Winter may feel like it’s abating as this balmy February washes over us, but the zest part of winter is just getting started. It’s citrus season! This week we’re bringing a bit of sunshine to our shelves in the form of these seasonal fruits. One of the many groves we’re working with is Bernard Ranches in California. From making the nitrogen-rich mushroom compost to managing the water conserving drip irrigation system, they’re as busy as the gophers they wrangle by hand on the farm. The Bernards also avoid synthetic pesticides and herbicides, instead implementing IPM (integrated pest management) by deploying beneficial insects in the grove, like lacewings and ladybugs. Now their hard work is paying off; spring can wait while we savor the fruits of their labor.
Coming to us from Bernard Ranches, we’ve brought in the Tangelo and the Oro Blanco, grown with IPM. The juicy Tangelo is also known as the Honeybell, thanks to its distinctive bell shape and delicate, appealing flavor. You may not be competing in this year’s Olympics, but you can still go for the gold with the Oro Blanco. Translated as white gold from Spanish, Oro Blanco brings the fragrant aroma and sweetness of a pomelo and the tartness of a classic grapefruit together into a real champion of a fruit.
Our organic citrus offerings this season feature classics like the Navel Orange, the Ruby Red Grapefruit, and hefty Pomelos, but look out for the Kishu as one of our newest additions. While these tiny mandarins were first grown in Japan, they have a real tangy history, stemming from an ancient variety of Chinese mandarin originally discovered in the Tang Dynasty. Their roomy peel and surprisingly big flavor make them great for a quick snack, but you may not be able to stop at one.
For the folks who just don’t Cara Cara ’bout all that, there’s conventionally raised Sumo mandarins and Cara Cara oranges. The Sumo Mandarin’s name is a nod to both its Japanese heritage and its impressive size; they’re easy to peel and super flavorful, making them a favorite with Provisions staff. The Cara Cara is considered a natural evolution of your friendly neighborhood Navel orange, first discovered in Venezuela in the 70’s. Its red flesh, while not as dark as a blood orange, is highly sweet without the acidity of a traditional orange.
A walk through our produce section makes two things clear: fall is here, and so are apples! In addition to classics like Gala and McIntosh, we have many varieties you might not see in a typical grocery store. Our Produce Department works directly with ecologically-minded local farms like Champlain Orchards and Scott Farms in Vermont, and Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative in Pennsylvania. These farms grow a variety of apple species that support the local ecology by promoting biodiversity. While we recommend trying them all out, we thought we’d provide a little context to inform your choices in cooking and snacking.
Applications for Apples
If you’re looking for the perfect baking apples, we have a number of great options. Yellow with a pink blush, Honeycrisp apples live up to their title in both texture and sweetness. They work well baked into pies, crumbles, and other desserts. Their crisp texture also makes them ideal raw in salads and coleslaw.
For a great raw apple snack, the gala apple really shines. One of the sweetest apples, Galas pack some of the best nutritional value, containing vitamins A, C, and B in and pectin. Eat them raw or add them diced up to salads, salsas, and chutneys. Similar to Galas, we also carry the Sansa apple. Sansas are a Japanese species that are complexly sweet and mildly tart. They contain important nutrients like potassium and dietary fiber, and are a perfect snacking apple eaten fresh and raw.
Juicy and lightly tart, Paula Reds are a dusty red apple with gold spots. They break down quickly and easily, and are ideal for applesauce and apple butter. Similarly, McIntosh apples have a delicate flesh and spicy flavor that makes them ideal for cider and applesauce.
Mike FunkMore Than A-peeling: Locally Harvested Apples
What’s shrub got to do with it? Shrub is not a bush, but a refreshing mixer perfect for summer beverages. Popular during America’s colonial era, shrubs were a means of preserving fruit flavors prior to the invention of refrigeration and industrially processed foods. But like many traditional recipes, shrubs are now making a comeback! Also known as drinking vinegar, shrubs are an acidulated syrup made from fruits, vinegar, and sugar. A versatile concentrate for cocktails and softdrinks, try a lime shrub with tequila for an easy margarita, or dilute a strawberry shrub with seltzer for a funky soda similar to kombucha.
We’re excited to showcase two shrubs this summer, both made near Washington DC. Shrub District infuses vinegar and simple syrup with locally grown fruits and herbs, and is sold as a concentrate. It can be combined with seltzer to taste, with or without your favorite spirit, and each bottle comes with unique recipes on the label. For shrubs on the fly, check out Element Shrub‘s newest line Shrub & Club. Though Element makes lovely syrups, this ingenious ready-to-drink shrub is pre-balanced with club soda right in the bottle. Delicious chilled straight or poured over ice with your favorite spirit!
If you feel like getting creative, both Shrub District and Element have even more fun recipes listed on their websites. Whether you enjoy a buzz or prefer a clear head on a hot day, shrubs are a refreshing, bright way to celebrate the best of Summer’s bounty!
Come January, gone are the days of fresh picked apples. Locally grown berries and ripe stone fruit? A mere memory. Thankfully, citrus is in season, and one bite of these juicy, sweet fruits is a momentary escape to some far off grove. Read on and decide which is bite of Provisions produce is right for you!
Sweet: Cara Cara, Heritage Navel, and Blood Oranges, Pomelo (grapefruit’s less tart cousin) Juicy: Page or Satsuma Mandarin Extra Juicy: Sumo Mandarin – Nailah, our Produce Buyer’s top pick! Tart: Oro Blanco and Ruby Red Grapefruit Unique: Meyer Lemon (sweet and tart!)
Buddha’s Hand – This citrus has no pulp or flesh, but the rind gives off a heavenly citrus and lavender aroma. Add it to a cocktail, prepare in a marmalade, candy it or swap it for lemon in dressings or in batters!
Mixtures of stewed aromatic vegetables, herbs and spices are at the core of almost every type of cuisine. Sofrito is the Spanish version, usually consisting of peppers, onions and tomato. Luckily all of those veggies are in season right now and Provisions Produce Buyer, Jason Rivera, has put together a recipe for sofrito success. The idea behind this homestyle dish is to use whatever vegetables are available to create a flavorful, easy to eat, easy to digest meal.
(And remember, the word sofrito doesn’t have to limit your cooking. In the Fall you could just as easily be using fennel, carrots and onions instead of peppers, onions and tomatoes.)
Ingredients Extra virgin olive oil (preferably really tasty stuff)
A few sweet peppers, diced (whatever looks pretty at the market)
A fat juicy onion, diced (look for fresh uncured onions at this time of year)
A ripe tomato diced (Brandywines work really well for this, I recommend a red tomato)
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups white wine
water or chicken stock
1/2 pound of green, yellow, purple or romano beans with the tough end trimmed
2 heirloom squash cut into 1/4 inch rounds (my favorite is the Romanesca)
1 ear corn cut from the cob
4 red radishes sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
10 fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Sherry vinegar to taste
1. Heat a pot, large enough to contain all of the ingredients. Add enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom of the pot. Throw the peppers and onions in there and cook them until they are soft without browning them. If it looks a little dry add more olive oil. 2. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf and white wine. Simmer this until all of the liquid evaporates. 3. At this point continue to cook the mixture until the oil separates out and the mixture starts to stick on the bottom. Be careful here, you don’t want burnt, just a little toasted. Stir very often. 4. Add the beans and cover with stock or water and simmer. It’s a good idea to take a wooden spoon and scrape all the tasty bits of the bottom of the pot. 5. Cook the beans until they are very soft and tender, and a lot of the liquid has evaporated. They will turn army green, and look overcooked, but they will also become sweet and soak up all of that sofrito liquid. 6. Stir in the squash, corn and radishes and remove from heat. At this point season with salt, pepper and vinegar. 7. This dish should be served just above room temperature with a piece of crusty bread to soak up the juices. Just before serving, stir in the basil leaves and a bit of fresh olive oil.
We’re kicking it off this Saturday at Habana Works’ Annual Earth Day Expo!
We’ll be stationed at this celebration of urban environmentalism at Habana Outpost between 11am-2pm.
Learn from our agriculture expert, Mickey Davis, what it means to be a sustainable farm. To help explain some complex ideas, we’ll have a host of coloring pages (for kids and adults alike) that break it all down. We’re also calling all crafty foodies to join us at our “Ugly Produce Decoration Station.” Afterwards, come by our shop and explore all of the Sustainability Do’s and Dont’s that we practice every day!
Then come in on Earth Day – Wednesday, April 22nd – as we give back to the neighborhood and promote earthy friendly shopping habits with a free re-usable bag give-a-way all day!
We’d like to give many thanks to our community here in Fort Greene- we’re working hard to help create a greener future and we couldn’t do it without all of you.
The Greene Grape is proud to welcome our latest oddball to the produce aisle. The “Paw-Paw” is a native crop to the Eastern US, with a strangely tropical flavor and texture. Also known at the “Custard Apple,” it is the northern-most cousin of the Cherimoya, sweet-sop, ylang-ylang, and soursop. Brought to us by our friend at Fields without Fences Farm in Frenchtown NJ.
August 4-10th is National Farmers Market Week, and we’d like to take this opportunity to share our love and support of our local farms. With over 40% of our produce grown nearby, all under 200 miles, we differ from a farmers market by stocking their food 7 days a week! And while 40% may not sound like a large amount, if our local farmers could grow citrus, avocados and other tropical fruits in the Northeast, they would. Nearly everything we sell, that can be grown in local soil, is.
Farmers markets preserve America’s rural livelihoods and farmland, and they stimulate local economies. Surrounding NYC is a plethora of farmland, and without a market to sell to, multi-generational farmers would be out of work. Our produce buyer, Mickey Davis, works closely with farms across NY, NJ and PA, to bring in the best apples, corn, melons, eggplant, summer squash, berries, onions and more. Lancaster Coop collects stunning fruits and veggies from all over Pennsylvania and brings it in one trip, 3 times a week, from farms such as Elm Tree Organics, Shady Brook Organics, while Grow NYC brings us fresh kale and stone fruit.
Sometimes these farmers are bringing the whole farm right to the city! Young, educated folk with a green thumb are coming here to create green space amongst our cement and steel. Brooklyn Grange is one of these, and in just 3 years have become the leading rooftop farming and intensive roof greening business in the US, and supply us with fresh, mixed greens and arugula. Just down the road on Bergen Street, Feedback Farms brings us Shishito peppers, and heirloom tomatoes and eggplant. Check back this weekend to learn about the other types of local farms we support!
As you may have noticed, certain out-of-region items have gone up significantly in price over the past few weeks. We proudly source our broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli rabe and plenty of fruits from the central valley in California, which has experienced a serious freeze, significantly affecting crop production. What this means for us here at the Greene Grape is lower availability and higher prices. A reminder of how we fit into the natural world and are subject to mother nature’s whims, perhaps; to avoid these frustrations, we recommend shifting your dinner menu to include items that are grown locally this time of year. New York state is still supplying fabulous cabbages, potatoes, mushrooms, onions, winter squash, and much more! If you haven’t tried our local aquaponic salad greens and hydroponic tomatoes, we do solemnly swear you’ll be impressed!