Plovgh is a cooperative of farmers, growers, and ranchers that sell directly to their customers.
Bluefish go by many different names including tailor, snapper, baby blues, choppers, and elfs. Their scientific name is pomatomus saltatrix.
Bluefish are a trophy species, that are pursued by anglers because of their reputation as a champion battler and voracious predator. When a Bluefish is hooked, they are known to put up a fight more impressive than some larger species. They are native to both the American and European coasts of the Atlantic Ocean. Along the US coast, Bluefish are highly abundant. In the mid-Atlantic, Bluefish scored a 4 out of 4 in the 2013 Summer Fish Stock Sustainability Index (FSSI), which is a perfect rating and indicates that there is no overfishing. Bluefish have a a mouthful of sharp pointed teeth and tend to eat a variety of small-bodied animals such as copepods, shrimp, small lobsters and crabs, larval fish and larval mollusks. Adult Bluefish are opportunistic feeders, going after schooling species such as menhaden, squid, sand eels, herring, mackerel, and alewives, as well as scup, butterfish, and cunner.
Bluefish are rich and oily, with moist and delicate flesh. They are also high in heart-healthy “good fats.” While they have a more assertive flavor than other fish, when prepared their meat can have a mild, flaky taste.
Despite what their name might elude to, Bluefish are most commonly a sea-green color on top, fading to a silvery shade on their lower sides and belly. Bluefish rarely exceed 20 lbs. and 40 inches in length, and they generally run between 10-15 pounds. The are moderately proportioned fish, and have a broad, forked tail.
Bluefish don’t hold up well when frozen or canned, and the Bluefish coming off the boats of the fishermen that work with Village Fishmonger are the freshest available. Village Fishmonger recommends storing your fish on ice and refrigerating it for the best results. By keeping fish at the coldest temperature possible without freezing, you can help extend its usable life, keeping it firmer and fresher tasting for longer.
Though they are a respected gamefish, most people tend to overlook Bluefish as table fare due to their “fishy” reputation. These fish have strong digestive enzymes that can lead to quick spoilage, so it’s recommended to put them on ice soon after catching. As with most fish, Bluefish are best when fresh and when properly prepared they are delicious.
Olive Oil Poached Bluefish Crostini [Katie O’Donnell of Frankies 570 Spuntino]
Broiled Bluefish with Citrus Dressing [Village Fishmonger]
Bluefish Tacos [Hungry Native]
Smoked Bluefish Rillettes [Six Course Dinner]
Samascott Orchards - Kinderhook, NY
Harvesting date: September - October 2013
Architect’s rulers are made from pear wood because it doesn’t warp. Furniture, musical instruments and kitchen utensils have also been made from the wood of pear trees because it does not splinter, and in the case of kitchen utensils, can withstand multiple washings.
Native to coastal and mild regions, pear tree groves were cultivated in China almost 3000 years ago. Pear trees are grown by sowing the seeds of other cultivated or wild varieties which form pear stocks (also known as free stocks) onto which more desired varieties can be grafted to increase production. Pears are unique from other fruits like apples and strawberries in that they ripen from the inside out, even after they have been harvested. Since they continue to ripen after they are picked, some orchards harvest pears early to extend the seasons’ crop. And you know that gritty, grainy texture you might associate with some varieties? That’s because pears have stone cells (sclereids) which are isodiametric cells, with thick cell walls that can be often found in quince fruits.
There are thousands of varieties of pears, some grown primarily for eating, while others are grown specifically for ornamental purposes. Different types can come in a range of sizes, and the skin can be a pale yellow to a deep brownish gold color. Pears can be sweet or spicy in taste, and have a texture that is gritty or smooth.
Also known as the “Williams pear”, Bartlett pears are a heirloom variety that were first developed in England. They are the most aromatic type of pear. Their skin is a greenish, yellow hue and are sometimes highlighted by a red blush. They have a smooth texture and are good for canning or sliced on top of a salad. Bartlett pears account for almost 75% of pear production in the US and are commonly used in pear juice and canned pears because they can bruise easily.
The Potomac was developed by the USDA in 1993 and is related to the the D’Anjou variety. It’s small, with light green and glossy skin. Potomac pears are sweet and have a buttery, fine texture.
Unripened pears are best stored in a refrigerator at ideally 30 degrees - in colder temperatures they will become damaged and in warmer temperatures they will ripen faster. Most early fall varieties will last up to 2 months, while winter pears will last a few months longer. The longer pears have been in cold storage, the faster they’ll ripen once they’re taken out.
Typically, when we think of pears we think, compotes, tarts and salads. But, how about pears and bacon? Or pears and pizza? Or pears and eggs? We think, why not.
Bacon, Pear & Raspberry Grilled Cheese (Pinch of Yum)
Pear, Goat Cheese & Pistachio Pizza (Savour the Senses)
Roasted Pears With Balsamico & Lime (Bread & Companatico)
Vanilla Pear Milk (Pastry Affair)
Pear & Camembert Quiche (The Creative Pot)
Glebocki Farms - Goshen, NY
Harvesting date: September - late October 2013
Here are some tips from the ladies at Food52 on how to roast any type of winter squash.
A cousin of the melon, winter squash is a summer-growing annual fruit. What makes winter and summer squash different? The winter variety is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage when the seeds inside have fully matured and the skin has hardened into a tough outer layer. Originating in South America, squash are frost-tender vegetables and their seeds do not germinate in cold soil, thus they are best planted when the soil is thoroughly warm. Once the fruits have turned a deep, solid color and the skin has hardened, then the squash is ready to be harvested. Similar to potatoes, in order for winter squash to undergo storage they must first be cured.
There are over a dozen species of squash that fall under the winter squash genus, and each also have multiple cultivars. Some species are edible - Cucurbita maxima, moschata, and pepo - and some are not - the ornamental gourds you see around the holidays.
Shaped like an acorn, Acorn squash can be both green or white. The outer rind has even groves around the entire squash. Acorns have a tough outer skin and moist, sweet, tender flesh. Some have splashes of orange or yellow on the rind, and are orange on the inside.
One of the sweetest types of squash, Butternuts are a tan to pale orange color with thick, bright orange flesh. They are an elongated pear shape - thin on top, becoming more round at the base. Butternuts have very few seeds and a thin skin that is easy to peel.
These squash are thick skinned with firm, fragrant yellow flesh. When cooked the inside becomes rich, nutty and sweet. Carnival squash are pumpkin-shaped with a deeply furrowed top. They have a pale yellow skin with variegated markings of orange and green. The various colorings represent its level of maturity and the presence of post-harvest green indicates that the squash is still at its peak maturity.
Delicata squash are one of the more colorful varieties and also one of the more fragile. They are small and oblong in shape and are typically white or pale yellow with bright yellow, dark green and orange stripes. In comparison to other winter squash, the skin of this variety is on the thinner side and edible when cooked. Delicatas taste sweet and nutty and are a good substitute for sweet potatoes.
Kabocha squash are a Japanese variety that is large, round and a similar shape as pumpkins. The outer skin is dark green, mottled, and hard while the inside is dense, smooth and sweet. Kabocha squash hold their shape, making them a good variety for soups or tempura.
Spaghetti squash are round and oval-shaped, but like their namesake, when Spaghetti squash is cooked the flesh pulls apart into thick, noodle-like strands. They have a pale-yellow outer skin and a mild taste.
The beautiful thing about winter squash is that most of them are interchangeable when it comes to cooking. Whether you’re roasting or pureeing, or your recipe is savory or sweet, you can try out a new variety or mix them up. Below you’ll find a recipe for each type, but we’re big advocates of experimenting.
Roasted Winter Squash With Miso Glaze (NYTimes)
Delicata Squash with Rosemary & Feta (Kitchen Treaty)
Acorn Squash Pancakes (BevCooks)
Carnival Squash Latkes (Kitchen Tested)
Butternut Squash and Chickpea Chili (The Roasted Root)
Kabocha Squash & Bacon Frittata (Hello Home)
Spaghetti Squash Gratin (Hungry Couple)
Samascott Orchards - Kinderhook, NY
Harvesting date: August to late November 2013
The only apples native to North America are crab apples, which were once called “common apples”.
Apples originated in Central Asia and grow on small, deciduous trees. Grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe, apples were first brought to North America by European colonists.There are more than 7,500 known cultivated varieties of apples, all having a wide range of differing characteristics. Different varieties are bred for various tastes and uses, including cooking, eating fresh and cider production. Domestic apples are usually propagated by grafting, although wild apples can grow readily from seed. Apple trees blossom in spring and the fruit matures in autumn.
In most grocery stores the only apples you’ll be choosing from often include Red and Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Fuji. At Samascott Orchards, they grow more than 50 varieties. Here’s a taste of some they are harvesting now:
Originating from Japan, Akane apples are red with white flesh. Their skin is firm - as opposed to crisp - and juicy. Their flavor is a good balance of sweet and sharp.
Earligold apples are medium to large, round-conical apples first grown in Washington. They have a greenish, yellow skin and are a little tart.
Developed by the New York State Ag Experiment Station at Cornell, they are an easy to grow blend of McIntosh and Delicious. These apples are an intense marroon-red, overlying a light green skin. Empires are sweet with a crisp texture and bright white flesh, and are ideal because they do not bruise easily.
Gingergolds were first discovered near an orchard in Virginia. Its color, shape and long stalk are similar to that of a Golden Delicious. It keeps well and can last up to several weeks in the fridge. They have a mild sweetness that can also be a bit sharp.
Jersey Macs are a McIntosh bred variety, developed at Cornell. It is a medium sized red apple with yellow/green splashes. Flesh is crisp and juicy with a tart flavor.
A cross between a Jonathan and a McIntosh, Jonamacs are medium sized, firm, crisp and juicy. They are a dark red with undertones of green.
Mix between Gala and Akane it was developed in the 1970’s by Japanese and New Zealand researchers. It is sweet like a Gala, but has more acidity. It’s skin is russet and speckled and with a yellowish flesh.
A larger fruit with glossy skin that was developed in New Jersey. The skin is shades of bright red and light green, and the flesh is cream colored and coarse, with a crisp, sweet flavor. They are best eaten fresh from the tree when the fruits are ripe as they can lose quality quickly and becomes mealy if not harvested.
An early season dessert apple originally from New Jersey, the name “Vista Bella” comes from the Guatamalan highlands where it is also grown. The apples have light yellow-green skin and spots of flushed deep red where it is exposed to the sun. It has a summery, fruity, juicy flavor. They don’t keep as well as other varieties so it is recommended to keep them in the fridge rather than the counter.
Yes, the exclamation point is supposed to be there. These apples were bred at the University of Minnesota where they were developed for cold-hardiness. They have a sweet-tart taste and are round and deep red with undertones of yellow. The flesh is white and crisp and has a good texture for baking.
Baked apples (Food52) / Apple pancakes (Smitten Kitchen) / Beet, Apple & Fig Salad (Busy in Brooklyn) / Chutney (The Sweet Beet) / Salted Caramel Tart (frites & fries) / Vegan apple biscuits (Green Kitchen Stories)
Find Gala and Summer Treat varieties from Samascott Orchards at Foragers Market (both Chelsea & Dumbo) this week!
Sour Cherries (Prunus cerasus)
Samascott Orchards, Kinderhook NY
Harvesting date: Early July 2013
Catholic and Protestant missionaries planted the first sour cherry trees along Traverse Bay in northwestern Michigan in the 1800s.
Sour cherries are fleeting and have a brief growing season - from around the end of June to the beginning of July. When harvesting, cherries should be soft to the touch as they do not continue to ripen like other fruits once they are picked. Cherries tend to grow in groups because the plant’s flowers bloom from a single focal point which then wilt and become the fruit. The plants prefer a rich, well-drained, moist soil, and require more nitrogen and water than sweet cherries.
When eaten raw they can be pretty tart, but they go well with savory dishes and help balance out sweet recipes.
Cherries are a type of stone fruit - which are fruits that have an outer fleshy part surrounding a pit, such as peaches and apricots. Sour cherries also go by the names tart, wild, and/or pie cherries. Sour cherry trees are shorter than sweet cherry trees and the fruit tends to be a darker red, crimson color to almost near black.
Cherries can be preserved as jams or in liquor, and also keep their flavor when frozen. For fresh cherries, keeping the fruit attached to their stems will keep them fresh longer. If you think pitting is the pits, (yes, we did) try these techniques out and then go make one of these:
Find Samascott Orchard’s sour cherries on the menu at Rose Water Restaurant in Brooklyn.
Tatsoi (Brassica narinosa)
Harvesting: Late May/Early June
An Asian green also known as Spinach mustard, Spoon mustard, or Rosette bok choy.
Part of the brassica family, Tatsoi is a unique and easy to grow green. It is suitable for late spring through autumn sowing. Tatsoi grows low to the ground in cooler climates and In warmer weather grows more upright. Before bolting, the plant will begin to flower and the flavor becomes slightly more bitter.
Mild, mustardy flavor. The stalks are juicy and crisp.
Tatsoi has dense, dark green rounded leaves which form a rosette.
Strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa)
Harvesting: Early June
You know all of the seeds on the outside of the fruit? Each of those are actually an ovary of the flower with a seed inside it.
Woodland strawberries were first cultivated in the early 17th century. Strawberries grow best on soils that have high organic matter content and high fertility levels. They are a type of runner plant which means they have fast growing stems that grow on the surface of the soil and can develop new plants through their nodes. To maintain the best quality, berries should be harvested often and should be picked with the caps on and with 1/2 inch of stem attached.
Sweet, juicy, fresh.
Strawberries can vary widely in size, shape, color and taste. They typically range in size from small to medium, are redish-white in color with green stems and a sweet aroma.
If you’re in DUMBO, drop by Foragers for a quart from Samascott Orchards or find them on the menu at Rose Water in Park Slope.
Harvesting: Early April
Chevre means goat in French. Unlike cows, goats browse rather than graze and eat all sorts of grasses, weeds and shrubbery that influence the flavor of their milk.
Generally, cultures are added to the fresh milk as a curdling agent and the curds are allowed to separate from the whey. It can be made into a “bag cheese” or molded for a couple of days or aged in a cheese cave for longer. Salt can then be added to the curd.
The flavor of chevre can totally vary according to the season and what the goats are munching on at the time they are milked. In the early spring the cheese tends to be more mild and become more goaty or gamey in the fall. The chevre Joyce produces with the spring milk is fresh and creamy and is a little tart and grassy.
As with flavor, the texture of chevre tends to vary depending on how it is produced. Some are white and smooth with a consistency similar to cream cheese, some are crumbly, and some are aged and therefore firm and have a more yellowy color. Sometimes they are creafted into a log shape and rolled with fresh herbs or spices.
Acorn Hill Farm chevre is being served up on cheese plates at Tuffet in Brooklyn. Get yours here.
Mizuna (Brassica rapa nipposinica)
Harvesting: Starting late May
Mizuna has many names including: kyona, Japanese mustard, potherb mustard, California peppergrass, and spider mustard. Whichever you choose, Mizuna stands for “water greens” because it is grown in fields that are shallowly flooded with water. (Food52)
Mizuna is a unique mustard green that has been cultivated in Japan for ages, but likely originated in China. The plant produces dozens of pencil thin white stalks with deeply cut, fringed leaves. Mizuna is highly resistant to cold and can be grown extensively during the winter months. It is usually harvested from early to late summer.
LIke a toned down arugula, mizuna has a mild peppery/spicy flavor. It is crisp when eaten fresh.
Even if you’ve never heard of it, you may have already been indirectly introduced to Mizuna as it is often used in mesclun mixes. It comes in green and purple varieites and has narrow stalks with smooth feathery leaves.
Since we’re rekindling our love for fresh herbs and greens here on the east coast, this seems like a good go-to recipe. If you’re not going the raw route, you can toss it in a stir fry, add it to Nabemono or sauté it. Similar to spinach, when Mizuna is cooked it shrinks to about half its size - so be sure to buy extra.
Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
Harvested: Late April 2013
Asparagus was used in recipes dating as far back as third-century AD, and many societies identified ways of preserving it for consumption during colder seasons.
Asparagus is a perennial and one of the earliest producing spring vegetables. It can be easily grown from the crowns or roots and can take up to 3 to 4 years before a mature plant is established for harvesting - but it can be harvested for years after planting once mature. A fully grown plant can resemble a fern with thin spears. It is unique in that it can tolerate broad temperature variations; it grows in the Imperial Valley of Southern California, where temperatures can reach 115° F, and it grows in Minnesota, where temperatures can plunge to -40° F.* In the northeast they are generally harvested from late March through June.
Aspargus spears should be tender and sweet. This is the best way to tell they are freshly harvested.
There are hundreds of varieties, but often asparagus has smooth stalks with compact crowns and can come in colors like white, green and purple. Spears can range in size based on the time they are harvested.
Only young asparagus shoots are eaten since once the buds of the plant start to open, the shoots quickly turn woody. Prep is easy: just trim off the bottoms of the spears. Then, enjoy them raw, fried, blanched, or simply roasted. Throwing them on the grill is also encouraged.
You can find Samascott Orchard’s Asparagus this week at Greene Grape Provisions in Brooklyn.