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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


Back in 2006, we reviewed a wonderful product called Sundia Watermelon Juice. It was celestial, tasting like fresh-squeezed watermelon.

Alas, the company discontinued the product, and it took until 2014 for another commercial brand to come our way.

World Waters debuted its WTRMLN WTR (someone’s idea—not ours—of a clever way to spell “Watermelon Water”). The product was named “Best Juice” at the recent BevNET Best of 2014 Awards.

WTRMLN WTR is an all natural cold-pressed watermelon water that is more than refreshing: It’s packed with electrolytes (the same amount as coconut water and six times the electrolytes of sports drinks) and L-citrulline, a powerful amino acid that aids in workout performance and muscle recovery. Vitamin C and lycopene contribute antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits.

There’s no added sugar. The product is certified kosher by OU.

WTRMLN WTR is a pleasant departure from the never-ending stream of coconut waters we are pitched.

The line debuted New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Los Angeles, expanding to San Francisco and other areas this year.



Drink your watermelon. Photo courtesy World Waters.

A 12-ounce bottle is $4.99 at Whole Foods Markets and other fine retailers. You can buy it online at, 12 bottles for $72.

So is it as heavenly as Sundia’s version? Not to us: It tastes more “green,” which may or may not be due to the varying sweetness levels of watermelon, or the fact that watermelon rind is pressed along with the flesh.

But it’s still grab-and-go watermelon juice. If your only other option is to juice your own, WTRMLN WTR is a great choice.

Discover more at



PRODUCT: Plum Vida Fruit & Veggie Pouches


A delicious and better-for-you snack alternative for adults. Photo courtesy Plum Organics.


Squeeze tubes of fruits and veggies are not just for kids. While they started out targeted to the junior set, moms and other adults started to enjoy the benefits of the easily portable, wholesome fruit and vegetable snacks.

So Plum Organics, which had been making products for kids, developed the Plum Vida line for grown-ups. The flavors are more complex and sophisticated, and the portions are larger. The five-ounce pouches can be kept in pockets, purses, lockers, glove compartments, desk drawers—pretty much anywhere.

Each pouch delivers a light, flavorful, refreshing and healthful snack, made entirely from organic fruits and vegetables with a hint of herbs and spices.

You can sip it from the pouch or mix it with hot tea or club soda. You can even use it as a sweet salad dressing (we added a splash of good vinegar). We eat it at room temperature, but on a hot summer day, you can chill it in the fridge.

Plum Vida pouches are available in three delicious flavors:

  • Pear, Kale, Spinach & Celery, a base of leafy greens softened by the natural sweetness of juicy pear.
  • Cherry, Berry, Beet & Ginger, a mix of natural sweetness and tartness with a subtle ginger zing.
  • Pineapple, Carrot & Mint, a burst of tropical flavor with a refreshing minty kick.
    Each pouch delivers:

  • 1/2 cup fruits and veggies in every pouch
  • 3g fiber
  • A snack for 70-90 calories
    The line is certified kosher by OU, certified USDA Organic and Non GMO verified. It is currently sold exclusively at target stores (in the beverage aisle), for $1.99 a pouch.

    And there’s a $1.00 coupon on the Plum Vida website to make your first pouch even sweeter.



    RECIPE: Grapefruit Salad With Honey

    Remember the half grapefruit, a first course at breakfast, lunch or dinner? Rich in vitamin C, it became a staple at breakfast, lunch and dinner tables when train transport began to bring the fruits up from Florida in the the early 1900s.

    Today, the half grapefruit and grapefruit salad have largely fallen out of fashion. Yet grapefruits are winter sunshine, and the tradition should be revived posthaste. This recipe is from Bee Raw Honey, which used its maple honey. The fruity flavors of the honey balance the sweet acidity of the grapefruit.

    Our favorite grapefruits are in the pink and red families, but taste a variety to find what appeals to you.


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 grapefruits, peeled and sliced into rounds about 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 /3 cup hazelnuts, roasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 /2 cup microgreens
  • 4 heaping teaspoons honey
  • Fleur de Sel or Maldon sea salt

    1. ARRANGE grapefruit slices on four salad plates.

    2. DRIZZLE each plate one teaspoon of maple honey.



    The best fruit in winter: citrus! Photo courtesy

    3. SPRINKLE each plate with hazelnuts, micro greens and a touch of salt. Serve immediately.



    A trio of microgreens: red amaranth, mizuna
    and beet greens. Photo by Claire Freierman |



    What are microgreens? They are tiny, tiny vegetables, no more than 8 to 14 days old, that have just developed their cotyledon (first) leaves. They are far tinier than “baby greens.”

    Think of the first, threadlike shoot that rises when you plant a seed, and the first tiny leaves, barely a quarter-inch in diameter. You may have seen a few scattered on your plate or garnishing your food at fine restaurants.

    Microgreens are very tender and oh, what flavor! Both intense and delicate, visually captivating and sublime to eat, they are a gourmet experience. Yet, they are highly nutritious with scarcely a calorie.

    For people who already like greens, microgreens are the zenith. For people who do not care for salad or raw vegetables: If you don’t like these precious greens, we’ll rest our case. Use them in salads, main dishes, soups and as general garnishes.

    Here’s more about microgreens.




    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Store Fruits & Vegetables


    Berries are fragile. Don’t buy them unless
    you plan to eat them within two days. Photo
    courtesy California Strawberry Commission.


    We adapted this article from the original on Vegetarian Times because we’re guilty of throwing out a lot of spoiled produce.

    But we’re no different from the rest of America. Back in 2002, researchers at the University of Arizona, working with the United States Department of Agriculture, spent a year tracking families’ food-use habits.

    What they discovered: The average family tossed out 470 pounds of spoiled food per year, about $600 worth, representing some 14% of the food brought into the home. Nationally, we dump $43 billion worth of food every year.

    It seems that intentions were good, because families bought lots of fresh fruit and produce. But every day, researches discovered, these households discarded more than half a pound of fruits and vegetables that had gone bad. The spoiled food represented a staggering one-fourth of all the produce purchased.

    So how can you waste less produce, and equally as importantly, consume the nourishment that gets tossed along with the money spent?

    For starters, you could buy only what you need for a day or so, and then be sure to eat it. Put it front and center on the refrigerator shelf.

    But many of us are too busy to shop that often, so Plan B is: Take better care when you buy and store produce. Here’s what to do:



    Be aware that more than a few fruits give off high levels of ethylene gas, an odorless, colorless gas that speeds the ripening and decay of other, ethylene-sensitive, produce. That’s why you can quickly ripen ethylene-sensitive fruits, like stone fruits, by enclosing them in a paper bag with an ethylene-generating fruit like an apple or a banana. Here’s how to divide and conquer:

  • Ethylene Generators/Refrigerate The Produce: apples, apricots, cantaloupe, figs, honeydew, kiwi, mangoes
  • Ethylene Generators/Don’t Refrigerate The Produce: avocados, bananas (unripe), nectarines, papaya, peaches, pears, plums, tomatoes
  • Ethylene Sensitive/Keep Away From Ethylene Generators: asparagus, bananas (ripe), berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce/leafy greens, parsley, peas, peppers, squash, summer squash, sweet potatoes, watermelon

    For longer life:

  • Keep the ethylene-producing fruits apart from ethylene-sensitive fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep the produce whole; don’t even remove the stem of an apple until you’re ready to eat it. As soon as you damage the integrity of the fruit or vegetable, create an environment where microorganisms start to grow.
  • Never refrigerate potatoes, onions, winter squash or garlic. Keep them in a cool, dark, place, but separate them so their flavors and smells don’t migrate. They can keep up to a month or more.
  • Store cold-sensitive fruits and vegetables on the counter; they’ll lose flavor and moisture in the fridge. These include garlic, onions, potatoes and tomatoes. The first three should be stored in cool, dark places.
  • The worst thing to do is to seal fruits and vegetables in an airtight bag. It stops their respiration—yes, produce does breathe—suffocating them and speeding up decay.
  • Check the vegetable bins for mold and decay. Mold proliferates rapidly and will contaminate other produce.
  • Consider an ozone-generator like BerryBreeze, which reduces the ethylene.


    Apples have great staying power, especially when refrigerated. Stock up; but if the apples are turning soft, turn them into baked apples or compote. Photo courtesy USA Apple.

    We use a Berry Breeze in the fridge, and also place an ethylene gas guardian (E.E.G., also called an ethylene gas absorber) in the produce crisper drawers. These products actually absorb ethylene. Check out Bluapple and ExtraLife.

    There are also produce bags are also on the market, such as those by Debbie Meyer Evert-Fresh Green Bags and BioFresh, which absorb ethylene and support respiration.

  • If you’ll be making several stops between the market and kitchen, get a cooler for your car. When you get home, put the produce into the fridge as soon as possible.
  • Shop farmers markets early in the day. Just-harvested greens wilt rapidly once they’ve been in the sun for a few hours.

  • Eat more perishable items first: Berries last only a few days, oranges can last for months. Cucumbers will remain fresh longer than leafy greens. Before you put the item in your shopping cart, think of its longevity and when you will consume it.
  • If your produce has peaked and you still haven’t eaten it, quickly cook it. Make fruit compote or soup, and toss it into the freezer.
  • Produce with the best staying power: apples, beets, cabbage, carrots, celery, garlic, onions, potatoes, winter squash.


    RECIPE: Chocolate-Dipped Figs

    One of the earliest foods cultivated by man, figs, the sacred biblical fruit of ancient times, are cherished in some cultures as a symbol of peace and prosperity.

    Most U.S.-grown figs are available from June through September, but you may find imports in the stores.

    If you do, cut them into grains or stuffing; serve them sliced on ham or turkey sandwiches; stuff them with cream cheese, goat cheese or mascarpone; served on a cheese plate; chop and bake them in muffins; cook them with meat dishes (great with pork); make a fig tart or fig ice cream for dessert.

    And the easiest way…dip them in chocolate!

    Serve them on Christmas Eve with a sparkling or dessert wine; bring them as a gift; serve them on New Year’s Eve.

    Select figs that are fresh-smelling and fairly soft—avoid hard figs. You can ripen them at room temperature or lay them on a layer of paper towels, cover with plastic and refrigerate for a few days.



    Chocolate-dipped figsPhoto courtesy




  • 3.5-ounce quality chocolate bar*
  • 12 dried figs
  • Optional: spirit of choice
    *You can use your favorite chocolate, be it dark, milk or white.


    1. BREAK the chocolate into pieces and melt in a double boiler.

    2. PLUMP the figs. You can actually dip them in your favorite spirit (and of course, drink the leftover “fig spirit.”

    3. DIP each fig into the melted chocolate and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Allow the chocolate to cool and harden completely.

    4. STORE in an airtight cookie tin. The figs will keep at room temperature for 3-4 weeks.

    Or, buy the figs in the photo from Mackenzie Limited. They’re filled with a chocolate truffle, kissed with a hint of brandy, and enrobed with a delicate layer of chocolate. Delicious!




    TIP: Do It Yourself Apple Gift Basket

    We’re coming up on the last shopping weekend before Christmas. Instead of braving the stores, how about heading to your nearest farmers market?

    Top e-tailers like Harry & David will send a basket or box of assorted apples, but you can put your own together and provide even more fun through a greater assortment.

    Apples are affordable, delicious, universally loved and always available. Present them in beautiful “keeper” basket for a healthy holiday gift—great for calorie counters, dieters and fitness fans.

    Here are five simple steps for a do-it-yourself apple gift basket from the U.S. Apple Association.

    1. FIND a basket or other container—you may already have some on hand from prior gifts you’ve received. You can buy baskets at craft store, big box retailers and even your grocery store.



    It’s easy to create an apple basket gift. Photo courtesy U.S. Apple Association.

    2. FILL the basket with healthy, wholesome apples: the more colors and varieties, the merrier. If the apples don’t have stickers indicating their variety, take a photo of the apple basket and sign at the market and include it in the basket.

    3. ADD a few colorful accents, like clementine oranges, a jar of caramel sauce or honey for dipping, or a small holiday candle.

    4. PERSONALIZE with foods or trinkets the recipient will enjoy—simple stocking stuffers will do—an apple slicer, or a cheese; for a gym person, a stretch band. If you don’t want to add a cheese, which typically requires refrigeration, include a gift card to a store where it can be purchased.

    5. ACCENT with a ribbons and a card or note that wishes the recipient a healthy New Year.



    GIFT: Better-For-You Dried Fruit Gift


    The better-for-you gift. Photo courtesy Zabar’s.


    We like to send premium dried fruit gifts to people and families who focus on healthy living.

    We like food gifts in the first place. Unless we know that someone really wants something specific, no one we know needs more stuff to fit into already jammed households.

    If it’s an office gift, well, no office needs more cake, candy and cookies lying around during the holidays.

    This 1-pound, 8-ounce tray is $24.98 at

    The fruits were picked at the peak of perfection, carefully dehydrated, then packed in a reusable wooden crate. The lucky recipient(s) will munch on dried Angelino plums, apples, apricots, kiwi, pears, prunes, yellow peaches and white peaches.




    PRODUCT: Honeycrisp Apples


    A glorious Honeycrisp apple. Photo courtesy A.A. Modts Apple Farm.


    While October is National Apple Month and September 20th is International Eat An Apple Day, today is Eat A Red Apple Day.

    Our favorite apple is the Honeycrisp, developed at the University Of Minnesota and released in 1991. Beloved for its crisp flesh, juiciness and sweet and tart notes, it has become Minnesota’s state fruit!

    They’re our favorite apple. The only fly in the ointment is that the University of Minnesota and Minnesota apple breeders developed the variety to be at its best when grown in the local soil conditions and climate.

    Thus, the Honeycrisps from Washington and elsewhere (they are widely grown around the world) are just a little less glorious.

    But we’ll take them wherever we can get them. Trader Joe’s has them in stock this week: The typically jumbo Honeycrisps as well as minis the size of Lady Apples.


    APPLE TIP: Apples deteriorate quickly if they’re not kept cool. Don’t keep them on a table or counter in a decorative basket. That may look nice, but your apples will Keep better in the fridge!



    RECPE: Ambrosia Salad For Fall & Winter


    Ambrosia salad. Photo courtesy


    In Greek mythology, the gods ate ambrosia and drank nectar, fragrant foods that were typically reserved for divine beings.

    While no descriptions of either these foods survive (the word ambrosia means delicious or fragrant and nectar indicates a delicious or invigorating drink), scholars have long believed that both ambrosia and nectar were based on honey. (Mead, popular with the ancients, is a fermented honey drink.)

    Modern ambrosia is a variation on a traditional fruit salad. It originated in the southern U.S. in the last quarter of the 19th century, when oranges became more available in markets across the country. The original recipes were simple layerings of grated coconut, sliced oranges and powdered sugar, sometimes called iced oranges.

    The recipe became popular in the early part of the twentieth century, according to Many variations proliferated. Today, it’s a retro recipe that is too often laden with maraschino cherries, canned pineapple and whipped topping.

    But make it with the best ingredients, and you’ve got but a fun fruit salad substitute for the colder months, when primo fresh fruit options are fewer.


    In addition to the coconut and orange or mandarin, ambrosia recipes typically contain pineapple, miniature marshmallows and coconut. Other ingredients can include bananas, cherries, dates, grapes, grapefruit, raisins, strawberries and pecans or walnuts.

    For a devilish modern touch, add a bit of diced jalapeño.

    The salad is typically bound with something creamy: mayonnaise, whipped cream, sour cream, yogurt, even cream cheese, cottage cheese or pudding.

    This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown’s and is so easy that you can assign it to an older child to prepare. Prep time is 30 minutes, plus two hours of chilling.



    This recipe is adapted from an Alton Brown version. It is best served on the day of preparation. The sugar can cause the oranges (and other fruits) to release their juices and the dish can turn to mush.

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 ounces sour cream
  • 6 ounces homemade mini marshmallows or store bought, approximately 3 cups
  • 1 cup clementine orange segments (approximately
    6 clementines)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup red or purple grapes
  • 1 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1 cup toasted, chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup drained maraschino cherries*

    Ambrosia salad was developed as oranges became more widely available in the late 19th century. Photo courtesy


    1. PLACE the cream and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and whip until stiff peaks are formed. Add the sour cream and whisk to combine.

    2. ADD the marshmallows, orange, pineapple, coconut, pecans and cherries; stir to combine.

    3. TRANSFER to a glass serving bowl, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
    *The best maraschino cherries, worth of a connoisseur, are from Tillen Farms, all natural and made with sugar instead of corn syrup.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Cut Back On The Hors d’Oeuvre

    People who love to put out a good spread typically go whole-hog on the hors d’oeuvre. The problem, in advance of a big feast, is that those who have been holding back on eating in anticipation of the big meal may go overboard with the pre-meal tidbits.

    Guests may have eaten very lightly that day in anticipation of the dinner, only to be very hungry when by the time they arrive at your doorstep. They then dive into the platters of whatever you’ve put out: bruschetta, canapés, cheese, crudités, dips and spreads, paté.

    If they arrive an hour or two in advance of sitting down to dinner, by the time the main meal begins, they could be halfway stuffed. The solution:

    1. Let everyone know what time you expect to sit down at the table. Then, whether you plan a cocktail hour or multi-hour get together before serving dinner, everyone will be prepared. (If you’re the guest, call ahead and ask.)

    2. Limit what you serve to little nibbles—the kind most people won’t eat in bulk.



    Mixed olives and caperberries with fresh parsley and pink peppercorns. Photo courtesy Foods From Spain.



  • Olives, either by themselves or as part of an old-fashioned relish platter with gherkins, radishes, carrot and celery sticks (or the modern alternative, baby carrots and fennel sticks).
  • If you want to do something more creative, consider an olive platter with different flavors: plain olives with very distinctive flavors, such as Cerignola and Kalamata; a hot and spicy mix; olives stuffed with anchovy, blue cheese, garlic, jalapeño, etc.
  • Nuts, including spiced nuts, like Planters Pumpkin Spice Almonds; or a selection of different nuts.
    But forewarned is forearmed. You’ve slaved over that dinner, and the last thing you want to hear are guests groaning that they don’t have enough room for it.



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