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Florida Fruits and Vegetables in the Commercial Menu


A Few Vegetables Helpful in Giving Unusual Variety to the Florida Menu

With a small amount of effort in gardening many hotels, tea rooms, and other commercial organizations may both in summer and winter, in North Florida and in South Florida, grow a few unusual products which lend interest to any menu. With the climate, moisture and soil available, it is quite possible by the production of even a small number of vegetables to build a reputation for the "unusual." This is always an attraction for the public, particularly the traveling public.

Lima Beans, Rutabagas, Jerusalem Artichoke,
Butter Beans, Potatoes, White, Plantain,
Sweet Corn, Yams, Banana,
Cucumber, Dasheen, Yutia,
Egg Plant, Salsify, Pigeon Pea,
Parsnips, Pumpkins, Chaya,
Peas, Field, Beets, Faba Bean,
Peas, Green, Cushaw, Talinum.


This is not a sweet potato. It is a larger tuber than the sweet potato and not so sweet. When it grows to unusual size it is coarser than the sweet potato. It keeps more easily than the potato. In the lower part of the state it remains in the ground from year to year without replanting. Farmers "dig" it as they need it from day to day.


The dasheen is an underground corn or tuber in which the plant stores starch. The leaves are similar to "Elephant Ear." The tuber is similar to the white potato but has less water and more starch and protein. It has a nutty flavor, when cooked by boiling or baking, that suggests boiled chestnuts. It is served with drawn butter. It bakes nicely. The dasheen makes a successful fluted "crisp" to be eaten like potato chips. Dasheen leaves are also used is greens. They should be selected when young and tender.

Plantain (Cooking Banana.)

Plantain has the appearance of a very large coarse banana. It is not edible raw but is a good source of vitamin A and B in the cooked stage. It should be cooked slowly. Before it is ripe it may be sliced very thin and cooked like potato chips. It may also be baked or boiled. It is akin to the sweet potato in taste and texture when cooked. Lemon juice and butter add to the flavor.

Florida Banana

For baking, for salads, or for desserts the Florida banana is adaptable. It combines nicely with citrus fruits which give it an additional pleasing flavor. The Florida banana has a finer texture and flavor than the imported fruit.


The yutia is a tuber related to the dasheen. It grows easily and to the size of two to three feet in length in South Florida. It keeps for a long time to the ground. It is similar to the white potato in food value. To prepare for table use, peel, boil and dice, and season like potatoes. Yutias and dasheens may be used to advantage in the season when Florida white potatoes are not on the market.

Tropical Green Pea-Pigeon Pea

This pea grows on a tall woody half hardy shrub that yields abundantly. They are only a little less tender than the "English" peas. A "Hoppin' John" made from pigeon peas using one-half pint of peas, cooked, to a pint of rice, cooked, and seasoning with onions, tomatoes and a little bacon or ham would tempt the appetite of any guest.

Broad Bean (Vicia Faba.)

This bean, very popular with Europeans, is now grown and is being placed on the Florida market. It is an unusually well flavored bean and when fresh and green requires only a short time cooking.


Okra thrives through the hot season and continues to bear well. Its food value is similar to that of the green leafy plant and it should be cultivated throughout Florida for commercial and home use especially through the "scarce" season.


Recently a variety of rhubarb suited to Florida has been grown successfully and been welcomed by the public in the Florida market.

Newer Forms of Spinach

Chaya (Tree Spinach.)

The chaya plant grows from a cutting. The leaves are tender and free from any unpleasant flavor. The ends of the branches of this tropical spinach shrub may be steamed until tender and seasoned to taste. They make be cooked so as to hold their shape and then dipped into a thin butter and fried in a deep fat. This method gives variety to those who tire of the milder ways of preparing vegetables.


Talinum is indeed a tropical spinach, tender, mild favored slid attractive in texture. It will grow in the very hot sun still grows rapidly from small cuttings. Steaming is the best no I load for cooking. Eight or ten minutes steaming is enough.

Excerpt from Stennis, M.A., "IX—Other Florida Vegetables Available for Use in the Commercial Menu" Florida Fruits and Vegetables in the Commercial Menu, State of Florida Department of Agriculture, Tallahassee, September, 1931, pgs 44-45.

Keywords: cooking, legume, legumes, tubercle, tubercles


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