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Archive for April, 2017

Earl’s Produce Buyer’s Notes Week of April 17, 2017

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Rhubarb is a Harbinger of Spring

The arrival of shiny crimson red rhubarb is yet another sign that spring has arrived. It is a hearty vegetable that thrives in cooler climates and originally came by way of China, Russia and Mongolia where it was first used as a medicinal herb to treat a variety of illnesses. Rhubarb made its debut in the United States in the late 18th century when Luther Burbank, a world-renowned horticulturist, developed a deep red variety that thrived in much of California’s climate.

Rhubarb is a perennial herb grown from a crown, similar to asparagus, and will continue to produce up to 15 years. Rhubarb is very weather dependent and needs a summer temperature of 75° or below for maximum production. Once the temperatures reach 90° or above the plant will start to wilt.

Rhubarb grows best in the northern regions of the United States.  It can be found grown on a commercial level in Oregon, Washington and Michigan. Rhubarb from the Pacific Northwest is all field grown and the season runs from late March until the end of June. The Michigan season begins in April with hothouse grown rhubarb and later moves to field grown.

Warning!
Only eat the leaf stalks or petioles. This is one vegetable where you do not want to use the whole plant. The leaves can grow to be extremely large and due to their high levels of oxalic acid they are considered poisonous.

How to buy
Look for bright red stalks which have a sweet rich flavor. The size of the stalk is not an indicator of tenderness!

Storage and Cooking
Wrap loosely in plastic and store in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Do not keep for more than a few days or it will start to dry out. Rhubarb is very tart and acidic and needs honey or sugar to transform it into a delicious dessert or savory dish

Seasonal Eats

Beautiful red stalks of rhubarb have arrived at Earl’s signaling the beginning of spring. Often thought of as a fruit, rhubarb is actually a vegetable that can traced back to 2700 BC in China where it was used for medicinal purposes.

Warning!
Only eat the leaf stalks or petioles. This is one vegetable where you do not want to use the whole plant. The leaves can be considered poisonous due to their high levels of oxalic acid. Rhubarb PNW (1)

How to buy
Look for bright red stalks which have a sweet rich flavor. The size of the stalk is not an indicator of tenderness!

Fun Fact

Rhubarb is 95% water and high in potassium and vitamin c.

Storage and Cooking
Wrap loosely in plastic and store in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Do not keep for more than a few days or it will start to dry out. Place the stalks in cold water for about an hour to refresh them before cooking.

Earl’s Produce Buyer’s Notes Week of April 10, 2017

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Seasonal Eats

Our first land of peaches of the season landed today. Earl’s is offering sweet and juicy yellow Alta Kristys out of Mexico and California Amber Crest. Peaches at the beginning of the season are clingstone which means the fruit “clings” tightly to the pit. The bottom of the peach comes to a tapered point with a cling stone peach unlike a free stone peach that has a flat bottom.

Alta Kristy First peaches of the year MX (2)

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