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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Great Georgia Produce!!



My boys love their fruits and veggies!

Hey Y'all tonight my post is about all the great the great produce that Georgia is known for. This is great for anyone living in Georgia and for anyone just passing through! In my past I worked at a fruit stand , the whole outside atmosphere and all!

  I spent 2 years there and learned more than I ever known about produce. It wasn't always the easiest job but I always enjoyed meeting new people from all over and getting to know all the regulars.You find out sometimes people stop in and just want to talk just to have someone listen to them.    

     Some of the job requirements were working in the elements (summers here can get really hot!), unloading 25-70 lbs boxes of produce and unloading watermelons and taking them out to peoples cars. Going through produce daily and restocking, during winter stacking fire wood and loading it into cars and tying up Christmas trees to cars. Just for anyone who ends up owning one or working for one here is a heads up!

  One thing I miss about that job is having an ice cold glass bottled R/C or Nehi Peach in hand and munching on boiled peanuts while waiting for customers!

 Our top sellers were boiled peanuts (a southern favorite!) tomatoes, watermelons, Vidalia onions, peaches and pecans. I also learned that a lot of people love green plums, these are little unripe plums that can be bitter or sour. Most people eat them with salt.

 Here are a few tips I hope you enjoy!

Vidalia Onions- Georgia's State Vegetable -These hail from Vidalia, Georgia! Their name is protected and cannot carry it unless they are certified to. They are shipped to 50 states and most of Canada! Vidalia Onions are sweet instead of hot and more of a flatter and round shape than other onions. They are to me and a lot of others the best! The season for Vidalias are Mid-April til around September ( after Labor day they get hard to find.)You can pick up a bag today at your local grocers and taste the difference!

Here is a great website for history, recipes, kiddo recipes and to order a bag of your own!
http://www.vidaliaonion.org
Here is the direct link to their page to order!
http://www.vidaliaonion.org/about_us/buy_vidalia_onions_products

Peaches- Georgia's State Fruit- Sweet, juicy GA peaches! You can't live or visit Georgia without picking up some of these! They sell by the basket fulls. I love them when they are soft to the touch, fully ripe and the smell screams peach this is when they are the juiciest! I will warn you though, their fuzz can make you and your lips itch. Some people do prefer peaches when they are hard to me they don't have the full potential as when they are soft. Not much flavor. Georgia Peaches are in season from Mid- May to August. Also when someone is asking for cling free peaches they mean the pit (seed) inside doesn't stick to the flesh. When you have over ripe or bruised peaches they are great for making peach cobbler or peaches and cream. There are many types of recipes for this but here is one that I use!

Peaches-N-Cream
Sliced Peaches
Sugar
Heavy Cream or Whole Milk

Place sliced peaches in bowl, add sugar (of your liking) and cover with heavy cream or whole milk stir it up. Place in the freezer until almost to icing, take out and stir up to eat. It's a great, easy and creamy treat! It's kinda like cold melted peach ice cream!

Here are a couple of great websites for history, recipes and farmer information!
http://gapeaches.org/
http://www.pearsonfarm.com/peaches

Watermelons- We sold 10,000+ a Summer. One question everyone wants to know is how to pick the best one, here are some tips, make sure you have a nice yellow spot on the bottom this shows that it sit on the ground long enough to ripen. another is make sure you have a nice green stem, if it's brown and hard it means it's been picked and sitting awile. Green stem means freshly picked. Sometimes watermelons sit around to long and start to get mushy. Also there is the thump test. Thump the watermelon you are looking for a hollow sound. this means it is most likely ripe. In Georgia Most of our watermelons come from Cordele, GA. Known as "The Watermelon Capitol of the World." People come from all over to buy bus loads of melons to sell. We sold a few different varieties including, seedless, yellow meat ( the inside is yellow) and sugar babies ( mostly single serving but some of the sweetest watermelons you will ever eat!) Sugar Babies have a very dark green skin almost black.  I prefer seedless or seedless Sugar Babies! Before GA watermelons come in alot of the watermelons come from Florida. They also produce a great tasting watermelon! Our season is June - August you can still find a few in September but it starts getting hard to find!

Here are some website with recipe sand facts!
http://www.watermelon.org/
http://www.georgiawatermelonassociation.org

This page tells you what the harvest season is for Ga Fruit and Vegetables!
http://agr.georgia.gov//Data/Sites/1/media/ag_marketing/state_farmers_market/files/fruitandvegetabledirectory.pdf

Tomatoes- Tomatoes were a big seller all year around! Georgia tomatoes are available from March until November. the rest of the year they mostly come from Florida. Florida tomatoes are some of the best! Everyone always wanted GA tomatoes. All of our tomatoes were vine - ripe. Vine-ripe is when they are not picked until they are ripe from the vine, they have the best taste. A lot of places like to sell hot house tomatoes, these are picked green and then gassed to turn red, the inside looks whitish still and are harder to the touch. To me they taste like cardboard. Once you have vine-ripe you never go back!. green tomatoes are another great seller used to pickle or to fry. Here's a tip if you have a tomato that is not fully ripened and you want to use them soon place the tomatoes in a paper bag with bananas they produce a gas to help with then ripening process. Tomatoes are great for a lot of dishes! My favorite is the Tomato Sandwich! On a hot Summer day in the south nothing is better! Here's my recipe. Oh so simple!

Tomato Sandwich 

2 slices of bread of your choice
4 slices of tomatoes (enough to cover the bread slice)
mayonnaise
salt & pepper

Get two slices of bread, spread mayo onto one side of each slice, place tomatoes on to cover the bread. Sprinkle with salt and I like a lot of pepper. Cover with 2nd slice and Enjoy!

That's it very easy and convenient! Great for picnics!

This website has recipes!
http://georgiagrown.com/recipes

This websites tells you how to grow your own tomatoes!
http://www.caes.uga.edu/publications/pubDetail.cfm?pk_id=7803

Boiled Peanuts- Georgia is well known for peanuts and Georgia is the number-one peanut-producing state in the country! Boiled peanuts are very popular down south! I would have out of towners come in that never had them, I would let them sample them. some people loved them and some people didn't like the texture.(it's like the texture of a cooked pinto bean). We had to cook 50lbs. bags every other day to keep up with the demand. These are a great summer treat! Great to take to the ballpark. The way they are ate is you suck the juice out of the end, pop open the shell and enjoy the peanuts inside.This is how you can make your own!

Boiled Peanuts

Raw peanuts in shell
water
salt

Place peanuts in a large pot, fill with water and add salt. if you are using a lot of water you are going to have to add a good amount of salt. Heat on high, bring to a boil then lower the temp to medium heat. Let cook 2-3 hours or until no longer crunchy. When done taste to see if they need more slat. If so add more and let boil 20 minutes longer. Keep an eye on the water when cooking because it can evaporate and burn up your pot and peanuts.
Another way add all ingredients into a crock pot cook on high setting for 2- 4 hours. If still crunchy cook longer!
NOTE: When I say raw, I mean it isn't roasted or cooked in anyway. I've tried with roasted and they never softened up.

  If you have never had them try atleast once. You may end up with a new favorite snack!

Check out these great websites!
http://www.gapeanuts.com
http://www.hardyfarmspeanuts.com

Pecans- Georgia has plenty of pecan orchards. I found out when I worked at the stand that China was buy out all the orchards and shipping the pecans over seas and then sell them back to America which has made pecans rise to $9.00 a pound. I'd say that is pretty expensive! We get lucky here because sometimes you can find pecan trees out around the country or at an abandoned house. That keeps you from having to spend so much. Pecans are available in November. If you are buying pecans in June you are most likely buying last years crop. My secret is is keep unused pecans in the shell and in a bag , place them in the fridge. When you are ready to use them they taste as fresh as the day you picked them. Great recipes for pecans are pecan pie & pralines (a sugar spice coated pecan.) I love to eat these fresh out of the shell!

Great site for recipes!
http://www.georgiapecans.org/

Great site for information!
http://georgiapecan.com/

Canteloupes- Great, orange flesh melons with a veiny rough looking tannish skin. Best way to eat these is to chill in the fridge, slice in half gut out the seeds and slice! These are a really good and refreshing snack on a hot day! Best way to pick one at the store is to look for the one with the most color. The less green the better, green means not at it's ripest. Also smell the end of the melon if it smells strong of canteloupe that means it's pretty ripe! Same as with watermelons look for the stem that isn't brown and hard that means the greener the stem the freshly picked. Less chance of getting a mushy one.

Great site for recipes and growing tips!
http://georgiaorganics.org/for-gardeners/do-it-yourself/growing-and-eating-cantaloupes/

Well there you have it! A few tips on some great produce! Bring more into your families life for a healthier living. Check out your local fruit stands and Farmer's Market! You can get some of the freshest, cheapest and local products around.

 You can also local U-Pick farms. These are a great place to take you kids to teach them where the food on their plates come from.

 When I was little my parents would take us to the peach orchard farm to pick fresh peaches. It was a fun thing we did and it left us with great family memories! You will be helping your local farmers stay in business to provide you with that experience.

Well I hope you enjoyed my post! Always feel free to comment on how you feel about my post. Remember to subscribe by email to get my post as they come out ! Thank you for your support!