Sunday, December 31, 2017

Produce Marketing Association's Delicious Fruit Choices

Fruit is a plant's sweetest gift to humanity. And at the yearly Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Summit Convention & Expo growers from all over the world come together to show off their fruit and vegetable produce. But the Fresh Summit is not limited to just showcasing produce. It is also about bringing together people from all aspects of the produce industry from the tiniest seed producer to the largest logistics company.

PMA Fresh Summit, Orlando, Fla.
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

During my most recent year of attendance, in Orlando, I came across several fascinating fruits: HBF International Kiwi Berries, SunBelle biodynamic cranberries, Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit and Frutiryes Golden Berries. Some were grown in North America and some were grown in South America.

HBF International Kiwi Berry, PMA Fresh Summit, Orlando Fla.,
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

The first delicious fruit starts with HBF International Kiwi Berries grown by Hurst's Family Farm, based in Oregon. These fruit, grow on vines, look exactly the same inside as kiwifruit except they are the size of concord table grapes and like grapes they can be eaten whole, skin and all because they have a fur-less skin. Their skin ranges in color from green to one with pink blush on green. When I had them they had been dipped in chocolate. I have found them sold at Whole Foods Markets.

SunBelle GreenBelle Biodynamic Organic Certified non-GMO
cranberries, PMA Fresh Summit, Orlando
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

Next are GreenBelle Biodynamic Organic certified cranberries by SunBelle . These sustainably grown and harvested fruit were real treat to discover especially when I researched what it meant to grow biodynamic produce (beyond organic standards). They were deliciously tart.

Zespri's SunGold Kiwi, non-GMO and certified organic,
PMA Fresh Summit, Orlando
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

Another impressive fruit, grown by Zespri, was a non-GMO SunGold Kiwifruit certified organic. When I lived in Australia I would kiwi fruit whenever I could, they were delicious. But when I came to live in Florida I could not find a single fruit I enjoyed to eat until I got to try the golden ones at the PMA Fresh Summit. They were sweet and refreshing and did not leave my tongue tingling like their greener cousins. These are sold at COSTCO stores.

Golden Berry, a.k.a Cape Gooseberry, PMA Fresh Summit,
Orlando. Copywright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

Then last but by no means least came Golden Berries (Physalis peruviana) also known as Cape Gooseberry. These fruit are in the same plant family as tomatillo, the fruit with an outer papery skin. But Golden Berries are smaller and more delicious, at least according to me. They are grown in Columbia by Frutireyes and other countries, and imported by various companies including SunBelle .

The real delicious property, to me, about golden berry happens when they are dried. They become the tart kings and queens of fruit and pair beautifully with chocolate and ice cream, yum. I found them at Publix Supermarkets and Whole Foods.

PMA Fresh Summit is all about several days of educational seminars, produce trends predictions presentations, parties and exposition floor booth visits that leave participants leave getting a better idea of what is happening in the worldwide produce industry.

I look forward to seeing what the PMA Fresh Summit Convention & Expo has in store for next year's event.

Biodynamic Certification Origins And Standards

Biodynamic practices and principles have been around for almost a century. They are a style of farming that uses organic growing methods, sustainability ideas and harmonious environmental practices. They also go beyond organic practices and beyond farm applications. The philosophy extends into biodynamic communities where all individuals come together as a community to help each other prosper.

Biodynamic sustainability practice of planting marigolds near kale plants,
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
Biodynamics started in the 1920s with Dr. Rudolf Steiner in Austria when farmers, who were struggling with poor land conditions, came to him for help. Dr. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, a colleague of Dr. Steiner, later brought the practices to the United States in 1930s.

The standards of biodynamic certification, according to Demeter International, are—promote sustainable farming practices and prohibit synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics (unless to treat sick animals), genetically engineered seeds, sewage sludge as a fertilizer, artificial ingredients, and other inputs that can be used in conventional agriculture and food processing.”

This means using manure from the fields to make fermented compost, along with herbs and minerals that would be put back on the fields.  There is also the practice of planting flowers between rows of vegetables to either give off scents in the soil to keep ground insects away from eating the roots or to attract flying predatory insects to keep pest insects away eating the tops of the plants.

The farmers strive to as healthy a farm as possible sourcing from within the farm as much as possible.

Today the biodynamic concept goes beyond the soil. It looks at the balances of the ecological, social and economic stability of the farm.

Biodynamic certification differs from a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic certification because the whole farm has to be certified whereas under organic certification not the entire farm needs to be certified.

The one downside to biodynamic produce is that it costs more than organic because there are very few producers of this style of agriculture today in the United States (US). 

The US branch is called Demeter Association, Inc., a not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1985. You can go to Demeter USA website and find out more of how to purchase these wonderfully nutritious and environmentally supporting produce items.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Magnolia Leaves, Old Timey Bay Leaf Substitution

Magnolia—Is it a seasonal landscaping plant or seasoning ingredient? If you guessed both then you are right. Magnolia trees are abundant in the south. They have dark green leaves with brown, furry undersides and creamy milk colored flowers. They can grow into very large trees over 20-feet in height.

Edible Magnolia flower and leaves (when cooked)
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

According to Green Deane of “Eat The Weeds,” an educational company based out of Orlando, Florida, both magnolia flowers and leaves are edible. The flowers can be eaten raw and they taste like they smell. The leaves though have to be cooked and they taste like bay leaves.

This past summer I had the good fortune to go one of Deane’s foraging classes ($30) at a park in South Florida.

Deane warned us to make sure the leaves were washed before we cooked then into a recipe. You have to be careful they have not been sprayed with chemicals like pesticides too.

If you want to find more about him you can go to his website: Eat The Weeds and you can find him on YouTube.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Peanut Butter Fruit And Basil, Florida Homegrown

South Florida, Fla.--Have you ever eaten peanut butter fruit with basil flowers? First, do you know what peanut butter fruit is? It's not related to peanuts, so there is no allergy potential. Instead it is a red, fleshy fruit that grows above ground on a tree. To learn more you can go to my previous post on peanut butter fruit.

Florida grown peanut butter fruit with basil flowers, Copyright 2017
by Helen A Lockey

How about basil flowers, have you ever tried eating these? No, well you should because they are delicious. They combine concentrated herb essences with sweet nectar.

And when you combine the peanut butter fruit with the basil flowers you come out with a delicious semi-tropical treat. The basil enhances the flavor of the fruit ten fold.

If ever you get a chance to eat this combination, jump at it, tick off your bucket list and feel happy that you tried something deliciously unusual.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Shirataki Sake Brewery Co., Ltd, Japan, Sake Made Right

Orlando, Fla.--Soon you won't need to fly to Japan to taste delicious sake (rice wine). Shirataki Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. gave out samples of their delicious tasting sake at this year's Florida Restaurant and Lodging Show, held in Orlando, Florida. Shirataki Sake Brewery, who started business in 1855, said most of the sake served in American restaurants is of poorer quality than theirs.

Shirataki Sake Brewery Co., Ltd, Jozen Sake (rice wine), Florida
Restaurant & Lodging Show, Orlando, Fla.
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
They say that to make excellent sake you need excellent water because finished sake is 80 percent water. Their sake starts with pure water sourced from melted snow off the mountains around their brewery.

High quality sake also depends on the type of rice grain used, according to Hide Hashizume, International Sales Manager. They buy all their rice directly from farms Uonuma, inside the Niigata prefecture. This area is known for its high-quality rice, grown with pure, melted, mountain snow run-off water that is full of minerals.

According to the company president Shintaro Takahashi, who talked to me through a translator, for many decades they used to use wild captured yeast in their sake but this led to inconsistent products. Now they grow their own yeast in-house so the wine will retain a consistent taste batch after batch.

In the traditional style of making sake (junmai), they use short grain, sticky rice (sakamai), pure water, mold (koji, essential for converting the rice to sugar) and domesticated yeast to make their rice wine. And the results are remarkable.

I have not liked sake in the past, but after trying Shirataki's sake I fell in love. I especially liked the Uonuma Nojun, an 80 percent polished, aged dry style sake, served cold from a blue bottle. It's aged two-years in steel tanks. And the aromas that are released are savory with an almost clean earthy essence.

Jozen Junmai Gingo, a 55 percent polished sake had sweeter taste profiles and aromas of spring flowers, and tastes of pear, vanilla and slight tropical fruit.  It was served cold from a a red bottle.

Unfortunately, these saki are not yet available in any restaurants but one is available through Westchester Wine Warehouse in White Plains, New York. You can find and buy a 300 ml sized bottle of Uonuma Nojun for $9.99 online at
, and by typing in the keyword Jozen in the search box.

Shirataki Sake Brewery Co., Ltd., is looking for more distribution companies to carry their wine so that more Japanese restaurants can carry it and more people can buy a bottle.  "We want American public to drink at home, like wine," said Takahashi.

To find out more about distribution opportunities or other sales opportunities please contact Hide Hashizume at (914) 582-5943 or email him at

Saturday, September 30, 2017

El Solar Dehydrator, Sustainable Kashi Ashram, Sebastian, Fla.

There's a large solar-powered food dehydrator in Sebastian, Florida. It is located on the 80-acre property of Sustainable Kasha Ashram. The Ashram has existed for over 35 years and only recently started a permaculture project, headed up by the children of the original founder of the Kasha Ashram. Their project is aimed at having year-round producing gardens, a food forest, and edible products from their animals like milk, cheese and eggs.

Sustainable Kashi Permaculture project,
Slow Food Gold & Treasure Coast Farm Tour,
Kashi Ashram, Sebastian, Fla.
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
Back in February, of this year I went on a tour of the facility with several members of Slow Food Gold And Treasure Coast chapter. We were all participating in a self-driven farm tour day.

Worm casting fertilizer, Sustainable Kashi Permaculture project,
Slow Food Gold & Treasure Coast chapter Farm Tour,
Kashi Ashram, Sebastian, Fla.
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
Sustainable Kashi grows most of the food they eat using permaculture practices that emulate natural growing conditions as mush as possible. They do this by using compost, and worm casting teas for fertilization, natural pest controls like neem oil, hand weeding, and symbiotic plantings like placing bananas and sweet potatoes side-by-side (the potatoes capture nitrogen for the bananas and the potatoes vines grow up the bananas stalks).

To make the most of what they grow, because sometimes they grow more they can eat and sell, they dehydrate their produce in their outdoor solar powered dehydrator. They named it El Solar Dehydrator.

El Solar Dehydrator, Sustainable Kashi Permaculture project,
Slow Food Gold & Treasure Coast chapter Farm Tour,
Kashi Ashram, Sebastian, Fla. Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
The dehydrator is triangular in shape looking slightly like a plastic vending machine sandwich container. However this container is made out of wood and glass and stands over five feet in height.

Inside are several movable screen-trays where fresh produce can be placed. On one side is a sloping pane of glass with air vents both at the bottom and top. The lower vents let in cool air and the upper ones let out sun-heated, moisture-rich air. Temperatures inside the dehydrator can get as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit even on a cloudy, cool day. So it is necessary that the air constantly be moving and through the wonder of physics it does because cool air when heated always rises.

This means that without any outside power source the fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries that are placed on the movable trays can have their moisture wicked away from them in a matter of hours and they can be transformed into flavor rich, edible morsels.

During the Florida growing season (October to May approximately) you can buy Sustainable Kashi produce at a on-property market the 2nd Sunday of each month.

You can find out more about Sustainable Kashi or go to their Facebook page.

Or you can visit them at 11155 Rosalind Rd., Sebastian, FL 32958
Phone (321) 445-1395

To find out more about Slow Food Gold And Treasure Coast Farm Tour and other events go to

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Surf ‘N Suds Soap Company, Florida Microbreweries Supporter & More

Palm Beach County, Fla.—Surf ‘N Suds makes soap out of beer and more. Owner Majorie Shedd is passionate about supporting local breweries. I met Shedd last year at the PGA National Craft Beer Festival where they had Goose Island IPA beer soap for sale at $7 a bar.

Surf 'N Suds Soap Company's Goose IPA beer soap, Palm Beach County, Fla.
Copyright 2016 by Helen A Lockey
Surf ‘N Suds Soap Company attends a lot of south Florida beer festivals.

Their Goose Island IPA beer soap had whole hops sticking out the top of the bar. It smelt a little like the IPA and definitely had the citrusy scent of hops to it.

Surf ‘N Suds Soap Company has over five Florida based microbrewery beer infused bar soaps, beard oils and lotions in their collection. If you don’t want beer in your soap you can buy Sober Soap, beard oils, body lotions without beer. Or you can look at a small selection of rum infused products.

Surf ‘N Suds does more than support local breweries. Recently they stopped using Palm Oil in their soaps for ethical and environmental reasons.

They have two very compelling videos on their site explaining why they no longer use Palm Oil in their products. 

One video features Leo DiCaprio (“Before The Flood,” Nov 2016) that runs for 5 minutes 12 seconds, and the other video with Harris Ford (“Year of Living Dangerously,” Aug 2017) runs for 6 minutes 8 seconds. Both explain the hazards of the Palm Oil industry to the environment. 

These videos will change your mind about buying products that contain Palm Oil.

Surf 'N Suds products range in price from $7 for bar soap to $12 for beard oils and lotions.

You can see the full range of Surf 'N Suds Company products on their website or on their Facebook page

Or you can call Marjorie She'd at Surf 'N Suds at (561) 289-0488

Monday, July 31, 2017

Present Moment Cafe, St. Augustine, Fla., Vegan Vegetarian Local

St. Augustine, Fla.--Present Moment Cafe serves delicious raw-vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian food. It has been operating in the north Florida area for over 10 years. And is a short drive from San Sebastian Winery along King Street. They buy local ingredients when they can and support Florida breweries.

Present Moment Cafe, St. Augustine, Fla.
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
I had the good fortune to visit them several months ago, on a a quiet weekday night when the crowds were small. Parking was scarce, behind the cafe, so I was glad there were not many patrons.

The atmosphere was welcoming with warm lights and soft music. The service was Island style so it was good I was not in a rush.

Middle East Peace Hummus, Present Moment Cafe,
St. Augustine, Fla. Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
I started my meal with the Middle East Peace Hummus dish ($8) that came with house made dehydrated corn chips, that were delicious. It also had a lovely mint and cashew drizzle that livened up the hummus and fresh vegetables.

The idea behind raw-vegan food chips is that living ingredients are put in a dehydrator, that gets no hotter than 150 degrees Fahrenheit so the living enzymes stay intact, to crisp them up.

Macro Burger with Cheez, Present Moment Cafe,
St. Augustine, Fla., Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
And then I ordered the Macro Burger with Cheez (vegan cheese)($9). It was a delicious, meaty (but not from an animal product) black bean burger mixed with sweet potato and rice. It came with all the fixings and a bun. From the outside it looked like a regular hamburger.

Sunlight Burger, Present Moment Cafe, St. Augustine, Fla.,
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
It was so filling I had no room for dessert. But I did want some food for the next morning, so I ordered some to go: Stacked Bagel with cashew cream cheez and avocado ($7) and a raw-vegan Sunlight Burger ($12).

The Sunlight Burger was a dehydrated patty made from a mix of mushrooms, nuts and a veggie burger. It was topped with dehydrated onions and veggie provolone cheese. It came with a side of salad and some more dehydrated corn chips...yum.

I plan to visit them again the next time I am in town.

They are located at 224 W. King Street, Saint Augustine, FL 32084
Phone (904) 827-4499

The Present Moment Cafe hours are: Mon. to Thurs. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Fri. to Sat. 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

You can find them online at

Friday, June 30, 2017

Black Coral Rum, Riviera Beach, Fla.

Riviera Beach, Fla.--Black Coral Rum is made the old fashioned way. There are no artificial ingredients or added sugar in this rum according to owner Ben Etheridge. "This is what the essence of rum was like before artificial essences," said Etheridge, during an interview, at the Ninth Annual Miami Rum & Trade Show in April this year. 

Mixologist John Moore and Owner Ben Etheridge, Black Coral Rum,
Riviera Beach Florida based, 9th Annual Miami Rum & Trade Show,
Miami, Fla. Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
Florida born Etheridge started making rum in his backyard at age 16 and now at age 34 he and his dad Clint have a 500-gallon still distillery. They are very transparent about their process. "It is our duty to be honest with you. Not many do it but we do," Ben said.

Ben is passionate about his rum and wants everyone to be able to experience it so he keeps his prices affordable. He also wants you to buy his rum to help the families of fallen service men and women. For each bottle of rum sold, one dollar goes to Operation 300, a non-profit organization, based in Hobe Sound, Florida.

Other ways they help the local community is by buying Florida grown sugar-cane molasses from Clewiston and getting their bottles made in Miami-Dade County.

As for the rum, both the white and spiced rum starts with a nine-day fermentation period followed by a 12- hour distillation period. Then both are put into white American Oak barrels and aged for six months. The white is then passed through coconut husk carbon filtration before bottling and the spiced has natural ingredients added to it. As Ben says, “If it doesn’t grow in the ground it is not in our rum.”

The white rum has delicious overtones of butterscotch, almond, chocolate and molasses. 
The spiced rum has a juicy, vanilla banana bread taste. 

Black Coral Rum opened just over two years ago and already it can be found in most restaurants, bars, Publix Stores, ABC Liquor Stores and Total Wine & More from Melbourne to Key Largo on the East coast of Florida and from Port Charlotte to Naples on the West coast of Florida.

To find more locations go to Black Coral Rum's website , and enter your zip code to find a location near you. Due to Florida law restrictions the distillery is not allowed to offer online rum sales. But if you go in person you can buy up to six bottles of each type of rum (this time last year you could only purchase two bottles). 

However if you go to Publix, ABC or Total Wines & More you can buy as many bottles as you like.

This fall (around September), Black Coral Rum will be moving from Riviera Beach to a new location in downtown West Palm Beach where they will be opening a tasting room for their 2000-2500 gallon still. "We'll be building the biggest distillery in West Palm Beach. It will be the biggest craft distillery in the state," said Ben, adding, "We will be making spirits that haven't been made in over a hundred years."

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Treasure Rum, Chocolate Cherry Flavored Rum

Miami, Fla.—Good tasting cherry flavored alcohol is hard to find. But Treasure Rum's Chocolate Cherry Flavored Rum has mastered it. “It took a long time to get the flavoring right but we got it just right,” said co-owner Mike Spies, and former Florida Keys resident, of Treasure Rum LLC. I met him and his business partner Jannette Galis-Menedez at the Ninth Annual Miami Rum Festival & Trade Show this year at the Miami Airport Convention Center.

Mike Spies and Jannette Galis-Menedez owners of Treasure Rum, at 9th
Annual Miami Rum Festival & Trade Show, Miami, Fla.

Treasure Rum, started just seven months ago, has already gotten onto the shelves of all the Total Wine &More stores from Homestead to Plantation.

It was the long time passion turned hobby for Spies who wanted to develop his own personal flavored rum. With the help of Citrus Distillery in Riviera Beach, Fla., they developed their double distilled hand-crafted rum.

“It has been very interesting, but a lot of work,” said Cuban born Galis-Menedez. They wanted to use the word Pirate for their brand but it was already trademarked. So to represent their dual heritage, a map of Cuba and a tiny pirate image is located on the label.

I found it to be yummy dark, golden-colored rum with a pleasant aroma and taste rich dark cherries followed by milk chocolate.

“It has an aftertaste like chocolate covered cherries, that’s what we were looking for,” said Spies. He added they had to go out of country to get the flavoring for the rum because they did not want it to taste like chocolate covered cough syrup.

Spies said their rum has been very well received at every Total Wines & More tastings he has done in south Florida stores. He also found a good response at the Miami Rum show.

You can find out more details about them and Treasure Rum at

Also Island Dogs Bar, in Key West now serves Treasure Rum.

You can also email Jannette Galis-Menedez at or call 305-799-1941