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FLORIDA FOODS

Florida OrangesIt's no secret that Florida is one of the citrus capitals of the world. Oranges and grapefruits are abundant throughout the state. Bananas and pineapples are classified as tropical fruit and are also grown here. However, Florida also produces some unique and delicious foods and fruits with which you may not be as familiar.

Florida Foods - AvacadoesAvocadoPear-shaped tropical fruit. Are a very nutritious fruit for the body and the skin. Avocados contain a nutritious natural fat that lowers the cholesterol level in the blood and they contain a lot of vitamin A, B, & E and is therefore used in a lot of skincare products. Contains iron and vitamin C. To fasten the riping proces you put them in a closed plastic bag together with a banana, apple or pear, see bananas. If you eat an avocado it is nice to sprinkle it with lemon- or limejuice. This way it won't turn brown. An avocado is really ripe when you can hear the seed rattle if you shake the fruit. To store them treat avocados like a tropical fruit; e.g. bananas.

Florida Fruit - CarambolaCarambola/Starfruit—A yellow berry type of fruit that grows on shrub-like trees and has a length of about 12 cm and has five sharp ribs. Contains vitamin C and a lot of vitamin B. Always buy a carambola ripe thus yellow, because once picked it ripens badly. Ripe fruits can be saved in the fridge for about a week. Unripe fruits are best in the fruit bowl.

Florida Foods - CoconutsCoconut—The coconut is the seed and edible fruit of the coco palm tree. A single tree yields thousands of coconuts over its approximately 70-year life span. Each coconut has several layers: a smooth, deep tan outer covering; a brown fiber of 1-2” thickness; a hard, dark brown hairy husk with three indented “eyes” at one end; a thin brown skin; the cream white coconut meat; and at the center, a thin opaque coconut juice. The mature coconut is oval shaped and about 12 inches long. Coconut oil and milk are used in frying and baked goods, while shredded coconut is used in salads, candies, desserts and as a garnish.

Florida Fruit - Key LimesKey Lime—Much smaller than regular "Persian" limes, the key lime ranges in size from a ping-pong ball to a golf ball (about 10cm to16cm in circumference).The peel is thin, smooth and greenish-yellow when ripe. The flesh is also greenish-yellow and full of highly polyembryonic seeds (two or more plants from one seed). The interior is divided by 10 to 12 segments, quite juicy and has a higher acidity than regular Persian limes. Key lime juice and oil is used in cooking, baking, juices and cosmetics. See our recipe for Key Lime Pie (right).

Florida Fruit - KumquatsKumquat—The kumquat is a sweet/sour fruit and is a member of the citrus family. The majority of Kumquats in the United States are grown in Florida. The kumquat is a delicacy whether eaten fresh or preserved. With a thick sweet peel and a tart pulp, it is eaten skin and all (except for the seeds). It is a favorite for jellies, marmalade and crystallizing. Its unique flavor lends itself as a pleasant addition to many dishes, desserts and salads.

Florida Foods - Hearts of Palm "Swamp Cabbage"Hearts of Palm—Hearts of Palm are, literally, the heart of the sabal Palmetto, a tall, tough-barked graceful palm that is the state tree of Florida. Called "swamp cabbage" by native Floridians, it was long regarded as poor people's food, and was actively cut down as a source of food during the Depression, no mean task in the days before chain saws. It wasn't long, however, before its extreme tenderness and delicacy was noticed--and its name changed from "swamp cabbage" to "millionaires salad." Shortly thereafter, Florida enacted a state law to protect it from ravenous gourmets. Hearts of Palm have no cholesterol, have excellent fiber content, very little fat content, and are low in calories.

Florida Fruit - MangoesMango—Pear-shaped fruit with flesh which is yellow/red when ripe is one of the oldest fruits known in history. A mango is prime eating when it smells good, similar to a peach. Treat them as other tropical fruit and never store them in the fridge. You must peel before eating! Contains vitamin B, C, and iron.

 

Florida Fruit - PapayasPapaya/Paw Paw—An orange coloured fleshy fruit. Are often called tree-melons. Unripe fruits can be eaten as a vegetable but ripe fruits always contain more vitamins and minerals. Eat papayas peeled. Treat them like melons. Contain vitamin B, C. and iron.

Florida Food - Passion FruitPassion Fruit—A nearly round fruit, 1-1/2 to 3 inches wide, has a tough rind that is smooth and waxy and ranges in hue from dark purple with faint, fine white specks, to light yellow or pumpkin-color. Within is a cavity filled with an aromatic mass of double walled, membranous sacs containing orange-colored, pulpy juice and as many as 250 small, hard, dark brown or black, pitted seeds. The unique flavor is appealing, musky, guava-like and sweet/tart to tart and has a tranquilizing effect on your body. Eat them before you go to sleep and you will dream sweet dreams. You can store them for a few days in the refrigerator.

Florida Foods - Spiny Lobster TailsSpiny Lobster— Commonly called rock lobsters, the Florida spiny lobsters are easily distinguished from the Maine lobster in that all 10 of their legs are about the same size. Almost all of the meat is in the tail because the spiny lobster has no claws. The meat is sweet and tender.

Florida Foods - Stone CrabsStone Crabs—As only the sweet, white claw meat of this warm water crustacean is eaten, fishermen twist the claws off and throw the crab back in the sea. The claws regenerate after about 18 months, although the new claw--known as a retread--is smaller than the original. Fisherman typically leave each crab with one claw so it can defend itself. The crabs, considered a delicacy today, were popularized 80 years ago at Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant in Miami Beach, now a historical landmark. You eat them, usually cold, by cracking the shell with a mallet and dipping the succulent meat in sauce.

KEY LIME PIE

Graham Cracker Crust:
1 paper-wrapped package graham crackers (1/3 of a 1 pound box) OR 1 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar

Filling:
3 egg yolks
2 limes, zest grated (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (if you get Key limes, use them: otherwise use regular limes)

Topping:
1 cup heavy or whipping cream, chilled
3 tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar

For the graham cracker crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch pie pan. Break up the graham crackers: place in a food processor and process to crumbs. (If you don9t have a food processor, place the crackers in a large plastic bag: seal and then crush the crackers with a rolling pin.) Add the melted butter and sugar and pulse or stir until combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan, forming a neat border around the edge. Bake the crust until set and golden, 8 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling:
Meanwhile, in a electric mixer with the wire whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and lime zest at a high speed until very fluffy, abut 5 minutes. Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, 3 or 4 minutes longer. Lower the mixer speed and slowly add the lime juice, mixing just until combined, no longer. Pour mixture into the pie crust. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the filling has set. Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

For the topping:
Whip the cream and the confectioners’ sugar until nearly stiff. Cut the pie in wedges and serve very cold, topping each wedge with a large dollop of whipped cream.

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

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