Where to Buy Cotton Candy Grapes 2016

Like, each and every year I once again have a listing of stores that are stocking Cotton Candy grapes this season. These are the places to look. Call ahead to see if they have any in stock. Whenever I discover any confirmed sighting, whether via facebook, instagram twitter, e-mail, the comment section below, I will update the list with the confirmed sightings. I hope everyone that wants to try them this year will be able to. The season runs from early August through early September (season is about 5 to 6 weeks long).

Before you go into the store be forewarned, they may not be there. Sometimes they sell out fast. Some stores may not be getting a consistent shipment. I think we have gotten use to going to the grocery store and always finding what we want. Rarely do you not find green seedless grapes when you are looking for them. But rarely do we go looking for a specific green seedless grape from a particular grower. We just want green seedless grapes. If you did try to find a particular grower, you would probably notice that they weren’t available each day. Maybe a green grape from a different grower arrived on Thursday than they had on Wednesday.

Where to Buy Cotton Candy Grapes 2016

From my experience working in retail produce, I can tell you that communication to the people that stock the produce isn’t always good. Often they are under pressure to come up with an answer for that customer based on what they know (or don’t know). Those answers may not always be accurate. Here are things you might hear or I have heard or read.

They told me there was a problem with their supplier

This does happen from time to time. Grapery’s grapes do have limited availability on particular varieties. It is a great way to get the customer’s wrath off of yourself. So until Grapery says the season is over, don’t give up.

“Said they were done for the season

When something was in stock and then suddenly disappears this is what people commonly believe. Especially with Cotton Candy grapes now that there are limited supplies coming from Mexico in the early summer. Some produce workers believe that the season was over with those. Grapery says they will last into early September.

Wonder how they got grapes to taste like Cotton Candy, check out my answer to the question “How Did They Make Grapes Taste Like Cotton Candy“.

Cotton Candy Grapes Up Close 2015

Here are the stores that Grapery supplies grapes to. They only know what type of store they go to, not specific stores. That is up to each store’s distribution center and buying teams. In some cases, the individual store has control over how much they get. Some buyers at the store level may order more or less than others. Always best to call ahead, especially before making a trip of any significant distance.

Store Listings by State

Alabama
Publix
Rouses
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club

Alaska
Charlie’s Produce (distributor)
Sam’s Club

Arizona
AJs
Sprouts
Sam’s Club

Arkansas
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club

California
Sweet Surrender (Bakersfield, CA – confirmed)
Sam’s Club
Sprouts (confirmed in Corona)
Raley’s
Nob Hill
Gelson’s
Whole Foods (confirmed in Los Angeles)
Sully’s (Bakersfield, CA)
Bel Air
Vons/Pavilion
Bristol Farms (confirmed in Manhattan Beach)

Colorado
King Soopers
Sprouts
Brush Grocery
Heinies Market
Sam’s Club

Connecticut
Fresh Direct
Nathel & Nathel (Distributor)
The Fresh Market
Whole Foods
Big Y
Stop & Stop

Delaware
TMK Produce (Distributor)
Harris Teeter
Sam’s Club

Florida
Publix
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club
Harris Teeter
Boy’s Farmer’s Market

Georgia
Sprouts
Publix
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club
Harris Teeter

Hawaii
Whole Foods Market
Don Quixote
Foodland Hawaii
Safeway
Sam’s Club
Times Supermarket

Idaho
Yokes Fresh Market
Pacific Coast Fruit Company
Sam’s Club

Illinois
Schnucks
The Fresh Market
Treasure Island Foods
Hy-Vee
Niemanns
Sam’s Club
Mariano’s
Jewel Food Stores

Indiana
Kroger
Caito (Distributor)
Schnucks
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club

Iowa
Hy-Vee
Niemanns
Schnucks
Sam’s Club
Hometown Foods
Big G Food
JW’s Foods, Inc.
Maynards Food Center
Super Saver

Kansas
The Fresh Market
Sprouts
Hy-Vee
Sam’s Club
Whites Foodliner
Apple Market
Hen House

Kentucky
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club

Louisiana
Rouses
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club

Maine
Sam’s Club
Hannaford Brothers

Maryland
Wegmans
The Fresh Market
Whole Foods
TMK Produce (Distributor)
Giant
Martin’s
Harris Teeter
Sam’s Club

Massachusetts
Wegmans
The Fresh Market
Whole Foods
Big Y
Stop & Shop
Roche Bros.
Idylwilde Farms
4M Distributing
Sam’s Club

Michigan
Whole Foods Market (confirmed in Ann Arbor, MI)
Kroger
Busch’s
Hutch’s Food Center
Nino Salvaggio International Marketplace
Rocky Produce (Distributor)
Papa Joe’s Gourmet Market
Holiday Market
Plum Market
Vince & Joe’s Market
Randazzo’s
Sam’s Club

Minnesota
Lunds/Byerlys
Hy-Vee
Target
Maynards Food Center
Lerbergs Foods
Festival Foods

Mississippi
Rouses
Sam’s Club

Missouri
Hy-Vee
Niemanns
Schnucks
Sam’s Club
Mac’s Super Saver
Apple Market
Dierbergs

Montana
Sam’s Club

Nebraska
Hy-Vee
Sam’s Club
Allens
Thriftway Market
Lincoln Street Market
Rightway Grocery
Fosters Family Foods
Grand Central Foods
Dukeman Family Foods
Plum Creek Market
Apple Market
Super Saver

Nevada
Sprouts
Raley’s
Sam’s Club

New Hampshire
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club

New Jersey
Wegmans
Fresh Direct
Baldor
The Fresh Market
Nathel & Nathel (Distributor)
TMK Produce (Distributor)
Stop & Stop
Sam’s Club

New Mexico
Sprouts
Sam’s Club

New York
Fresh Direct
Nathel & Nathel (Distributor)
Baldor
The Fresh Market
Wegmans
Whole Foods
Stop & Stop
Sam’s Club

North Carolina
Publix
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club
Harris Teeter

North Dakota
Sam’s Club

Ohio
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club
Giant Eagle

Oklahoma
Sprouts
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club
Crest Foods
Country Mart
Apple Market
J B’s Market

Oregon
Roth’s Fresh Markets
Pacific Coast Fruit Company
QFC
Charlie’s Produce (Distributor)
Spokane Produce (Distributor)

Pennsylvania
The Fresh Market
Wegmans
Fresh Direct
Sam’s Club
TMK Produce (Distributor)
Giant
Martin’s
Giant Eagle
Altamonte’s Italian Market
Iovine Brothers

Rhode Island
Stop & Stop
Sam’s Club

South Carolina
The Fresh Market
Publix
Sam’s Club
Harris Teeter

South Dakota
Hy-Vee
County Fair Foods
Sunshine Foods
Jones Food Center
Maynards Food Center
Doug’s Food Center
Hartmans Family Food
Al’s Oasis
Menno Food Market
Sam’s Club

Tennessee
The Fresh Market
Publix
Sam’s Club

Texas
The Fresh Market
Sam’s Club
Whole Foods
Green & Fresh
HEB (confirmed in Burleson, TX)
Sprouts
Central Market
Winco (confirmed in McKinney, TX)

Utah
Sprouts
Harmon’s
Sam’s Club

Vermont
None

Virginia
The Fresh Market
Wegmans
Sam’s Club
TMK Produce (Distributor)
Martin’s
Harris Teeter
Whole Foods
Food City

Washington
Town and Country Markets
Yoke’s Fresh Markets
Pacific Coast Fruit Company
Spokane Produce (Distributor)
QFC
Frank Genzale’s Produce
Metropolitan Market
Thriftway
King’s Market
Orcas-Island Market
Charlie’s Produce (Distributor)
Haggen
Sam’s Club

West Virginia
Martin’s
Sam’s Club

Wisconsin
Schnucks
The Fresh Market
Festival Foods
Clinton Foods IGA
Hy-Vee
Sendiks
Copps
Metro Market
Pick-n-Save
Sam’s Club

Wyoming
Luckys (Jackson Hole)
Sam’s Club

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What to Expect Grapery 2016

It’s a “grape” time of year to be in the produce department. It’s another season of grapes from the Grapery hitting store displays across the country. If you haven’t heard of Grapery yet, they are a grower out of the Bakersfield area of California, who are all about flavor. They only want to grow grapes that have tremendous flavor. A lot of the seedless table grapes you seen in the store are grown for appearance, shelf life, and profit, with flavor not being an important part of the equation. Americans have gotten use to eating table grapes that taste like a little more than sugar water. Grapery has come in and changed the game. They are giving the consumer grapes that taste great. They have successfully change the way people think grapes should taste – and even look.

Each year I like to present you an update on what to expect from Grapery. It takes a long time for a grape variety to get up to commercial production. Here is an update on what to expect with each of their varieties this season.

Cotton Candy Grapes with Bag

Cotton Candy Grapes
This is the grape that first brought my and many other people’s attention to Grapery. A grape that tastes like cotton candy. Wow. Want to know how they did that? Check out my post from last season – How Did They Make Grapes Taste Like Cotton Candy?.

I spoke with their co-owner, Jim Beagle and he said that he is expecting about the same amount of Cotton Candy grapes in 2016 as there was in 2015. If you found them last year, you can check with the same store again. They are available now and should last in stores until the middle of September. Stores sell out quickly so make sure to ask if they have another shipment coming in the next day.

TearDrops

Tear Drop Grapes
One of the big changes this year is the name change of their Witch Finger grapes. They are now called Tear Drops. The change was made from feedback from their customers. Tear Drops have a more limited availability. They are more of a search to find. And their season is early and is about at it’s end right now. If you can still find them, make sure to pick some up. They are have a unique shape, giving them a wonderful texture and a great red grape flavor.

Tear Drop Grapes

Up close picture of the Tear Drop grapes

Moon Drops Grapes

Moon Drop Grapes
If you are a fan of this grape, I got some exciting news for you. There is a BIG increase in their availability this year. They should be much easier to find and for a much longer season. For those that haven’t experienced them yet, Moon Drop grapes are an elongated black seedless grape. They have a rich flavor and the unique shape gives them a nice crisp bite. Buy a bag or two for your next get together. Their shape will be a great conversation piece. Moon Drop grapes are available now until about mid-October.

Gum Drops

Gum Drops Grapes
More good news! I am happy to announce that the first small commercial crop of Gum Drops will be available this season. I was lucky enough to try this variety last year, while it was still in the experimental stage. I can tell you that I love these even more than Cotton Candy. They taste just like gummy candies. They pack a huge flavor in a small grape. I could see them soaring past Cotton Candy in popularity. They have very limited availability – like Tear Drops. You might not be able to find them this year. Look for them starting in late August through the month of September. If you find them I would love to hear what you think about them.

Sweet Surrender Grapes

Sweet Surrender Grapes

While not as unique as Cotton Candy or Gum Drops, Flavor Promise grapes are just really good tasting grapes, that come with a promise. Don’t like them, the other owner of Grapery, Jack Pandol’s e-mail address is right on the bag. I have a hard time believing you won’t like them. I have tried several varieties in the Flavor promise line and have approved of them all. Here is a list of the varieties and when they are available (these dates are approximate)

Sweet Surrender (Black) – July 20 to Labor Day
Sweet Jubilee (Black, Seeded) – August 10 to September 1
Sweet Celebration (Red) – August 20 to October 31
Autumn Royal (Black) – October 1 to December 15
Crimson Seedless (Red) – November 1 to December 15

Sweet Celebration Grapes

Sweet Celebration Grapes

Sweet Jubliee Flavor Promise Grapes

Sweet Jubliee Grapes

Flavor Pops Red Green

A Look to the Future
Grapery is always experimenting with new varieties. They will have another big wave of that coming in 2017. If you are lucky enough to find their Flavor Pop grapes you have a chance to taste the future. There is a limited supply of these grapes, they come with a number on the package. Each variety has yet to be given a name. Grapery is looking for your feedback. You might even get to help them a name – how cool is that!

Grapery Flavor Pops
That is what’s in store for Grapery grapes in 2016. If you have any questions, leave a comment below. I would also love to hear what your finding in stores and where you are finding them. Have a “grape” day!!!!

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Donut Peach Season

Mmmmm….donuts. Words so elegantly described by the famous philosopher Homer J. Simpson. Donuts are worthy of m to the infinity. Problem is a donut based diet isn’t going to do you any favors. But alas, we can have our donuts and be healthy at the same time. Thanks to the donut peach. Besides having the name and shape in common, these peaches are sweetly divine. They may not be as good as donuts, but for health reasons, they will suffice. When and how does one aquire these healthier donuts? Well that’s what this post is all about.

A beautiful display of "Flying Saucer" donut peaches at Whole Foods Market in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

A beautiful display of “Flying Saucer” donut peaches at Whole Foods Market in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Where are Donut (Flat) Peaches Grown?
The majority of the donut peaches grown for commercial production in the U.S. is California. Almost all the donut peaches I have seen in stores comes from the Golden State. You can also find them from other states, but it will be more of a hunt. While the southern states of Georgia and South Carolina are big peaches growers, I don’t know of a lot of orchards growing them. The only grower I have come across is Watsonia Farms. I have never had one of their donut peaches, I have seen their products (summer squashes, Muscadine grapes) on store shelves at Whole Foods Market.

One grower that is nearby me that I want to check out is Quarry Hills Orchard in Berlin Heights, Ohio (between Toledo and Cleveland). They harvest peaches from July to September. They are one of my favorite places to visit on this plant. Their apple cider is die for and they have a selection of newer and classic varieties of apples.

If you are a peach grower state, check your local farmer’s market to see if anyone there grows donut peaches.

A side note
The majority of donut peaches will you find in stores are going to be the white flesh varieties, known for their incredibly sweetness and lower acid.

Where are Donut (Flat) Peaches In Season?
To determine the season, I look at the availability a couple of my favorite stone fruit growers. Kingsburg Orchards calls them Flying Saucer peaches. These are white fleshed donut peaches. Their earliest ones (May Flying and Galaxy) are available at the month of May. Then there is a gap all the way until August when their next couple varieties (Pink and Late) are ripe. They also have a yellow flesh variety called Golden Moon, which comes out in July.

Another of my favorite growers is Family Tree Farms. Their donut peaches, called Saturn peaches are available from the end of May through the end of June and then again around the end of July to late August. Final crops are between early September and mid October – although I think by then you don’t seen most stores carrying them as they have moved onto to larger displays of apples and pears.

A ripe Peach Pie donut peach sitting on my dinning room table, ready to be consumed!

A ripe Peach Pie donut peach sitting on my dinning room table, ready to be consumed!

Varieties to Look Out For
I am sad to say that most of the donut peaches in stores are really more style than substance. They lack any real flavor – especially the white varieties. There are a couple types that you need to check out and buy up if you are lucky enough to find them.

Four peaches to a case that resembles an actual donut container. Even has an easy to hold handle on top. An adorable idea from Family Tree Farms. These particular ones I found at Trader Joe's in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Four peaches to a case that resembles an actual donut container. Even has an easy to hold handle on top. An adorable idea from Family Tree Farms. These particular ones I found at Trader Joe’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Peach Pie Donut Peaches
This variety comes your way from Family Tree Farms. They take a while to ripen, but are full of flavor if you eat them at the right moment. They do have notes of pie spices in their flavor profile. Definately worth checking out. They even come in a cute, carrying case, that makes them look like they are actually donuts! This year I have found them at Trader Joe’s and Kroger.

The ultimate in flat stone fruit - the Nectafire donut nectarine. Beautiful outside, bursting with flavor inside.

The ultimate in flat stone fruit – the Nectafire donut nectarine. Beautiful outside, bursting with flavor inside.

Nectafire Donut Nectarine
This is actually a nectarine. It’s a donut nectarine. In fact it’s the best tasting nectarine variety I have ever had. By far. No contest. Juicy and just bursting with flavor. These have both style and substance. They have a beautiful red color. I just love them. I used to buy them at Hiller’s Market each summer, however that store was bought out by Kroger and I can no longer find them in my area. Rest asure, I will find them again. Nectafire is harvested in mid July by Rembrandt Fruit.

Are you a fan of the donut? I would love to hear from your experiences with donut peaches. Have you tried any of the special varieties I mentioned? Leave your comments below.

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Rhubarb Sprouting

Rheum rhabarbarum. What we call rhubarb. It is the thing of which pie makers dream about. They love paring of this tart vegetable – although for legal purposes is it considered a fruit – with berries – especially one with the name “straw” in them. Rhubarb is not available year round, at least in it’s fresh form. So one needs to know when can I get it and you might also want to know where it is grown.

Hothouse vs. Field Grown
First you need to know that there are two ways rhubarb is grown – in greenhouses or in the field. The hot house grown rhubarb shows up earlier in the year, naturally (or not naturally if it’s grown indoors?). I usually see it in the very early spring or even as early as late winter. Since rhubarb sales go up quite a deal in the presence of strawberries, when strawberries prices deep as they tend to do in March, you will naturally find more hothouse rhubarb available.

Hothouse rhubarb is usually more uniformly red in color. Some say it’s sweet and more tender too.

Field Grown Rhubarb
Most of the field grown rhubarb that is sold in the U.S. is from the Northern U.S., particularly Oregon and Washington. They are well suited to rhubarb production. The first field grown rhubarb typically shows up in late March to early April. Around this time the hothouse grown rhubarb is done, so their seasons may just barely overlap.

If you leave in a northern state you should be able to find it locally. Check your local farmer’s market in mid to late spring. Here in Michigan it lasts into June.

The season tends to slow down in the summer time, as the heat turns up. Rhubarb doesn’t grow as well in the heat. You should see how pathetic my rhubarb plants look in August! However, you may still see it into the summer as rhubarb does store well. You can freeze rhubarb as well for later use.

During the fall, you will be hard pressed to find it. I can’t recall ever seeing it. I don’t think there is much imported rhubarb, outside of maybe from Canada.

Grow It Yourself
Rhubarb is easy to grow yourself, depending on where you live. Those in the North can easily grow it. I never put much attention into my rhubarb plants and they come back year after year. I got the plants from a friend who just quickly dug a spot when I was home and planted them there.

If you live in the South, it will be more challenging. Your best plant transplants in fall, and harvest your stalks through the winter months. When the heat gets going, the plants will die off and you have to plant anew.

Recipes

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Muffins | Every year I can’t wait to make these. I like them better than pie!

Pluot Rhubarb Crisp

Pluot Rhubarb Crisp | Try pairing rhubarb with other fruits. They go well with some sweet pluots (a plum-apricot cross)

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When are California Mandarin Season

Now that I have been doing this blog thing for over 6 years, I have plenty of archives to go back and read. Sometimes when I read some of these older posts, I shake my head, whether it be at the photo quality or lack therefore or my writing skills, or both! Sometimes I read something and realizing how much more I have learned since that post was written. That is certainly the case when it comes to mandarins. I originally wrote ” ” back in 20. Now I feel like have so much more information that I needed to do a follow-up. But this time I am going to specific talk about just the California mandarin season. If any fruit has been gaining momentum over the 6 year history of my blog and it is the mandarin. More and more of them are in stores than every before, including more varieties.

When Does California Mandarins Season Begin (and End)?
Due to the development of new varieties over the year, the California mandarin season starts in November and can stretch all the way into May, with a few hanging around into June. Seven months of the year you can enjoy easy to peel fruit – from Clemtines to Pixies. Let me go on to break down each month of the season so you can see what’s available.

Halos and Cuties Costco

November
Clementines
Satsuma

Satsuma Mandarins

Satsuma Mandarins

The first new crop of mandarins hit the stores before Thanksgiving including your Halos and Cuties which are the Clementine variety to start the season. However the quality is usually pretty poor. I feel they are rushed to the market without the time to develop flavor and sweetness. I try not to make any mandarin purchases this early in the season, unless the kids are really begging.

December
Clementines
Satsuma (best month)

Supply really picks up in December and sales prices should be easy to find. The highlight of the month for me has go to be the Satsumas. Around the 3rd week of December right before Christmas is when I find them to be at peak of flavor – with enough sweetness to balance out the tart taste.

Page Mandarins

Page Mandarins

January
Clementines
Satsuma
Page
Sumo Citrus

The variety really starts to pick up in January. The last of the Clementines despite store signs that will last the whole year. Brands like Halos and Cuties run out of Clementines and will switch over to other varieties. Satsumas start getting soft in January and the quality goes down. There is great reason for excitement this month. Page mandarins come to season. They are round, dark orange in color. A little more difficult to peak, but your patience will be rewarded with their juiciness. The flavor reminds me a lot of Minneolas.

Sumo Citrus Mandarins

Sumo Citrus Mandarins

The best part of January has got to be the Sumos. Called Dakepon in Japan, this mandarin is the size of a Navel orange and is just as big on flavor. Best piece of citrus all year in my opinion (and my wife’s). Read the Sumo story to learn more about this amazing piece of fruit.

Murcott Mandarins

Murcott Mandarins

February
Murcotts
Tango
Sumo
Kishu
Page
Gold Nugget
Ruby Tango

Gold Nugget Mandarins on tree

Gold Nugget Mandarins

In February we are really rolling. Pages and Sumos are still in season (sometimes the Sumo season will start in February). The Murcott and Tango mandarins come out. These will replace the Clemtines in the branded bagged and boxes of mandarins. On the other end of the size spectrum from the Sum, we have the Kishu, the smallest mandarins. These things are small and cute, and tasty as well. You can eat an entire one in a single bite. Gold Nugget mandarins will begin showing up, but I think the February ones are too early to be that good.

Kishu Mandarins

Kishu Mandarins

A new variety of mandarin has hitting stores for the first time in 2016. The Ruby Tango is a cross between a blood orange and a mandarin. It tastes like a blood orange but in an easy to peel mandarin package.

Ojai Pixie Tangerine

Ojai Pixie

March
Murcotts
Sumo
Pixie
Gold Nugget
Ruby Tango

One of the few mandarin varieties that I find have great flavor even when they first hit the market for the year is the Pixies from Ojai, California. I visited a grove of them in 2015. The only good Pixie come from Ojai’s unique micro-climate. Murcotts should be better now (the ones I had at the same citrus grove were the best I ever ate and I did so in late March). Sumos will be wrapping up for the season by now.

April
Murcotts
Pixie
Gold Nugget
Shasta Gold
Yosemite Gold
Tahoe Gold

The last season varieties are now ready to go. I love Shasta Gold for it’s sweet pineapple like flavor. Gold Nuggets are now at their peak, you can find the best ones under the Dimples name. Pixies are in full swing. We are fortunate to have such great fruit at the end of the season.

May
Pixie
Gold Nugget

Final month of California mandarin season. As stone fruit starts rolling into store, the mandarins will begin to disappear. The best thing to buy in May are the Pixies and Gold Nuggets. Not a bad way to wrap the season up.

What varieties of California mandarins have you tried? Where do you like to buy your mandarins. Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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Blood Oranges at Meijer

Oranges are orange. Except when they are not. Well all oranges are orange on the outside (until the day I discover one that isn;t), but not all are orange are the inside. A beautiful array of colors are out there for are enjoyment. One of the funniest has to be the blood oranges. They can range in color from dark purple to all different shades of red. I have had some that had a rainbow of reds, yellows, and oranges. Blood oranges have a unique taste that is quite different from everyone’s favorite Navel. Unlike the Navel, blood oranges can’t be found in stores 24/365. They have a season in which to enjoy them. Let me tell you all about it.

Blood Oranges

When Are Blood Oranges in Season?
Generally the blood orange season runs from December to April. The first blood oranges of the season show up before Christmas. The first ones usually don’t appear any different than any other orange. There is no red showing on the outside like you will see later in the season. Flavor is not there either. I wouldn’t spend my money on them until the calendar turns over to a new year.

Tarocco Blood Oranges 3

Varieties of Blood Oranges
Most people may not know that there are actually different varieties of blood oranges. The one that you find almost every time is the Moro blood orange. Moro while being a good orange isn’t my favorite though. The honor would go to the Tarocco blood orange. These are very popular in Italy and for good reason, they have amazing flavor. Look at the picture just above, they are so pretty on the inside. They can be a challenge to find, especially when most stores just sell all blood oranges under the label blood orange. If you can find them, snatch them up. I have seen them at Trader Joe’s in the past, but not lately.

A new variety of blood orange that is actually a cross between a blood orange and a Clementine mandarin is hitting the market place in 2016 for the first time. Make sure to check out my review of the Ruby Tango mandarin.

Blood Orange Granita

Favorite Blood Orange Recipes
The unique flavor of the blood oranges and it’s eye appealing color make it a great choice to use in many recipes. Here are some of my favorite

Blood Orange Granita – A refreshing retreat, made of small ice crystals that can be made in the freezer without any special equipment. You got a pan and a fork you can make it.
Blood Orange Sherbet – An orange sherbet recipe inspired by Alton Brown.
Blood Orange/Strawberry Jam – How to make a small batch of strawberry jam using blood oranges to up the flavor ante.

Blood Orange Yogurt
Recently I was vacationing in Wisconsin and I let my daughter picked out any yogurt she wanted. She selected Fage Blood Orange. Glad she did. She loved it. It has a distinct blood orange taste. Look for it wherever you buy Fage yogurt. Regardless whether you can find it or not, you can also buy some plain or vanilla yogurt and squeeze in some blood orange juice for a great taste experience.

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Ruby Tango Mandarins

At the beginning of this month I was reading a New York Times article about the mandarin industry. It included some great photographs, including my friends from Friend’s Ranches in Ojai, California (I visited their orange grove last March). As I was scrolling through the photos, something caught my eye. The Ruby Tango mandarin. Never heard of that one before. As I continued to read my excitement grew when I found out that his mandarin is a cross between a Clementine mandarin and a blood orange. Now how cool is that! The chance to eat a blood orange just as you would a mandarin is super a-peeling – see what I did there!

Ruby Tango Mandarins

Fast forward two weeks. As I am browsing my facebook newsfeed, I come across a post form Melissa’s Produce talking about the Ruby Tango mandarin. Now I really wanted them. But how long would it take for me to find them? A whooping 3 days later I was peeling and eating my first specimen. Good thing too because my son had a blood orange my wife had brought back from California and was really wanting more. I was excited to bring them home for a taste test for him and the whole family.

Ruby Tango Mandarins

What Does a Ruby Tango Mandarin Taste Like?
If you were to close your eyes and be given a slice of this mandarin without knowing what it is or seeing it at all, you would think you are just eating a blood orange. The flavor is spot on blood orange. Yet in comes in a smaller package and is easier to peel. The skin itself in some specimens will have some red color on the outside just as you see in blood oranges. The more red on the inside, seem to indicate more color on the inside and a richer flavor. They are sweet and tart. I am anxious to see if they get sweeter as the season progresses as I have observed with most citrus. Even now I am ready to call these new bad boys a winner!

They are easy to peel enough to peel, maybe not as easy as some mandarins where you got the skills you can remove the entire peel in one piece. This was is a little more tricky to do that, yet still easier and faster than your straight up blood orange.

When are Ruby Tango Mandarins in Season
2016 marks the first time Ruby Tango is being released commercially in a big way. Still supplies may be limited and they may not be easy to track down. In future years supply should increase as tree mature and hopefully they will be then easier to find. Their season runs from February to March.

Where to Buy Ruby Tango Mandarins
I haven’t heard a lot about who is carrying them yet, but here a few stores I would recommend looking:

Whole Foods Market
Gelson’s Market
Bristol Farms
Fairway Market
Fresh Direct

Have you found these mandarins yet? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment in the section below.

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Bagged Meyer Lemons

For most of my life, a lemon was just a lemon. A yellow tart fruit that sort of resembles a football. Everything changed when life gave me Meyer lemons. I discovered that not all lemons are equal, not even close. As far as I am concerned the Meyer lemon reigns supreme over all others. I love it’s intense flavor. If something is made with Meyer lemons over your standard lemon varieties, I can taste the difference most of the time. If they were available year round and were always the same price I would buy nothing but Meyer lemons. I am that serious in my love for this lemon. Alas they are not available year round. Good news is that each year I am seeing them for longer stretches of time. I am not ready to call the Meyer lemon a year round option. Keep following along with to learn more about what they are and when you get them.

What is a Meyer Lemon?
The Meyer lemon is a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin or orange – we are not sure. They originated in China and were brought to the U.S. by Frank Meyer – hence the name. The fruit is sweeter than your common lemon, but not sweet enough to just eat out of hand (for that experience check out the Lemonade lemon). The skin of the lemon is thinner and more apt to damage than other lemons. This is why it may have taken the lemon a while to become the commercial hit it is today. We owe a lot of thanks to Martha Stewart for utilizing the fruit in her recipes before they became popular.

When Is Meyer Lemon Season
The California Meyer lemon season begins right at the start of citrus season in November. It lasts all the way through the season into May. There may be brief interruptions based on weather conditions or other situations. Generally you can find them any day between November and May. We are also starting to see more imported fruit during the summer months from places like New Zealand. This has practically made their season year around. In my experience June and October tend to be the months in which they are more difficult to find.

When they are out of season, you can still buy preserved Meyer lemons online. They come in a jar.

How Much Do Meyer Lemons Costs?
Most of the time you will find Meyer lemons coming in 1 pound bags with an grab handle like seen in the photo at the top. Occasionally you will find them sold loose by the pound, but majority of the time in bag. They are more fragile than regular lemons due to their thinner skin, so large stacks of them loose are not a good game plan for retailers. They range in sizes, from small to large. I would say small ones are the most common. Price wise they are more expensive than other lemons. $1.99 to $2.99 per pound are the most common prices I have observed.

Meyer Lemon Fudge

My Recipes Featuring Meyer Lemons
Like I said I love using Meyer lemons in recipes, so I have a quite a few on the blog. Here are a list of my recipes that include Meyer lemons:

Meyer Lemon Fudge
Meyer Lemon Curd Pies
Alton Brown’s Lemon Curd (featuring Meyer Lemons)
Meyer Lemon Anise Cookies

If you are a Meyer lemon lover, leave a comment below, share why you love them so much!

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Fresno Peppers

Recipes. We love them yet often we hate them. Especially when we get that one recipe that calls for an ingredient that is so vague it drives us into a tizzy. It’s hard to read the mind of a recipe writer. In one of those “if I had a dollar for every time” situations, you wouldn’t believe how many times I have been asked what to get when a recipe calls for red chiles. In most of this country trying to find a red chile can be a task. Unless you leave in an area that catering more to Mexican food and cuisine, you may be in for hunt. I hope this post will guide you in this hunt.

What Do I Get When My Recipe Calls for Red Chiles?
Most importantly I want to say is that you really can use whatever you want. The level of heat that people like can vary a lot. Some people like using the ridiculous hot Ghost pepper and some people think a Jalapeno is too much and bell is the only pepper for them. Choose whatever you are most comfortable with. It’s your dish, don’t be afraid to own it.

That being said if you really want to replicate what the recipes calls for, then there are a few options that I would look for. The key thing to understand that in general red peppers are sweeter. They have spend longer time on the plant and have matured from green to red. Jalapenos are general picked green, but if you leave them on long enough they will turn red and be sweeter. Think about the difference in flavor between green and red or orange bell peppers.

Fresno Peppers
When I think of red chile peppers, the Fresno is the first one I think of. This pepper named after the city in California looks similar to a Jalapeno, but has a thinner skin. The heat level on the Scoville scale which measures the heat of a pepper ranges from 2,500–10,000 for the Fresno. Jalapenos can range from 1,000-20,000. The mildest Fresno is hotter than the mildest Jalapeno. The Jalapeno has a greater potential to be hotter though. You can’t be sure quite what you are going to get at the grocery until you take them home. But I can say they are close enough in heat to use them interchangeable. The Fresno will be sweeter in taste.

Red Chile Peppers
Sometimes you can actually find peppers labeled as red chile peppers. Don’t know for sure how hot the pepper will be since its not really giving you the variety. Most of the time when I have seen peppers labeled this way, they have some heat without being super hot, unless we are talking about the tiny Thai chile. Sometimes you can find red Thai chiles and they will be really hot up to 225,000 on the Scoville scale.

Dried Chiptole Chiles

Red Jalapenos/Chiptole Peppers
If you can find a red jalapeno that should work in a recipe calling for a red chile. Fresh red jalapenos are a rare find, usually only at farmer’s market, or occasionally I have seen them at Whole Foods Market in the summer time. Most red jalapenos are smoked and dried. At this point they are called chipotle peppers. If you find them, you can re-hydrate them and use them as your red chile, especially if your recipe would benefit from some smoky flavor (most recipes would!). I have also seen dried red Thai chiles if you want something with more bite.

I hope that helps you decide what to do when your recipe calls for red chiles. Leave a comment below and let me know what you have picked and where you got your red chiles. Remember there is really no wrong choice. Your making the recipe, feel the freedom to make it as you please.

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How to Cook Kalettes

Out of all the vegetables I never thought I would appreciate – the Brussel sprout is number one. Television taught me that this vegetable was discusting. Maybe that has to do with a generation of cooks that boiled them to death, so that not only did it taste like death, but made the entire house smell like death. It wasn’t eating one that turned me off to them as I had no memories whatsoever of even trying one (or maybe it was so bad, my mind blocked it out). Kale is another vegetable on this list, mainly because of my lack of knowledge of it’s existence for most of my life. So I could borrow a DeLoren from Doc Brown and travel back to meet my younger self and tell him that a day will come when I (or you) will be geedy with excitement for a vegetable that is combination of kale and Brussel sprouts, my younger self would be completely confused. Trust me, my present and future self will always be excited whenever Kalettes are on the table for dinner.

How to Cook Kalettes

What is a Kalette?

A Kalette is a trademarked name for a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts. It is used by multiple growers/shippers including 4Earth Farms, Classic Salads, Mann packing, Ocean Mist farms (the ones I recently bought), Southern Specialties, and WP Raw. I have heard them called Kale sprouts, which is the term I most often use. I also heard lollipop kale or flower sprouts in the UK. They grow just like Brussels sprouts – on a stalk. Instead of producing tight little green balls, the plant produces open leaves that look just like baby kale.

How to Cook Kalettes

What Does a Kalette taste like?

It has the tenderness you expect from a Brussel sprout yet with the flavor of kale without being too bitter. Kalettes are are sweet and nutty. If you like either of these vegetables, then this is a must try for you.

Are Kalettes GMO?

They were created through cross-breeding. They were not genetically engineered in a laboratory, by doing something with the DNA of the plant. The majority of plants that people consider GMO are created to resist the application of a pesticide. Kalettes were created through traditional breeding methods where you take one plant, cross it with another until you get the results you are looking for.

How to Cook Kalettes

How to Cook Kalettes

I have been cooking these for a couple years now. My favorite method has been a simple sautee. Heat some oil in the bottom of a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the Kalettes. Cook until softened. You can add a little water to the bottom of the pan and cover them to help steam them a bit to make them more tender. Pull before their color starts to turn duller. They should be firm, but not crunchy. It only takes 5-8 minutes to cook them this way. I like to add a squirt of lemon juice at the end (would be best with Meyer lemons or the new Lemonade lemon). You can sautee them with some fresh garlic and freshly cracked black pepper as well. Roasting them is another great option – this method will bring out the sweetness of the vegetable. Roast them at 450 degrees until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drizzle them with oil and season with salt and pepper. They really don’t need a lot of seasoning to be good.

You may find them in a microwavable bag. I really don’t like this method though. You can’t caramelize them in a microwave. It is the quickest way to do it. Your better off having the patience to use one of the methods I mentioned above. The microwave option would be for lunch break at work when you only have a microwave and want to make your co-workers jealous that you are eating the latest in vegetables.

How to Cook Kalettes

Where to Find Kalettes

Good news everyone! Kalettes are becoming more and more popular. I have them at Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s (as Kale Sprouts), Meijer, and the Andersons market. Where have you found them? Leave a comment below telling us where you buy Kalettes or Kale Sprouts.

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WELCOME TO MY BLOG

I'm Eric. I live in Ann Arbor, MI with my wife, 3 kids, and a flock of ducks. I love grocery shopping, trying new fruits, farmer's market, and traveling.
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