lime_3.jpgLimes may be most famous for their historical benefits to sailors. Limes are packed with Vitamin C and were eaten on ships to prevent scurvy, a disease caused by that vitamin deficiency. In the eighteenth century, all British naval ships assigned to long journeys were required to carry limes. The nickname "limeys" for British sailors has continued to this day.

Limes were originally grown on the Indian subcontinent and were popularized in Europe about the time of the Crusades. In the United States, limes were established in what is now named Florida by the sixteenth century. Today limes are grown in Florida, the Southwest, and California.

Selection

Select limes that are glossy and light to deep green in color. Limes should have a thin, smooth skin and be heavy for their size. Small brown areas on the skin should not affect flavor, but large blemishes or soft spots indicate a damaged lime. Ripe limes are firm, but not hard. Avoid limes that have a yellowish skin or are too small. A hard shriveled skin is a sign of dryness, as is a coarse thick skin. Limes are available year round in most supermarkets.

Storage

Limes may be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Limes store better in a plastic bag if placed in the refrigerator and those stored at room temperature will yield more juice. Take care to keep limes out of direct sunlight as they will shrivel and become discolored.

Varieties

The majority of limes are part of the Tahitian strain, believed to have originated in Tahiti. There are two common varieties of that strain: Persian and Bearss. The Persion is egg-shaped and contains seeds. The Bearss is smaller and seedless. Key limes are smaller and rounder than the Tahitian strain and have a higher acid content. These limes are mostly used in baking.

Preparation

Wash well before using, even if you are only using the juice. Limes are usually eaten raw, but may be included in baked or grilled dishes. Many recipes call for fresh lime juice. To juice by hand, roll the lime on a firm surface before squeezing out the juice.

Limes are also often used as garnish. Simply slice the lime in half and slice into several sections. Limes or lime juice are a great salt substitute and add a tangy flavor. Because of their high ascorbic acid content, lime juice is also used to delay oxidation or "browning" of other fruits and vegetables. Try it on your sliced bananas or apples!



In addition to their sweet, delectable flavor and visual appeal, blueberries are jam-packed with good nutrition. They're a convenient little berry-at home in pies and pancakes, salads, smoothies and sauces. Or, simply wash and eat with no peeling, pitting or slicing needed!
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How to buy blueberries

Fresh blueberries are most plentiful during the summer months, but you will find them in the market all year round, along with frozen, canned and dried blueberries. When purchasing fresh blueberries, look for firm, plump, dry berries with smooth skins and a silvery sheen. Size doesn't matter, but color does, reddish berries aren't ripe, but can be used in cooking. Avoid soft or shriveled fruit, or any signs of mold. Containers with juice stains indicate that the fruit may be bruised.

How to store blueberries

Refrigerate fresh blueberries as soon as you get them home, in their original plastic pack or in a covered bowl or storage container. Wash berries just before use. Use within 10 days of purchase.

How to freeze blueberries

The secret to successful freezing is to use berries that are unwashed and completely dry. Discard berries that look bruised or shriveled. Place the berries, still in their original plastic pack, in a resealable plastic bag. Or, transfer berries to freezer containers or resealable freezer bags. The berries will freeze individually and you can
remove just the portion you need. Remember to rinse them before using.

Blueberry serving suggestions

  • Add blueberries to your favorite muffin recipe try 1 cup for each batch of 12 muffins. Gently stir in the blueberries at the end (unthawed, if frozen).
  • Dot pancake batter with blueberries as soon as batter has been poured on the griddle.
  • Make a breakfast parfait by layering blueberries with flavored yogurt and granola cereal in a tall glass.
  • Sprinkle blueberries and chopped walnuts over dressed mixed greens.
  • Serve blueberries with sour cream or yogurt or with a scoop of cottage cheese.

Blueberry nutritional facts

  • Only 80 fat-free calories per cup, blueberries are a good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C.
  • Blueberries rank high in antioxidants that help protect against cancer, heart disease and other age-related
  • diseases.
  • Researchers have found compounds in blueberries that help prevent urinary tract infection.
  • Just one-half cup of blueberries helps meet the recommended 5 to 9 servings a day of colorful fruits and veggies.

For more tips and recipes visit the
U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council

Avocados were first cultivated in South America with later migration to Mexico. It was believed that a Mayan princess ate the very first avocado and that it held mystical and magical powers. European sailors traveling to the New World used avocados as their form of butter. Avocados were first seen in the United States in the early 1800's. California is currently the largest producer of avocados stateside. There are more than 80 varieties, with the "Hass" variety dominating the crop share. A single mature avocado tree can produce more than 400 pieces of fruit in a year.
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Avocados are loaded with 25 nutrients and dietary fiber. Avocados contain; vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, and folate. They're also cholesterol and sodium free. Avocados contain 60% more potassium per ounce than bananas. This fruit is an excellent source of monounsaturated fat.

Just how good are avocados, read the label on a California avocado an see for yourself.

Confused about the different shapes and colors of avocados? The good folks at the California Avocado Commission have some very helpful information. Selecting and handling avocados got you a little intimidated? They have the answers and we have some recipes.
 

Read more:
California Avocado Commission