Natural Foods Merchandiser

Tropical treats can warm February days

The weather outside is dreary, and it may feel a bit that way in some produce departments, too. February may have you and your customers looking for warmer weather and a little excitement in the daily routine. A vacation to an exotic location isn't an option for everyone, so do the next best thing for your customers and load up your produce department with an array of tropical delights.

If the weather has been kind to the Southern Hemisphere, you can greet customers with all sorts of tropical treats, such as organic pineapples, mangoes, bananas and ginger. Now is the unofficial start of the tropical-fruit season, which means months of good availability, great taste and pricing. So take off your produce manager's hat and trade it in for a straw one?become your customers' indoor vacation planner.

Start by making a big display that customers will see as they walk in the door. Stack cases of organic bananas, create a cascade of juicy mangoes that appear to be tumbling right into their carts, and top it with a slew of ripe pineapple.

On the next end cap, feature a couple more winter produce favorites, like tangelos—those large, bright-orange, bell-shaped globes. You know they're seedless and have just the right balance of sweet and tang?but your staff may need reminding. Have the crew taste them at your next meeting so they can talk up this winter favorite, which, by the way, is a cross between a Duncan grapefruit and a Dancy tangerine.

Don't forget about blood oranges, which are just starting to come into season. These are great alone, or they can add a perfect touch of citrus to accompany mango spring rolls, which your prepared-foods department can have ready to grab and go. Or set up a table with the recipe and all the ingredients ready to buy in your department.

Now that your customers are smiling and filling their carts, let's get this vacation scene started. Stick some of those little umbrella toothpicks into the fruit samples to get shoppers in the mood.

And give them the following instructions for when they get home: Cube the mango, cut up the pineapple, peel the banana and put them on a festive plate. Then, grab a piece of the tropical delights and let the sweetness and firm texture take them far, far away.

And when they feel that sensation of the fruit juice dripping down their chin, they will think of the produce manager and crew at the store who gave them a respite from the wintertime blues.

Mango Spring Rolls

Makes 6 spring rolls
    Vegetable oil, for frying
    1/3 cup granulated sugar to roll spring rolls in
    1 large mango, ripe but firm
    1/4 cup sweetened coconut, shredded
    1 tablespoon granulated sugar
    1 tablespoon brown sugar
    2 dashes ground ginger
    6 spring roll wrappers
    1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • Place 1/3 cup granulated sugar in a shallow dish.
  • Peel mango and slice flesh into matchstick-size pieces. Place in a medium bowl. Add 1/4 cup coconut and 1 tablespoon each of granulated and brown sugar and ginger into mango.
  • Place six spring roll wrappers on a work surface. Dividing mixture equally, spoon mango filling onto one top corner of each wrapper. Tightly roll corner toward center to partially enclose filling. Once you reach center, fold in sides to cover filling. Tightly roll wrapper to form a small log. Seal seams by brushing with egg white.
  • Pour 2 inches of oil into a medium-depth frying pan.
  • Heat oil to medium-high heat (350o) Carefully slip two to three rolls into hot oil. Don't overcrowd them. Fry, turning once or twice until golden brown, two to three minutes.
  • Once browned, blot dry on paper towels, then roll in granulated sugar.
  • Recipe adapted from

    Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIX/number 2/p. 29

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