Fresh From the Fields
Chile peppers have been cultivated for over 7,000 years and used extensively by the Incas and Aztecs. Today, they are used by many ethnic groups in their daily cooking preparations. There are many varieties of fresh chile peppers: yellow (or caribe chiles), pasilla (or poblano), red and green Fresnos, habanero, chilaca, Thai, Scotch Bonnet, banana wax, Hungarian wax, jalapeño, Anaheim, and serrano, to name a few. Chile peppers get their heat from ‘capsaicin,’ an oil that can burn your eyes and mouth. The hottest of all chiles used to be the habanero chile, which is off the heat scale compared to the others, but now, there are new chiles that are even HOTTER. The new “reaper” has been determined the hottest of the hot. As a general rule of thumb, the smaller the chile, the stronger the heat. Also, when preparing chiles, if you remove the seeds and inner ribs, the chile will have a milder taste. We also suggest wearing gloves and being careful not to touch your eyes.
Chile peppers add a delightful flavor to any dish. Try them in eggs, soups, stir-fries, sauces or even breads. They are very versatile...and you can use more or less, according to your taste. Chiles should be refrigerated and used immediately for the best flavor. They are low-calorie and are a great substitute for salty seasonings.
Dried Hatch Chile Powder
Hatch peppers have become one of the most popular peppers around. Fresh Hatch peppers are available for a very short time each year, so we have taken part of our harvest and dried them so you can have them year-round. Our Dried Hatch Pepper powder is available in hot and mild and is perfect for adding flavor and heat to many recipes. Whether sprinkled on top of omelets, casseroles, soups, salads, meat, chicken, fish or any one of your favorite dishes, you will love this!
Hatch Pepper Powder will keep for about one year if stored in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place.
Chayote squash is also known as a mirliton. It is native to Mexico and Central America, but is grown worldwide. Most chayote is a light green color, but it is also available in a less familiar white variety. Chayote contains one large seed in the center of the squash, which can be eaten after it is cooked, but generally, it is discarded. Very popular among Hispanics, chayote is often prepared diced and sautéed as a side dish. First the skin is peeled, then the squash is used in a variety of ways: raw in salads, sprinkled with lemon or lime juice, boiled, steamed, sautéed, in soups or stews, on skewers or even in chutneys. Chayote lasts several weeks in the refrigerator and is available year-round. Chayote squash is low in calories (about 28 per 3-ounces) and provides vitamins A and C.
Jicama is a very popular vegetable in today’s produce department. Generally thought to be used primarily by Hispanics, it is also popular among Asians and Americans. Sometimes called a ‘yam bean,’ jicama is shaped like a large turnip, but the taste is reminiscent of a potato combined with a water chestnut. It is a very versatile vegetable and can be eaten raw in salads or served with dips, as well as roasted, grilled, boiled or mashed like a regular potato. Jicama is also a great substitute for water chestnuts, with the same juicy, crunchy flesh that stays firm when slightly cooked. Jicama must be peeled before being used and should be stored in a cool, dry place. It should last several weeks when stored properly. Jicama is very low in calories (about 22 per 3-ounces), and is an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C and iron.
The tomatillo is sometimes referred to as a Mexican husk tomato. They are thought to be native to Mexico, but no one is certain. Tomatillos are grown in California and a few other areas, as well as in Mexico. They are very popular for making green salsa. Tomatillos are actually a fruit, but like a regular tomato, are used like a vegetable. The best way to store tomatillos is with the husk on, in the refrigerator. They should keep for at least one week. They are an excellent source of vitamin A and C and are very low in calories.
This versatile herb is popular in several regions: China, Southeast Asia, India, Latin America, and the Middle East. It is also known as coriander or Chinese parsley. In the past, cilantro has also been used as a medicinal herb for stomach ailments. It can also be used to mask “garlic breath” after eating; just chew on a sprig or two. Cilantro is used in salsas, pestos, sauces, salads and more. It is one of the most versatile herbs around, and is available year-round. Cilantro, like any other herb, should be kept in the refrigerator. To keep it at its freshest, rinse each bunch, then wrap in dry paper towels and store in a loose plastic bag.
Celery root, also known as celeriac or knob celery, is a bulbous root in the same family as common celery, but it is not the root of common celery stalks. The bulbs range in size from a baseball to a cantaloupe. The outer brown flesh can be peeled to reveal the inner white flesh. Use celery root in purées, gratins, soups, stuffing, stews, or salads; Celery Root may also be grated, julienned, shredded and added raw to salads.
Celery Root has a mild flavor reminiscent of both celery and parsley and is enhanced when boiled, braised, sautéed or baked. Although the stems and leaves are edible, they are often removed before reaching the market. Store unwashed in the refrigerator as long as the root stays firm with no soft spots.
Also known as cassava root, yuca root is native to South America. Yuca is grown year-round in tropical and subtropical areas. It is a totally edible root that is starchy and often used like a potato. It must be fully cooked before eating. Yuca is a staple food in several countries, being easy to grow and drought-tolerant. High in carbohydrates, with minimal protein, yuca is popular as an ingredient or filler for the main meal.
Yuca will last a while if stored properly. Keep it in a cool, dry place for best shelf life.
Peeled and Steamed Baby Red Beets
Melissa’s Baby Red Beets are ready-to-use without the trouble of trimming, peeling and steaming. We have taken all the mess out and left only the good stuff! These delicious baby red beets taste so fresh because of our innovative packaging to keep the freshness in and the bitterness out. No one will ever know these beets came out of a package! These tasty beets come from France, a country well known for beets. We don’t add any additives or preservatives; they are all-natural to keep that great tasting flavor.
Baby Red Beets should be kept in the refrigerator and used once opened. Beets are very nutritious, a great source of fiber, have no cholesterol and are low calorie. They will add color and flavor to your main dish, salad or side dish.
We also have a new companion for our Peeled and Steamed Baby Red Beets. Melissa’s Peeled and Steamed Cubed beets in Balsamic Vinaigrette. They are the perfect, ready-to-go side dish. They are great as is, or add them to your favorite green salad, sprinkle them with a little feta cheese, then enjoy!
Steamed Red Kidney Beans
Melissa's Steamed Red Kidney Beans are so convenient and easy to use. They are ready-to-eat out of the package as is, or warmed up; there is no extra prep time! Kidney beans are delicious and high in fiber. Add them to soups, stews and casseroles, or toss them into a salad for added flavor. They are a healthy addition to any dish. They come in a vacuum-sealed package with an extended shelf life.
Pearl onions are available in three colors: white, red and gold. They are available year-round and Melissa’s offers them packaged several ways. Pearl onions are mild onions, about 1-inch in diameter. They have a papery skin and look like a miniature regular onion. Pearl onions are very popular around the holidays. They are generally used in vegetable sautés, casseroles or creamed in a side dish. They are great on skewers or in sauces too.
To peel pearl onions, blanch them in boiling water, and then plunge them into cold water. Cut off the root end, and squeeze the onion out of the skin. It is very simple and easy for such a delicious treat. Pearls should be stored in a cool, dry place, just as you would a large onion. They are very low calorie, and very low sodium with some iron and vitamin C.
Ginger root is one of the most popular “spices” used for flavoring foods and giving them some extra zing. It is most commonly found in Asian and Indian cooking, but it is finding its way into more and more recipes every day because of its pungent aroma and tangy flavor. Ginger is a root that looks like branches and it is referred to as a “hand” of ginger. It is usually grated or thinly sliced to be used in stir-fries, dessert dishes, soups, casseroles and many other foods.
Ginger root has basically no calories or nutrient value, but adds a robust flavor to anything it is used in. It should be stored in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped in plastic and used in a week or so. It can also be frozen for up to two months.
Baby Dutch Yellow® Potatoes
Grown year-round in nutrient-rich volcanic soils where the days are warm and the nights are cool, Melissa’s Baby Dutch Yellow® Potatoes are produced under ideal conditions to create an irresistibly sweet potato. Our Baby Dutch Yellow® has a distinct, yellow flesh with a subtle flavor and a creamy texture. These are one of the best-tasting potatoes on the market today. They are naturally sweet and taste like they are already buttered. Dutch Yellow® Potatoes are an excellent source of fiber and potassium, and are low in calories. They are great when baked, roasted, mashed or sautéed. They are delicious in potato salad, too.
Russian Banana Fingerlings, named for their development in the Baltic States, look like a banana in shape. These yellow-skinned potatoes are unique fingerlings. They have a firmer texture and are an excellent base for potato salad. Russian Bananas are one of the most popular of the fingerlings. Ruby Crescent Fingerling potatoes are long and slender with rose-pink skin and sweet yellow flesh. These potatoes are very interesting in how they occasionally grow branched off one another. They are the best roasting potato and are also delicious boiled for potato salad or baked and topped with sour cream. French Fingerlings are medium size tubers with satin-smooth reddish-orange skin. These potatoes are rumored to have been smuggled into America from Europe long ago in a horse’s feed bag. A welcome addition today, these potatoes are delicious boiled for potato salad or baked and topped with sour cream. Fingerling potatoes make a great side dish for any meal. They are low-calorie and filling…making them great for those watching their food intake.
French Echalion Shallots
French Echalion Shallots are a full-flavored shallot variety. Because of their long shape, they are very easy to peel and cook. They are also known as Banana Shallots because of their shape and size. Their delicate onion flavor complements sauces and salad dressings. Substitute shallots for onions in all your favorite recipes. Shallots are covered with a thin, paper-like skin ranging from pale brown to light gray to a soft rose. French Echalion Shallots are low in calories and sodium, making them a great ingredient to add flavor without adding salt. They are available year-round in your local markets.