Tips and uses


Asparagus is derived from the Greek word Asparagos which means “sprout” or “shoot”. It is referred to as the aristocrat of vegetables and is considered a harbinger of spring because of its earliness. It is a hardy perennial and a member of the lily family and a close relative to onions, garlic, and leeks.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Green asparagus is the primary type of asparagus on the market but purple and white asparagus can sometimes be found. Purple asparagus is actually a variety that has 20% more sugar and has a nutty flavor and is more tender than green asparagus. White asparagus is blanched as soil is piled over the spears as they emerge to exclude light.

Select spears that are firm yet tender and brightly colored. The tips should be tightly closed and compact. Tips that have begun to open slightly, or are wilted indicate a sign of age. Because you will trim asparagus when you prepare it, plan on purchasing enough for ½ pound per person.

Storage Tips

Refrigerate immediately. Wrap in a damp cloth and store in the vegetable crisper section of your refrigerator.

Cooking Tips

Snap off the bottom-most woody portion of the spear. Save these trimmings for use in stocks. Asparagus may be steamed upright in a tall, covered pot or simmered in a skillet in lightly salted water for 3-5 minutes.


▸Cream of asparagus soup

▸Wrapped in foil with herbs and olive oil and baked until tender

▸Roast with olive oil and serve with balsamic vinegar

▸Asparagus guacamole

▸Serve with a light vinaigrette or mustard sauce


There are several types of edible-pod beans including snap beans (green and wax); haricots verts―French green beans that are thinner than their American relatives; Italian green beans―also called Romano beans and are characterized by their broad, flat pods. You can also find purple wax beans that will turn bright green when cooked; Scarlet runner beans that look similar to the Romano beans but the seeds are a bright scarlet color; and yard-long beans which originate from Asia and can reach 18 inches long and are good for stir-frying.

Nutritionally, edible-pod beans don’t contain the high amount of protein that dried beans contain but they are a good source of vitamin A, calcium, potassium, and fiber.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Select bean that are brightly colored and “snap” when broken. However, haricots verts may not snap because they are so thin. Do not buy beans if you can see the seeds bulging through the pod or that are woody or stringy. Beans with tough skins or that appear wilted should also be passed up. Also select beans that are similar in size to assure uniform cooking time.

Storage Tips

Unwashed beans may be stored in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper section of your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Eat as soon after purchase as possible because beans will lose their flavor, nutrients, and quality as time passes.

Beans can also be frozen for long-term storage. Blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes then rinse in cold water, dry and store in an airtight container.

Cooking Tips

Wash thoroughly in cold water and snap off ¼ inch from each end. The beans may be left whole or cut into smaller pieces depending upon use. Beans that are cooked whole will retain more of their nutrients. Steam or boil uncovered fro about 15 minutes. They should be bright and tender but not soft. Add beans to soups, stews, or stir-fries.


▸Toss with olive oil or butter.

▸Marinate overnight in a dill vinaigrette.


Beets are a potherb related to Swiss chard and have been grown since ancient times. The Mediterranean region of southern Europe is where they are believed to have originated. Both the root and the leaves of beets are edible.

The bright red pigment that gives beets their characteristic color is betacyanin. When some people eat beets, their bodies are unable to break down the betacyanin and as a result, their urine becomes pink.

Most of the beets grown in Wisconsin are red beets but you can find pink, purple, white, and yellow beets. Golden beets don’t bleed when cooked but don’t taste as sweet as red beets. White beets look like turnips and are even less sweet.

Chioggia is a type of beet that originated from Italy and resembles ordinary table beets on the outside but have a red and white striped flesh internally. They are the sweetest beets available.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Choose beets that are firm and well-shaped. Avoid those that are shriveled or soft or larger than 2 ½ inches in diameter as they will likely be woody. Beets less than 1 ½ inches in diameter are quite tender and cook quickly. If you purchase beets with the tops attached or plan to eat beet greens, make sure that the leaves are small, crisp, and dark green.

Storage Tips

To reduce moisture loss, if you purchased beets with their tops attached, remove them immediately but leave about 1 inch of the stem. Wrap the beets in a damp cloth and store in the vegetable crisper section of your refrigerator. Do not wash beets before storing.

Cooking Tips

Don’t cut or peel beets before cooking to prevent “bleeding”. Scrub gently with a vegetable brush.


▸Grated on salads.

▸Steamed, sliced and served at room temperature.

▸Cubed and added to soups and stews.

▸Greens can be added raw to mixed salads or

▸Steam or stir-fry beet greens.


The Romans were the first Europeans to cultivate broccoli. It is one of the most nutritious of the cruciferous vegetables. The word broccoli originates from “brachium” which means branch and describes the stalks that support the broccoli florets.

In addition to many nutrients, broccoli also contains beta carotene and lutein. Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body but it also is a good antioxidant that can prevent cancer. Lutein is also an antioxidant but is important in preventing cataracts and macular degeneration.

In addition to the traditional green broccoli, you can find purple broccoli, broccoflower which is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower; broccoli rabe which is more pungent and bitter.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Purchase broccoli stems that are 8–10 inches long with dark green heads 3-6 inches in diameter. Avoid open or mushy heads, yellow coloring or open flowers, and any broccoli with limp stems. Overly mature broccoli will be tough and woody.

Storage Tips

Don’t wash broccoli before storing in the refrigerator because water left on the florets will promote the development of bacteria and the breakdown of the florets. Broccoli is best when eaten within a few days to a week after harvest.

Broccoli may also be frozen for long term storage. Blanch for 3-4 minutes and immediately immerse in cold water to stop the cooking action. Drain and store in an air-tight container.

Cooking Tips

To assure the removal of any insect pests, soak upside-down in cold salt water. Snap or cut off the stem. Leaves can remain as they provide an added nutritional benefit.

Use in soups, quiche, casseroles, stir-fry, and on top of pizza.


▸Fresh on salads including pasta salads

▸Grate the stems to make a broccoli slaw

[size=150]BRUSSELS SPROUTS[/size]

Brussels sprouts originated in Belgium and are named after the country’s capital city. The sprouts are similar in shape and taste to cabbage from which they originated but have a milder flavor.

Although there are several varieties of Brussels sprouts grown in Wisconsin, all of the most common varieties taste similar.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Brussels sprouts are sold in pint or quart containers or still attached to the stalk on which they grew. Select sprouts that are bright green in color and uniform in size for even cooking. Small, firm, compact sprouts are the best choice. Avoid soft sprouts or those with a strong cabbage aroma.

Storage Tips

Do not wash or trim Brussels sprouts before refrigerating. Store them in a perforated plastic bag for up to a week.

Freeze Brussels sprouts for long-term storage. Blanch the sprouts for 3-5 minutes and immediately rinse in cold water before draining and storing in an air-tight container.

Cooking Tips

Before cooking, remove the bottom portion of the stem and the outermost leaves. Watch your cooking time carefully and only steam or boil the sprouts for 5-10 minutes to prevent overcooking.


▸Toss cooked sprouts with olive oil, lemon juice, and a pat of butter

▸Make shish kebobs by threading onto skewers with other vegetables and chicken or meat and grill

▸Marinate in salad dressing overnight and use in salads


Cabbage has been cultivated for centuries and dates back to Greece in 600 B.C. It was primarily used medicinally to treat gout, stomach problems, deafness, and headache.

Cabbage is a cool season vegetable grown in early spring and again in fall. Varieties include green, red, and savoy or crumpled leaf cabbage. Purple cabbage has higher levels of vitamin C while savoy cabbage touts more vitamin A, calcium, iron and potassium.

Although there are other cruciferous vegetables that provide more vitamins and nutrients than cabbage, this vegetable is eaten in more countries worldwide.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Select heavy, solid heads with few, loose wrapper leaves. The wrapper leaves should be clean and flexible and not limp. Savoy types of cabbage will be “looser”. Don’t purchase cabbage heads that have been cut because as soon as the head is cut, it begins to lose vitamin C.
Storage Tips

Don’t wash cabbage prior to storage. It can be stored in the refrigerator with or without a plastic bag.

Cooking Tips

To prepare cabbage, cut the head into quarters. Use a stainless steel knife to cut cabbage to prevent a reaction between carbon steel and the cabbage that turns green cabbage black and red cabbage blue. Place one of the cut edges of the cabbage on the cutting board and slice to the desired thickness. If you choose to cook cabbage, be sure not to overcook it as the result is an overly strong flavor.


▸Cole slaw


▸Sauteed or stir fried with other vegetables

▸Red cabbage goes well in pasta salads, green salads, and with fried rice


Cauliflower is another member of the cruciferous vegetables and evolved from sprouting broccoli. The edible plant part is called a curd. Cauliflower can be difficult to grow because it requires very specific weather and soil conditions to produce a nice, white head.

Most of the cauliflower you will find is the traditional white variety. However, you can find broccoflower which is a cross between cauliflower and broccoli and purple cauliflower varieties. The latter will turn green when cooked.

Like the other cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower contains phytochemicals called isothiocyanates which are excellent antioxidants that can detoxify cancer-causing agents in the body.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Look for firm, compact heads about 6 inches in diameter. A 6-inch head will serve 4-6 people after it’s been trimmed. Avoid heads that are soft, or have brown spots on the curds.

When buying broccoflower, look for firm, yellow-green or pale-green heads.
Storage Tips

Refrigerate immediately. Wrap in a damp cloth or place in a plastic bag and store in the vegetable crisper section of your refrigerator for up to a week. Cauliflower that has been stored too long will develop a strong odor and flavor.

Cauliflower can also be frozen for long-term storage. Blanch the curds for 2-4 minutes and rinse under cold water before draining and storing in an air-tight container.

Cooking Tips

Remove the tough, outer leaves and rinse the head. Trim off any blemishes. You can cook the cauliflower whole or broken into individual florets.

Don’t overcook cauliflower or some of the B vitamins, most of the vitamin C and all of the vitamin E will be destroyed.


▸Sauteed or stir-fried

▸Tossed with olive oil & several garlic cloves and roasted

▸With potato and leeks in soup


Celery dates back almost 3,000 years and was used to flavor foods as far back as the 16th century. Today it’s one of the leading salad crops in the U.S.

Celery is primarily eaten for its flavor and crispness. Nutritionally, it doesn’t provide much benefit but is often eaten by people trying to lose weight because of its ability to fill them up with minimal calories. You actually use more calories chewing celery than are contained in a single stalk!

Celery is difficult to grow in Wisconsin because it has very specific temperature, soil and water requirements.

In addition to the common Pascal celery, there is also an Asian or Chinese celery that is tall and skinny with stalks between the size of parsley and celery.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Select celery that is light green in color, firm, compact, and well-shaped. Avoid purchasing celery with bruises or discolored areas on the stalks.
Storage Tips

Refrigerate celery immediately to preserve its crispness. Wrap in moist paper towels or store in a plastic bag. Celery can also be cut into smaller pieces and stored in a tray of water.

Celery leaves can be dried and used as a seasoning for soups and stews.

Cooking Tips

Celery is often used in soups, stews, stir-fries, and salads.


▸Raw with dips.

▸Braise celery with garlic, herbs and olive oil with a little chicken stock

▸Soup with potatoes, chicken broth, and leeks

▸Diced into potato, chicken, tuna, or egg salads


Cucumbers are native to India and records indicate it may be one of the oldest cultivated vegetables.

Cucumbers belong to the group of vegetables known as cucurbits which includes other vine crops such as melons, pumpkins, and squash.

There are two basic types of cucumbers ― those eaten fresh and those that a pickled. Slicing, or fresh cucumbers are 6-9 inches long and have a dark green, glossy skin. Pickling cucumbers are smaller than slicers. Gherkins are particularly small, warty pickling cucumbers.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Look for cucumbers that are firm and rounded and aren’t shriveled near the ends. Slender cucumbers typically have fewer seeds and those that bulge in the middle are likely filled with large seeds. The skin should be bright green and not yellow.
Storage Tips

Store uncut and unwashed in the vegetable crisper in your refrigerator. Waxed cucumbers will store well for up to a week. Cut cucumbers should be wrapped in plastic and used within 2 days.

Cooking Tips

Most cucumbers are eaten fresh and not cooked. You don’t need to peel cucumbers prior to eating them.


▸Combined with scallions and a yogurt/herb dip

▸Sliced or diced on salads ▸Refrigerator pickle

▸Chilled cucumber soup or gazpacho with tomatoes, red onions, roasted green peppers and wine vinegar

▸Slaw with apple, and toasted walnuts dressed with a lemon vinaigrette


The eggplant we enjoy today originated as a spiny plant with bitter fruit in India. It gets its name from the early fruit which was small, white, round and resembled eggs. Because eggplants belong to the nightshade family, in early years it was believed to cause madness in people who ate the fruit.

Eggplant is a warm season vegetable and can only be grown in areas with a growing season of 4 months or more.

Types of eggplant include the familiar American eggplant — the dark purple fruit that ranges from 1-5 pounds. Italian eggplant is a smaller version of its American cousin and has a thinner skin and firmer flesh. Asian or Japanese eggplant is long and slender. Thai eggplant is small and round with green and white stripes and very bitter seeds.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Look for fruit that are smooth skinned and firm. Eggplants should feel heavy for their size. Avoid fruit with soft brown spots. Eggplants with wrinkled skin will be bitter, as will oversized fruit.
Storage Tips

Eat eggplant as soon after purchase as possible as they become bitter with age. Eggplant should be stored whole in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Cooking Tips

Wash the eggplant just before using and cut off the cap and stem. Whether you peel an eggplant before cooking or not is a matter of personal preference. However, large eggplants will have tough skin and you may choose to remove it in this case. Once cut, the cut surfaces will become brown but this will not affect the flavor of the eggplant.

Use in stews, casseroles, and stir-fry dishes. Avoid using too much cooking oil because eggplant acts as a sponge and will soak up extra oil.


▸Dip in flour, eggs, or bread crumbs and sauté

▸Baba ghanouj

▸Grilled with other vegetables or as shish-kabobs


Garlic is native to middle Asia and the Mediterranean region of southern Europe. It is the most pungent of all the members of the onion family. Ancient Egyptians used garlic not only for cooking but also for embalming. Garlic has extensive medicinal properties including fighting infections by boosting the immune system, cancer prevention, and its ability to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

There are several types of garlic including purple-skinned, elephant garlic, or young or green garlic. Basically, garlic can be broken down into hard-neck garlic with a thick, unbendable center stem; and soft-neck garlic which is the most common supermarket variety. Hard-neck varieties are more cold hardy, have a milder flavor, and are preferred by gourmet chefs.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Choose large, plump bulbs that are compact and have unbroken skin. Squeeze the bulb and if it gives under your fingers don’t buy it.
Storage Tips

Garlic should be stored in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. Do not refrigerate. Garlic stores well for several months.

Garlic may be purchased in braids that are both decorative and useful.

If you make a garlic butter or garlic oil, be sure to store in the refrigerator to prevent possible botulism poisoning.

Cooking Tips

To peel garlic, place clove flat on a cutting board and lay the flat side of a knife on top, then hit the knife you’re your hand to split the peel. Finely-chopped or crushed garlic will have the most pungent flavor. For a milder taste, roast garlic wrapped tightly in aluminum foil until soft.


▸Roasted whole at 350 degrees for one hour

▸Sauté and use in cooking

▸Garlic butter

▸Mashed potatoes


Ancient Egyptians cultivated lettuce along the Nile river valley as far back as 4,500 years ago. Compared with other salad greens, lettuce doesn’t provide much in the way of nutrients but is still one of the most popular vegetables.

There are four main types of lettuce: butterhead, crisphead, looseleaf, and romaine. Butterhead lettuce includes Boston and bibb lettuces. Both have loose, gently-folded heads with delicate leaves and are light green in color. Both have a “buttery” texture and mild flavor.

Crisphead or iceberg lettuce is a tight head with very crisp leaves that are a pale green. It has a very mild flavor.

Looseleaf lettuce doesn’t form a head but stays as an open rosette and the texture varies from soft to crisp. Color ranges from pale green to dark red depending on the variety.

Romaine or cos lettuce has a long, loose head with broad, upright leaves with a strong flavor.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Regardless of the type, select lettuce that is fresh and crisp. Avoid wilted greens and lettuce that has slimy or brown spots. Choose heavy, compact iceberg heads and smaller romaine heads to avoid bitterness.
Storage Tips

Because of the highly perishable nature of lettuce it should always be refrigerated. Wrap in a damp towel or a perforated plastic bag and place in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.

Crisphead and romaine lettuce will keep for up to 10 days while leaf and butterhead lettuce will last only 4 days.

Cooking Tips

Wash lettuce in cool water just prior to using and dry well.

Don’t store lettuce near apples or bananas that give off ethylene gas that will cause brown spots to develop on the lettuce.


▸Tossed with other raw vegetables in a salad

▸Cook and add lettuce to lasagna, quiches, and casseroles


Onions belong to the allium family and are close relatives of scallions, shallots, garlic, and leeks. They are considered a staple in almost any regional cooking.

There a many types of onions available in the market. They can be grouped as storage onions including red & yellow globe, Spanish, white, cipolline and pearl onions. Or they can be sold as spring/summer onions, such as scallions, which are considered “sweet” and are much more perishable than storage onions.

Onions range in pungency from very sweet and mild to very strong. The same type of onion that is grown in a different location can vary considerably in pungency. Freshly harvested onions will have a much stronger flavor than those that have mellowed with time.

To avoid watery eyes when chopping large amounts of pungent onions, refrigerate the onions prior to cutting or cut them under running water.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Choose storage onions that are firm and dry with no soft spots. Be sure the neck is dry and closed. Scallions should have crisp, green tops with slender bottoms.
Storage Tips

Bulb onions can be stored in a cool, dry place for several months. Once cut, onions should be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container to prevent their strong aroma from getting into other foods.

Green onions or scallions should be wrapped in a moist paper towel or plastic bag and stored in the vegetable crisper drawer of the refrigerator.

Cooking Tips

Use onions as a flavor enhancer in soups, stews, casseroles, and pasta. The longer you cook onions, the milder they become.


▸Toss with Mexican seasonings and a little olive oil and grill

▸Thread onto skewers with other vegetables for shish kebabs

▸Cook until caramelized and serve with pasta

▸Add to bread dough or cornbread batter


Peas originated in northern India and date back to 10,000 B.C. They belong to the legume family and are available both fresh and dried. We will only discuss the fresh types here including green peas, snow peas, and sugar snap peas.

Snow peas are edible pod peas that are harvested before the seeds within the pod are mature. They are often used in stir-fry recipes. Sugar snap peas, another edible pod pea, were developed in the 1970s as a cross between green peas and snow peas. They are plump, tender, and very sweet.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Garden peas sold in the pod should be green and appear “filled” yet not too large. Select medium-sized pods and reject overly large ones or pods that are puffy, yellow, or dull. Snow peas should be flattened and shiny for the best quality. If you encounter snow pea pods in which the peas inside are bulging, throw them back. Sugar snap peas should also be bright green, firm, and plump without overly developed seeds.
Storage Tips

Keep garden peas in the pod until just before you plan to use them to preserve their quality.

Always refrigerate peas in a perforated plastic bag to prevent their sugar from being converted into starch as well as maintain their nutrient content. Use within 5 days of harvest for best quality.

You may freeze peas but they will lose their crunchy quality. Shelled peas should be removed from the shell before freezing.

Cooking Tips

Prior to use, wash all types of peas thoroughly and shell garden peas. Pinch off the stem end and pull the string the length of the pod for garden peas and snow peas. Sugar snap peas only require the tips of the pod be removed.

Peas are great for stir-fries, crudités, salads, or steamed.


▸Substitute thawed frozen peas for ½ the avocado in guacamole recipe.


The Indians of Mexico and Central America have used both sweet and hot peppers as far back as 5000 B.C. Although they are unrelated to the peppercorns from which black pepper is derived, they received their name from Spanish explorers landed in the New World in search of peppercorns.

Sweet bell peppers lack the capsaicin that gives hot peppers their pungency. They may be harvested green or allowed to ripen to yellow or red.

Fresh peppers available in the market include bell, banana, Mexi-Bell, and pimientos. Banana peppers are yellow and are available fresh or pickled. Mexi-Bells are a cross between bell and chili peppers and as a result, have a bit of bite to them. Pimientos are heart-shaped peppers that are harvested fully ripe and are very flavorful.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Select peppers that are glossy, firm and well-shaped. Stems should be firm and green and the skin should not be wrinkled. Avoid peppers with sunken brown spots.

Storage Tips

Store peppers in the vegetable crisper section of your refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to a week. Green peppers will last longer than red.

You may also dry peppers for future use.

Cooking Tips

Wash peppers just before using. If you wish to remove the skin before using the peppers in cooked dishes, blanche the peppers briefly to loosen the skin and then peel off.

Broil or grill peppers with the skin side closest to the heat source and cook for 15 minutes.


▸Puree roasted bell peppers and combine with garlic as a pasta sauce.

▸Stuff with chili, pasta or rice.

▸Add to soups, stews, casseroles, omelets, and quiches.

▸Top toasted garlic bread with roasted peppers and olive oil.


Potatoes are native to the Andes Mountains and have been cultivated since early civilization. They are also responsible for a large-scale immigration of Irish people to the United States in the mid-19th century.

Potatoes belong to the nightshade family—Solanaceae—and are related to tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Because of their association with poisonous nightshade and the fact that all of the above-ground parts of the plant are toxic if eaten, potato tubers were long believed to also be poisonous.

There are several types of potatoes including “new” potatoes that are dug, sold, and eaten without ever being stored; baking potatoes which are typically the russets and have a high starch content; boiling potatoes that are higher in moisture than the baking types and have less starch and are the best choice for potato salads; round reds such as Red Pontiac; round whites including Kennebec and Katahdin; Yukon gold yellow-fleshed potatoes; and fingerlings, a variety of new potato that are about the size and shape of a finger.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Look for potatoes that are firm without sprouts growing from the eyes. Avoid potatoes with wrinkled skin, soft spots or green areas on the skin.

Storage Tips

Eat new potatoes as soon as possible after purchase. Potatoes should be stored at room temperature.

White potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area. If stored properly, they will keep for several weeks. Do not refrigerate potatoes.

Cooking Tips

Wash new potatoes gently under running water. White potatoes can be scrubbed vigorously with a vegetable brush. Remove any sprouts that may be present. Potato skin is very high in nutrients and should be left on whenever possible.


▸Make a colorful potato salad with Yukon gold, new red potatoes and purple potatoes.

▸Roast sliced potatoes with herbs and olive oil.

▸Potato & onion latkes.

▸Potato rolls or quiche crust.


Pumpkins are members of the family cucurbitaceae which include the other vine crops; melons, cucumbers, and squash. They are native to the New World and have been cultivated by Native Americans for centuries. They are grown primarily for their use as jack-O-lanterns at Halloween and in pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving.

Pumpkins are actually a type of winter squash with a hard rind. Pie pumpkins are smaller, sweeter, and have more flesh than do the pumpkins that are grown for jack-O-lanterns that have relatively large seed cavities and thin walls.

Canned “pumpkin” pie filling is often a type of squash and not really pumpkin at all.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Select pumpkins that have been picked ripe and are free of soft spots.

Storage Tips

Pumpkins will last several weeks if stored in a cool, dry place.

You may also process pumpkins by cooking and pureeing them and then storing them in air-tight containers in the freezer.

Cooking Tips

Pumpkins can be steamed, boiled, baked or sautéed. Cut the flesh into 1 ½ -2 inch pieces and steam or boil until tender. Pumpkins can also be steamed or baked in halves.

Pumpkin seeds are a nutritious snack. Rinse the seeds and blot dry. Add a few drops of cooking oil and spread on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes.


▸Pumpkin soup

▸Pumpkin muffins

▸Add pumpkin puree to tomato sauces and serve over pasta

▸Sauté with onion, fresh ginger and drizzle with maple syrup


Radishes are members of the crucifer family and are related to broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. They date back thousands of years in China, Greece, and Egypt.

The name radish is derived from “radix” which means root. They get their pungency from the mustard oils they contain.

Radishes vary in size, shape, and color. They may be round and red with white flesh; black, turnip-like in size, and very pungent; pink, oblong, and sweet (French breakfast radishes); carrot-shaped, large, and white (daikons).

Most radishes are eaten raw but they can be added to soups and other vegetables to add flavor. Radish green are a good addition to salads.

What to Look for When Purchasing

Radishes may be sold with or without their leaves attached. If the leaves are attached, look for bunches with crisp, green leaves as these can be added to salads. Choose globe radishes that are 1 inch or less in diameter to assure a mild flavor and a non-woody texture. Lightweight radishes are an indication that they are “pithy” and should be avoided.

Storage Tips

If the radishes have their leaves intact, remove them and store the leaves separate from the roots.

Radishes will keep well for up to 2 weeks if stored in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator. Wrap in a damp cloth or a perforated plastic bag.

For long-term storage of winter radishes such as black radishes and daikons, pack them in moist sand and store in a cool location such as an unheated basement or root cellar.

Cooking Tips

Scrub radishes well before preparing. Black radishes may be peeled if the skin is thick.


▸Raw on a crudité tray.

▸Baked or roasted with other root vegetables.

▸Include radish greens in soups and salads.

▸Add radishes to potato salads or stir-fries.


Spinach is a cool season vegetable and a close relative to Swiss chard and beets. It may be eaten raw or cooked and is one of the first vegetables available at market in the spring.

The first spinach was cultivated in Persia 2000 years ago and became popular in Italian and French cooking in the Middle Ages.

Spinach contains oxalic acid and may prevent the absorption of calcium if eaten in large quantities.

The types of spinach grown for market include smooth or savoy (crinkled).

What to Look for When Purchasing

Spinach may be sold loose or bagged. If purchasing loose spinach, select small leaves with a bright, deep green color. Avoid leaves that are leathery or yellow.

Storage Tips

Unwashed spinach can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Spinach may be frozen for long term storage and future use in cooked dishes. Blanch the spinach for 1-2 minutes and then rinse with cold water and drain before packing in air-tight containers.

Cooking Tips

Remove any roots or stems from loose spinach and discard them. Before using, wash spinach leaves well to remove the grit. Pat dry or spin dry in a salad spinner.

Spinach cooks quickly and it’s important not to over cook it.


▸Use fresh leaves in salads.

▸Add to soups, stews, stir-fries, or casseroles.

▸Sauté with onion, garlic, and curry spices.

[size=150]SWEET CORN[/size]

It is speculated that sweet corn is derived from wild corn native to the lowlands of the Andes Mountains of South America. It wasn’t until the late 1700s that the Native Americans began growing sweet corn.

Sweet corn breeding over the years has selected for varieties that are high in sugar making them sweet. In the process, much of the nutritional benefits of the ancestral corn have been lost. The “supersweet” varieties available today convert their sugar to starch more slowly than the older supersweet varieties and the “sugary enhancer” varieties. Supersweet corn can be yellow, white, or bicolored.

What to Look for When Purchasing

You should shop early in the day to get the freshest sweet corn available. Look for corn with husks that are bright green and have well-filled ears with plump kernels. The kernels at the tip of the ear should be smaller than the rest—large kernels indicate corn that is overly mature.

Avoid corn with under-developed kernels, wilted or dried husks, brown kernels, or depressed areas on the kernels.

Storage Tips

Sweet corn should be refrigerated immediately and eaten soon after purchase as its quality deteriorates rapidly after harvest. Leave the husks on until you are ready to prepare the corn to retain moisture in the ear.

Cooking Tips

Remove the husks and silks prior to cooking. A vegetable brush will aid in the removal of stubborn silk. If you find a worm or two in the ear, there’s no reason to discard the entire ear, simply remove the portion with the worm. You may cut the kernels from the cob or cook the cob intact.

Corn can be steamed, boiled, or roasted. Older sweet corn can be added to soups, stews, casseroles, quiches, and other cooked dishes.


▸Vegetable salad with peppers & onions & topped with a vinaigrette.

▸Grilled with olive oil & cumin