Prisco’s Family Market

1108 Prairie Street, Aurora, IL 60506 | 630-264-9400

Hours: Monday - Friday, 7 am to 8:30 pm | Saturday, 7 am to 8 pm | Sunday, 8 am to 7 pm

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So, Just What is a Nectarine?- Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A nectarine is a fuzz-less variety of peach. It is NOT a cross between a peach and a plum. Every once in a while, a peach tree mutates – the gene responsible for the fuzz is turned off, and out comes a smooth-skinned nectarine. Peach seeds may occasionally grow into trees that bear nectarines, and nectarine seeds may grow into trees that bear either nectarines or peaches. It is not possible to know which fruit will grow on trees grown from nectarine seeds, so nectarine branches are grafted onto peach trees to guarantee a crop of nectarines.

The word 'nectarine' means sweet as nectar, and this is very likely the origin of the name. Nectarines, like peaches, probably originated in China over 2,000 years ago and were cultivated in ancient Persia, Greece and Rome. They were grown in Great Britain in the late 16th or early 17th centuries, and were introduced to America by the Spanish.

Nutritionally, a nectarine is a real dynamo. A medium nectarine is approximately 4-5 ounces in weight and will cost you only 60 calories. In return, you get a lusciously sweet snack with 2.5 tsp worth of sugar, evened out by 1.5 grams of fiber. Nectarines are a good source of vitamin C and also have good vitamin A and potassium values, and they are also contain an abundance of antioxidants.

If you love nectarines, now is the time to buy them as their season, as with other soft fruits such as peaches, plums, apricots, etc., is limited in the US.

An introduction to garlic chives, a.k.a. Chinese garlic or Chinese leeks- Tuesday, May 10, 2016

As you know by now, we are really excited to begin offering locally grown produce to our customers this year. Unfortunately, with the excessive amount of cooler days this spring followed by rain almost every day, most of the crops are taking longer to get planted than our farm partners would like. This week, however, we do have one of our earliest new local produce items being brought to us from the Bountiful Blessings Farm in Hinckley. It’s an herb often used in Asian dishes called garlic chives.

It looks like an onion chive but tastes more like garlic. It is easy to differentiate between onion chives and garlic chives. Garlic chives have a flat, grass-like leaf, not a hollow one as do onion chives. They have a nice garlic flavor with a distinctly garlicky overtone. Young leaves are most tender and work well in egg dishes, soups, marinades, and Asian cooking for dumplings and pot stickers. These chives are also used to add that hint of garlic to sauces, dips, salads, vegetables, etc.

Regardless how you decide to cook with them, do so quickly. Keep your garlic chives in the refrigerator stored in a plastic bag for a few days, but keep this in mind: the longer they're stored, the more their flavor will intensify.

A little more about this herb

White, edible flowers appear in summer and attract pollinators and other beneficial insects. They grow between 12 to 15 inches tall. Garlic chives not only have a multitude of culinary uses, but are said to be beneficial to the digestive system, stimulate appetite, promote blood circulation, and have diuretic properties. The strappy-leafed clumps also make an attractive edging in herb or vegetable gardens.

The Chinese have been growing and cooking with garlic chives for at least 3,000 years (since the Chou dynasty - 1027 BC to 256 BC). But the popularity of this graceful herb with the pretty white flowers extends beyond China. Japanese cooks call garlic chives "nira" and use them frequently in meat and seafood recipes. And many Asian cooks wouldn't consider a noodle stir-fry complete without adding chopped fresh garlic chives for a bit of extra flavor.

 

As you visit this week, look for our display of garlic chives or ask Dona for help finding them.

Recipes that call for garlic chive

 

"Everything that's old is new, and everything that's new is old."- Tuesday, October 28, 2014

- Stephanie Mills – American R&B singer

This clever saying coined by Stephanie Mills is the cornerstone of what I wanted to Shout Out about today. I’m known at Prisco’s as the craft beer and hard cider guru, two subsets of the adult beverage category that are growing leaps and bounds annually and two topics that I love talking about. However, there is another adult beverage that is very new to almost everyone I speak to about it but ironically, it is believed to be the oldest alcoholic beverage known to man. I’m referring to mead, also known as "honey wine" which dates back thousands of years before Jesus Christ performed his miracle of changing water to wine at the wedding feast of Canna.

Made from fermented honey and water, sometimes with added yeast, mead is produced using countless styles and variations—from dry to sweet and anything in between, including sparkling. This is done by tinkering with the ingredient proportions and the fermentation process. Just as a wine’s notes are dependent on the terroir of its grapes (how a particular region’s climate, soils and terrain affect the taste of wine), the flavor of a mead changes based on the flowers that honeybees use to pollinate.

A little about the history of mead

The earliest evidence of mead production dates back to 9000 BC from pottery vessels in northern China. Historically, mead was something of a global beverage: it was consumed by Greek gods on Mt. Olympus, by the Vikings, and by African bushmen. In fact, mead was consumed before men knew how to harness the mead making process; mead fermented naturally on its own when a beehive combined with rainwater and yeast in the air. The great anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss suggested that the invention of mead marks a critical passage in human evolution, the transition "from nature to culture," as he put it.

The term ‘honeymoon’ can be traced to the medieval tradition of drinking this honey wine for a full cycle of the moon after marriage. Mead was thought to be an aphrodisiac, and if it was consumed by newlyweds, offspring would hopefully soon follow. A bride’s father would often include enough mead in her dowry to last for a month.

Throughout the ages, across the globe, mead has been celebrated as a source of health and happiness, of strength and inspiration, the preferred drink of poets and scholars, warriors and kings. Though mead faded from prominence after the Middle Ages, many European monasteries continued to make it, most famously the Holy Island of Lindisfarne off the coast of England. Craft mead is now poised to make a comeback, although it hasn’t yet been commercialized on a large scale. There are at least 165 meaderies in the U.S., according to the American Mead Makers’ Association (AMMA). Why is mead so alluring now? It possesses a mysterious, ancient aura, and it’s also not widely available in bars, making it more of an exclusive drink for those in the know.

So just what is mead?

There’s a lot of confusion about what this stuff actually is. Is it a wine? Is it a beer? Sort of. Not really. Yes and no. The most basic mead recipe contains just three simple ingredients: honey, water and yeast. We usually think of wine as fermented juice, with no water added, so in that sense mead resembles beer. But beer is made with grain, which must be malted and mashed and lautered (separating the sweet wort from the mash) and sparged (rinsing the grain of residualsugrs) — a complex process which has nothing to do with making mead. In the end we might have to conclude that mead is its own sweet thing. Technically, mead is classified as wine by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates alcohol sales and labelling in the US. This means that mead has to be labelled as "honey wine", which doesn't help combat people's perception of the drink as being as cloyingly sweet.

Don’t be thrown off by the word honey. Mead is not necessarily sweet, there is a great proliferation of not only dry meads but also meads flavored with fruits, herbs, and spicy peppers.

But what about taste?

OK, so it’s not nearly as important to know what mead is as to know how it tastes.

It’s true that mead tends to be on the sweet side, but just how sweet is a matter of preference and choice. As with any other wine, you can ferment mead until it is bone dry. But chemically speaking, the sugars in honey are very simple. If you ferment them away entirely, you risk losing all the flavor. The challenge for the mead maker is to find the right balance, the sweet spot, if you will, to preserve the delicate, mellow character of the honey, without being too sweet.

What if I don’t like sweet wine?

If you’re curious about mead, I would ask that you set aside your feelings about sweet versus dry and let the mead be mead. Let yourself be open to the possibilities. You might be surprised at what you find.

Start by pouring a small amount of a mead that sparks your interest. Swirl your glass and take in the aroma with your nose. What do you smell? Flowers? Fruit? Fresh herbs? Or perhaps something you can’t identify, but some earthy rich scent. Now let the taste buds explore as you take a small sip and let it roll around in your mouth over and under the tongue. How does it feel in your mouth? Thin, full, smooth, rich? How does it taste? Buttery, acidic? How would you describe the aftertaste? Warm, lingering, vaguely lemony?

What has led to mead’s recent surge in popularity?

Ironically, most people credit the credit with the resurgence of the mead business with the very popular craft beer movement "I was a home brewer, and at first I liked mead because I had never had it," says Brad Dahlhofer of B Nektar meadery in Detroit, Michigan. "Every home brewer has the same dream of, 'Hey what if I could sell this? Wouldn't that be great?'" says Dahlhofer.

After he spent months making batch after batch of mead, perfecting his recipe, he realized that mead was "kind of an untouched category", and that no-one, at least back in 2008, was really doing it commercially. So when he and his wife, Kerri, were both laid off of their jobs in Detroit's car industry during the recession, they decided to take the plunge. Today, B Nektar is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, US meadery, shipping 1,100 cases a week across the country.

Brad and his fellow mead enthusiasts, however feel that things are just getting started in the craft mead industry. Twenty five years ago, craft beer garnered a mere 1% of the total beer market but today it’s over 8%.

Mead can be enjoyed in a variety of ways – chilled, iced, at room temperature, or warmed. These variations change the flavor, mouth feel, and personality of the mead. Meads can easily substitute for and surpass your favorite red or white wine and they pair well with fish, meats, vegetarian meals, cheeses, and desserts. Bottom line I think mead has a distinct and interesting taste which I find most enjoyable. It’s delicious! But don’t take my word for it. Try some for yourself!

Hope you enjoy – check out our wide selection of featured meads in today’s online ad. http://www.priscosfamilymarket.com/specials/department_id/8

 

- Andy