Winter, spring, summer, and fall each offer their own unique fruits and vegetables showcasing distinct seasonal flavor. As each year ends, a new season arrives and with it a supply of fresh ingredients that offer foodies fresh new choices. In winter think hardy root vegetables to bright, sweet citrus. Winter produce delivers a surprising range of flavors for you to enjoy with family and friends.
Cold weather crops, the use of hoop houses and other methods that extend the natural growing season, and old-fashioned storage vegetables like cabbages and potatoes all mean that there are plenty of winter fruits and vegetables to choose from in most of the country.
Look for the winter fruits and vegetables below at farmers markets and in produce departments for the best flavor (and greatest value) in season. Specific crops and harvest dates will depend on your region’s climate and most of these beyond root vegetables are only available locally in regions that enjoy a more temperate climate.
Melissa’s/World Variety Produce delivers the global produce market from Los Angeles, California. In 2016 think tasty, creamy, tangy, aromatic, tart, sweet, crunchy and delectable produce from local, national and global sources. Within the 280,000 square feet of the Melissa’s/World Variety Produce, Inc., quality products with exceptional value and first-class service is a given. Melissa’s/World Variety Produce, Inc. is currently the largest distributor of specialty produce in the United States.
Top Seasonal Trends
Here are the top seasonal trends and new items in produce for winter 2016.
After the list, enjoy a crisp tangy crunchy recipe for Korean pears with balsamic reduction and blue cheese crumbles and a sizzling hot (not too hot) Shishito Peppers recipe.
1. Australian Mango: Available in the U.S. for the first time, three unique mango varieties from Australia’s summer harvest! This mango has orange skin tinged with red blush when ripe; its fruit is golden, moderately fibrous with a sweet, tangy flavor. Almost perfectly round with an orange-red blush over a deep orange skin; this variety’s firm lemon-yellow fruit is mildly sweet. The golden apricot-yellow colored HONEY GOLD is firm and juicy with a rich, sweet taste. The variety is fibreless, which makes it the perfect choice for salads and smoothies.
2. Strawberry Papaya: Native to tropical regions, papayas can now be found growing in Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Florida, Southern California and Brazil. Considered to be the sweetest, most flavorful of all Papayas, the salmon-red to pink flesh of Melissa’s Strawberry Papayas is fragrant and juicy, with a hint of fresh peaches and berries. Once soft to the touch, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the small black seeds from the center. Delicious with a simple squeeze of fresh lime or added to smoothies and salads, cubes of Melissa’s Strawberry Papaya can also be added to fresh pineapple, peppers, pearl onions, and teardrop tomatoes for a unique fruit kabob for the grill. When selecting Melissa’s Papayas, choose those that are soft to the touch (similar to a ripe peach). Their color should be more yellow than green. Ripen firm Papayas at room temperature in a loosely closed plastic bag. Refrigerate ripe fruit in a plastic or paper bag for up to 3 days. Freezing is not recommended.
3. Neapolitan Tangerines: Neapolitan Mandarins are a brand new hybrid variety available commercially for the first time in limited quantities. This Neapolitan is slightly smaller in size than most mandarins, but has a big flavor with a very high natural sugar content. This fruit is seedless, easy to peel and extremely juicy. Select fruit that is heavy for its size, with no skin blemishes or soft spots. Perishable fruit should be refrigerated at all times for maximum shelf life.
4. Ruby Tango Tangerines: This new type of hybrid mandarin with red interior fruit is a cross between a blood orange and clementine bred in Sicily. The variety has a pronounced squatty-round shape with a deep orange, very smooth rind that is easy to peel. The interior fruit is dark maroon in color, quite juicy with a full-bodied, sweet flavor when mature. Unlike most mandarin varieties, the Ruby Tango is completely seedless. Ruby Tango Tangerines are great for juicing or simply an out of hand snack. Product of California.
5. Korean Pears: Melissa’s Korean Pears are crunchy, juicy and sweet. Extreme care is taken while growing these pears; the outcome is a clean, blemish-free fruit. Unlike Western pears, Korean Pears are round and large in size. The skin of the pear has a light, brownish-yellow tint while the inner flesh is white. This variety is cultivated to have an extremely thin skin, which is sweet not bitter. Melissa’s Korean Pears have a variety of uses in cooking, sliced, diced or shredded over salads, baked, or stuffed for desserts. Sold ripe and ready to eat, choose Korean Pears that are firm and fragrant. Korean Pears may be stored at room temperature for a week or so, or in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
6. Okra: The okra pod resembles an elongated lantern in shape and has soft green coloring. It is characterized by rows of tiny seeds and a slippery texture. Its versatility allows for okra to be added to many different recipes. It is very popular in Creole dishes and is the base ingredient in gumbo. Okra may be steamed, boiled, pickled, sautéed, or deep-fried. Use okra in soups and salads or add it to your menu as a delightful side dish. Avoid cooking okra in pans made of iron, copper or brass, as their reactive properties turns the vegetable black. Okra from Melissa’s is hand-selected for excellent quality. When buying fresh okra, choose bright colored pods with no signs of spotting or molding. Okra is very sensitive and should stored in a paper bag in the warmest part of the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
7. Roasted Brussel Sprouts: Melissa’s convenient packages of pre-roasted Brussels Sprouts are ready to eat with just a quick heat-up in the microwave, stovetop or oven. These delicious Brussels Sprouts are roasted with a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper. Brussels Sprouts are very low in calories, yet high in fiber as well as packed with vitamins and minerals. In fact, a three-ounce serving of Brussels Sprouts contains four times more vitamin C as an orange! Looking like miniature green cabbage heads, these tasty nuggets of nutrition are delicious served with a medley of root vegetables or as a standalone side dish sautéed with a little bacon and garlic.
8. Steamed Blackeyed Peas: Melissa’s Blackeyed Peas are shelled, then steamed in a vacuum sealed pouch that is ready for quick and convenient stovetop or microwave preparation. Melissa’s Blackeyed Peas are naturally steamed without preservatives or additives and GMO free. They are delicious in soups or stews, or cold in salads. Steamed Blackeyed Peas have a shelf life of six months. Ingredients: Blackeyed Peas, Salt, Natural Flavors. Non-GMO. May contain traces of wheat.
9. Kumquats: he word “kumquat” comes from the Cantonese kin kü, meaning ”golden orange”. A bit larger than an olive, the Kumquat looks like a tiny, oval orange. A native of China, and also grown in Japan and the U.S., the Kumquat is a citrus fruit that is entirely edible. The orange flesh is juicy, acidic and tart while the skin is fragrant and sweet. They can be used in dressings and frostings, candied, or used in preserves, stuffing’s, cakes, and muffins. When selecting Melissa’s Kumquats, look for firm, freshly scented fruit, free of blemishes. Avoid those with green skins. Refrigerate whole in a plastic bag for up to one month. Freezing is not recommended.
10. Turmeric: Turmeric is widely used as a spice in Indian and other South Asian cooking. Related to ginger, turmeric root gives food a golden color and has a distinct peppery flavor that creates a pleasantly warm sensation in the mouth. The root is peeled and grated or minced. Its flavor and vivid color add pizzazz to a variety of savory dishes. Use sparingly in rice and vegetable dishes, chutneys, curries and pickles. Can be stored either in refrigerator or at room temperature.
11. Shishito Peppers: Shishito Peppers are traditionally served in Japanese cuisine roasted and tossed with sesame oil and a dash of soy sauce. Simple, elegant and completely addictive.
Recreate this experience at home by simply roasting in the oven or a sauté pan for a few minutes, then tossing with the Asian condiments and quickly serving with your choice of beverage. A delicious snack that you can feel good about. Delicious! Choose peppers that are bright green with no red tinge. All fresh produce should be refrigerated to maximize shelf life.
12. Veggie Sweet: Melissa’s Veggie Sweet Mini Peppers are small peppers with a sweet taste, good texture and uniform small size. These virtually seedless, bright red, yellow and orange assorted Mini Peppers have a surprisingly mild flavor. Melissa’s Veggie Sweet Mini Peppers look and taste very similar to the bell pepper, but are sweeter and smaller. Melissa’s Veggie Sweet Mini Peppers’ petite size is convenient and easy to add to most recipes. Served raw, they add crunch to salads and appetizers or a surprising texture to stir-fries and rice dishes. Store Melissa’s Veggie Sweet Mini Peppers in the refrigerator for up to a week. Mini Peppers are very easy to handle and are not too delicate. Choose bright Mini Peppers with a glossy finish and firm and plump in texture.
13. Roasted Dutch Yellow® Potatoes: Now the roasted, buttery goodness and fluffy texture of Melissa’s Dutch Yellow® Potato can be enjoyed with a quick heat up in the microwave! They are pre-roasted with just a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and then packaged in a convenient microwaveable pouch. They make a complete side dish that saves an hour of prep time without sacrificing flavor or quality. The Dutch Yellow® Potato is grown exclusively for Melissa’s by a grower-partner in the Magic Valley region of Southern Idaho. Delicious as is, or for a richer flavor, add butter!
Korean Pears with Bleu Cheese Crumble and Balsamic Reduction
Sizzling Shishito Peppers
4 Melissa’s Korean Pears – cored and quartered
1/2 cup Quality Crumbled Bleu Cheese
6 tablespoons Good Balsamic Vinegar
6 tablespoons Brown Sugar — packed
To make the balsamic reduction
In a small heavy saucepan, heat vinegar and brown sugar over moderate heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved and simmer 1 minute. Set aside to cool.
Divide the Korean Pears among 4 small plates.
Sprinkle with the bleu cheese and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.
The perfect combination of sweet and savory.
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1 pound Shishito Peppers
Canola Oil, as needed
1 cup Soy Sauce
1 Lemon, zested and juiced
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, if desired
Quickly fry the peppers in hot oil until they just turn golden brown.
Drain on paper towels. In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, lemon and crushed pepper.
To eat, dip the Shishito pepper into the sauce and enjoy.
Makes 4-6 servings.