What in tarnation! Thar's Gold Nuggets in them thar’ TakeHome
boxes this week! For those getting the Veggie and Fruit mix you will
notice these little easy-peel mandarins nestled among the veggies. At
The FruitGuys we treasure all the various fruits over the seasons -
the Gold Nugget is the last lucky charm on the string of mandarins
that take us from November to June.
These Gold Nuggets are from Tangerine Man in Ojai, CA. The peel is
somewhat bumpy and fragrant and this little gem is seedless. This
fruit is “tree ripened” and that is not some special
add-on - The FruitGuys wants to tell you - all citrus is tree ripened.
The Gold Nugget (citrus reticulata) was crossbred at the University of
California Riverside, which is essentially the mecca of citrus
research and development. The parents of this hybrid are Kincy and
Wilking mandarins. The Kincy is a hybrid of the King and the Darcy
mandarin... does anyone else think citrus breeders just sit up in
trees thinking up name combinations?
If your Gold Nuggets make it past snack time it can also be used as a
refreshing addition to salad, in sections or as part of a salad
dressing. The essence of mandarins can be captured and used as an
ethereal element in baking. Simmer the peel and fruit for a few hours
to make a lovely mandarin syrup. The juice is also acidic enough to be
used as a marinade: combine with oil, honey, ginger, and spices on
vegetables or meat.
Mandarins like the Gold Nugget are cold pressed into essential oils
and used in aromatherapy for many ailments. The refreshing smell is
known to give pause to anxiety and grief and aide stomachaches.
This week in your TakeHome box you’ll find Fava Beans (Vicia
faba). The Fava Bean has been around for a long time, reportedly as
far back as the Egyptian pharaohs. Its plant produces a white flower
with a single black mark on it. The Romans believed the mark came from
the finger of the lord of the underworld. They served it at funeral
banquets. In Sicily in the Middle Ages it was used as fodder for
livestock until a terrible famine when it was the only crop that would
grow. Then it became known as the “lucky bean;” a Fava
Bean in a coin purse means the bearer will never be out of money.
Also known as “horse bean” or “broad
bean,” the Fava Bean is also used dried and even ground, as it
is in some middle-eastern recipes for falafel. But to appreciate its
rich flavor, the Fava Bean is best enjoyed straight from the field.
Farmers like our friends at ALBA who grew this week’s
super-hero legume certainly know the blessings of favas—and
not just as food. The Fava Bean is also grown to put nutrients back
into the soil. Fava, like other members of the vetch family, are
nitrogen fixers. When a Fava Bean plant is uprooted the little power
packets of nitrogen can actually be seen clinging to the roots. They
have loads of Folate, Thiamine, and protein. They also contain L-dopa,
a precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine, which has been shown to
help Parkinson’s Disease. If you are on any medication for
Parkinson’s Disease, you should check with your doctor before
eating them to be on the safe side.
To get at these morsels, split the pods open and remove the beans. The
pods are inedible. It is personal preference as to whether to remove
the pale green outer skins, but they are pretty thick. To remove the
skins, blanch in boiling water for one minute and then rinse in cold
water. Slip off the skins and then finishing by boiling or steaming
until tender (approx. 2 - 5 minutes). Dress with good extra virgin
olive oil, salt and some grated Pecorino cheese or just lemon juice.
They are well worth the effort to prepare them!