What's Tasty at Sigona's Farmers Market

March 28, 2012

Sigona’s Weekly Specials: March 28 – April 3, 2012

 Sigona’s Weekly Specials: March 28 – April 3, 2012

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March 21, 2012

Sigona’s Weekly Specials: March 21-27, 2012

Sigona’s Weekly Specials: March 21-27, 2012

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March 14, 2012

Sigona’s Weekly Specials: March 14-20, 2012

Sigona’s Weekly Specials: March 14-20, 2012

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February 29, 2012

Sigona’s Weekly Specials: Feb. 29-March 6, 2012

Sigona’s Weekly Specials: Feb. 29-March 6, 2012

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February 22, 2012

Sigona’s Weekly Specials: Feb. 22-28, 2012

Sigona’s Weekly Specials: Feb. 22-28, 2012

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February 8, 2012

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: Local Greens

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: Local Greens

(From top to bottom: Curly Mustard, Lacinato Kale and Broccoli Rabe)

How to pick Lacinato kale & Mustard greens:

  • Choose greens that are refrigerated or are kept fresh in open displays. Once picked, the natural gasses come out and the vitamins and nutrients begin to break down, so keeping them cool and crisp is essential.
  • When selecting greens, look for bunches with dark green leaves. Older ones will have yellow leaves.
  • Select firm, healthy looking bunches. Older greens may be limp.
  • The stem end should have a fresh cut and not be dry.
  • Fresh greens will hold up to a week or so if properly stored. To store, wash and place bunch in sealed plastic bag after purchase.
  • Best to use soon after purchase. Bitterness develops with age.
How to pick Broccoli rabe:
  • Choose greens that are refrigerated or are kept fresh in open displays. Once picked, the natural gasses come out and the vitamins and nutrients begin to break down, so keeping them cool and crisp is essential.
  • When selecting greens, look for bunches with dark green leaves. Older ones will have yellow leaves.
  • Select firm, healthy looking bunches. Older broccoli rabe starts to curl up into a u shape and the flowers open up and turn yellow.
  • Select bunches with tight green flowers.
  • To store, wash and place bunch in sealed plastic bunch after purchase.
  • The stem end should have a fresh cut and not be dry.
  • Fresh greens will hold up to a week or so if properly store. To store, wash and place bunch in sealed plastic bag after purchase.
  • Best to use soon after purchase. Bitterness develops with age.

Robbie Sigona is produce buyer for both the Redwood City and Palo Alto Sigona’s Farmers Market locations. He works with local farmers and scours the market for the very best in fresh fruits and vegetables — some you won’t find anywhere else.

February 1, 2012

Sigona’s Weekly Specials: Feb. 1-7, 2012

Sigona’s Weekly Specials: Feb. 1-7, 2012

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January 25, 2012

Sigona’s Weekly Specials: Jan. 25-31, 2012

Sigona’s Weekly Specials: Jan. 25-31, 2012

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To Hass or not to Hass

To Hass or not to Hass

Learn about the differences in two avocado varieties now available at Sigona’s: the Fuerte and the Hass.

By Robbie Sigona

A Californian's favorite: the Hass avocado

Avocados are practically a staple for many homes in our state due to near year-round availability and versatility. Making a dish, such as an omelet or sandwich, “California-style” usually means simply adding in a slice of creamy avocado to the ingredient list.

Most shoppers are familiar with the Hass avocado; it is, after all, the most prevalent variety grown and sold in California, and the one purists say is best for making guacamole. The rich & buttery Hass is easy to spot because of its pebbly-textured skin turns from green to purplish-black when ripe. It’s also a sort of squatty, oval shape while some other varieties, such as the Fuerte, are pear shaped.

We currently carry both Hass and Fuerte varieties, and while both are essentially the same inside with their light green, creamy & sweet flesh, it’s important to know the differences between the two to guarantee a good avocado.

To Hass or not to Hass

Most have heard the phrase, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but when selecting an avocado, giving the outside the once-over is a good place to start. The graphic below shows the simple, yet pertinent differences between the Hass and the Fuerte.

Anyone who unknowingly selects a Fuerte and waits (and waits, and waits) for the skin to darken is in for a disappointment. The skin of a Fuerte stays green when ripe. Fuertes aren’t usually stocked at most grocery stores because their thin skin makes them too perishable. On the other hand, the thick-skinned Hass, a variety developed in the 1930s, has a great shelf life.

Did you know there are nearly 500 avocado varieties? According to the California Avocado Commission, just a handful of those 500 varieties are grown commercially in California; they are the Bacon, Fuerte, Gwen, Hass, Lamb Hass, Pinkerton, Reed and Zutano. The familiar Hass variety is the leader of the pack, representing nearly 95 percent of California’s total crop.

Most people prefer the California avocado over its Florida counterpart, and the reason is plain: taste and creaminess. In general, California-grown avocados are rich in oil (from 18-30 percent) making for buttery, rich fruit. Florida avocados are more juicy, sometimes even watery, with just 3-5 percent oil. Florida avocados also have a slight sweetness, which Hass lovers are not used to.

Avocado to the Rescue

Avocados are a staple fruit in our stores, and because I grew up in our family market, you can believe me when I say I’ve eaten my fair share. It wasn’t until I was older that I became interested in the health benefits of avocados, especially when my wife and I became parents.

Left to right: Bacon, Fuerte, Gwen, Hass, Lamb Hass, Pinkerton, Reed, Zutano.

Avocados are one of the first fruits a baby can enjoy. They’re loaded with vitamins and nutrients, such as potassium, vitamins B1 & B2, niacin, folacin, magnesium and monounsaturated fats, which, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, are essential for baby’s development.

Though they’re high in calories, avocados can help you avoid weight gain if used in moderation in place of other high-fat or high-salt condiments like cheese or mayonnaise. The fats found in avocados are monounsaturated fats, or “good fats,” and promote an increase in healthy cholesterol (HDL).

Of all varieties, the Hass contains the highest proportion “good fat.” Additionally, they’re also a great source of protein, essential acids and heart-protective compounds such as Vitamin E, potassium, folate and fiber. They really are a superfruit.

But wait, there’s more!

Among findings from a 2005 research project completed at Ohio State University found that eating avocado with salsa or with a salad increased absorption of carotenoids (powerful antioxidants, protecting the cells of the body from damage caused by free radicals) from the vegetables in the dish by as much as 15 times.

Did you ever think you’d know so much about the avocado?

Californians are lucky to have great avocados available nearly nine months out of the year. For the three months of the year when Californian avocados aren’t available, Chilean or Mexican Hass avocados are an acceptable substitute. This is a great time to try the California Fuerte avocado.

Whether you’re stocking up now for your homemade California-style BLTAs (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado sandwich) or for Big Game guacamole, remember to check our signage for the variety of avocado you’re buying. We clearly mark the Hass avocados and the Fuertes, and are also sure to adhere the orange Ripe stickers to the fruits that are ready to eat that day. Make sure to check the rest of our blog for more avocado selection tips and avocado recipes, too, such as a gluten-free Avocado & Quinoa Salad.

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: Avocados

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: Avocados

It's important to know the difference between a Fuerte and a Hass avocado tomake sure you get one that's ripe.

Avocados ripen best off the tree and are generally delivered not-quite-ripe to farmers markets and stores.

  • Sigona’s always has ripe avocados available for our customers (look for the orange Ripe stickers). We have natural atmosphere rooms that ripen our avocados to perfection.
  • Ripe avocados yield to gentle pressure. Avoid fruits that seem “too squishy” when gently squeezed.
  • It’s important to know the difference in avocado varieties when selecting the fruit. For example, the skin of Hass avocados darkens when ripe, while the skin of a Fuerte avocado stays green.
  • Select avocados that feel slightly heavy for their size.
  • Once ripe, the fruit can be refrigerated until it is eaten, but not for more than two or three days.
  • Sliced avocados brown quickly so if preparing slices for later use, squirt them with lemon juice and cover with plastic wrap to keep the air out.


    Robbie Sigona is produce buyer for both the Redwood City and Palo Alto Sigona’s Farmers Market locations. He works with local farmers and scours the market for the very best in fresh fruits and vegetables — some you won’t find anywhere else.
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