February 4, 2015

Getting fruit from the Southwest this winter

Sweeten your winter with fruit from the Southwest.If you’ve paid attention at all to the rise in culinary trends over the past few years, then you’ve no doubt noticed the newfound importance placed on locally sourced ingredients. In cooking all things, there seems to be a premium put on how nearby one can find their fruits, vegetables and meats. This sort of practice comes with an important benefit in that it reduces the environmental footprint of the organization or individual preparing the food, but it also poses some challenges.  For example, those in colder climates often have a harder time finding fresh fruits and vegetables during the harsh months of the winter. Contrary to popular belief, many fruits can be grown across the Southwest in the winter, making them prime targets for Colorado culinary school students looking to find ingredients not too far from home. Take a look at some of the best fruits available across the Southwest in the winter months:

Mandarin oranges
Small, tart and easy to store for brief periods of time, these fruits have become incredibly popular among chefs looking to source it from the Southwest in the cold of winter. Mandarin oranges can be used to provide a tart kick to salads, meat dishes and more at a relatively low price point. As the Produce for Better Health Foundation has reported, these fruits can be left out for a period of several days, and are best when used as soon as possible, but can be kept for periods of two weeks or more if they are refrigerated. Further, they offer a broad array of nutrients and vitamins , making them a healthy option, as well.

Pomegranates
While slightly less common than mandarin oranges, pomegranates are a wonderful addition to any number of dishes due to their sweet and tart taste. As FruitShare has pointed out, these fruits come into season in between late October and November, making them a perfect fruit to stock up on in early winter, before the truly harsh weather hits. Pomegranates can be used as a flavoring agent for your favorite fruit smoothie and also make wonderful garnishes for salads and desserts alike. If you’re in the mood to add a delectable new beverage to your diet this winter, try freezing a large amount of these fruits and running them through a juicer after thawing them later on.

Pears
According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, pears have been grown for human consumption for a period of more than 4,000 years. With a track record like that, it shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise that these fruits are a favorite winter produce for many individuals. Grown year round in some warmer climates, these are often available in grocery stores across the country in the colder months. They pair well with walnuts, almonds, soft cheeses and more, making them an incredibly versatile addition to your diet. One thing worth noting: pears don’t have as long a shelf life as other fruits, so you may want to buy them sparingly and only when you expect to use them.