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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,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Fruits & Nuts

TIP OF THE DAY: Blood Oranges


A blood orange can be thing of beauty. Photo
of the Moro variety courtesy


Blood orange season is upon us. Blood oranges can be a thrill (sweet and luscious) or a disappointment (bland), depending on the grower’s rootstock, the climate and the season. You never know what you’re going to get, but the upside is so wonderful that you’ve got to try.

The hue of a blood orange can range from pink to rose red to deep purple. The most dramatic have “blood”-colored crimson and purple flesh. (There are even “blonde” blood oranges which have orange flesh like regular oranges, but a have blood orange flavor.)

The peel may look like a regular orange or feature telltale washes of red. The skin may be smooth or pitted. While it looks like the more acidic Valencia orange on the outside, the blood orange flesh is sweet with less acid, like a navel orange.

Each variety has a different climate preference, and produces different hues, sizes and flavors based on the climate, temperature and other factors that impact the coloration and flavor intensity. California blood oranges have more pigmentation, Texas blood oranges tend to have less pigmentation, as do those from Florida, where the humidity limits the development of the pigment.

The color is the result of the antioxidant anthocyanin,* not typically found in citrus, but common to other red fruits and flowers (it’s the same natural chemical that gives the color to pomegranates and roses).

The flavor of a good blood orange will be “an orange kissed by a raspberry.”


Blood oranges are believed to be a mutation of the sweet orange, that occurred in southern Italy around 1850.

The blood orange was brought to the U.S. in the 1930s in the wave of Italian immigration. It now grows in California (November to May), Florida (October to January) and Texas (December to March).

*Anthocyanin neutralizes the effects of free-radical chemicals that are believed to cause cancer and other ailments (diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease, liver disease and ulcers) plus the general impact of aging. Research shows that it fights and prevents cancerous tumors and ulcers, and improves vision. Blood oranges are also packed with high levels of carotene, dietary fiber, potassium and vitamin C.



The three most popular cultivars (varieties) of blood orange the Moro, Sanguiello and Tarocco. If you can get information from your vendor, go for the Moro or the Tarocco.

  • The Moro blood orange, a recent introduction into the blood orange family, is grown in California and in Texas. It is the most colorful of the three types, with a deep purple flesh and reddish orange rind (see photo above). It has a sweet flavor with notes of raspberry that makes this variety sing—whether in recipes or as an eating fruit. It is well worth seeking out.
  • The Sanguinello blood orange, discovered in Spain in 1929, has a reddish skin, few seeds and a sweet and tender flesh.
  • The Tarocco blood orange, native to Italy, is a medium-sized fruit and is perhaps the sweetest and most flavorful of the three types. However, its internal reddish color varies widely and is unreliably red.
  • Ruby and Palestine Jaffa blood oranges can also be found in the U.S. Here are more details on blood orange varieties.


    A cocktail with blood orange juice. Photo courtesy The Rose Group.



    Our favorite way to enjoy blood oranges is as a hand fruit or a simple sorbet or granita. A glass of blood orange juice is also wonderful. When you have such a subtle, special flavor, you might not want to cover it up.

    However, here are a few recipes for those blessed with an abundance of blood oranges.

  • Blood Orange Cocktails
  • Blood Orange Vinaigrette with Roasted Beets And Goat Cheese
  • Blood Orange Chocolate Chunk Soufflé
  • Blood Orange Dessert Spaghetti
  • Blood Orange Dessert Sauce (great with cheesecake)
  • Blood Orange Granita Or Sorbet
  • Lamb Loin With Blood Orange Sauce
  • Pepita-Crusted Halibut With Blood Orange Jicama Chutney


    TIP OF THE DAY: Try A Flaxseed Mill

    Here’s another way to add “instant nutrition” to your foods, with no more effort than it takes to grind pepper.

    In this case, you’re grinding flaxseed. Why?

    This superfood adds noteworthy nutrition to food (see the health benefits below), so much so that a growing number of consumers have been clamoring for it. An estimated 300 new products with flaxseed were launched in the U.S. and Canada in 2010 alone (the last year for which data is available).

    Flaxseed is appearing in everything from crackers and breads to oatmeal and frozen waffles. The eggs that claim higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids come from chickens who eat flaxseed-enriched feed.

    At home, you can add freshly-ground flaxseed to just about anything: cereal, cottage cheese, dips, eggs, fish, meat and poultry, salad, smoothies, soup, yogurt. It’s easy to add to batter and dough: cakes, cookies, pancakes, pie crusts.



    Better nutrition is just a few grinds away. Photo courtesy Blossom.

    The flavor is subtle and nutty. The mill can be kept on the table, right next to the salt and pepper.

    You can use any mill or spice grinder to grind flaxseed for recipes; but the point of a separate flaxseed mill is to use it consistently as you sit down to eat.

    Plus, the ceramic grinder in the Blossom mill (shown in photo) is specifically calibrated to grind tiny seeds, like flaxseed and sesame seed. It’s $24.30 at

    Then, pick up whole flaxseed at any natural foods store or online.



    Buy whole flaxseed at natural food stores.
    Photo courtesy Bob’s Red Mill.



    According to Web MD, flaxseed could be considered one of the most potent plant foods on the planet.

    An excellent source of protein, fiber and minerals such as magnesium and copper, its top three benefits are:

  • Fiber, both soluble and insoluble.
  • Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities.
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects.
  • Studies show that flaxseed may help to reduce risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and diabetes. It’s also a great source of fiber.

    The tiny seed was cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 B.C.E.

    Flash-forward to the 8th century C.E.: King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it. (Hmm…was there a brother-in-law in the flaxseed business?)

    It’s time for a flaxseed revival. King Charlemagne would be pleased.



    PRODUCT: Melogold Grapefruit

    If you enjoy grapefruit, consider the Melogold. This hybrid of a pummelo and a white grapefruit is hefty and exotic looking: bigger than large grapefruit, with yellowish green pebbly skin and pale yellow flesh.

    Like pummelos (one of the ancestors of modern grapefruit), Melogolds have a thicker rind than regular grapefruit. The flavor is sweet-tart, and the fruit is so low in acid that you don’t need much (if any) sugar. The fruits are almost seedless and are extremely juicy.

    And they’re available for just a few months: January through March.

    So send yourself—or someone else who likes healthful low-calorie treats—a gift of it from

    Enjoy it as you would any grapefruit: on its own, in a fruit salad or in any grapefruit recipe.


    The Melogold, a recent grapefruit hybrid. Photo courtesy



    America is the world’s largest consumer of grapefruit, with large commercial groves in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. But the grapefruit’s ancestor, the pummelo (also pomelo, pommelo, pumello, pummello, pumelo and shaddock), comes from far away: It’s native to Malaysia and Indonesia.

    Pummelo seeds were brought from the East Indies to the West Indies in 1693 by an English ship commander, one Captain Shaddock. He left the seeds in Barbados, where they were cultivated.

    The grapefruit may have been a horticultural accident (a natural hybridization of the pollen from an orange tree) or a deliberate hybridization between the pummelo and the orange. We’ll never know which path the new fruit traveled, but it appeared around 1700. The original grapefruit was small, about the size of an orange.

    It was originally called both “forbidden fruit” and the “smaller shaddock,” after Captain Shaddock.

    By the end of the 18th century, grapefruit had spread to other Caribbean islands and Jamaica became the center for grapefruit cultivation (today, there is no commercial-scale production left in Barbados).


    It took more than 125 years—until 1823—for the grapefruit to cross the Caribbean. It arrived in Florida but was not immediately popular; people did not like peeling the thick skin. But the trees thrived, and the fruit’s name evolved based on how it grows: in grapelike clusters.

    In 1870, the large, golden clusters on a tree he passed attracted John A. MacDonald, who lived in Orange County, Florida. MacDonald established the first grapefruit nursery. Florida’s first shipment of grapefruits to New York and Philadelphia, in 1885, generated interest and helped create the commercial grapefruit industry. Florida remains the grapefruit center of the world.

    By the late 1800s, grapefruit trees were being cultivated in southern Texas; by 1910 they had succeeded in Arizona and California. The pink grapefruit and other varieties were developed. In 1929 a Texas citrus grower discovered a mutated red grapefruit growing on a pink grapefruit tree, which became the Ruby Red cultivar.


    In Jamaica, the grapefruit was crossbred with the tangerine to produce the ugli, which is indeed ugly but a sweeter fruit that the locals prefer.


    The grapefruit got its American name from
    Floridians who noticed that the fruit grew in
    clusters like grapes (ginormous grapes).
    Photo courtesy U.C. Davis.


    The U.S. leads the world in grapefruit production, followed by China, Mexico, South Africa, India, Israel, Argentina, Turkey, Cuba and Brazil. (Source: FAO Faostat, 2008 figures)

    Florida itself was the biggest exporter of grapefruit in the world until the late 1960s, when other countries began to invest in cultivation. Florida produces 75% of U.S. grapefruits, Texas 14% and California 10%, with the final 1% divided among other southern states.

  • The fruit should be firm and springy. The heavier the grapefruit, the juicier it is.
  • While grapefruits look attractive in a basket on the counter, the best place for them is the refrigerator. A slight chill also brings out more flavor.
  • Don’t buy more than you need: Consume grapefruits within two weeks.
  • While most people don’t think of grapefruit as a hand fruit (something you’d eat out of hand, like an apple), try smaller grapefruits as a snack. They’re no harder to peel than a navel orange!


    Comments (1)

    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Orange Peel

    As a follow up to yesterday’s tip on uses for food scraps, here are some tips to use orange peel after you’ve juiced or eaten the flesh. They are adapted from an original article by Katie Waldeck on


    1. Remove Water Stains. The oils in orange peels naturally remove stains on metal fixtures. Just rub the white side of peel on the fixtures to polish them up.

    2. Polish Wood. The white side of the peel can also polish dull wood furniture.

    3. Sponge. Still-moist orange peels are a natural sponge and leave a light citrusy scent. Try it on your stove top and counters.

    4. Cleaning Solution. Toss some orange peels in a lidded jar and cover with white vinegar. Let it sit in the fridge for a few weeks and shake it occasionally. Transfer to a spray bottle, shake and use to clean surfaces, floors and windows.


    Juice the orange, use the peel. Photo by Scott Bauer | USDA Agricultural Research Service.



    Enough peel for many uses! Photo courtesy



    5. Repel Insects. Ants, flies and mosquitoes don’t like limonene, a compound found in oranges and other citrus fruits. Place some ground-up orange peel in a dish or sachet, in areas where these pests congregate.

    6. Home Aromatherapy. Dry the peels, grind them in a food processor and place them in a sachet. Place them in drawers, closets, basements, bathrooms or anywhere that can use a refreshing fragrance. If you have a dehydrator, dehydrating the peels releases orange fragrance throughout the room. Then, you can add the dried peels to potpourri.

    7. Combat Garbage Odor. Place some dried orange peels at the bottom of your trash can before putting in the bag. And remember yesterday’s tip: grinding orange peels in a garbage disposal offsets bad odors.

    8. Deodorize Shoes. Place dried orange peels in a sachet or piece of cheesecloth, and place in athletic shoes or others that need to be deodorized. The peel will absorb the odors.


    Any other suggestions? Let us know.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Food Scraps

    Who wants to waste food? Most of us just need a few tips on how to keep more of it from hitting the trash can.

    Before you toss out trimmings or wilted produce, consider these uses for food scraps. Most are from an article by Becky Striepe on

    1. BREAD CRUSTS & CRACKER CRUMBS. If you’re making crustless sandwiches or if nobody want the end of the bread, grind them into breadcrumbs. Store them in the freezer until you have enough. The crumbs from the bottom of a box of crackers can be used for breading or to top off a casserole. If there aren’t enough cracker crumbs, mix them with your other breadcrumbs.

    2. CITRUS PEEL & ZEST. After you’ve squeezed the juice from the lemon, zest it or remove the peel. Add zest to salad dressing or dough; stir zest or peel into cold drinks or tea (without milk). Use zest as a garnish; infuse it into vinegar, vodka or other spirit.

    A small slice of citrus peel keeps brown sugar from hardening. Just store the sugar and peel the fridge to keep the peel fresher, longer. If you have no immediate use for peel or zest, you can freeze them or grind them in the garbage disposal to generate a fresh aroma.


    When an apple is no longer crisp enough to eat, cook it. Photo by Evan Dempsey | THE NIBBLE.


    3. COFFEE GROUNDS. Use the grounds to deodorize your hands and cutting board after chopping garlic and onions. Rub them on, then rinse off. Seriously, it works!

    4. FRESH FRUIT. Aging apples, pears and other fresh fruits can be baked, sautéed or puréed into a sauce. The peels can be stepped into a cup of black, green or white tea. Apple peels can be steeped in boiling water with cinnamon and other spices to make a tasty “cider tea.”


    Save those pretty celery leaves for garnish. Photo courtesy Burpee.


    5. PULP. Reuse the pulp left from juicing vegetables to make broth. Strain out the solids before serving. Use fruit pulp to add fiber and vitamins to smoothies.

    6. VEGETABLES. Wilted veggies, broccoli and chard and kale stems, peels, tops with leaves: Many people toss them; but they’re just as edible as the rest of the plant. Steam and purée, stir fry or bake these veggie bits with tomato or cheese sauce. Add garlic or chile. Beet tops can be cooked like chard, a close relative.

    Or make broth: Celery tops, onion and garlic skins, carrot peels, and other food scraps can be used to flavor vegetable broth. You can save the scraps in a freezer-safe container until you have enough to cook. When the broth is done, strain out the solids. You can always give them to someone with a rabbit, hamster or gerbil.

    Instead of throwing out celery leaves, use them as a garnish.


    Try any or all of these tips, and see how good you feel about not wasting food.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Christmas Fruit Bowl

    If you like to serve fruit at Christmas parties—a much better-for-you option than trays of sweets—serve it holiday-style, in this watermelon snowman.

    In this recipe, a medium watermelon and two small ones create two bowls and a head for the snowman—as well as supplying plenty of melon balls for a fruit salad. You can use the Watermelon Snowman Fruit Bowl in different ways:

  • 2 bowls of the same fruit salad
  • 1 bowl of fruit salad, 1 bowl of plain berries
  • 1 bowl of fruit or fruit salad, 1 bowl of dip or sauce
    The Snowman Fruit Bowl was designed by the National Watermelon Promotion Board, which has plenty of interesting recipes and watermelon carvings—everything from Angry Birds and Minions to a seasonal penguin.


    The most fun Christmas fruit bowl. Photo courtesy




  • 3 watermelons: 1 larger, 2 smaller
  • Fruit salad ingredients (your choice) in addition to the watermelon from the hollowed melons
  • Face decorations: dried apricots, carrot and blueberries as shown, or anything you like—radishes, kumquats, etc.
  • Twigs for arms
  • Optional scarf (you can use a red ribbon and fringe the ends)
  • Optional hat (check craft stores for a plastic toy hat, or make one from craft materials)

    1. HALVE the large melon and one of the small melons. Scoop melon balls and reserve.

    2. CLEAN the leftover melon scraps from the two halves, leaving the white portion of the rind.

    3. FILL with fruit salad or other ingredients; make the face.

    4. MOVE to the serving table and add arms, hat and scarf.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Fresh Fruit Christmas Tree

    We always serve a fruit platter at parties, to provide a healthful option for those who are doing their best to steer clear of the cake and cookies.

    How about this creative alternative to a fruit platter?

    We found it on Dole’s Facebook page; it was previously pinned on Pinterest by Monique Douglas. Monique, you’ll have to tell us where you found it, so we can give proper credit.

    Starfruit (carambola) are perfect for the tree. If you can’t find any, you can cut the star and other “ornaments” from pineapple or melon. Consider using a melon baller to scoop the ornaments; and use small cookie cutters for other shapes.



  • Black and red or green seedless grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Melon
  • Pineapple
  • Starfruit
  • Strawberries
  • Optional: cubes of cheese
  • Supplies: styrofoam cone*, plastic wrap, toothpicks

    A healthy holiday treat. Photo via Pinterest and Dole.

    *Available at florist supply shops or online, usually in sizes from 4″ through 15″. For a party, use the largest size; for a sit-down individual dessert, use the smallest size.

    1. COVER the styrofoam cone with plastic wrap.

    2. PREPARE fruits: wash, dry, cut. You can do this in advance on the day of serving, then store the fruits in the fridge, well wrapped so they don’t dry out.

    3. ARRANGE the fruits on the cone with toothpicks.


    Take a look at this stunning, easy-to-make cheese Christmas tree—it’s all cheese cubes and herbs.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Christmas Strawberries

    If you typically bake a cake or cookies to bring along as a house gift, how about a better-for-you alternative: chocolate dipped strawberries?

    We were inspired by these festive Holiday Chocolate Dipped Strawberries from Harry and David ($39.95 + shipping) to make our own.

    And all you need to do is melt chocolate and dip! Just as you need tasty fruit, quality counts with the chocolate. While strawberries with their leaves are particularly pretty, you can substitute any other fruits, including seedless orange slices and dried apricots.

    Note that even if you prefer milk chocolate, dark chocolate provides a better flavor contrast with the berries. Dark chocolate lovers: For similar reasons, no matter how bittersweet you like your chocolate, keep the cacao content in the 50% to 70% cacao range.


    Chocolate covered strawberries with a holiday embellishment. Photo courtesy Harry And David.


    It’s best to make these on the same day as they will be consumed. If you don’t feel up to piping red and green decoration, serve them plain: Everyone will love them just as much.



  • 1 pound strawberries with attractive green leaves and stems
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate
  • Christmas Garnish: piped red and green royal icing or colored white chocolate, green and red sprinkles or sanding sugar, silver or gold dragées
  • Hanukkah Garnish: piped blue and white royal icing or colored white chocolate, blue and white sprinkles or sanding sugar, silver or gold dragées


    1. PURCHASE strawberries on the day of preparation, if possible, so leaves will remain perky. Buy the largest berries you can find. If you can’t find berries with fresh leaves, default to orange segments or dried apricot slices.

    2. CAREFULLY WASH the strawberries and pat them dry with a paper towel, leaving the stems intact.

    3. CHOP the chocolate and melt in a double boiler, or in a small bowl placed over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Take care that the chocolate does not get too hot. Remove from the heat. You can also microwave the chocolate at 30-second intervals, stirring in-between.

    4. DIP the berries into the chocolate, holding the stems very gently. Place onto sheets of baking parchment or waxed paper to cool and set.

    5. KEEP the berries in a cool place (but not the fridge, or the chocolate may bloom) until ready to serve.



    GIFT: Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire

    Charming and nostalgic, a lovely family gift. Photo courtesy


    How would you like to roast your own chestnuts at home? Just the fragrant aroma of them is enough to make mouths water and fingers itch to peel them for snacking.

    You don’t need a working fireplace to roast the chestnuts. Back in the old days, the fireplace was the only source of heat. Today, we have other options.

    You can roast chestnuts in the oven in a pan, or on the stovetop with a special chestnut roasting pan. The chestnut roasting kit in the photo, complete with two pounds of chestnuts, is $48.99 at

    Compared to other nuts, chestnuts are composed chiefly of starch; other nuts have a larger percentage of protein. The nutritional composition of chestnuts is similar to that of other starchy foods—corn, plantains, potatoes, etc. Yet, they are a better-for-you snack, a good sources of minerals, vitamins and some high-quality protein.



    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Cut an X on the flat side of each nut using a small, sharp knife. Be careful not to cut into the nutmeat.

    2. OVEN ROASTING: Place the nuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet and roast until the scored portions begin to curl up and the nuts release their fragrance, 15 to 20 minutes.

    CHESTNUT PAN ROASTING: Heat the pan over medium-low heat and add the chestnuts. Cook, tossing the chestnuts frequently, until the shells crack and the chestnuts are cooked through. The timing is 30 to 35 minutes over a gas flame burner or 35 to 40 minutes over an electric or induction burner.

    3. REMOVE the nuts to a plate and eat immediately. Peeling the nuts is part of the fun, and each person may want to peel his or her own (or, you can peel all of them in the kitchen before serving). However, they are hot. Pick up individual nuts using a kitchen towel or other protection; with fingers or knife, peel away the shell. Remove the inner skin, pop a nut into your mouth and enjoy.



    “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” is the informal name of “The Christmas Song”; it was originally subtitled “Merry Christmas to You.” This Christmas classic was composed by Mel Torme and Bob Wells in 1946. The most popular recording remains the first one, recorded by Nat King Cole. Here’s Nat King Cole on YouTube—the vocal track over a Christmas tree and fireplace visual.

    You can sing along:

    Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
    Jack Frost nipping on your nose,
    Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
    And folks dressed up like Eskimos.

    Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe,
    Help to make the season bright.
    Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow,
    Will find it hard to sleep tonight.


    A street vendor roasts chestnuts over hot coals. Photo by Achromatic | Wikimedia.


    They know that Santa’s on his way;
    He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh.
    And every mother’s child is going to spy,
    To see if reindeer really know how to fly.

    And so I’m offering this simple phrase,
    To kids from one to ninety-two,
    Although its been said many times, many ways,
    A very Merry Christmas to you.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Thanksgiving Fruit Plate

    Who would have thought that fresh fruit could have such a Thanksgiving theme! We found this idea in in the Dole Pinterest stream and couldn’t resist making one ourselves. In fact, it’s a great project to keep the kids busy on Thanksgiving.

    Ingredients Per Fruit Turkey:

  • 6-8 apple slices
  • 9-10 orange segments
  • Pear half
  • For the feet: 6 orange peel strips (or yellow bell pepper)
  • For the face: 2 mini chocolate morsels, peanut half
    You can make and enjoy this fruit gobbler for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacking throughout Thanksgiving weekend. Consider adding a side of yogurt or cottage cheese.


    Photo courtesy Michelle Furlotte | Dole | Pinterest.



    Looking for something very nice and also very good-for-you? Turkey-decorated cookies may be cute, but premium produce is more considerate, not to mention more welcome during this calorie-packed season.

    Melissa’s, America’s premier purveyor of fine fruits and vegetables, has an e-store that makes sending healthful gifts a snap.

    You’ll find everything from traditional and organic deluxe fruit baskets to organic vegetables, including several varieties of Organic Purification Boxes and options that include specialty foods and wines.


    Refill the Christmas sleigh with goodies all season long. Photo courtesy Melissas.


    Gifts We’d Like To Receive

  • Chestnut Roasting Kit, $54.99
  • Exotic & Tropical Fruit Basket, a delightful way to introduce people to items such as Asian pears, cherimoyas, feijoas, kumquats, pepino melons, persimmons, sapotes, tamarillos, and fresh lychees, $67.95
  • Baby Veggie Basket, $71.99; also available without the gift basket, in a nice carton, $51.99
  • Organic Fruit Sleigh, which can be refilled with whatever you like for a season-long holiday centerpiece, $59.99
    Cooking Kits For Kids

  • Banana Crepes Kit, $25.99
  • Ambrosia Applesauce Cooking Kit, $54.99

    For Kids & Adults

  • Melissas Great Book Of Produce, a beautiful volume for junior or senior cooks, $29.99
  • Fresh Strawberry Basket With Chocolate Dip, $52.99
    These are only the tip of the iceberg. For your perusing pleasure, check out:

  • Gifts Under $100:
  • Gifts $100-$200:
  • Gifts Above $200:
    You can also shop by occasion (Birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Corporate, etc).

    If you prefer to talk to a live representative, call 1.800.588.0151, Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm Pacific Time.

    Most gifts are vegan (some with packaged foods may not be) and gifts that comprise only fresh fruits and/or vegetables are de facto kosher.


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