The Produce for Better Health Foundation is an organization that links public health and industry, government agencies and non-profit organizations. They have been known as “Fruits & Veggies—More Matters.” This year they changed their brand name to “Have A Plant™ to better reflect consumer research about eating a certain daily amount of fruits and vegetables.
Their website, https://fruitsandveggies.org/, has information on a variety of produce items, recipes, expert advice and educational series on a variety of topics.
Peaches are perfect this time of year! Savor the flavor now, and save it for later by preserving them in a variety of ways. Kick up the flavor of peaches by making a jam with peaches and jalapeno peppers. Try this recipe from Colorado State University.
Peach Jalapeno Jam
3 cups crushed peaches
(about 2 lbs, or 4 large peaches)
1/2 cup jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (about 1/4 pound, or 4-5 peppers)
1 cup water
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup lemon juice
1 – 1 3/4 oz. package powdered pectin
4 cups sugar
Wash, pit, and crush peaches. Wash peppers, remove stems and seeds, and chop finely. Combine peaches, peppers, water, vinegar, and lemon juice in a 5-6 quart pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching.
Add pectin to the peach/pepper mixture. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add sugar, stirring well to dissolve completely. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and skim foam, if needed.
Ladle into sterile, hot, half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust two-piece lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes at 1000-6000 feet above sea level. Yield: 4-5 half-pint jars.
Maceration of fruit is simply giving it a good soak. This technique helps break down the cell walls in fruit to release flavor and aroma from within the fruit. The softened, and newly flavored, fruit can be used as a sauce, a dessert, or a filling.
Ingredients to help macerate fruit include sugar, and a variety of alcohols such as liquors, liqueurs, and wine. Water, fruit juice and vinegar can also be used. Sugar helps draw out the water inside the fruit which reduces the internal pressure inside the fruit and it relaxes and softens. Alcohol triggers the osmosis process to draw water from inside the fruit.
How long this process takes can vary from about 30 minutes to a couple days. The time depends on the thickness of the fruit skin, the texture of the flesh, and the desired outcome. If mixing a variety of fruit, start with the firmer or thick-skinned fruit, then add the softer fruit later.
Lots of conflicting information about eating healthy can leave anyone confused. So the American Heart Association is trying to help clear the confusion.
To start, eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This is a common message from many health organizations and educators. Lean meats, low-fat and non-fat dairy, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds are also beneficial.
A healthy, clean diet can also include frozen, canned, and dried foods. Select low-sodium canned foods and fruits canned in water or 100% juice. Choose frozen and dried foods without added salt or sodium.
Some say to avoid the middle aisles of the grocery store. The truth is, many foods in the middle aisles can be a part of a healthy diet.
As we approach the winter months, a plethora of citrus fruits populate the fresh produce section of grocery stores. One of the more popular citrus fruits is the Mandarin family of small oranges that include clementines, tangerines and satsumas.
Satsumas as small, loose skinned fruits known as “honey citrus” because of their sweet flavor. Their skin is thin and easy to peel and usually seedless. These tender fruits are typically sold in boxes to protect them from damage during transportation. Originally from the Satsuma region of Japan, they are now grown in Northern California.
Clementines are a hybrid of the Mandarin tree. They are also sweet, thin skinned, and should feel soft. They are highly perishable, so refrigerate if not eaten within 2 to 3 days.
Instead of canning plain applesauce or other plain fruit, try mixing it up to make a mixed fruit puree. While this can be done for many fruits, some fruits should not be used because no home canning recommendations are available for purees of these products. They include bananas, figs, Asian pears, tomatoes, cantaloupe and other melons, papaya, ripe mango or coconut. These are best preserved by freezing for safety.
Many parents want to can their own baby food. Fruit is the only food that can be safely processed as a puree. Follow the recommendations from:
Each year, the Environmental Working Group publishes the “Dirty Dozen” report of foods that test positive for pesticide residues.
While these foods may show pesticide residue is present, the risk is negligible. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tolerance levels for pesticide residues is protective of human health. Test results are at levels well below tolerances set by the EPA.
Drs. Carl Winter and Josh Katz of the Department of Food Science and Technology a the University of California-Davis are leading experts in the issue of pesticide residues.
In a peer-reviewed, scientific article in the prestigious Journal of Toxicology (2011) they state the following conclusions:
“Exposures to the most commonly detected pesticides on the twelve commodities pose negligible risks to consumers.”
“Substitution of organic forms of the twelve commodities for conventional forms does not result in any appreciable reduction of consumer risks.”
“The methods used by the environmental advocacy group to rank commodities with respect to (potential) pesticide risks lacks scientific credibility.“