July 18, 2012
July 11, 2012
John Sigona’s Pick of the Week
Locally Grown Dried Apricots
On special right now through July 24th:
6.5 oz. Large Size Blenheim Apricots: $2.99 (Reg. $3.99)
10 oz. Large Size Blenheim Apricots: $4.99 (Reg. $5.99)
19 oz. Large Size Blenheim Apricots: $7.99 (Reg. $9.79)
Bulk Extra Large Size Blenheim Apricots: $9.99 lb. (Reg. $13.99 lb.)
These are the very best dried apricots in the entire world!
We really do have the very best locally grown dried apricots you’ll find anywhere. They’re fantastic because they are:
- An heirloom Blenheim variety
- The Blenheim heirlooms have the best flavor of any other variety: a perfect sweet/tart balance featuring smooth, delicate excellence.
- Blenheims are grown specifically for drying
- From the local Santa Clara and San Benito Counties
- Ideal weather—warm late spring/summer days, cool evenings
- Cool days and evenings in the off season—good for hibernating
- Soil is excellent for nourishment and healthiest growth possible
- These two counties are unsurpassed for ideal conditions for growing Blenheim apricots. They’re better than anywhere else in our state, country or in the world!
Besides the great taste, just 2 oz. of our Blenheim dried apricots provide nutritional and health benefits; a few examples based on a 2,000 per day calorie intake includes:
- 58% Vitamin A
- 20% Iron
- 16% Fiber
- 4% Iron
- 4% Calcium
- Help with constipation
- Help ease digestion
Our Blenheim apricots are a tasty treat eaten out of hand, but they can be used in cooking in many interesting ways. (Check out our recipes for additional tasty ideas.)
- With wild rice and chicken
- In an elegant sweet potato dish
- In couscous (with chopped onions and spices)
- In a Chinese salad
- Chicken or turkey salad
- Apricot pie or tart
- And much more!
Tips for Healthy Living
I’m incredibly excited to announce Geri Wohl as our newest Tips for Healthy Living writer. Geri is a Bay Area-based Certified Nutrition Consultant and Educator with extensive training in holistic and whole foods nutrition focused on emphasizing positive lifestyle changes. Her articles are sure to educate, engage and entertain. Welcome aboard Geri! – Carmelo Sigona
A Peach a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
The Nutritional Benefits of Fruits and How to Select Them
By Geri Wohl
Now I know that the saying is actually “an apple” but let’s look at the beneficial qualities of peaches and other similar stone fruits, including nectarines, plums, cherries, apricots and their associated hybrids and why they keep us away from the doctor’s office.
Summertime isn’t typically associated with sickness, but is it because the germs are fewer, we spend more time outside or we consume foods that are immune supporting?
I love this time of the year with all the juicy, sweet stone fruits. Their aromas waft through the air as I enter into their section at Sigona’s Farmers Market, beckoning me to pick them and savor their incredible flavors. One of the ways I choose my produce is by a fruit’s smell. But more about choosing ripe stone fruit later in the article. Eating these fruits also requires a bit of a carefree attitude as the juice just drips as you bite into them.
All these fruits are classified as stone fruit due to the hard pit in the center. Also called drupes (pretty strange name), they have a single seed that is encased in a stony, hard shell. The hard pit protects the seed and allows it to be scattered as droppings by our avian friends. These fruits are all in the genus Prunus and family Rosaceae or rose family. These fruits are at their peak of ripeness between May and September (or October if we’re lucky). If you buy these fruits in the winter, they are typically from South America and will have the transit issues that were discussed in the last article (http://www.bettereatingcoach.com/62212-eating-with-the-seasons.html).
All of these fruits are low in calories due to their high water content. The high-water composition (87% in peaches) helps suppress hunger. Anyone trying to lose weight may want to grab these as a great snack. Furthermore, your body actually uses more calories digesting the fruit than the fruit has so it is a negative calorie gain. In addition, all these fruits have high levels of vitamins A and C. These vitamins are beneficial for a variety of reasons, including immunity, heart health, joint support and eye health. These fruits also enhance our digestive system, as they all are good sources of dietary fiber. Did you know that plums act like their dried counterparts, prunes, against constipation?
Each of these fruits has high levels of potassium (and of course, no salt) so they’re good for anyone on a low-salt diet or with cardiac issues. Potassium is essential for heart health, kidney function and digestion. Most of these fruits also contain iron, which is necessary for red blood cell formation, nervous system function and immune health to name a few. As vitamin C enhances absorption of iron, these fruits are chalk-full of nutrients that work together to enhance our well-being.
Other important components of these fruits are antioxidants such as beta carotene (which creates the deep colorful skins), lutein and lycopene (important for our eyes). These antioxidants work on cleaning up the toxic compounds in our bodies as well as the by-products of our metabolism. They are linked to cancer prevention and are extremely important for optimal body functioning.
So how do you pick the best stone fruit out there? The fruit should have a bit of give when you press the skin—not too hard and not too soft, but just right. After pressing the skin, I always pick up the fruit and smell it to see if it has that wonderful aroma I spoke about earlier. If it doesn’t, find another piece that does. Or you can put it out on the counter for a couple of days to ripen and then savor.
Be aware that conventionally grown stone fruits typically have a lot of pesticides. If you can buy these fruits organically grown, you will be better off. If not, just rinsing in water isn’t enough to remove the pesticides. Instead, try filling your sink or a large bowl with cold water. Add 4 T salt and the juice of half a fresh lemon. Soak fruits and veggies for 5-10 min. (for leafy greens 2-3 min.; for berries 1-2 min). Rinse well and enjoy. For another nontoxic and inexpensive cleaning method, combine 1 T lemon juice, 2 T distilled white vinegar and 1 cup water in a spray bottle. Spray the fruit or vegetable, wipe and then enjoy!
Savor these wonderful fruits because the season goes by quickly. For a delicious blueberry and peach crisp recipe, go to my website at http://www.bettereatingcoach.com/recipe-summer-2011.html.
In the Kitchen with Sigona’s Featuring Stone Fruit
One of life’s great pleasures is biting into a ripe, fresh and sweet piece of stone fruit. Whether it’s a peach, plum, apricot, nectarine or additional hybrid, local stone fruits are wonderful whether eaten out of hand or in a crisp salad.
Out of Hand
OK, so maybe this isn’t exactly a recipe, but we bet you can’t resist the temptation of holding a delicious piece of stone fruit in your hand without chomping down into it to enjoy those sweet, succulent flavors. Nothing beats eating fresh stone fruit right out of hand.
- Sigona’s stone fruits from Sweet Home Farms
- Select your stone fruit of choice
- Raise to mouth
- Bite into the best-tasting fruit in the entire Bay Area
Honey Vanilla Fromage Blanc
I love this quick and simple recipe, especially on warm summer days. The raspberry topping is the perfect complement to Sweet Home Farms’ delectable stone fruits. Recipe adapted from Food Network.
- 32 ounces fromage blanc
- 2 TBL heavy cream
- 1/4 cup Honey Hole Wild Apricot or Blackberry Honey
- 4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
- Vanilla seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
- Sigona’s fresh stone fruits, including Diamond Ray nectarines, Ice Princess and Snow Princess peaches and Santa Rosa plums
- Berries such as raspberries and strawberries
- Citrus fruit such as oranges, cut in segments
- Raspberry Sauce
- Stir the fromage blanc, cream, honey, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and vanilla seeds together in a medium bowl.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
- To assemble, spoon the fromage blanc mixture into shallow bowls. Place the fruit artfully on top and drizzle the dessert with raspberry sauce.
- Serve with extra raspberry sauce on the side.
Raspberry Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 basket of raspberries rinsed
- 1 tsp. lime juice
- 1 tsp. lime zest
- 2 tsp. Honey Hole Wild Apricot Honey
Raspberry Sauce Directions:
- Place the ingredients for the raspberry sauce in a blender
- Blend until smooth use as a topping
Carmelo’s Simple Stone Fruit Salad
Simple, delicious and incredibly good for you. No wonder this basic stone fruit salad has become one of my most favorite dishes!
- One of the following stone fruits:
- Diamond Ray nectarines
- Ice Princess peaches
- Snow Princess peaches
- Santa Rosa Plums
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 tsp. lime zest
- 2 tsp. lime juice
- A sprinkling of raspberries
- Slice the stone fruit and mix with all ingredients except raspberries
- Plate and top with raspberries
Peach, Plum or Apricot Raw Stone Fruit Cobbler
Nothing beats a refreshing and sweet cobbler, especially when stone fruits are perfectly in season as they are right now. This healthy treat is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. Recipe courtesy of About.com.
- 1 ½ pounds (5-6 cups) of Sweet Home Ranch’s peaches, plums, nectarines or apricots pitted and cut into 1” chunks
- 2 TBL of Honey Hole Wild Honey
- ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup dried unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup walnut pieces
- ½ cup pecan pieces
- 5 large medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon powder
- Pinch of grated nutmeg or mace
- Pinch of sea salt
- Gently toss the fruit with the agave and vanilla extract. Divide the fruit amongst 4 dessert glasses and set aside.
- Place the remaining ingredients (coconut, walnuts, pecans, dates, almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt) in a food processor and pulse the mixture until it is coarsely ground but still has texture.
- Divide the mixture between the 4 berry dishes, scattering evenly over the top to form a thick crust.
- The crisp can be served immediately or chilled.
- Serves 4
Home Sweet Home Ranch
Sweet Home Ranch farmer Paul Buxman places nature and family first to provide you with the sweetest, most perfect stone fruits in the entire Bay Area!
By Robbie Sigona
“You know how I stay cool all day on my tractor in 100-plus degree heat,” Paul Buxman asked me from his Sweet Home Ranch in Dinuba, CA just south of Fresno. “I place a towel under my hat and fill it full of ice every hour. The cold water just drips down onto my head and shoulders. Sometimes I’m cold even when it’s 112 degrees out!”
The only things more delicious and sweet than Paul’s humor are the nectarines, peaches, plums and additional stone fruits his farm grows on his 55 acre ranch.
That’s because unlike fruit that may be stored for up to three weeks and picked green, produce from Sweet Home Ranch is plucked from branches at the peak of ripeness. Then, in the blink of an eye, it’s delivered and placed on our shelves here at Sigona’s for you and your family to enjoy. With produce that fresh, no wonder it’s bursting with so many exquisite flavors.
Having forged a close friendship with Paul over the years, I know one of the things he prides himself on the most are his growing techniques. Every piece of produce from his farm is certified California Clean. In a nutshell this basically means that all his succulent fruits are grown sans organic or synthetic pesticides. While Paul’s produce may not be certified organic, his unique and intricate growing techniques are still environmentally friendly and yield the best-tasting fruits you’ve ever had.
Before I could practically finish asking Paul his opinion on which stone fruits are looking especially good right now, he exclaimed excitedly, “The Diamond Ray nectarines! It’s packed full of calcium, zinc and additional minerals that your body craves.”
Having tasted these beauties myself, I can personally attest that you’ll want to try one the next time you’re in the store. I’d also highly suggest the Snow Princess and Ice Princess peaches as well. These fragrant white-flesh peaches possess floral notes with a touch of honey and rose.
Paul says that his peaches are about as perfect as they can be right now due in large part to ideal climate conditions. “While they’re roasting out there in the Midwest and the East, we’ve had a relatively mild summer here so far with only a few days over 100. All early ripening fruits prefer 90-degree weather, which we’ve had, and this allows for 2 to 3 more days on the trees to give them those flavor profiles that people expect and love.”
Sweet Home Ranch is constantly striving to attain the perfect peach, plum, nectarine and more. From tweaking watering patterns to pruning techniques, Paul leaves no leaf unturned.
Paul is equally attentive and dedicated to creating a nourishing family environment for his workers. This enables them to live and thrive as vibrantly as the peaches that are eventually picked from the trees.
“There’s a huge labor shortage in the farming industry right now. This is because the system currently requires six to eight weeks of hard labor, but then workers are laid off. That’s no good,” Paul stated emphatically. “So we find ways to have our employees working year-round – along with two months of vacation for them to travel and visit their families.”
To counter those days of “dead time” when most employees would be laid off, Paul and his wife Ruth diversify their peachy portfolio by making precious preserves. This off-season work increases the amount of days his employees can be compensated for their efforts.
Along with providing his employees with a steady stream of income, Sweet Home Ranch also makes sure its valued workers are surrounded by a safe environment. You might be astonished to know that when it finally gets just too darn hot out there, Paul sends his workers home – paid! “What’s more important: the loss of a few peaches or the potential for heat stroke? Without our workers we’re nothing.”
Sweet Home Ranch now has employees that have been with the company for over two decades. Many of these loyal folks now have kids working for the company. (Hey! That sounds just like Sigona’s Farmers Market!)
As Paul so eloquently put it, “It really is heaven on earth here, except for days when it’s 110 degrees out.”
We look forward to seeing you in the store this summer for the best stone fruit you’ve even tasted. And don’t forget to check out our recipes, including Honey Vanilla Fromage Blanc and my Uncle Carmelo’s Simple Stone Fruit Salad.
Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: Stone Fruit
- Stone fruit should have a slight give if you want to eat them right away.
- Store them in the fridge if it’s breaking or ripe and they should last four or five days. If it’s firm then leave them on the counter for a day or two until ripe and ready to eat.
- For Diamond Ray yellow nectarines, there are a lot of “sugar dots” as Paul Buxman likes to calls them. They have a bit of a crude look but are fantastic. The more of these sugar dots the better.
- You want to pick a nectarine (or a peach for that matter) with a nice yellow background. I always like to turn my fruit over and look at the stem end to get a true indication of the color. It’s not the red blush color that you are looking for.
- And of course, you’ll want your stone fruit free of bruises.
– Robbie Sigona is our produce buyer. 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.
Sigona’s Dried Fruit and Nut Specials: July 11-17, 2012
July 4, 2012
Sigona’s Dried Fruit and Nut Specials: July 4-10, 2012
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