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Fun Facts about Tomatoes!

Visalia is right in the thermal belt of California’s Central Valley, allowing for a lengthy tomato growing season. Without the use of a hothouse, Visalia’s Farmers Market vendors can grow tomatoes outdoors naturally from late February to early December.
So that means July is smack dab in the middle of tomato season! This is exciting news for tomato lovers and Farmer’s Market goers! Take a moment to check out these fun facts and test YOUR tomato IQ!

DID YOU KNOW…?

– California produces 96% of the tomatoes processed in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says there are over 25,000 tomato varieties!
– Botanically speaking, a tomato is a fruit, but the United States government classified it as a vegetable in the late 1800s so it could be taxed under custom regulations.
– Tomatoes are the most popular backyard gardener’s favorite foods! A whopping 93% of American gardeners grow tomatoes in their yards.
– Tomatoes are thought to originate in Peru. The name comes from the Aztec “xitomatl,” which means “plump thing with a navel”. However, the scientific name for the tomato is Lycopersicon lycopersicum, which means, “wolf peach.”
– Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that is good for the heart and effective against certain cancers.
– Cooked tomatoes are actually better for you than raw ones, as more beneficial chemicals are released. Tomatoes are also packed with vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium.
– Eating cooked tomatoes may act as a kind of internal sunscreen, according to researchers at the Universities of Manchester and Newcastle, England, by helping block UV rays. (But eating tomatoes is only a supplement to using sunscreens, they caution, not a replacement.)

If you haven’t yet, be sure to stop by the Visalia Farmers Market to stock up on some local, fresh, in-season tomatoes!

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Vendor Spotlight: Couture Farms

You can find Couture Farms at our Saturday and Thursday Markets. Based out of Kettleman City, this family run farm has been selling pistachios and asparagus (in season) since 1915, and became certified organic in 2006.
Couture Farms sells raw kernals, roasted and salted and in shell pistachios at great prices, and is very happy to support and be a part of the Visalia Farmers Markets!

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DID YOU KNOW…?

– Pistachios were originally imported to America in the 1880s.
– Pistachio trees were planted experimentally in California beginning in the early 1930s.
– California is the second largest producer of pistachios worldwide, boasting more than 100,000 acres of pistachio orchards and producing in excess of 300 million pounds of pistachios a year.
– California pistachios account for about 98 percent of domestic production of pistachios.
– Pistachios are the “colorful” nut, owing their green and purple hue to antioxidants.
– Pistachios are a good source of protein, fiber, magnesium, thiamin, and phosphorus. They’re an excellent source of vitamin B6, copper, and manganese.

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Learn How to Brew Your Own Kombucha at the Saturday Visalia Farmers Market!

Stop by the Visalia Farmers Market this Saturday July 18th to join Frankie Miller of Heritage Home Skills in Tulare at the Community Corner booth, where she will be demonstrating how to brew and flavor your own kombucha, using fresh fruits and herbs from the Market!
This “elixir of life” is one of the hottest trends in health beverages!
Kombucha originated around 5,000 years ago in China, based on Qin dynasty records. It was known as “Divine Che” (Divine Tea) and highly valued as an “energizing” and “detoxifying” drink. Then, according to a reported legend, a Korean doctor named Kombu brought the tea to Japan for Emperor Inkyo in 414 AD as an aid for digestive difficulties. The drink then spread to east Russia at least as early as 1900, and from there, to Europe.
So what IS Kombucha? It’s basically fermented tea! A colony of bacteria and yeast is added to sugar and tea so it can ferment. The end result contains vinegar, B vitamins, and numerous chemical compounds that aid digestion and promote overall health. Interested in learning how to brew and flavor your own? Stop by and check it out!
(Heritage Home Skills is committed to teaching the lost arts that are once again gaining in popularity!)

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Vendor Spotlight: Adam’s Family Olives

 This family owned and operated business has been growing their olives in Strathmore, California for generations. Adam’s Family Olives can be found at our Saturday Market in Visalia at the Sears Parking Lot on Mooney and Caldwell.

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Adam’s sells a variety of cold pressed olive oils, stuffed olives, whole olives, pitted olives and dried whole olives. The stuffed olives feature fun and classic fillings – jalapeno, anchovy, pimento, almond, garlic, lemon, etc.

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Stop by and try a stuffed olive sample from Adam! My favorite are the “Balls of Fire” habenero stuffed olives. But be warned… it’s a scorcher!!

DID YOU KNOW…?

– California is responsible for 99% of all the olive oil produced in the United States.

– California olive farming began in the 18th Century, at the Spanish Jesuit missions.

– On average, an olive tree can live between 300 to 600 years.

– Of all harvested olives, 90% are used for oils and only 10% for table olives.

– It takes 15 years for an olive tree can produce it’s first harvest.

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Western Green Chile Quiche Recipe

Looking for a quick and impressive breakfast with local and in season ingredients? Try this Western Green Pepper Quiche! You can find most of these ingredients from your local Farmers Market, and the fun part is – you can mix and match your favorite peppers, chilis, and other fixin’s! I went with green chiles from KMK Farm to make this quiche and we had it over Fourth of July weekend! Give it a try sometime!

DSC_4564INGREDIENTS

Pie Shell
1 cup flour (I used a sprouted grain flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1/4 cup ice water
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
Filling
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped green chiles
1/4 cup sliced ripe olives
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons finely chopped red pepper

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INSTRUCTIONS
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, chili powder, and sugar. Cut in the shortening until the mixture is crumbly.
2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the ice water and the vinegar. Slowly pour it over the flour mixture, one tablespoon at a time, stirring with a fork until the flour mixture is moistened and can be formed into a ball. Avoid adding too much water or over-mixing.
3. Place the ball of dough on a lightly floured surface and flatten it with your hand. Roll out the dough until it fits a 9-inch pie dish. Lightly oil the pie dish, fold the dough into thirds, and transfer it to the pie dish. Unfold and pat it gently into the dish, being careful not to stretch or tear the pastry.
4. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Prick the dough with a fork two to three times and pour the filling into the pie dish.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
6. Combine the grated cheeses in a mixing bowl and then spread over the bottom of the prepared pie shell.
7. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, salt, pepper, heavy cream, chiles, olives, and onions. Pour over the cheese and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

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Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest 2015

July in National Watermelon Month, so what better way to celebrate than with an old fashioned Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest!

We had two competitions at our two Visalia Market locations, and both were a blast! Congrats to our 2015 Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest winners!
In case you were curious, our Thursday night record setter came in at 22 feet, and our Saturday morning winner made it a whopping 30 feet! WOW!!

Hope to see you at next years competition!

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