Thursday, April 16, 2015

How Does Seedless Fruit Reproduce

You ask, We answer!  The question recently came up...

"How do seedless watermelons reproduce without seeds?" and "Is it because they are picked early?"

While yes, Seedless Watermelons are grown from seeds, the seeds are produced by crossing diploid and tetraploid lines of watermelon, with the resulting seeds producing sterile triploid plants. What?!  Basically, crossing these types of seeds results in a sterile seed which is left inside the fruit in the form of a shell, or "tracer seed."  These seeds are not able to reproduce, so you should not plant them.  Thus, the fruit development is triggered by pollination, so these plants must be grown alongside a diploid strain to provide pollen.

How do you plant seedless grapes, if they don't have any seeds?

Answer 1:
Seeds are only one way that plants are reproduce. Plants can also spread by growing bigger and spreading out across the ground. At some point the plant becomes so big that different parts of it are capable of growing by themselves. The plant may then split or the mature parts simply fall off. These off-spring are usually called "clones," because they are genetically identical to their parent plants. Classic examples of these clones include familiar garden plants like strawberries (they have long roots called stolens that spread out from existing plants). Another special way of reproducing plants is called grafting. When plants are grafted the green top of one plant is combined with the living roots of another plant. This process can establish plants that might not be able to reproduce on their own. Nuts, apples, and stone fruits are often grafted (sometimes you can see a strange line near the base of the tree where the width of the tree changes or maybe the bark is a different color). So, back to your watermelons and grapes.
Given those options, if you were a farmer how would you grow more?
Hint: You've probably already got a whole field full of healthy watermelons and grapes to work with.

Answer 2:
How do you plant seedless fruit? You don't. Plants that produce seedless fruit ("sterile" plants) do not occur in nature since they cannot reproduce. Scientists have created certain special varieties of commercial fruit to grow without seeds (e.g. oranges, grapes) or with smaller, reduced seeds (bananas, "seedless" watermelons) in order to make it more convenient for humans to eat them. However, these varieties must be specially cultivated since they cannot be re-planted from seeds.

For seedless grapes, new plants must be made from existing ones. The easiest method involves slicing the stem of an adult plant diagonally and cutting sections from it.One end of each cutting can then be dipped in a rooting hormone. (Yes, plants have growth hormones! Rooting hormones stimulate the production of roots.) The cuttings are planted and eventually grow into new plants that produce fruit. Grapes from seedless plants are small, and must be treated with plant growth hormone in order to ripen to normal size. The process of growing seedless grapes is a form of asexual reproduction, as the new plant is basically a genetic clone of the original parent plant. Some seedless grape varieties have been grown this way since Roman times (a grape plant that is 2,000 years old). Wild grape plants reproduce sexually, by a process called pollination. In sexual reproduction, male gametes combine with female gametes to produce a new organism which has half of its genetic identity from the mother and half from the father. Find a book about general plant biology ("botany") or look on the web and try to answer these questions: What parts of plant flowers contain the male gametes (pollen)? What parts contain the female gametes (eggs)? How does pollination occur (that is, how does the pollen make it to the egg)?

In order to create seedless watermelon plants, normal seed-producing plants which have 2 sets of chromosomes are pollinated with pollen from plants that have been engineered to have 4 sets of chromosomes. The resulting seeds produce plants ("hybrids") that have 3 sets of chromosomes. These hybrids are sterile, which means they produce seedless fruit. In this way, a seedless watermelon can be grown from a seed.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Dodger Stadium Concessions 2015

Your Guide to Eating at Dodger Stadium

Note: Food Brought into Dodger Stadium. Food is permitted from outside the stadium provided it is not in bottles, cans, coolers or thermoses. Unbroken, factory-sealed plastic bottles of non-alcoholic beverages of 1 liter or less are permitted. (No outside food or beverage can be brought into stadium suites).

Above, the Dodger Insider Concessions Guide for 2015 (click to enlarge).
By Jon Weisman
Renovations to the Reserve Level concessions stands and the Lexus Dugout Club, as well as several new food offerings, will greet fans at Dodger Stadium in 2015, the team is announcing today.
The new menu items include:
  • Lasorda’s Meatball Marinara Specialty Fries (Tommy Lasorda’s Trattoria)
  • Lasorda’s Meatball Marinara Cone (Tommy Lasorda’s Trattoria)
  • La Taqueria’s Carne Asada Specialty Fries (Field and Reserve levels)
  • Breaded Chicken Sandwich and Tenders (Field and Reserve levels)
  • Fried Dodger Dogs at Extreme Loaded Dogs location on Field level (Aisle 48)
In addition, there will be daily specials at the Think Blue BBQ, more locations for nachos (including vegetarian and vegan versions of the signature helmet-sized nachos) and more availability for such healthy choices as turkey burgers, veggie burgers, veggie dogs, veggie wraps and veggie pizza at a number of locations throughout the stadium.

Here’s more from today’s press release:

Four Reserve level food stands have been upgraded and the Dodgers will add several portable beverage kiosks throughout the stadium. The stadium will have new bar locations on the Loge level entrance plazas and behind home plate and two stands on the Top Deck. The Dodgers will offer expanded beer offerings featuring Anheuser Busch’s full product line as well as local craft selections throughout the stadium.
The Field level next to the escalators will have new food and drink areas for fans to enjoy. Fresh salads, sandwiches and snacks will be available at the new grab & go location.
The Lexus Dugout Club has undergone a major renovation, the first since the club opened in 2000. Premium-seat members will enjoy an increase in dining room capacity and a new look in interior decor. The expanded kitchens will offer additional food options, as well as enhanced menus and improved in-seat service. There will be more built-in cooking locations, a new carvery and buffet, new desserts and premium cocktails.
Members will be able to enjoy a newly-expanded bar and cocktail area with new high-tops extending out from the area. And the upper-level bar will have a new look, with greater emphasis on dining in that space.
The club will feature enlarged and enhanced television displays — 20 in all, including four 84-inch sets — so patrons can stay on top of all of the Dodgers action throughout the club.
Dodger fans in the Lexus Dugout Club will also enjoy a greater display of Dodger memorabilia at the entrance to the Club. This display will also be available to those taking Dodger Stadium tours, offered daily from the Top of the Park for $20 for adults and $15 for children, seniors and military. In addition to MVP awards, Gold Gloves and World Series trophies, the expanded displays will include the newly-acquired Silver Slugger awards.
The Dodger Stadium Club Bar menu will be enhanced and Dodger suite holders and their guests will enjoy both a dessert cart and a new “cocktail cart.”

For Melissa's #HealthyOptions at Dodger Stadium, they can be located at Aisle 5 in the Field Level Marketplace.  Here are a few pictures from the new Marketplace at Dodgers Stadium:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Torrent Blender Tips: How to Load Your Torrent Blender

How to Load Your Torrent Blender

One of the benefits to the Torrent™ blender is that you don’t need a messy plunger to force ingredients into the blade. It helps to load your jar in a way that produces the best blend. 

Here are a 7 simple tips to consider before your next blending experience:

1) Place your softer, high-moisture foods in the blender jar first (liquids, fresh fruits and veggies, etc.).

2) Place your hard, solid foods last (ice, frozen fruits and veggies, nuts, etc.).

3) If you’re making a green smoothie with leafy greens, you can put them in before or after the ice.

4) The most important thing is for liquids to be put in first and to put the harder ingredients toward the top.

5) If a blend is too cold, cavitation can result. This is when an air pocket forms around the blade. Be sure to keep a good balance between ice (or any frozen food) and liquid.

6) For round food objects such as apples, cut them in half before placing them in the jar.

7) Cut fresh food items to fit in half the height of the jar.

These easy steps will help ensure that your blended masterpiece will be as smooth and delicious as possible.

Click here for a few easy blender recipes

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Passion Fruit Ripening

How to Tell if a Passion Fruit is ripe and ready to eat.

Passion fruit is a vine fruit, native to Brazil, Paraguay, and north Argentina, but most commonly grown and harvested in New Zeland and the US.

Passion fruit is available most of the year and is most commonly found in specialty grocery stores.  When you are selecting the fruit in the store, you want to make sure that it is at a ripening stage suitable for your time of consumption.  Below is a visual guide to the ripening process of passion fruit:

It's most common for passion fruit to ripen within 3-5 days after your purchase.  By this diagram, you can see how the passion fruit starts and how it looks when it's ready to be consumed.

Here are a couple characteristics to note, that could help you understand the Passion Fruit ripening process. 

How do you know when passion fruit is ripe?  

1) When the passion fruit is on the vine, it's color will be green.  

2) Once it starts to turn purple it means that it has entered the ripening process. Note: Tropical Passion fruit will be yellow.

3) Passion fruit is usually harvested at the first signs on turning purple, so it will continue to ripen on it's journey to the grocery store

4) Check the fruit to make sure it is firm, with slight give to light pressure

5) The skin is the telling sign when the fruit it ripe.  If the skin is all wrinkly its ripe and ready use. 

Here are a couple of our favorite ways to use Passion Fruit:

Passion Fruit Cocktail (recipe)

 Sweet Lemon Passion Fruit Salad Dressing (recipe)

Strawberry-Banana-Passion Fruit Smoothie (recipe)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Fruit Based Desserts: Our Sweet 16

From crepes to cakes, any of these 16 sweet dessert recipes will end your meal on a high note.  #Sweet16

1. Apple Pie Crepes

Get the recipe

 2. Banana Pound Cake

Get the recipe

 3.  Bananas Foster

Get the recipe

 4. Blue Morning Muffins

Get the recipe

5. Caramel Crimson Gold Apples

Get the recipe

 6. Carrot Cake

Get the recipe

 7. Cherimoya Meringue

Get the recipe

 8. Cherry Crumble Pie

Get the recipe

 9. Melissa's Pumpkin Pie

Get the recipe

 10. Key Lime Pie

Get the recipe

 11. Grilled Pineapple with Lemon, Ginger, and Lime Ice Cream

Get the recipe

 12. Green Keitt Mango Sorbet

Get the recipe

 13. Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Get the recipe

 14. Meyer Lemon Tart

Get the recipe

 15. Peach and Plum Cobbler with Dried Tart Cherries

Get the recipe

16. Apricot, Cherry, and Blueberry Cobbler

Get the recipe

Monday, March 9, 2015

Ojai Pixie Tangerines | Meet the Farmer

About Ojai Pixies:

"Ojai Pixies are not sold under trade names! We are not Cuties, Sweeties, Delites or Smiles– we are Ojai Pixies; that is, Pixie tangerines grown in the Ojai Valley. Ojai Pixies are grown by a dedicated group of farmers working on small family farms. We grow and market our own fruit. We make up less than one percent of the California tangerine crop, so enjoy the season while it lasts!"

Pixie tangerines are pale orange colored, moderately juicy and always seedless. Individual Pixie tangerines vary in shape, size and peel texture. In general, Pixies are small (1-3 inches in diameter), have a pebbly skin and are easy to peel with segments that separate easily from one another.

Pixies ripen in the spring and are therefore on the trees during California’s coldest months and are quite susceptible to frost.

 Pixie Tangerines have been around since the mid-1960s, when they were released to the public by citrus breeders from the University of California at Riverside. Because of their small size, their habit of bearing a large crop one year and a small crop the following year, and their late season, they were not thought of as a commercial fruit. However, a group of growers in Ojai, California discovered that Pixie Tangerines grown in Ojai are wonderfully delicious. They are now available in grocery stores all over the country, as well as farmer-direct in southern California.

Meet the Farmer | Friend's Ranch Ojai Pixies

The Friend's Ranch family has been growing citrus in the Ojai Valley for over 100 years!

Throughout this time, their operation has gone through a lot of changes, expansions and cuts as well as changes in the fruit they grow and sell.

Friend's Ranch currently attend four farmers’ markets in Southern California year-round as well as selling directly from our packinghouse and through our on-line mail order.  We also sell our tangerines to wholesalers throughout California, such as Melissa's Produce.

Their goal is to grow, pack and sell the best fruit we can that you, the consumer, demand and they hope you find the fruit as delicious as they do!

Friend's Ranch is truly a small family farm, operated by 4 family members, 4 employees, as well as the input of the our new fifth generation of tangerine eaters (Matthew, Andrew, Mariana, Oliver and Celeste)!

Here are a few points about Ojai Pixies that you need to know:
 - California’s Central coast provides rich growing soil.
 - The freshest citrus commercially available, picked and packed just days before delivery
 - Grown uniquely in an East to West direction allowing for longer days of sunlight which benefits the fruit in overall taste.
 - No preservatives or wax.
 - 100 years of Ojai growing experience

Ojai Pixie Tangerines:
Pixie Tangerines have a rich citrus flavor. They are a super sweet variety, and are a cross between a King and Dancy Tangerine.  This variety of tangerine is newer to the marketplace.  Developed and grown for the last 20 years, Pixie Tangerines are now grown and available on a national basis!  They have all the attractive features of what a consumer is looking for in a tangerine: seedless and low acid.

 - Late season variety:  early March – mid May
 - Grown in the prestigious citrus region of Ojai, California
 - Seedless
 - Easy to Peel
 - Low Acidity / Very Sweet

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Visual Guide to Asian Vegetables

Asian Vegetable Varietys

Melissa's Asian Essentials

Vegetables are not only fundamental to Chinese New Year but also to Chinese cuisine as a whole. People love to eat green, leafy vegetables at each meal because they’re not only incredibly healthy but also versatile in a vast number of recipes. When it comes to popular green Asian vegetables, we at Melissa’s have the best of the best from top quality growers. Let’s take a look at some of the Asian vegetables we’re offering that would be perfect for Chinese New Year and other Chinese-inspired dishes. We also have a wide variety of essentials for Chinese New Year including vegetables, tropical fruits, noodles and other great items to make tasty dishes for the holiday. 

1.  Petite Shanghai (recipe)
Don’t be confused by how similar Petite Shanghai looks as baby bok choy. Petite Shanghai is part of the bok choy family but are actually smaller than baby bok choy. However, what they do have in common is their delicious hint of sweetness once cooked. Their delicateness allows for them to blanch beautifully in soups and make a nice crunchy addition to stir-fry.
2.  Petite Baby Choy Sum (recipe)
How adorable does Petite Baby Choy Sum look? With a distinctly sweet but delicate mustard flavor, petite baby choy sum is popularly used in stir-fries and can withstand bold flavors such as chiles, garlic, spices and even citrus. And because they’re so small, they can be eaten whole. A great recipe for getting started with this awesome vegetable is our Petite Choy Sum Stir-Fry.
3.  Gai Lan aka Chinese Broccoli (recipe)
Gai lan, also known as Chinese Broccoli, is a favorite in Chinese cuisine. Gai lan has a similar flavor to regular broccoli, only slightly more bitter. It pairs wonderfully with oyster sauce and garlic because the flavors complement and offset the bitterness. For an easy yet flavorful side dish, check out our Gai Lan and Long Bean Stir Fry with Enoki Mushrooms.

Get the whole story about Gai Lan from Melissa's Produce and Chef Martin Yan by clicking HERE
4.  Napa Cabbage (recipe)
Originating from Beijing, China, Napa cabbage is commonly used in Asian cuisine. As a symbol of prosperity in China, what’s not to love about this exquisite vegetable during Chinese New Year? Napa cabbage is used extensively in stir-fry and hot pot and becomes wonderfully tender once cooked. And don’t forget about kimchi! Napa cabbage is the star of the show in the most popular kimchi, baechu kimchi.
5.  Bok Choy Leaves (recipe)
A deep green leafy vegetable that resembles Romaine lettuce on top and a large celery on the bottom, bok choy is a crucifer more closely related to cabbage. The entire vegetable can be used, and is often added raw to salads for a satisfying crunch. In soups, the leaves and stalks should be chopped and added separately, since the stalks take longer to cook.

Did you know; The name “bok choy” originated from the Chinese word for "soup spoon" because of the shape of its leaves.
6.  Chinese Eggplant (recipe)
Chinese Eggplant can be distinguished from other popular oriental eggplant varieties by its color and size. Chinese Eggplant is usually lavender or white and is even longer than the darker purple Japanese Eggplant. Although Chinese Eggplant is botanically a fruit, it’s more commonly used as a vegetable and resembles a small zucchini. Sweeter and more tender than regular eggplant, Melissa’s Chinese Eggplant has fewer, smaller seeds.
7.  Baby Bok Choy (recipe)
Tender and leafy, baby bok choy is an incredibly versatile vegetable. Whether stir-fried, braised, sautéed or steamed, this vegetable becomes more mild to reveal a just hint of sweetness. We love baby bok choy in a number of recipes but we like it simple the best. Sautéed with garlic, soy sauce and lemon juice, our Quick Lemony Baby Bok Choy Sauté is the perfect Chinese New Year’s side dish.
8.  Bitter Melon (recipe)
Grown as a fruit but used as a vegetable, the Bitter Melon is actually a member of the squash family. Resembling a long, bumpy cucumber, Bitter Melon can be found in Asian and East Indian cooking
This bitter or quinine flavor (a bitter alkaloid) is often combined with garlic or chile. Once thought to contain medicinal qualities, in some parts of China, Bitter Melon is still used to purify the blood and cool the digestive system
9.  Bok Choy (recipe)
One of the most famous vegetables found in Asian cuisine, bok choy is used extensively in a number of recipes. With a flavor similar to Swiss Chard or spinach, it’s no wonder this delightful vegetable is so beloved. Though the leaves are a bit spicy raw, once cooked, they release a mild sweetness. Try it with our Bok Choy and Shiitake Stir-fry Yakisoba.
10.  Chinese Long Bean (recipe)
Chinese Long Bean is part of the same plant family as the black-eyed pea. This edible pod actually resembles the green bean, although not as crisp.
In China, the Chinese Long Bean is sometimes left to grow 3 feet in length until peas have matured in the pod. Usually harvested at a foot long, this legume is quite thin with a slight black-eyed pea flavor.

And, if you don't have a Wok to cook these Asian items... no problem, Martin Yan shows you how to improvise!