The sweet and spicey facts about peppers

The sweet and spicey facts about peppers

Given the vast array of varieties as well as their versatility, peppers just might be considered the little black dress of cooking….they go with almost anything.   From the mild green bell pepper to the sweet red bell  to the oh-so-very-hot haberneros, this multipurpose non-veggie is this week’s celebrated food item.  Yes, I said non-veggie.  According to the website, servingjoy.com, because peppers have seeds and come from flowering plants, they are actually a fruit. Though bell peppers come in an assortment of colors, including black, brown, and dark purple, they all come from the same plant. While green bell peppers are the most familiar, red, orange, and yellow bell peppers are merely the riper versions of the green pepper. Colchester Neighborhood Farm is currently harvesting a number of different peppers that will perk up the flavor in any recipe while providing a pop of color that will make the dish as beautiful to look at as it is delicious to eat. Here are some other fun facts about this member of the Capsicum family.

  • Despite the similarity in name, the bell pepper is not related to the plant that produces the popular kitchen condiment, black pepper.
  • Unlike other members of the Capsicum family, bell peppers do not contain capsaicin, the compound responsible for the spicier version of peppers.
  • As bell peppers mature, their sugar and nutritional content also increase. Although green peppers might be crunchier, you can make your dishes sweeter and healthier if you use the brighter-colored red bell pepper. In addition to providing more Vitamins A and C,  this version contain the antioxidant lycopene, a nutrient not found in the green bell pepper.
  • Move over orange juice…the bell pepper tops the list of foods with the highest levels of Vitamin C. A large red pepper provides more than 300% of your daily requirement of this essential vitamin and three times more vitamin C than an orange.
  • To get the most nutritional value from peppers, it is best to eat them raw, since heat decreases their nutritional levels. If you do cook them, do so for a short period of time.
  • Does the second bite of a chili pepper seem hotter than the first? That may be because you are getting closer to the stem. Some people believe the seeds are the spiciest part, but it’s actually the flesh near them that sets your tongue on fire. According to the website, mentalfloss.com, the part of the pepper closest to the stem is usually the hotter part because it has the highest concentration of capsaicin, which is responsible for causing irritation to the skin and that distinct burning pain on your tongue.
  • Although mammals react to that capsaicin in hot peppers, birds are completely immune to its effects. And because of this, birds are largely responsible for helping to spread while wild peppers, by eating them and excreting the seeds.
  • The measurement for determining and ranking the hotness level of a pepper is called the Scoville scale, named after pharmacist Wilbur Soville. Mild bell peppers fall within 1 to 100 SHU (Scoville Heat Units) while their hotter counterparts, such as cayenne fall at 30,000 to 50,000 SHU. The spiciest pepper known to man is called the Carolina Reaper…it measures 2.2 million SHU on the scale. That is one hot pepper!

Beyond providing color, flavor, and nutritional value to a recipe, some suggest that the heat in hot peppers increase metabolism thereby promoting weight loss. In recognition of this multi-talented fruit, we celebrate all peppers….both hot and sweet…. and encourage you to do the same by stopping in at Colchester Neighborhood Farm to purchase some freshly harvested, organically grown members of the Capsicum family.

You Say Potato….

You Say Potato….

Friday, August 19, in case you didn’t know, is National Potato Day. Thanks to Mr. Potato Head and even Mrs. Potato Head, this vegetable enjoys more celebrity status than any of its colleagues. And because it can be served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and enjoyed later, as a snack to crunch on, the spud earns high marks for its versatility and chameleon-like qualities. Whether you bake it, boil it, mash it, fry it, serve it as hash browns first thing in the morning or crunch on it straight from a bag late at night while watching a movie, the potato is without doubt a vegetable worth celebrating. The crew at Colchester Neighborhood Farm has been busy digging up the spuds and there is plenty of the harvest to go around.  In honor of this day officially recognizing the potato for its contribution to our overall health and well-being, I give you a few more interesting facts to consider as you nibble on some French fries.

  • Ever wonder who came up with the recipe for potato chips? Apparently, the idea for this now popular snack came from a passive aggressive chef working at a resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. According to potatogoodness.com, in 1853 railroad magnate Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt complained that his potatoes were cut too thick and sent them back to the kitchen. To spite his haughty guest, Chef George Crum sliced some potatoes paper thin, fried them in hot oil, salted and served them. To everyone’s surprise, Vanderbilt loved his “Saratoga Crunch Chips,” and potato chips have been popular ever since.
  • The world’s largest potato chip was produced by the Pringle’s Company in Jackson, TN in 1990. It measured 23 inches by 14.5 inches.
  • The suggestion that it’s not the potato but rather the stuff that you put on it that’s fattening is, unfortunately, true. Baked potatoes by themselves do not pack all that many calories; it’s the butter, sour cream, bacon and cheddar cheese we top them with that adds to our waistlines. According to idahopotatomuseum.com, the potato is about 80 percent water and 20 percent solid. An 8 ounce baked or boiled potato has only about 100 calories.
  • In 1995, the potato became the first vegetable grown in space. NASA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison created the technology with the goal of feeding astronauts on long space voyages, and eventually, feeding future space colonies.
  • Thomas Jefferson introduced French fries to America when he had them served at a White House Dinner.
  • The average American eats about 124 pounds of potatoes per year.
  • The first permanent potato patches in North America were established in 1719, most likely near Londonderry (Derry), NH, by Scotch-Irish immigrants.  From there, the crop spread across the country.
  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest potato grown was 7 pounds 1 ounce by J. East and J. Busby  of Great Britain.
  • The strong connection between the Irish and potatoes is directly linked to the major outbreak of potato blight, a plant disease that swept through Europe in the 1840s, wiping out the potato crop in many countries. Because the Irish working class lived largely on potatoes, when the blight reached Ireland, killing their main staple food, many poverty-stricken families were left  with no choice but to struggle to survive or emigrate out of Ireland. Over the course of the famine, almost one million people died from starvation or disease. Another one million people left Ireland, mostly for Canada and the United States.
  • Though they share similar names, they are not related. The sweet potato belongs in the same family as morning glories while the white potato belongs to the same group as tomatoes, tobacco, chile pepper, eggplant and the petunia.

Stop by Colchester Neigbhorhood Farm today and pick up some freshly harvested, organically grown potatoes and serve them any way you prefer….as hash browns in the morning, french fries with lunch or baked and loaded with toppings for dinner. Tell us your favorite way to enjoy the spud.

 

Crunch on these fun facts about Celery

Crunch on these fun facts about Celery

It’s the go-to diet food. The minute we notice we have to drop a few pounds, we immediately reach for that stalk of celery. We chew on it, feeling deprived, but a bit less guilty and maybe even a few pounds lighter. Packing only ten calories while requiring a bit of energy to chew it, some believe that celery actually has a negative calorie count.  But there is so much more to this vegetable than just being a popular snack for dieters. Celery, onions, and carrots are the key ingredients for mirepox, which is used as the base for many French cuisines, including sauces, stews, soups, and stocks.

This crunchy and watery vegetable has a host of other attributes, as well;  from acting as an aphrodisiac to containing properties that will reduce anxiety and calm the nerves. And the best news of all is that it is currently being harvested at Colchester Neighborhood Farm and is readily available for purchase.  Here are a few other fun facts about celery for you to chew on:

  • Exactly how did celery become the garnish for a Bloody Mary? According to our friends at, healthdiaries.com, after a patron at the Pump Room in Chicago’s Ambassador East Hotel decided to stir his Bloody Mary with a stalk of celery, the idea caught on and it became permanently linked with the drink.
  • Ancient Romans considered celery to be an aphrodisiac and they may not have been wrong about that. Today, scientists know that celery contains androsterone, a pheromone released by men’s sweat glands that attracts females. Famed Italian lover Casanova made sure to include lots of celery in his diet to keep up his stamina.
  • Meanwhile, 18th century French courtesan Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV, ate celery soup and truffles in an effort to adopt a “heating diet” so she would be less frigid and more attractive to the king. It is also believed that she fed the king celery soup to fan the fires of his passion.
  • A recipe was uncovered in Pompeii for a dessert that called for roasting chopped celery in an oven and serving it with honey and ground pepper.
  • Around 30 AD, Aulus Cornelius Celsus  wrote about using  celery seeds to relieve pain.
  • Celery was first introduced to America in 1856 when a Scotsman named George Taylor brought the vegetable to Kalamazoo, Michigan. By 1872, Dutch farmers were transforming acres of Kalamazoo into celery fields and the town began promoting itself as the “Celery City.” The town of Celeryville, Ohio was settled by celery farmers from Kalamazoo, Michigan who began growing the vegetable there. There is a celery museum in Portage, Michigan called the Celery Flats Interpretive Center. Despite Michigan’s and Ohio’s early lead in growing the vegetable, today, California is the nation’s top celery producer; Michigan ranks fourth.
  • The 1897 Sears Catalog featured a nerve tonic made from celery and described it as a “great nerve builder.”
  • Celery, onions, and bell peppers are considered the “holy trinity” of Louisiana Creole and Cajun cuisine.

With so many fine qualities besides being a staple food for anyone trying to shed a few pounds, it makes sense to keep and use celery and  celery stalks in our recipes. Stop by Colchester Neighborhood Farm on Tuesday and Thursday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. to purchase freshly harvested and organically grown food.

When it comes to health benefits…beets can’t be beat!

When it comes to health benefits…beets can’t be beat!

Beets are one of those vegetables that may not have the prestige and popularity of green beans or even potatoes but these purple root vegetables should not be underestimated. Packing so much nutritional value as well as some ancillary benefits that are sure to boost your life in a number of ways, beets deserve a spot right next to sweet potatoes and avocados on the list of today’s popular “superfoods.”  From lowering blood pressure to boosting your mood, beets are one of those vegetables that, if you haven’t incorporated them into your diet, it might be a good idea to find a place for them at your dinner table. Here are just a few of the nutritional benefits and some other advantages of eating beets.

  1. According to the website, lovebeets.com, beets are good for the mind, body, and spirit. Because beets contain betaine, a substance that relaxes the mind and is used to treat depression, eating beets can elevate your mood. Along with that substance, the vegetable also contains tryptophan, which is also found in chocolate and contributes to an overall sense of well being.
  2. Ancient Romans believed the beet to be an aphrodisiac. And they may have been on to something. Beets contain high levels of boron which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.
  3. Beets can be made into a wine that tastes similar to port.
  4. Beets are a traditional food eaten at Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
  5. In 1975 it was giant step for beets when, during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, cosmonauts from the USSR’s Soyuz 19 welcomed the Apollo 18 astronauts by preparing a banquet of borscht (beet soup) in zero gravity.
  6. Beets enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame when Dwight Schrute, a character from the hit television show The Office declared himself a devoted beet farmer, often referencing the sweet root vegetable in different episodes of the show.
  7. Little flakes of dandruff on your shoulders? Try boiling beets in water and then massaging the cooled down water into your scalp each night; it is believed to be an effective cure for dandruff.
  8. Move over tulips. According to theredrushblog.com, the biggest beet in the world weighed over 156 pounds and was grown by a Dutchman.
  9. Beet juice has been used on city streets to remove the ice because it doesn’t damage cars like sand or salt.
  10. Pickled beets on hamburgers in Australia are as integral as tomatoes on a hamburger here in the US.
  11.  Beets are often called nature’s candy
  12. According to legend, if a man and woman eat from the same beetroot, they will fall in love.
  13. You can use beet juice as hair dye, though it will wash out rather quickly.

There’s no denying that there are plenty of nutritional and other advantages to eating beets. This week, Colchester Neighborhood Farm is packing this root vegetable into its CSA shares. Stop by the farm and pick up a few organically grown, freshly harvested beets…it could be just the pick me up you are looking for. Tell us your favorite recipe for cooking up beets.

Fruit or vegetable…the tomato is the hallmark of the summer season

Fruit or vegetable…the tomato is the hallmark of the summer season

It is a staple in almost every kitchen and will make an appearance at nearly every meal. Packed with an abundance of vitamins A and C and nutrients like lycopene,which fights cancer, is it any wonder that the tomato is one of America’s favorite vegetables?  Or is it? Technically, it is a fruit that endured a bit of an identity crisis when the Federal government began classifying it as a vegetable in the late 1800’s so it could be taxed under custom regulations. Just how popular is this half-fruit-half-vegetable? Well, consider that 93 percent of American gardeners grow tomatoes in their backyard gardens. And chew on this fact: Americans eat 22 to 24 pounds of tomatoes per person each year. And if those two facts aren’t enough to fascinate, read on for some more interesting tidbits about this popular “non-vegetable.”

  • According to popsugar.com, the best way to store tomatoes depends on their ripeness. If they are under ripe and green, place them in a single layer inside a brown paper bag, stems down. Once they have turned red, place them in a cool (55 to 70 degrees), dark area, away from sunlight, in a single layer-not touching one another.  But not for very long; at this point, it is best to eat them within a few days. Overripe tomatoes that are soft to the touch should be stored in the refrigerated and brought up to room temperature before eating. These can stay in the refrigerator for up to three days.
  • According to our friends at HGTV,worldwide, China is the number one producer of tomatoes. The U.S. is second, with Florida growing more tomatoes than any other state. California, however, is the largest producer of processed tomatoes.
  • Located in the sunshine state, Disney World Resort claims the title as having the world’s largest tomato tree, producing over 32,000 tomatoes in its first 16 months. It holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the most tomatoes in a single year. Now that’s a lot of salsa!
  • Despite Florida’s number one position with respect to growing the most tomatoes and hosting the largest tomato tree, New Jersey touts the tomato as its “state vegetable” and Arkansas, hitting from both sides of the plate, has declared the tomato its state fruit and vegetable. Meanwhile, Ohio has selected tomato juice as its official state beverage.
  • According to the folks at tomatodirt, the heaviest tomato on record weighed in at a whopping 7 pounds 12 ounces—the size of an average newborn. It was grown by Gordon Graham of Edmond, Oklahoma in 1986. He then sliced his record-winning fruit to make sandwiches for 21 family members.

Whether you consider it a fruit or a vegetable, nothing says summer like a freshly picked, organically grown tomato. And the summer season is officially here and well under way at Colchester Neighborhood Farm which started harvesting this oh-so-sweet and delicious fruit-vegetable this week.

Kohlrabi…the next up and coming super food

Kohlrabi…the next up and coming super food

This just might be the best vegetable you are not eating and it may be because you have never heard of it. But as farm stands like Colchester Neighborhood Farm begin filling their CSA shares with organically grown and freshly harvested vegetables and people become motivated to experiment  with recipes that include so-called “super foods,” kohlrabi could start getting the props it deserves. Though its popularity numbers are still low, there are some interesting facts and inside information about this lesser known member of the cabbage family that could raise its standing. Some of the things you don’t know…but should know… about this somewhat sweet and crunchy vegetable.

According to Jacksonville.com, when it comes to selecting this bulbous vegetable, size matters. Small kohlrabi no larger than 2½ inches is better tasting than its larger counterpart which has a more woody texture and inedible skin.

The name Kohlrabi comes from the German words, kohl, which means cabbage and rube, which means turnip.

Kohlrabi comes in two varieties: white and purple. Underneath the skin of either variety, the flesh is a very pale green.

Kohlrabi has been described as looking like a cross between a space ship and an octopus.

Some claim that the vegetable tastes a bit like turnip while others liken it to the taste of broccoli.

Though it looks like a root vegetable, kohlrabi actually grows just above the ground, forming a turnip-shaped globe at the base of the stem.

Raw kohlrabi is very crunchy with a mild flavor and can add texture to a salad. It can be diced, shredded or cut into matchstick-size pieces. It can also be roasted, baked, or steamed. Chop it up, put it in aluminum foil, shiny side facing in, and place it on the grill for 10 minutes.

Kohlrabi is a rich source of vitamins C and B and is high in minerals such as copper, calcium, and potassium. It also contains healthy antioxidants and cancer fighting phytochemicals.

The bulb can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. The leaves and stem, which can be cooked in a stock similar to kale, should be wrapped in paper towel and can be stored for up to 3 days.

Stop by Colchester Neighborhood Farm and pick up a few bulbs of this up and coming star vegetable….it just may provide the crunchy flavor your salad needs.

Crunchy Cauliflower and Tomato Salad

Crunchy Cauliflower and Tomato Salad

Here is a fabulous summer salad from the website allrecipes. It’s healthy, light, easy to prepare and best of all it’s very tasty!

1/3 cup Extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)

1 large head cauliflower, chopped small

¼ cup mince red onion

¼ cup minced fresh parsley

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved, or more to taste

Directions

Whisk olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper together in a bowl until smooth. Set aside

Mix cauliflower, red onion, parsley, and garlic together in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over the mixture and toss to coat. Gently fold tomatoes into salad. Chill in the refrigerator up to 3 hours before serving.