta and/or yogurt.

    This recipe comes from Lynn’s Paradise Café, Louisville, Kentucky and was sent to us by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.

    It makes 8 portions. Divide in half for 4 portions.

    BREAKFAST SALAD RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 2 pounds mixed, torn salad greens
  • 2 cups granola
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 4 cups fresh orange sections
  • Blueberry vinaigrette (recipe below)
  •  

    Breakfast salad. Photo courtesy BlueberryCouncil.org.

     

    *It used to be “five a day,” but now the government bases the portions on calorie needs for your age, gender and activity level. Calculate your portions with this Fruit and Vegetable Calculator from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

     

    Blueberries growing on the bush. Photo
    courtesy BlueberryCouncil.org.

     

    Preparation

    1. TOSS salad greens with 1½ cups of blueberry vinaigrette (recipe below).

    2. DIVIDE the dressed greens among eight large plates. Arrange ½ cup orange sections and ½ cup blueberries on top of each salad

    3. SPRINKLE each salad with ¼ cup granola. Drizzle remaining dressing on top. Serve immediately.

     

    BLUEBERRY VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallot
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a food processor. Process until mixture is smooth.

    2. CHILL at least 30 minutes to blend flavors. Yield: 2 cups.
     
    FIND MORE BLUEBERRY RECIPES AT BLUEBERRYCOUNCIL.ORG.

      

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