Free The Stone: The Difference Between Clingstone and Freestone Peaches

I’m not sure about you but I count down the days to peach season each year. Something about these sweet, yet tart fruits just screams summertime. So at the first chance I get, I head over D’Amico’s Farm Stand in Closter, New Jersey and buy some fresh peaches. What I love about D’Amico’s is the fact that the owner of this 60-year family-run business, John D’Amico, only sources from small farms within a 200-mile radius of Closter. That means, most of his delicious, freshly picked fruits and vegetables come from south Jersey, which is at the heart of the Garden State. D’Amico’s has clingstone fruit until the summer reaches its apex of heat and then begins offering freestone. So, what’s the difference?

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Clingstone peaches from Southern Jersey at D’Amico’s farm stand in Closter, NJ

At first glance, there is no difference between a clingstone and freestone peach, both fuzzy and reddish-pink on the outside. On the inside, however, is where the difference lies. The best way to figure out if your peaches are clingstone or freestone is by slicing the peach down the middle and pulling it apart. If the pit falls out easily, it is freestone. If not, clingstone.

Clingstone peaches are those that when opened, the pit sticks to the pulpy flesh of the fruit. According to goodhousekeeping.com, these peaches are rarely sold in stores but are used mostly in canned fruit. Depending on the location of the peach farm, harvest season for clingstones can range from mid-May to early August. But use them as long as you can! Their large and juicy peach-ness can be used to make great jellies, jams, purees and fantastic summer dishes.

Freestone peaches, on the other hand, separate easily from the fruit. Although larger and less juicy in texture, they are still undeniably sweet. Again, depending on the grower, freestones can be harvested from mid-June to early October. Generally freestone peaches last later into the season than clingstone peaches. They are perfect for cooking because they slice easily and uniformly, making them well-suited to great pie recipes that will leave your guests’ mouths watering.

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One of the best things about summer is the availability of fresh peaches. So whether you enjoy peaches in purees or in pies, these yummy fruits are the perfect means for sweetening up your summer.

 

-Contributions made by Sam Donsky

Container Herb Gardening: A Growing Trend

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Seasons on the Hudson’s container herb garden

Even though I have plenty of garden space, I love the flexibility that containers give me: pots of basil, parsley and rosemary are standard on my kitchen counter all year round. I keep big pots of chives on my front steps for snipping into salads and soups. I have been growing herbs this way with relative success over the years. I wanted to know more though. Should herbs be intermingled? Do some varieties just need their own private pot to thrive? What kind of drainage should pots have? How much water? And sun?

I reached out to Gerald Palumbo, the owner of Seasons on the Hudson in Irvington, NY and Seasons: A Floral Design Studio in Manhattan for the answers.  

Q: What are the biggest myths about container herb gardening? Is it true that you can grow a garden in a vessel as small as a teacup?

A: Myth: herbs will live indefinitely indoors. Many herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, and dill are annuals and will only do well through one growing seasons. Other herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano are perennials and may live for many years if they are well taken care of. With regard to planting herbs in small containers such as a teacup, keep in mind that the smaller the container the smaller the plant will remain.

Q: What are the herbs that are ideally planted with each other? Which herbs should not be planted together and why?

A: You generally want to plant herbs together that prefer the same light and moisture conditions:  For example rosemary, lavender, thyme, and oregano tend to like drier soil and lots of sun. Herbs like basil, chives, parsley and dill prefer moister soil.  

Q: What are some considerations for containers with herbs which will be kept indoors?

A: With the proper light conditions most herbs can be kept indoors. Frequent cutting of the herbs and regular fertilizing will promote continual growth.

Q: What is the basic care of herb containers for outdoors living in the summer season?

A: When herb gardens are placed outside during the summer, proper watering is crucial. Plants tend to dry out quicker when in containers, especially terra cotta.

Q: What is the ideal container made of for herb planting?

A: I prefer terra cotta for the herbs that prefer a drier soil and I prefer plastic or ceramic containers for the moisture-loving varieties. Good drainage is always important.

Q: What are three rules of thumb for container planting?

A: Choose the proper container with good drainage. Use a good potting soil. Always water your container very well after planting.

Q: For herbs being mixed in container planters, does close proximity impact things like taste and growth?

A: Flavor of the herbs is not affected by how close they are planted to each other. I like to plant the herbs that I like to cook with and it is always nice to have fresh herbs on the kitchen window sill in the winter.

Seasons on the Hudson will host a container herb garden workshop on Sunday, June 19th, at “Celebrate Irvington” where you can learn how to create a beautiful herb garden for your kitchen table, patio, or as a nice gift for someone. The cost is $75 per person and covers the workshop and provided materials for an herb container garden you can take home with you. Timing is flexible. For registration and details visit: http://bit.ly/1S41O2l

WHEN

Sunday, 19 June 2016 from 11:00 to 16:00 (EDT)

WHERE

Seasons On The Hudson – 45 Main Street, Irvington, NY

 

 

Contributions made by Sam Donsky

Bibi’z Debuts Summer Craft Cocktails: “Good Karma” Margarita and Pineapple Vodka Lemonade

Ida Martin, Bibi'z Restaurant and Lounge, Westwood, NJ - sexy summer cocktails which beat the heat
Ida Martin, Bibi’z Restaurant and Lounge, Westwood, NJ – sexy summer cocktails which beat the heat

Summer is nearly here and what better way to cool down than an icy cold, fruity, refreshing cocktail? Bibi’z Restaurant and Lounge invited us in to try two new summer cocktails that scored high in terms of taste, refresh-factor and smoothness. This restaurant continues to stick to its tradition of unusual, thoughtfully-crafted dishes and cocktails, emphasizing local, seasonal fare.

Ida Martin, founder of Bibi’z, gave us a demonstration of the new cocktails recently. Her new margarita, Good Karma, is a subtle combination of refreshing orange slices which is complemented by fresh basil leaves. Ida slightly muddles up the two ingredients before adding a touch of Karma tequila, a splash of lime juice as well as a splash of triple sec topped off with sour soda. After shaking everything up, Ida adds a final touch of orange juice. This colorful drink is a delicious concoction with a lovely balance of flavor and subtle sweetness.

Ida also introduced us to her revisited Summer Lemonade made with pineapple vodka and an infusion of watermelon and cucumber. The drink consists, on one hand,  of a splash of sour soda, a fair amount of lemonade, topped with pineapple vodka. Ida then muddles up on the side the watermelon and the cucumber before adding the mix to the rest of the drink along with ice. The cocktail is a surprising marriage of flavors that together are the tastes of summer with a little bite. This elegant cocktail keeps its promise of offering a refreshing delight.

It always seems to be happy hour at Bibi’z – although it’s officially offered six days a week from 3.00PM to 6.30PM. But these cocktails are recommended equally for a relaxing brunch, lunch or dinner as they offer sexy sipping that is equal parts summer and refreshing.

Bibi’z Restaurant | Lounge

Tue-Thu 12p-10p
Fri-Sat  12p-11p (Bar until 12a)
Sun Brunch 11a-3p | Dinner 3p-9p
284 Center Avenue
Westwood, New Jersey 07675
201.722.8600
events@bibizlounge.com

Natural Products Expo East Highlights: To Drink

The Natural Products Expo offered thousands of companies a platform to showcase their goods.  There were thousands of visitors as well so apologies for the poor sound quality in the videos below.  Here are notables in the category of To Drink:

Galilee Tisanes – Galilee Tisanes has made it their mission as a company to find the perfect balance between agriculture, herbal medicine and technology.  Each tea blend targets a specific malady and provides a tasty brew as well.

FRESH Natural Spring Water – FRESH Natural Spring Water offers a natural pH balance of 7.9 to hydrate on a deeper level than plain H2O.

Wild Poppy – Wild Poppy juices are small batch, organic juices in vibrant, sophisticated blends.  Their branding is as delightful as the line is tasty.  This one’s a winner.  Wild Poppy Organic Peppermint Lemonade is our favorite.

Pukka Organic Teas – The British know tea.  The word ‘pukka’ is Indian for the best, and indeed, this line is indeed pukka.  Pukka offers thoughtful blends based on Ayervedic medicine.  The line succeeds for pure sipping pleasure and sensuous fragrance.  The branding of this exquisite line of organic herbal blends has elevated their packaging to art form.

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Bruce Cost Ginger Ale – Bruce Cost Ginger Ale out of Brooklyn is made with only fresh ginger and pure cane sugar.  Unlike mass produced syrupy ginger ales, hand crafted Bruce Cost Ginger Ale is light, refreshing and full of ginger vibrance.  Love this line.

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Suja Juice – Crafted for elevated wellness, Suja Juices are packed with fresh fruits, vegetables and flavors.  Each juice has a distinctive taste and tastes freshly squeezed.  The Master Cleanse is my favorite.

Natural Products Expo East Highlights: To Heal

The Natural Products Expo offered thousands of companies a platform to showcase their goods.  There were thousands of visitors as well so apologies for the poor sound quality in the videos below.  Here are notables in the category of To Heal:

Intimina – Intimina is a European line of washes, accessories, personal massagers and kegel exercisers designed with women’s health (and pleasure!) in mind.  This beautifully branded line uses graduated weight balls for insertion to improve pelvic floor muscles.  A sexy, sleek and intuitive line.

Squatty Potty – Squatty Potty wants to know, Have you pooped today?  They sported tee shirts and oversize buttons with the same question and invited passersby to sit down on the toilet in their booth to get into squatting position.  Founder Bobby Edwards is on a mission to get his ergonomic footstool (inspired by his mother’s struggle with colon problems) into bathrooms and get people squatting to improve colon health, maximize elimination, reduce hemorrhoids and constipation and even strengthen pelvic floor muscles.  Squatting is ideal for laboring women and just about anyone else who enjoys the myriad benefits of this humble position.

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Woo Bamboo – Woo Bamboo are eco-friendly toothbrushes made of organic bamboo.  Unlike the traditional plastic toothbrush, they do not get sticky and are compostable.  No reason not to woo, we say!  This three-month old line is quite eco-friendly and likeable.

Dairyface – Dairyface is a line of dairy-based skincare lotions that have a rich, creamy texture and are loaded with skin moisturizing healthy fats.  The line must be refrigerated.

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Worker B – I have used Worker B Raw Honey Face Wash every morning since my return from Natural Products Expo.  Worker B is based in Minneapolis and uses locally sourced raw honey which is loaded antioxidants.  All of their products are hand-made in small batches and ideal for ultra-sensitive skin.

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Dr. OH Patch – The Dr. OH Patch uses essential oils and herbs in a transdermal delivery system to alleviate menstrual cramps.   A smart concept for women who want to avoid OTC pain relievers.

Natural Products Expo East Highlights: To Eat

The Natural Products Expo offered thousands of companies a platform to showcase their goods.  There were thousands of visitors as well so apologies for the poor sound quality in the videos below.  Here are notables in the category of To Eat:

Smart Flour Foods – Anyone who is gluten-free knows how hard it can be to find a delicious gluten free pizza.  Smart Flour Foods has solved that problem for gluten-free foodies by creating a line of pizzas that feature a crunchy crust reminiscent of wood-fired pizzas.  This is an outstanding pizza line.

Wild Friends Foods – Wild Friends Foods are a tasty line of nut butters featuring ingredient pairings started by two very clever twenty-somethings.

Bill’s Best Organic BBQ Sauces – Bill’s Best organic BBQ sauces are based on family recipes passed down to Jason Fehon by his father who suffers from  Frontotemperal Degeneration.  10% of each bottle purchased is donated to finding a cure for the disease.  Jason’s a young, passionate entrepreneur who runs the company with his brother.  Ingredients are first rate, from organic Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar to exotic imported spices.   Beautiful packaging.  Regular and spicy versions, both excellent.

DF Mavens – DF Mavens call themselves the finest producers of dairy-free ice cream.   Bright, fresh flavors impressed.

Mamalicious – Mamalicious protein powder uses brown rice as a protein base, providing an easy option for mixing with liquids or smoothies to up vitamin, mineral and nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.

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Real and Wonderful – Real and Wonderful are the makers of delicious raw foods.  With a line of snacks ranging from Vanilla Macaroons to Red Pepper Herb Crackers, Real and Wonderful offer feel-good raw snacks in tempting flavor combinations.

Bear Branch Milling Co.  –  ‘A man full of grits, is a man full of peace.’  That’s the motto of Ash, North Carolina’s Bear Branch Milling Co.   This is the real deal.  The line is made in a 100+ year old mill and includes all natural stone ground yellow and white cornmeal, grits, as well as whole wheat flour milled from whole grains, free of additives or preservatives.  Its corn is not genetically modified.  The entire line is gluten-free.  Beautiful packaging, honest and simple.

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Gunshot Sauce – Gunshot Sauce, a versatile vinegar-based gourmet sauce from Shade Tree Sauce Company, is a natural to pair with proteins, to punch up salad dressings and slather on eggs.

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NoTatoes – NoTatoes are from Sorilito Foods in Bethel, CT blending cassava with corn.  The result is a crispy, lightly salted alternative to tortillas.  Kid-friendly with enough sophistication to appease adults.

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Treeline Cheese – Treeline Cheese dares people to be dairy free.  These artisanal cheeses are made from Brazilian cashew nuts but still have a delectable creamy texture and tang.  I particularly liked their smoked hard cheeses.

Seasnax – Seasnax make noshing on seaweed as a snack rather addicting.  Made with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, Seasnax are a healthy snack both mother and child approved.  My favorite is the regular although multiple new flavors have emerged.

Natural Products Expo East Highlights: To Use

The Natural Products Expo offered thousands of companies a platform to showcase their goods.  There were thousands of visitors as well so apologies for the poor sound quality in the videos below.  Here are notables in the category of To Use:

EZ Squeezees – EZ Squeezees, a refillable pouch, was created with two things in mind:  cost savings and providing a convenient way to carry nourishing meals on-the-go.  I tried them with my son’s morning smoothie with good results.  Ideal for younger kids as the capacity is somewhat limited.  EZ Squeezees are easy to use with a pinch zipper allowing you to refill the pouch with your squeezable food (soup, pureed fruits, smoothie) of the day. Even better?  EZ Squeezees are dishwasher safe.

Full Circle – Full Circle introduced me to my new favorite water bottle.  Their Wherever Water Lemon On-the-Go Glass Water Bottle allows you to juice  citrus directly in to the water bottle.  If there are pits? No problem – the juicing contraption keeps them from entering the bottle.  That’s what I call smart sipping.  Add a couple packets of Nektar Natural crystalized honey and you have a healthy alternative to Gatorade.

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Woolzies – Woolzies Dryer Balls are a product to make drying laundry more efficient by cutting down drying time by 25%.   Handmade in Nepal, Woolzies are pure wool dryer balls that act as a fabric softener when drying clothes, minus all the harsh chemicals.

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Savvy Green – Savvy Green offers eco-friendly laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent and oxygen brightening powder.  The laundry line is ideal for those with sensitive skin as it is free of harsh chemicals and doesn’t leave residues which build up in machines.  Recyclable packaging makes this line extra savvy and green.

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Pivotal 5 –  Pivotal 5 offers practical, well-styled and reasonably priced yoga and pilates mats and accessories.

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Kid Konserve/U-Konserve – If a waste-free lunch package sounds appealing to you than U-Konserve products should be on your list of things to invest in.   Whimsical and colorful packaging and stainless steel leak proof containers make this line smart and hip.  U-Konserve products are a natural alternative to the brown bag way of lunch.

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Sili Squeeze – The Sili Squeeze is an ergonomic alternative to those chemical-ridden sippy cups that were impossible to clean and dangerous when thrown.  BPA- PVC- and Phthalate- free, Sili Squeeze bottles are a reusable food pouch intended for homemade smoothies for both children and adults.

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Bum Boosa – Bum Boosa products are an innovative line of bamboo-centric diapering and toilet paper products.  Created by a group of mothers in Massachusetts who wanted healthier bathroom products for their family, Bum Boosa is an environmentally friendly alternative to the traditional bathroom products.