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Consumer Qs: Jan. 20, 2016

Q: What can you tell me about Romanesco broccoli? I hear some people say it is really a cauliflower. How do you eat it?
A: Broccoli or cauliflower? You can call it either, neither or both. We most often see it labeled as broccoli. It is usually listed in seed catalogs as broccoli, perhaps because they don’t want to create a separate category for it. From a culinary viewpoint, its taste, texture and uses lean more toward cauliflower. It looks like both but has a more refined appearance than either. It is apple green and each head seems to be composed of thousands of spiraling fractal Christmas tree florets. Some people call it only Romanesco, and the French call it Romanesco cabbage (chou romanesco).
Actually, there is not a hard and fast wall between broccoli, cauliflower and other members of cabbage clan. Think of it this way, Afghan hounds, dachshunds, great Danes and teacup Chihuahuas all look very different. They have been bred over many years to express certain characteristics. Yet, they are all dogs and members of the same species. Broccoli and cauliflower (as well as cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts) are also the same species but have been selected by farmers over thousands of years for specific traits.
Romanesco — whatever — can be eaten raw in salads or with dips, steamed, sauteed, roasted and used in numerous other recipes.

Q: Can we grow lusterleaf holly in Georgia?
A: Lusterleaf holly (Ilex latifolia) is a superb broad-leaved evergreen for Georgia and the Southeast. Grow it as a tree or large shrub in sun or half shade. It is useful for creating a tall informal hedge to block a view or to block and absorb sound from a freeway. Two of the lusterleaf’s great virtues are its clusters of brick-red berries (on females) and large, glossy evergreen leaves with their finely serrated edge. Lusterleaf holly combines well with other broad-leaved evergreens such as yaupon, Southern magnolia, camellias, Japanese cleyera, tea olive, waxmyrtle and Chinese photinia. A few, good needle-leaved companions include cryptomeria, Leyland cypress and red cedar. It also works well with a wide range of deciduous trees and shrubs including hawthorn, winterberry, possumhaw, witch-hazel and crabapple.
Lusterleaf holly may not be as well-known as some of the cultivars that are its offspring. A good example is Emily Bruner, a hybrid of lusterleaf holly and the popular Burford holly.
Contact your local nursery or garden center for availability and more information about lusterleaf holly.

Q: My husband’s family always eats collards for New Year’s Day, but I don’t like eating collards or cooking them. Do you have other options?
A: Some Southerners traditionally eat collards on New Year’s Day in the belief that the greens will ensure lots of greenbacks through the coming year. However, collards are not the only greens that may be eaten. This tradition varies from family to family and region to region. Turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, tendergreens and mixtures of these and other greens are the tradition for some Southerners. Cabbage is supposed to be the New Year’s green of choice in the New Orleans area. These other greens may be more suitable to your liking and take less time to cook.
However, we do not recommend breaking the family tradition just because you don’t like the taste or trouble unless you consult and get the agreement of everyone involved. That is not a good way to start 2016. Perhaps someone else could cook the collards and you could cook the black-eyed peas. (Black-eyed peas represent silver money and/or overall good luck in the coming year.) Perhaps someone else could cook the collards the family way and you could prepare an alternative collard dish such as collar chips (like kale chips but using collards) or a collard salad.
Here is a collard salad from the Georgia Grown Test Kitchen that you may want to consider.
Collard Green Salad With Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette
6 cups shredded collards
2 tablespoons Oliver Farms pecan oil
1/4 cup shaved onion
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup pepper jelly vinaigrette
In a large bowl, drizzle pecan oil over collard greens, massaging oil into greens. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate greens several hours or overnight. Add 1/2 cup pepper jelly vinaigrette and toss to combine. Serve immediately. Serves 6-8.

Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette
1/4 cup Wisham’s cranberry pepper jelly
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup pecan oil
Salt & pepper
Whisk ingredients together. Reserve excess for another use.

Georgia grown collards may be found at farmers markets and grocery stores in fall, winter and early spring. The pepper jelly and pecan oil in this recipe come from Wisham Jellies (www.wishamjellies.com) in Tifton and Oliver Farm (www.oliverfarm.com) in Pitts, Ga.

Q: Where will the 2016 Agriculture Forecast seminars be held?
A: Jan. 21 at Carroll County Ag Center, Carrollton; Jan. 22 at Unicoi State Park, Cleveland; Jan. 25 at Cloud Livestock Facility, Bainbridge; Jan. 26 at Tifton Campus Conference Center, Tifton; Jan. 27 at Blueberry Warehouse, Alma; and Jan. 29 at Georgia Farm Bureau Building, Macon.
The 2016 keynote topic will be a discussion of sales tax distribution patterns and how Georgia counties have been affected in light of recent legislative tax changes such as the Georgia Agriculture Tax Exemption (GATE) and the Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT). Georgia Ag Forecast is an annual seminar series presented by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) in partnership with Georgia Farm Bureau and the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
For more information and to register online, go to www.georgiaagforecast.com or contact the CAES Office of External Relations at 706-583-0347.

Q: I have heard it is dangerous to eat raw cashews. Is that true? I see them sold in the grocery store.
A: Raw cashews you find in a supermarket have actually been steamed to remove the urushiol, a chemical also found in poison ivy that you don’t want to eat. Those cashews from the grocery store are safe to eat, unless, of course, you are naturally allergic to them.

Q: A friend from Vermont gave me some genuine maple syrup. How long can I store it?
A: If it remains unopened, maple syrup can be stored in the pantry about a year. After opening, it should be stored in the refrigerator and will last about a year.
We hope you reciprocated with some molasses, sorghum syrup or one of the many fine varietal honeys produced here in Georgia.

Q: Where can I register to enter the Flavor of Georgia Contest?
A: Register online for the 10th annual Flavor of Georgia Contest at http://www.flavorofgeorgia.caes.uga.edu/.
The Flavor of Georgia Contest showcases delicious, innovative, market-ready prototypes or commercially available food products. Entries are judged on technical aspects such as flavor, texture and ingredient profile. Also considered are potential market volume, consumer appeal and how well the product represents Georgia. The contest can help increase exposure, publicity, business contacts and sales for finalists. More than 1,000 products have entered since the contest began in 2007.
Good luck with your entry!

If you have questions about services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, write Arty Schronce (arty.schronce@agr.georgia.gov) or visit the department’s website at www.agr.georgia.gov