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February, 2008

Melissa's February favorites include Baby Red Beets, Melissa's Dessert Sauces, Cara Cara Oranges, Oro Blancos, Meyer Lemons, Blood Oranges, Pummelos, Kumquats, Cherimoyas, Korean Pears, New Zealand Passion Fruit, New Zealand Kiwano Melons, Chile Peppers, Baby Bananas, Burro Bananas, Red Bananas, and Plantain Bananas.

Peeled and Steamed Baby Red Beets
Baby Red Beets
Melissa's Baby Red Beets are so convenient and easy to use. No more mess from boiling and peeling fresh beets. These no-hassle beets are vacuum sealed for extended shelf-life (a good 3 months!). Just slice or dice and add to your favorite recipe. They can be served hot or cold. Melissa's Baby Red Beets are approximately 40 calories each and contain no fat, sodium or cholesterol. Beets are also a source of fiber and are rich in potassium.







Dessert Sauces
Dessert Sauces
These delicious sauces are available in 5 flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Kiwi Lime, Mango, and Raspberry. They are perfect for quick and easy desserts; Use them on crepes, ice cream, and cheese cake or drizzled over chocolate cake. They come in a ready to use squeeze bottle that will make you look like a gourmet dessert maker! Perfect for a touch of elegance to finish any meal.








Cara Cara Oranges
Cara Cara Oranges
Cara Cara Oranges are an unusual navel orange with a beautiful pink colored flesh. They look like a regular orange on the outside, but once cut open, have a rosy colored flesh with a sweet, juicy flavor; they are a superior tasting orange. Cara Cara oranges originated in Venezuela and are now available to enjoy in the U.S. They are great as a snack and make a beautiful presentation in salads because of their extraordinary color. Also, cara cara oranges are generally seedless. Cara Cara oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, a good source of potassium and are low in calories. Keep them at room temperature for about one week, or store them in the refrigerator for best flavor. The juice and zest can be frozen for up to 3 months. Use them immediately for the freshest flavor.



Oro Blanco
Oro Blanco
Oro Blancos are very similar to a Chinese Grapefruit, or Pummelo. They are often referred to as a white flesh pummelo. They are large and round or pear-shaped and have a very thick rind surrounding a regular sized fruit. They are deliciously sweet/tart and are very juicy. Oro Blancos are generally eaten like a regular grapefruit. They are also great in salads or when juiced. Oro Blancos are best when eaten immediately, but can be stored at room temperature for about a week. They are high in vitamin C and are a source of potassium.






Meyer Lemons
Meyer Lemons
Meyer Lemons are also referred to as cooking lemons. They should not be confused with the regular lemons you find in the grocery store; Meyer Lemons are rounder in shape, have a thinner skin and the skin may have an orange blush. They are thought to be a cross between a lemon and an orange. The Meyer lemon tree was brought to the U.S. from China in 1908 by an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture named Frank Meyer. It was first used as an ornamental tree until about 20 years ago. Some California chefs discovered the lemon’s delicious flavor and fell in love with them, creating the need for a few small commercial growers to produce them. Meyer lemons are sweet tasting, and can be eaten whole including the skin. They have a nice tartness that gives a kick to everything they are used in. They are well suited for desserts because of their flavor. Meyer lemons should be used immediately after purchasing (within 2-3 days). Keep them stored in the refrigerator for best flavor.


Blood Oranges
Blood Oranges
Melissa’s Blood Oranges are currently grown in California. These delicious sweet oranges get their name because of the red juice that turns the flesh, and sometimes the rind, a deep “blood” red. The juice is delicious and is often served in fine restaurants instead of regular orange juice. Most blood oranges are seedless, but some varieties contain seeds. Blood oranges are an excellent source of Vitamin C. They are best when kept in the refrigerator and eaten within several days of purchasing.







Pummelo
Pummelo
The Pummelo is sometimes referred to as the Chinese grapefruit or “shaddock”, and is native to Southeast Asia. Pummelos are often thought of as a “good luck” fruit, especially during Chinese New Year. They are thought to be a distant relative of the common grapefruit. Pummelos have a very thick rind with a fruit about the same size as a regular grapefruit in the center. They are delicious as a snack or even as juice. Pummelos should be eaten as fresh as possible for the best flavor. They can be kept refrigerated or at room temperature. They are an excellent source of Vitamin C. In China, Pummelos are thought to be an aid to digestion, making them even more popular.





Kumquats
Kumquats
Originally introduced to the U.S. in the mid-19th century, this ancient fruit has been familiar in Japan and China for thousands of years. These tiny citrus are bright orange and shaped like an egg. They are completely edible. The sweet, thin rind offsets the tart flesh. They are great as a snack or even when candied. Kumquats are generally available year-round with a few gaps in growing regions. Kumquats are best when kept refrigerated. They should have bright orange skin with no blemishes. They are very low in calories and have about 50 calories in a 3½ ounce serving. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin C.





Cherimoya
Cherimoya
Also called Custard Apple or Custard Fruit, this delicious heart-shaped fruit is a delicacy in the exotic fruit arena. They are a hand-pollinated fruit, which makes them a time-consuming commercial crop. However, since they are grown in so many areas now, supply is not a problem. The flesh of the cherimoya is cream colored with large black inedible seeds. They have a flavor similar to a blend of strawberry, mango and pineapple. To eat one, simply cut it into wedges and spoon out the creamy flesh while discarding the seeds. They are generally eaten as is, but they can also be used in drinks, fruit salads or desserts. Cherimoyas should be kept at room temperature until ready to eat, and can be stored in the refrigerator once ripe for a few days. Cherimoyas are not a low calorie fruit, containing about 94 calories per 3½ ounce serving. They are also a source of vitamin B and fiber.


Korean Pears
Korean Pears
Korean pears are thought to be a cross between an apple and a pear, when actually they are more closely related to a pear. They taste very similar to a pear, but resemble a golden apple. There are hundreds of varieties of Korean pears available today, making them available just about all year round. They are delicious when eaten out of hand; firm and crunchy with plenty of quenching juice. Korean pears are great on fruit platters, in salads, in pies or desserts, or where ever you would use an apple. Most Korean pears will last about 30-60 days when refrigerated, but it is always best to eat them as soon as possible. Store them in the refrigerator, wrapped carefully so they will not bruise. Many Korean pears are handpicked and individually wrapped to prevent any bruising during shipping. Korean pears are a good source of Vitamin B and potassium. They are also low in calories (about 44 per 3 oz.) making them the perfect snack.


Passion Fruit
Passion Fruit
Passion fruit originated in South America, most likely in Brazil. Now, passion fruit is grown worldwide. Passion fruit comes from the passion flower, which is a beautiful tropical flower with a wonderful fragrance. Passion fruit is generally purple, but can also be golden, and has a jelly-like golden flesh, filled with soft edible seeds. Passion fruit looks like an egg, with a thick, hard shell that gets wrinkled as it ripens...the more wrinkles, the better the fruit will be. Contrary to popular belief, Passion fruit is named for the bloom of the Passion flower. This bloom is thought to symbolize various parts of the Passion of Christ (such as the crown of thorns and the nails of the crucifixion) and not because of passionate powers it was once believed to contain. Passion fruit is generally eaten fresh, but may be cooked for use in sauces and fillings. Simply halve the fruit and scoop out the pulp and seeds with a spoon. Passion fruit can be purchased with smooth skin for use later, or with wrinkled, dimpled skin for immediate use. The more wrinkles, the better it will taste! Passion fruit can be frozen once the flesh is removed from the shell. It is best stored at room temperature. Passion fruit is very low calorie, with about 18 calories per medium fruit and contains vitamins A and C.


New Zealand Kiwano Melons
New Zealand Kiwano Melons
Also known as the African Horned Melon, this very interesting piece of fruit contains a lime green, jelly-like flesh, with the texture of a cool cucumber and the taste a blend of cucumber, banana, melon and lime. The outer shell is spiky golden-orange and is often used as a serving dish, filled with fruit salads, dips or other delicious recipes. Kiwano melons are also used to create exotic tropical drinks or delicious sauces for seafood, poultry and vegetables. Kiwano melons last for several weeks without refrigeration from their initial picking. Once they “give” to the touch, they are ripe and ready to eat. Do not store them near apples or bananas, as these fruits will shorten their shelf life. They are low calorie with only 24 calories in 3½ ounce, and contain more potassium than a banana. They are also high in Vitamin C.



Chile Peppers
Chile Peppers
Chile peppers have been cultivated for more than 7,000 years, used extensively by the Incas and the Aztecs. Today, they are used by many ethnic groups in their daily cooking preparations. There are several varieties of fresh chile peppers: Yellow (or Caribe), Pasilla (or Poblano), Fresno-red and green, Habanero-assorted colors, Jalapeno, Anaheim-red and green, and Serrano, to name a few. Chile peppers get their heat from ‘capsaicin’, an oil in them that can burn your eyes and mouth. The hottest of these mentioned is the habanero chile, which is off the heat scale in comparison to the others. Generally, the smaller the chile, the hotter the bite. Also, when preparing chiles, if you remove the seeds, the chile will be milder. We also suggest wearing gloves and use caution not to touch your eyes.



Baby Bananas
Baby Bananas
Also called niño, ladyfinger, or finger bananas, baby bananas are smaller than the more popular yellow Cavendish banana, and are actually sweeter. They are native to tropical areas like Central and South America, the Caribbean and Mexico. Widely used in Latin American, African and Asian cooking, baby bananas are amazingly versatile. Shaped like a miniature slender banana, this small, crunchy specialty banana is usually eaten out of hand or sliced raw in fruit salads. Did you know… that the banana is considered an almost perfect food? The banana is very low in sodium, high in potassium, and contains approximately 6 vitamins and 11 minerals.





Burro Bananas
Burro Bananas
The shape of this banana is flatter, smaller and squarer, yet just as versatile as other bananas. The burro banana is described as having a tangy lemony flavor. Once ripe, the soft flesh is creamy white or yellow with some firmness toward the center. Used when firm, the burro banana can be sliced and added to cereals or made into banana chips. The burro banana, when softened, can also be mashed and used in cake and other dessert recipes.







Red Bananas
Red Bananas
A sweet banana with a touch of raspberry flavor, the short, plump red banana is easy to distinguish. The slightly pink and creamy flesh within a reddish-purple skin is used to add flavor and color to many dishes. Similar to the traditional Cavendish banana, this tropical fruit is imported from Central America, generally Ecuador. Red bananas are great in fruit compotes and salads or used in baking as you would any banana.








Plantain Bananas
Plantain Bananas
Larger and firmer than dessert bananas, plantains are commonly used as vegetables rather than fruits because of their lower sugar content. Extremely popular in Latin American countries, plantains are also favored in West Indian and African cooking. Plantains are rarely eaten raw unless completely black to ensure ripeness, and are usually baked or fried and served like a potato. These “cooking bananas” have a mild, squash-like flavor and are used in a wide range of savory dishes.