Seasonal Products for July
Apricot Video from Idaho Preferred on Vimeo.
For a limited time during July and August, Idaho apricots are available from local growers, farmers’ markets and grocery stores. The “Gold Rich” variety is popular with Idaho growers because of the large sweet fruit it produces.
Idaho’s climate is well suited for growing sweet and juicy fruit. During the winter, soft-fleshed fruit trees need chilling hours where the temperature is near 32 degrees. This allows the tree to go into a dormant stage ensuring that the tree will produce its flowers and set fruit at the correct time. Idaho’s cool winters provide the ideal amount of chilling hours for apricots to flourish, leading to a large apricot bursting with flavor.
What to Look For: Choose apricots that are golden orange and plump, not too soft and not too hard. Apricots that are soft and ripe will have the best flavor, but they must be used immediately. Avoid apricots that are pale yellow or greenish yellow, too firm, shriveled or bruised, or with whitish spots, cracks or blemishes.
How to Store: Refrigerate ripe apricots unwashed in a paper or plastic bag for up to two days. If the fruit is not ripe, you can ripen it by placing it in a closed paper bag at room temperature for a few days before eating. You can freeze apricots too. First, blanch them for 30 seconds—which will make them easier to peel later—and remove the pits, which can leave a bitter taste. Very ripe apricots can be frozen in stewed or puréed form.
Idaho grows a variety of different beans including fresh garden beans and many types of dry edible beans.
Garden beans, also known as green, snap or string beans are harvested in Idaho from July through September. Green beans are not only delicious but they are also good for you. They are an excellent source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, fiber and more.
Idaho grows 10 varieties of dry beans including Pinto, Kidney, Red, Small White, Cranberry, Navy, Light Red, Great Northern, Black and Pink beans. Most of Idaho’s dry bean production comes from the south central region of Idaho. Idaho dry edible beans are available year around.
- Beans have been central to the development of civilization in a wide variety of ways – from being a critical source of protein to being cattle feed.
- Ancient Egyptians, long before King Tut, grew beans on a large scale.
- One pound of dry beans equals approximately 2 cups of uncooked beans and 5 – 6 cups of cooked beans.
- One can (15 ½ oz.) of beans equals about 1 2/3 cups of cooked beans or 1 can pureed beans.
Beets are a root vegetable that grow quickly and have many different varieties from deep red, yellow or even white. Beets are not only delicious but a great source of potassium, magnesium, fiber and more.
Idaho beets are available from early July through October. You most likely won’t find them in grocery stores but they always at your local farmers markets and farm stands!
What to Look For: Choose firm, rounded beets with smooth skins and no noticeable bruising. Fresh beets, sold in bunches, should have the greens attached and 1 to 2 inches of root end, which looks like a tail. Do not buy beets with wilted, browning leaves—the leafy greens indicate the freshness of the beets. If the greens have been trimmed, look for bunches with at least 2 inches of stem still attached.
How To Store: Cut the greens from the beets as soon as you get home, leaving 1 to 2 inches of stem attached. The beets will not spoil if left at cool room temperature for a few days, but they do best when refrigerated for up to 10 days. If they turn soft, discard them. Don’t toss the beet greens because they are packed full of nutrients. You can add them raw to vegetable juices or sauteed similarly to mustard greens and swiss chard. Beet greens should be washed and cooked on the day you buy them. They do not keep well, however if necessary, place them, unwashed, into a perforated plastic bag and refrigerated overnight.
Idaho grows a variety of different berries including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. If you are out foraging you can find non-domesticated huckleberries.
The first berries to become available in late May or early June, depending on the weather. Idaho strawberries are best recognized by their rich red color, small fruit and sweetest flavor. Locally grown berries taste better than strawberries grown and imported from out of state which are harvested while still green to allow time for transportation. Local strawberries are picked only when fully ripened to allow for the sweetest fruit available.
What to Look For: This berry is quick to spoil, so be sure to choose plump, dense, red berries with green caps that are attached firmly to the fruit. Since strawberries don’t ripen after they’ve been picked, avoid dull-colored berries and ones with yellow or green patches on their skin.
Idaho blueberries come from a long lived, perennial, wooded shrub. Our warm summers and cool nights are perfect for growing big firm tasty berries. Blueberries, like apricots and other fruits, require a cooling off period to develop tight firm skins and higher levels of natural sugars that are produced inside the berry adding flavor and color. Idaho also has a small quantity of rocky mountain blueberries. This variety is native to the inter-mountain west but rarely cultivated and available mid-June.
What to Look For: Choose berries that are firm and have a uniform color with a whitish bloom. Shake the container to make sure berries move freely about; if not, this may indicate that the fruit is soft, damaged or moldy.
There are two seasons for raspberries in Idaho. Some varieties begin ripening around the end of June, just as strawberries are finishing up. Other varieties come on in August and are available until the first frost in the fall.
What to Look For: Once raspberries are picked they will not ripen any further which makes it important to pick ripe, local raspberries. Be sure to buy berries that are rosy red and do not come tightly packed into a container, as this can damage the fruit.
Blackberries are the last berry to harvest around the middle of August. Blackberries are not grown commercially in Idaho, but many small farmers and backyard gardeners grow and sell them directly to consumers.
What to Look For: Be extra selective when choosing blackberries. You’ll want to make sure the container is free of juice stains—a sign that the berries could be crushed and moldy. Also make sure the fruit is firm to the touch, as opposed to soft and watery, which indicates that they are overripe.
How to Store: First, discard any bruised or moldy berries before storing. Keep berries in their plastic containers and refrigerate. Wash only when ready to eat and enjoy, as excess moisture during storage can cause decay and molding.
Tasty Tip: To enjoy berries year around, freeze them or turn them into delicious jams and jellies.
- Idaho grows a variety of berries in various areas of the state, but huckleberries can only be found growing wild in the mountain areas of north Idaho.
- Idaho berries are a great low-calorie, high-fiber snack. They are abundant in folic acid and Vitamin C and are a great source of important antioxidants.
In Idaho, berries are produced primarily by small farmers and sold at the farm, at a local farmers market or at one of several U-Pick locations.
Idaho beverage choices are as varied as the foods. As one of the top milk producers in the nation, Idaho dairy farm families provide nutritious milk that is widely available.
Because of our natural sprints, we have great bottle water producers here in Idaho too, like Rocks bottled water in Idaho City and Starkey Spring Water.
Other beverages include fresh apple cider made with Idaho-grown apples as well as hard ciders.
Idaho’s wine industry continues to grow and provide a wide variety of quality varietals. With over 40 wineries across the state, Idaho wines are plentiful and easily found at retailers, wine shops and restaurants. Idaho’s unique climate and volcanic soils allow cultivation of grapes of exceptional sweetness and acidity needed for production of wines with great character to pair with everyday meals and special celebrations.
But wine is not the only industry seeing great growth. The Idaho micro-beer industry is achieving regional and national recognition for its quality brews made from locally grown barley and hops. These beers are making their way into grocery stores and restaurants across the state. In addition, Idaho’s spirits industry in enjoying great popularity. Potato vodka, flavored with Idaho’s state fruit – the huckleberry – is just one of the many specialty beverages gaining national attention.
Easy to pack and perfect for that favorite dip, the crunchy texture and sweet taste of carrots make them popular among both adults and children. Locally grown Idaho carrots are in season from July through November. For local carrots head to your farmers market or farm stand. Since carrots aren’t grown on a large scale in Idaho you most likely won’t find them in grocery stores.
What to Look For: When buying carrots, look for bright orange-gold color and medium size. Usually the smaller the carrot, the sweeter it will be. For fun and variety, look for rainbow carrots. Some Idaho farmers are growing purple, red and yellow carrots!
How to Store: Carrots store well in cool dry environment, such as in the refrigerator. Before storing, remove carrot tops otherwise the green swill soon wilt and moisture will be drawn from the roots, turning the carrot limp and rubbery. Instead of throwing away the tops, which are full of nutrition, try adding them to soups or chopping them and adding to your salads.
Cherries are one of the first fruits available in Idaho with harvest as early as June and lasting through July and August. Idaho grows mostly sweet varieties, however there are a few orchards that grow tart pie cherries too.
The popular, Idaho Bing and Lapin cherries are large, dark and firm with exceptional flavor. They are harvested by hand and delivered to the market at the peak of freshness. Idaho also produces lighter-skinned varieties such as Lambert, Rainier, and Royal Ann cherries.
Idaho’s cherry season is short so enjoy this delicious fruit while you can! Look for Idaho-grown cherries at retail stores like Walmart, Albertsons and Wholefoods as well as your local farmers markets, co-ops and smaller retailers and farm stands. Or try harvesting your own at one of our wonderful u-pick orchards.
What to Look For: Always look for shiny, plump cherries with fresh green stems and dark coloring for their variety.
How to Store: Keep cherries unwashed and stems attached, in a paper bag, loosely-covered container, or loosely closed plastic bag in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them.
- Idaho ranks 5th in the nation in sweet cherry production.
- Idaho cherries are of the “sweet cherry” family, which includes the dark Bing Cherry as well as lighter Lambert, Rainier and Royal Ann cherries.
- A mature cherry tree will produce around 7,000 cherries each year.
- Idaho cherries are an excellent source of Vitamin A, C and E. They also provide potassium, magnesium, iron and fiber.
Idaho Cherry Producers
Why is Idaho corn so tender and sweet? Local sweet corn is picked fresh daily and available in most stores the very next day. This is critical as the sugars in corn turn to starch after the ear is picked from the stalk, so buying the freshest corn also means you are getting the sweetest corn on the market. Idaho’s fertile soils, irrigation water, hot, arid climate and long growing season means you can enjoy sweet corn all summer long into the beginning of fall! Idaho’s major sweet corn producers are located in the Southwestern and South-central regions of the state. Look for Idaho Preferred® sweet corn at your local farmers markets, roadside stands and grocery stores.
How to pick: Fully ripe sweet corn has bright green, moist husks. The silk should be stiff, dark and moist. You should be able to feel individual kernels by pressing gently against the husk.
How to store: Fresh corn, if possible, should be cooked – or eaten raw – and served the day it is picked or purchased. As soon as corn is picked, its sugar begins its gradual conversion to starch, which reduces the corn’s natural sweetness. Corn will lose 25% or more of its sugar within 25 hours after harvesting it. If for some reason corn is not being used immediately or has been purchased from the supermarket, store in the refrigerator, unshucked, in a bag.
Fun Fact: Sixty-six percent of the worlds supply of sweet corn starts with seeds developed in Canyon County, Idaho.
Watch how this local corn travels from the fields into Winco!
Farm to Fork (Corn) 2012 KTVB from Idaho Preferred on Vimeo.
Cucumbers are a summertime favorite and can be found at grocery stores, farmers markets and road-side produce stands from July to September.
How to pick: Look for cucumbers that are firm and well shaped with a solid green color without signs of soft spots, yellowing or puffiness. Cucumbers should be heavy for their size. Avoid cucumbers that are soft and light or have shriveled ends.
How to store: Fresh cucumbers can be stored for in the refrigerator for up to one week. Because cucumbers thrive in temperatures just over 40º F, keep them in a plastic bag on a shelf toward the front of the refrigerator, which tends to be warmer.
Want to make your own pickles? No problem! You can now find local pickling cucumbers at farmers markets and farm stands. Remember the best pickles are made from varieties of cucumbers grown specifically for pickling so make sure to ask your grower or retailer for pickling cukes.
Did you know that Idaho is one of the top dairy producing states in the nation? That’s right. We rank 3rd in milk and cheese production in the US. The milk purchased at local retailers is most likely produced and processed in Idaho. As a major cheese processor, Idaho produces cheddar, Colby Jack, cream cheese, cottage cheese and other pasteurized cheeses. You can find Idaho cheeses, including cheese branded under the Idaho label, throughout the year. Other milk products produced in Idaho include butter, sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt and ice cream.
- Dairy is Idaho’s #1 agriculture industry.
- 70% of the milk produced in Idaho is made into cheese.
- One 8 oz. glass of milk provides 30% of daily calcium needs.
- Milk contains nine essential nutrients including protein, potassium and Vitamins A, D and B12.
Want to check out some of the great dairies around the state? Download the Idaho Dairy Trail Map.
When you start to think about your next home improvement project make sure to look for Idaho forest products. Whether it is lumber for a new deck, shingles or wood framed windows you need, all of these products can come from Idaho’s forests.
Forest products include all products made of wood fiber such as timber, wood chips, sawdust or shavings including lumber, paper, particleboard, fence, corral posts or rails, shingles, shakes, firewood or pellets, logs used in the construction of log homes or any other product sold commercially. Idaho’s forests are one of the states most valuable resources and provide us with high quality materials.
By choosing Idaho forest products you are helping to grow our local economy. To find Idaho wood products look for the Idaho Preferred logo at your local lumber or home improvement store.
For more information visit the Idaho Forest Products Commissions website.
In Idaho, a wide variety of culinary herbs are grown in greenhouses and outdoors. Greenhouse production allows some local herbs to be available almost year-around but most are grown outdoors and available only seasonally. Purple Sage Farms in Middleton, one of Idaho’s largest herb producers, has begun to dry herbs which further extends availability. You can find Idaho herbs in grocery stores and at farmers markets.
Fresh Herbs Basics
What to Look for: Fresh herbs are delicate. Look for herbs that are bright green and appear to hold their shape. Avoid herbs that are browning or wilting.
How to Store: Wash herbs with a salad spinner with cold water. Swirl the herbs gently around in the water to loosen any debris. Drain the water, then spin the herbs dry and lay them on a layer of paper towels and pat gently with more paper towels to blot away any excess moisture. Store by arranging them lengthwise in a single layer on a slightly damp paper towel, rolling them up like a jelly roll, then transfer the bundle to a plastic zipper lock bag and store in the refrigerator.
Fun Facts about Mint
- Idaho ranks 3rd in the nation for mint production with 13,000 acres harvested annually.
- Idaho grows both spearmint and peppermint.
- Toothpaste, mouthwash and chewing gum manufacturers use about 90% of mint oil.
- One drop of mint oil can produce over 30 sticks of gum.
Looking for a special gift idea?
Consider locally grown and produced Idaho Preferred® gifts that are not only unique, but also support local agriculture and the economy.
Idaho Gift Baskets
Specialty food baskets are the perfect gift because they can be personalized for each person on your shopping list. Create a unique basket with Idaho specialty foods including jams, jellies, syrups, honey, soup and baking mixes.
Breakfast in a Basket: The most important meal of the day is a great local gift! Include Cowboy Tom’s Flapjack mix, homemade jam or fruit syrups from D’arcy’s, The Berry Ranch, Legacy Farms or Baker Ranch. Add some huckleberry cocoa mix from Homemade by Dorothy and healthy, all-natural Backcountry Bars to the ensemble. This gift will be sure to please the “morning person” on your list.
Savory Foods Basket: Build a gift with more savory flavors with Idaho Preferred Wagner Mustard or Mom’s Mustard, Treasure Valley Salsa, a unique blackberry pepper jelly or spice mix from Rivers Bend Candles and Crafts, hearty Barley Soup mix from Kauffman Farms, a tasty variety of hummus dips from Zacca Hummus and zesty pickled veggies from Dilly’s. Don’t forget, local honey makes a great gift and ships well to friends and family from out of state to give them a sweet taste of local! Find a list of Idaho Preferred honey producers here.
For Beer Lovers: Why not get a little crafty and put together a holiday gift basket that includes a six-pack of their favorite micro-brew from Sockeye, Edge, Payette or Powderhaus Brewing along with some local meats and cheese? Each brewery features a unique variety of craft beers including seasonal flavors. They also offer the option of filling a growler of beer currently on tap – make a growler basket your friends and family will enjoy refilling all year long!
The Wine & Spirit Enthusiast: Another great gift idea is an all-Idaho wine basket. It is easy to create a collection to please even the most discerning palate – from award-winning Riesling to rich and complex Tempranillo. For a list of Idaho Preferred wineries click here or go to www.idahowines.org.
If your adult friends and family are not wine and beer drinkers, consider Idaho spirits like potato and huckleberry vodkas from 44 North Vodka or an Idaho whiskey from 8 Feathers Distillery – perfect for holiday celebrations.
Cheese: Nothing quite completes a holiday gift basket like delicious Idaho cheese. Pair a block of cheese with any Idaho food and beverage basket, or give an all-cheese basket like one of these special gift selections from Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese. For something unique, try the Idaho Golden Greek Grilling cheese. This delicious Halloumi-style cheese will brown in a skillet without melting and goes great on local bread drizzled with Idaho honey or a dollop of Baker Ranch raspberry jam. Try making this Grillin Cheese Appetizer for your own holiday party or include it on a homemade recipe card in your gift basket! Ballard’s also offers a wide range of other cheeses such as Idaho White Cheddar, Truffle Salt Cheddar, Pepper Cheddar, Swiss, Gouda, Feta and several flavors of fresh cheese curds (squeaky cheese) that can be found at retailers throughout the state. You can find a complete list of their cheese here.
Love a good goat cheese? So do we! And we have some top-notch Idaho goat cheese producers. Try Indie Goat Che’vre, Wood n’ Goat Garden or Eden Creamery cheeses. Delicious as an appetizer or smeared on local bread or fruit and exceptional paired with an Idaho wine. You can find Idaho cheeses at local retailers including Walmart, Albertsons, Winco, the Boise Co-op and Whole Foods Market.
Bread: Let’s face it, we all love carbs. Breads and pastries also make excellent gifts during the holidays. Add some carbolicous local goodies to your basket with some delicious freshly baked bread from Zeppole Baking Company, Alpicella Bakery or Great Harvest Bread Co.!
Cookies: During the holidays, time is always hard to find, so save some of it and get your holiday cookies from Sweet Valley Cookie Co. Soft, chewy and absolutely delightful, these cookies are the perfect gift. Make sure to get some for yourself too!
Chocolate: How could we forget chocolate?! Find decadent chocolate toffee from the Toffee Cottage in Emmett or amazing specialty chocolates made with Idaho ingredients from Weiser Classic Candy or Idaho Candy Co.!
For the Iron Chef: Do you have someone that loves to cook or bake on your list? Start with the Idaho Preferred cookbook that features over 100 recipes that use Idaho ingredients all grouped by season. Add some ingredients to their basket like Idaho flour from Idaho Grain and Flour Mills or Harvest Ridge Organics, local eggs from Vogel Farms, local honey, Idaho sugar, local apples, fingerling potatoes from Southwind Farms and dairy products from Cloverleaf Creamery, Darigold, High Desert Milk or Boise Milk.
Add a touch of fancy and consider including Idaho sturgeon caviar, American style Kobe beef from M&N Cattle or 100% grass-fed and finished beef from Desert Mountain, lamb from Lava Lake Lamb or Gutierrez Family Farms.
And BACON. Want the best bacon in all the land? Check-out Sneadaker’s Fine Swine. Visit their Facebook page and give them a call to order specialty pork products, or pick up some Falls Brand bacon at your local grocery.
For Your Buff, Carb-Conscious Companion: Staying healthy during the holidays is tough, but some people are dedicated to their diets and workout regimen no matter what time of the year. Have someone on your list like this? Then give them the gift of Killer Whey!, a new healthy ice cream made with Idaho dairy whey protein and sweetened with Xylitol (a natural sweetener found in many fruits and vegetables). Read more about Killer Whey! ice cream here.
Or try giving them a gift card to stores like Whole Foods Market or the Boise Co-op where they can load up on all of their favorite local health-nut foods.
Last Minute Local Gifts: No time to build a basket and need a gift in a pinch? Let Vogel Farms Country Market or Dorothy’s do it for you! Check out Vogel Farms’ fantastic selection of all-Idaho gift baskets here or create your own special basket online with Homemade by Dorothy products. Not really a gift-baskety giver? Who doesn’t love a good gift card?! Run out (or even call, some restaurants take payment by phone) and grab a gift certificate to a locally owned restaurant that features seasonal, Idaho ingredients on their menu. Restaurants all over the state are supporting Idaho farmers and ranchers by serving local foods on their menus. Visit our list of local restaurants that serve an abundance of Idaho-grown foods. Do you know of a restaurant in Idaho that does an amazing job of sourcing local foods that you don’t see on our list? Please let us know by contacting Idaho Preferred Christmas Elf.
This year, give thoughtful gifts made from the highest quality foods and beverages, produced locally by Idaho farmers, ranchers, winemakers, brewers and specialty food producers.
Idaho breads baked with the finest Idaho ingredients, including Idaho flour can be found at local bakeries, retailers, farmers markets, and even served in restaurants. Idaho bakers make a wide variety of breads from baguettes and rolls to specialty and sandwich breads.
Idaho grains such as barley, wheat, spelt, and flax can be found throughout the year. Idaho ranks 2nd in the nation in barley production and is one of the top 10 wheat producing state. In addition to bread, Idaho grains are used in tortillas, pasta, crackers, cookies, cereal and more.
Fun Facts about Wheat
- Idaho ranks 5th in the nation in wheat production.
- Wheat is grown in 42 of the 44 counties in Idaho.
- Whole grains from wheat provide fiber and other nutrients to keep your body healthy.
- A bushel of Idaho wheat weighs about 60 lbs. and will make 75 loaves of bread.
- Idaho growers produce close to 100 million bushels of wheat.
- One acre (about the size of a football field) produces enough wheat to provide your family with break for 10 years!
Several types of greens are grown in Idaho including spring mixes, kale, different lettuce varieties, spinach, arugula and more. Greens like cooler temperatures and are therefore some of the first vegetables to appear in the spring – some as early as March. Others can tolerate heat and are available throughout the summer and fall. Some Idaho greens are produced in greenhouses which provides a consistent supply of greens for consumers and restaurants from early spring through late fall. Find Idaho greens at the farmers market, on the menu at several Idaho Preferred restaurants and through Idaho’s Bounty.
What to Look for: Look for leafy greens that have a rich color. Avoid greens that are browning or wilting.
How to Store: Wash greens with a salad spinner with cold water. Swirl the herbs gently around in the water to loosen any debris. Drain the water and spin the greens. Drain water spun from greens, then store greens in a salad container in the refrigerator.
- Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, probably the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food.
- They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins.
Sheep ranching is one of Idaho’s oldest agricultural traditions. At 230,000 head, Idaho ranks among the top 10 states in the US for sheep and lambs. Idaho ranchers produce a flavorful, nutrient-rich lean meat to enjoy this Easter.
Idaho Preferred Sheep Farms
- 11741 Bullock Lane
Middleton, ID 83644
- 8422 Bennett Road
Nampa, ID 83686
- 7 Mac Nab Lane
Carmen, ID 83462
Idaho’s pork processing history dates back to 1904. Our processors primarily focus on specialty items like cured meats, fresh sausage, natural pork and more. Independent Meats, a well known Idaho brand has a processing plant located in Twin Falls and can be found in most retailers across the state. Local farms like Snedaker’s Fine Swine can be found at the McCall Farmers Market during market season. Vogel Farms located in Kuna has an on-site farm stand open year around.
Idaho Preferred Pork
- 2072 Orchard Ave east
Twin Falls, ID 83303
- 3001 Cemetary Road
Cambridge, ID 83610
- 9501 Robinson
Kuna, ID 83634
Idaho producers raise a large variety of meats from chicken to cattle and trout to yak. You can easily find local meats at retail locations, farmers markets, or by purchasing on-line, direct from the producer.
Ranchers in Idaho produce many types of beef including grain and grass-fed, organic and natural. Idaho even has producers of American-style Kobe beef. American-style Kobe beef is highly marbled and of the highest quality.
Idaho is the number one trout producing state in the U.S. growing 46% of all farm raised trout. Sturgeon meat, Idaho caviar, tilapia, and catfish are also raised in Idaho.
Pork producers and processors in Idaho offer both fresh and processed pork products such as sausage, ham and chorizo. Other meat products such as lamb, chicken, goat, turkey and even yak are raised and processed in Idaho and can be found throughout the year at grocery stores, farmers markets and on-line.
Southwestern Idaho is known for exceptionally sweet and tasty melons. Varieties grown in Idaho include traditional watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. However, several melon growers are trying different and unique varieties of melons as well. For something different, look for yellow watermelons, snow leopard, Israeli and canary melons.
Buying local, Idaho-grown watermelon is the best way to ensure you are getting the freshest fruit of the season! From a local field to your table is the fastest way to enjoy the freshest, juiciest pick of the crop. Idaho watermelons are normally available from the beginning of July to early October.
What To Look For:
Find melons with a large, golden yellow field spot on the bottom. This spot means that the melon basked in the sun on the farm and was fully ripe when picked. Watermelon, unlike most other fruits and vegetables, only ripens while on the vine. Watermelons that are a dark, shiny green and do not have this creamy yellow field spot may be under ripe.
Feel the melon for freshness. Pick up the melon. A ripe watermelon will feel very heavy for its size and the rind should be firm with no soft spots.
Smell the melon. A ripe watermelon will have a faint smell, even through the rind! And as always, when in doubt, ask a professional. Talk to your local farmer or produce manager as they will be happy to help you pick a well-ripened watermelon.
The fruit of a watermelon should be bright, sweet and juicy. If your melon has a faint color and sandy texture, it means that the watermelon has been off the vine too long and is not at peak freshness.
How to store:
Store whole watermelons in a cool spot – but not for too long. Watermelons are best when consumed shortly after purchase to ensure the freshest, sweetest taste! Cover cut wedges and cubes of watermelon with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Where to Find:
- Whole Foods
- Albertsons locations
- Local farmers markets
- Farm stands
- Grasmick Produce (wholesale)
The Idaho Preferred program stretches beyond just food and beverages to promote many other local Idaho businesses and agriculture products. In addition to local nursery and forest products, Idaho Preferred members produce hay, pet foods, wool products, potting soil mixes and more.
Plant Idaho Flowers
Nursery and greenhouse production is an important agricultural industry in Idaho making it easy to fill your garden and flower pots with locally grown plants. Look for the Idaho Preferred logo on hanging baskets, flower bowls, herb starts and plants grown in local greenhouses. Growers such as Ward’s Greenhouse, Moss Greenhouses, Olson’s Greenhouse and Warm Springs Greenhouse supply to local nurseries and garden centers in southwest Idaho including Zamzows, D&B Supply, Bi-Mart, Walmart and Albertsons while Rustic Gardens, Sunnyside Gardens, Town & Country Gardens and Blue Barn Produce & More sell direct to consumers at on-site locations and farmers markets.
Idaho nursery growers and local greenhouses also carry a wide range of annuals and perennials. You can give your garden a new look every growing season with annuals such as pansies, petunias, and marigolds. Their life cycles lasts one season which allows for fun experimentation. Perennials such as salvia, peonies, day lilies or rudbeckia can help brighten up your garden, and once established, most perennials are low-maintenance. Perennials thrive during spring and summer, die back in colder months and return to bloom in spring, giving your garden a consistent look each growing season.
Need a little help with your garden planning? FarWest Landscape and Garden Center is a full-service gardening center, staffed by expert gardeners, that can help you with all of your green-thumb needs including planting and delivery service. Idaho also produces excellent, earth-friendly soil and compost products in the state from processors such as Magic Dirt potting soil, Magic Valley Compost and Smart Gro fertilizer.
Grow Idaho Trees and Shrubs
Idaho also has several tree farms throughout the state that grow hearty, beautiful trees that thrive in Idaho’s high desert climate.
If you need to add a little shade to your yard look for locally grown trees from Clayton Tree Farm, Cloverdale Nursery, Bonners Ferry Nursery, Du-Rite Nursery, or Town & Country Gardens.
Idaho growers concentrate on zone hardy, deciduous trees, evergreens, ornamental fruit and flowering trees as well as drought tolerant shrubs including potentilla, currant, cistena plum, juniper, redtwig dogwood varieties, spirea, virburnum and forsythia. Our local growers and retailers are experts in their field and understand that soil conditions vary greatly throughout Idaho.
Visit one of our Idaho Preferred nurseries throughout the state and allow them to help you find the best trees and shrubs for your specific area and how to prepare the ground for site planting. Buying Idaho-grown plants and trees is not only a great way to support the local economy, but the plants are also acclimated to the growing conditions in Idaho assuring a magnificent lawn, landscape or garden.
Click here to view a map of local nurseries and growers throughout the state.
The Snake River Valley area in Idaho and Eastern Oregon is the largest onion growing region in the U.S. The climate and soil create the perfect conditions for growing yellow, white and red varieties. Crops are planted in March and April and harvested starting in August. State-of-the-art storage facilities allow Idaho-Eastern Oregon onions to be available from August through March or April.
Idaho onions are known for their golden color, globe shape, remarkably mild flavor and crisp texture. These attributes combine to make Idaho onions some of the most versatile, best tasting, and popular onions in the world.
What To Look For: It’s important to select a fresh onion and the right variety for your cooking needs. The freshest onions will be heavy in your hand and firm to the touch.
- Yellow Onions: When a recipe calls for onions, it’s almost always referring to the all-purpose yellow onion variety. Yellow onions have a strong astringent flavor that will make your eyes swell with tears, but become sweeter the longer they cook.
- White Onions: Many people confuse white and yellow onions. But the biggest difference is how they are prepared in the kitchen. While they can be substituted for cooking yellow onions, a white onion is best served raw. White onions are often used in salsa and on hamburgers.
- Red Onions: Red onions add a beautiful splash of color to your dish and have a mild flavor that is perfect for enjoying raw.
- Sweet Onions: Vidalia, Walla Walla and Spanish are all types of sweet onion. Naturally very sweet, they are often found in onion rings, or by the true onion lover as the star on a parsley and onion sandwich. Sweet onions can be yellow or white in color, but they have more water and less sulfur compared to other onions, which is why they don’t have a sharp flavor. They don’t store as long as other onions, so be sure to enjoy them within a few days of purchasing.
How to Store: Onions can store well for up to two weeks in a cool, dark place. If an onion is soft or gives off a powerful odor, it has most likely passed its peak of freshness.
- Idaho ranks 5th in the nation in onion production.
- Southwest Idaho is famous for Giant Spanish sweet onions.
- 25% of all U.S. onions come directly from the Snake River Valley of Southwest Idaho and Eastern Oregon.
- Idaho onions are high in Vitamin C and folate, and they are a great source of fiber, Vitamin B6 and Potassium.
What kind of Organic Products are Grown in Idaho?
Idaho has over 250 operations that produce a diversity of organic crops including vegetables, meats, milk, eggs, and wine, as well as non-food crops such as hay and barley.
An Idaho-certified organic food product is one which has been produced without the use of synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides or growth regulators for a period of at least 36 months prior to harvest. It is a product marketed using the term ‘organic’ (or as a derivative) in its labeling or advertising and is processed, packaged, transported and stored to retain maximum nutritional value, without the use of artificial preservatives, coloring or other additives, irradiation or synthetic pesticides. The organic system of production emphasizes sustainability and limited natural inputs, relying heavily on such things as crop rotation and animal manure for soil health and fertility.
Find Organic Products from Idaho Preferred Members>>
Bell peppers, sweet peppers and hot peppers are all produced in Idaho, primarily by home gardeners. Peppers are warm-season vegetables so look for them at your local farmers market or farm stand in July, August, and September.
Colorful bell varieties are great to eat fresh, sauteed, or in soups. Sweet peppers are crisp and refreshing and are great eaten raw or cooked in your favorite dishes. Hot chili peppers can be added to salsas and other dishes to add a little spice. Some chili peppers turn bright red. Contrary to popular belief, this is often an indication of ripeness and not how hot and spicy the flavor is.
Several Idaho growers are also growing Basque peppers that are great for roasting.
A great way to use local peppers is to make fajitas. Try something different and make these Idaho Rainbow Trout Fajitas.
With over a century of growing potatoes, Idaho is the the top producer in the US and has been every year since 1957. Idaho produces around 30% of all U.S. fall production each year. The growing conditions in Idaho give farmers an advantage. Warm days, cool nights, ample water supplies and fertile volcanic soils are ideal for tuber sets, producing a potato with a high solid count- the secret behind fluffy bakers and firm french fries. While the russet is the most well-known of the Famous Idaho Potatoes, Idaho also grows more than 25 other varieties including Yukon Golds, Reds, and Fingerlings. Potatoes are harvested in the fall but available year around in grocery stores and restaurants
In 1837 Henry Spalding, a Presbyterian missionary, planted the first potatoes in Lapwai, Idaho. Today, potatoes are grown on nearly 350,000 acres across southern and eastern parts of the state. If we had to eat all the potatoes grown in Idaho, every man, women and child in Idaho would have to eat 55 potatoes every single day, all year long! Instead, Idaho potatoes are exported across the US and around the world!
Move over baked and mashed potatoes, these recipes are stealing the show! Try a new potato recipe for dinner tonight:
Radishes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow in a garden and go from seed to harvest in just a few weeks. Although not grown commercially in Idaho, you can find radishes early in the spring and throughout the summer at farmers markets and farm stands. Radishes come in several colors and flavors. For the mildest flavors, choose young, smaller varieties.
Rhubarb can be found in Idaho at most farmers markets or maybe in your backyard from late May through August. Known for its tart flavor, rhubarb can be used in a variety of sweet dishes from pies, cakes, and desserts to savory dishes such as sauces, conserves, and pickles. When selecting rhubarb look for firm stalks that can range from green to dark red. While the stalks are ideal for cooking the leaves are poisonous so make sure to discard them properly.
Rhubarb Pie Recipe
Make a pie tonight and get more recipe ideas in the Live.Eat.Local: Idaho Recipes for All Seasons cookbook.
What is a specialty food?
Specialty foods are edible goods that are made with unique and high-quality ingredients in small quantities such as honey, jellies and jams, mustard, baking mixes, sauces and granola. All Idaho Preferred specialty food products are made with Idaho-grown ingredients. When you choose Idaho Preferred specialty products you are supporting local businesses and Idaho farmers!
Because Idaho is rich in agriculture, we have an impressive variety of specialty foods containing locally sourced ingredients. There are some unique products like Idaho sturgeon caviar and on-the-go meals like Fit Wrapz. Specialty foods also make great gifts as most have a long shelf life and are easy to add into customized baskets. Learn more about local gifts here.
Look for the following specialty products when you are out shopping at grocery stores and farmers markets all throughout the state:
Beverages – Rock’s Natural Spring Water, Starkey Spring Water
Candy & Chocolate – Weiser Classic Candy, The Toffee Cottage
Caviar – Fish Breeders of Idaho
Cooking & Baking Mix – Cowboy Tom’s, Homemade by Dorothy, Kauffman Hearty Barley Soup Mix, D’Arcy’s Bakeshoppe
Drink Mix/Hot Cocoa – Homemade by Dorothy
Granola/Energy Bars – Nature’s Indulgence Granola, Backcountry Bar
Honey – Browning’s Honey Co., Cox Honey Farms, Rocky Mountain Honey Co., Reisinger Apiaries, The Honey Store, Treasure Valley Honey & Bees, Wood’n Goat Garden, Orchard Valley Bees
Hummus – Zacca Hummus
Jam/Jelly – The Berry Ranch, Homemade by Dorothy, Baker Ranch, Pepper Fusion Products, Legacy Farms
Mustard – Wagner’s Mustard
Salad Dressing – Litehouse
Sauce – D’Arcy’s Bakeshoppe
Soup– Gina Cucina LLC.
Syrup – Homemade by Dorothy
Summer squash varieties are available throughout summer and early fall in Idaho. Summer squash includes zucchini, yellow squash, crookneck and patty-pan squash. Summer squash differs from winter squash due to the fact that they are harvested before the rind hardens and the fruit matures. They grow on bushy-type plants that do no spread like winter squash plants do.
How to pick: Select a small and tender squash variety that is 8-12 inches long, as over-sized squash can be hard and seedy. However, you can use large-sized zucchini for baked items like cakes and bread.
How to store: Refrigerate unwashed summer squash in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper for up to five days.
Baked Zucchini Pasta
Parmesan Crusted Zucchini with Barley Pomodoro
At some restaurants and farmers markets you will also see squash blossoms that can be used in many dishes. Squash blossoms can be eaten raw, fried, baked or added to your favorite pasta or soup dish.
Nothing tastes better than fresh tomatoes that are truly vine-ripened. Although some tomatoes may be available year-round, vine-ripened tomatoes are only available during the summer growing season—or when grown in a local greenhouse.
Idaho’s farmers produce tomatoes primarily for local markets, which allow them to harvest their tomatoes when they are truly ripe. Idaho’s warm summer days and brisk cool nights allow the sugar to build inside the tomatoes and helps produce a sweet and juicy tomato. Tomatoes are also grown locally in greenhouses, which extends the season from early spring through late fall.
How to pick: Choosing the perfect tomato will call upon multiple senses. You’ll need to inspect, feel and smell your way to the perfect fruit. The best tomatoes are free of blemishes and bruises and should be a deep, bright red. A good tomato is firm enough to resist pressure, but not hard. Touch is also a good way to test heirloom tomatoes, which can be purple, lumpy, tiny or green even when ripe. And, the most flavorful tomato will have a fragrant smell. The sweet and earthy smell from the stem of the tomatoes will be a clear indicator that your taste buds will enjoy your selection.
How to store: One of the most common food storage mistakes is keeping tomatoes in the refrigerator. Cold temperatures can affect the flavor and texture of a tomato in a mater of days. Instead, store tomatoes in a bowl with stems up. Tomato stems are fragile, so if they are placed faced down, they are likely to bruise, which leads to rot. Keep tomatoes away from heat and direct sunlight. Tomatoes should keep for at least a week when stored this way.
Fresh Tomato Cucumber Gazpacho
Peach and Tomato Salsa
Fresh Idaho tomatoes are delicious raw, sautéed, grilled, and stewed. Tomatoes are versatile and add great flavor to any recipe – so try a new tomato recipe today!
Winter squash comes in several different sizes, shapes, colors and varieties. The most common winter squash varieties include acorn, banana, butternut, delicata and spaghetti. Winter squashes have a hard outer rind and orange flesh on the inside. These squashes come on later in the growing season and they have a longer shelf life making them a great staple in winter and even early spring months when other local vegetables are hard to come by.
Unlike summer squashes the rind on winter squash is hard and not edible. Choose winter squashes that have a hard rind, feel heavy and have no soft spots. You can store winter squash for several months in a cool pantry, cabinet, garage or basement.
Winter Squash Basics
What To Look For: Shop for winter squash based on an even color, a hard rind, firmness, and one that feels heavy for its size. Avoid squash that have soft spots, dull and wrinkled skin or is light for its size.
How to Store: It’s simple to prepare winter squash after the fall harvest. When storing winter squash directly from your garden, allow the squash to cure for 10 to 14 days. Curing simply means storing winter squash at a warm temperature with good air circulation. Curing the squash allows excess water to dissipate, which will make the skins harder for storing, reduce rot, and concentrates natural sweetness of the vegetable. Curing is not recommended for acorn squash varieties. After your squash have been cured, story them in a cool dry place.
The following is the shelf life of common winter squash varieties:
- Acorn Squash: Four weeks
- Spaghetti Squash: Four to Five weeks
- Butternut Squash: Up to six months
Winter Squash Video
Idaho Pumpkins and Winter Squash from Idaho Preferred on Vimeo.