Thursday, February 19, 2015

Culinary Trends in 2015: Root Vegetables

Albion Parsnip

Johnny’s Product Managers are weighing in on the National Restaurant Association’s list of this year’s top culinary trends. Last week, Vegetable Product Manager, Lauren Giroux, covered the topic of Fresh Peas. The week prior, Vegetable Product Manager, Pete Zuck, discussed Heirloom Tomatoes. This week, Pete, along with Johnny’s Plant Breeder, John Navazio, will be sharing their thoughts on Root Vegetables:

Root Vegetables

By Pete Zuck, Vegetable Product Manager, and John Navazio, Plant Breeder

Root vegetables remain a strong trend because of their high nutritional content, sweet flavor, and ability to store well into the winter months. They have been a huge factor in helping growers provide locally-grown food during northern winters.

One thing that is often misunderstood about root crops is the outer layer, or “skin.” There is a misconception out that the skin of a root crop vegetable contains a high concentration of nutrients, and that it should be left on the root for more nutritious eating. In fact, there is nothing particularly special, nutrient-wise, about the outer skin of a carrot or beet or parsnip. It does, however often contain high levels of off-tasting compounds like terpenoids, which give carrots a metallic flavor, and geosmin, which makes beets taste like dirt. So go ahead and peel your carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips… You will enjoy them much more without sacrificing nutrition!
Hakurei Turnip


Friday, February 13, 2015

Culinary Trends in 2015: Fresh Peas

Petite Snap-Greens

Johnny’s Product Managers are weighing in on the National Restaurant Association’s list of this year’s top culinary trends. Last week, Vegetable Product Manager, Pete Zuck covered Heirloom Tomatoes. This week, Johnny’s Vegetable Product Manager, Lauren Giroux, will be discussing Fresh Peas:

      Fresh Peas
By Lauren Giroux, Vegetable Product Manager

Let’s think about the significance of peas. For many babies, peas were one of the first foods introduced, for better or worse. They are mild, sweet, and healthy. When most people think of peas, they are probably thinking about shell peas, and they are probably most familiar with the frozen form. They might also recognize the snow peas used in Chinese food. 

Today, peas are much more exciting. We still have the standard snap peas of gardens past — varieties like ‘Sugar Snapand ‘Sugar Ann— that you eat right in the garden, or pack as a snack in your lunchbox. Then there are pea shoots which make not only an appealing garnish option for many dishes, but also add great flavor to salads. The real beauty of pea shoots is the ability to experience fresh pea flavor all year round, in less than two weeks. 

And now, peas are coming in different colors and with interesting leaf patterns. There are yellow and purple pods, and the most tender shoots and interesting leafy “tendrils.” These shoots and tendrils make perfect additions to salad mix, or to garnish a plate. Don’t forget, the flowers, make another great addition to your spring salad. So, eat your peas — the whole plant. 

*Learn about Pea Selection at Johnny's: 

        ·      The Story of Sugar Ann >


*Discover our selection of 16 varieties of Peas at

·         Shop for Sugar Ann >
·         Shop for Sugar Snap 
·         Shop for Royal Snow >
·         Shop for Golden Sweet >
·         Shop for Petit Snap Greens >

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Culinary Trends in 2015: Heirloom Tomatoes

At the turn of the New Year, the National Restaurant Association releases its predictions for the coming year’s top culinary trends. The list is the result of a survey of professional chefs, indicating which items you can expect to be on your menu when you dine out, or to inspire creations in our own kitchen.  

It should come as no surprise that for the past four years, local food has taken the top ranking. From year to year, the remainder of the list has been in flux, with one trend overcoming or falling victim to another. For horticulture-based  trends, especially for local food, the source all comes back to seeds and how the food is grown.

The product managers at Johnny’s reviewed this year’s list and offered up their thoughts on a few of their favorite trends. Each week for the next 5 weeks, we will be covering a different topic within a blog post. Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts on each of the trends we cover.

Heirloom Tomatoes

By Pete Zuck, Vegetable Product Manager

The allure of an heirloom tomato has always been its exceptional flavor. While still very popular with consumers, heirloom tomatoes have recently lost a little ground to other trends. They are also slipping in popularity with growers because they tend to produce far fewer marketable fruits than more modern tomatoes, and do not have the same disease resistances as hybrid varieties to keep them producing vigorously throughout the season.

Black Prince
With that in mind, modern breeding has begun to catch up with heirloom tomatoes. Varieties like ‘Marnero’ and ‘Margold’, available exclusively from Johnny’s, have solved a long-confounding puzzle: how to wed the incomparable eating quality of heirlooms with the commercial performance of modern hybrids The results are outstanding: fruits that retain every bit of the flavor and beauty of the old heirlooms on plants that can produce 2-3 times the yield.

Explore additional resources on Heirloom Tomatoes: