Friday, 2 October 2015

Who is Europe's Biggest Producer of Bananas?

Here at FFTO HQ, we have had questions about whether we can source locally grown bananas (unfortunately, bananas do not grow in England!) However, bananas are grown in Europe. And surprisingly, Europe's biggest producer of bananas is.....ICELAND.
Usually, bananas are grown in countries of the tropics - Africa, Latin America, Caribbean, Pacific etc. However, this cold country is also a major producer of bananas.

With average temperatures registering between 32 Fahrenheit in winter and a tepid 50 at the height of summer, Iceland’s climate seems most suitable for growing mold and frostbite.
 But Iceland’s secret to agricultural innovation lies beneath the surface — way beneath.

The island straddles the mid-Atlantic ridge, where the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates meet. The plates are very slowly pulling apart, allowing heat from the Earth’s core to escape. More rarely, lava emerges, as was the case with the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, whose ash cloud caused chaos for travelers across the Northern Hemisphere. Less dramatically, this heat is escaping constantly through geysers, making hot springs a common feature on the southern part of the island.

Since the 1920s, Icelanders have been harnessing this geothermal energy to heat their homes. It’s a cheap and effective source of renewable energy, and in the 1940s, Iceland’s agricultural mavericks began looking at how this energy could be pushed further, to heat greenhouses growing vegetables, flowers and, in theory, bananas, which during World War II had become a rare and expensive commodity.

Iceland’s banana plantation sits atop a 5,000 year-old lava field some 27 miles east of Reykjavíc at the Agricultural University of Iceland in Hveragerði, though perhaps the title plantation is slightly grandiose. At around 11,000 square feet in size — less than a quarter the size of a football field — this single greenhouse holds all of Iceland’s banana plants.

Built in the late 1940s, this tropical glass greenhouse is virtually indistinguishable from the hundreds of others like it found all over the island. Water drips from the ceiling, and every few minutes, the blisteringly hot pipes that run through the middle of the plant-rows noisily clunk and groan.
It might not be a plantation, but hanging from an eight-foot plant marked bananajurt musa x paradisiacal are a dozen or so large, green bunches of bananas. The English translation beneath reads: “Edible banana.”

Bananas can grow in Iceland. So what’s stopping them from grabbing the title of banana capital?
“Banana plants can only bear fruit once, and it takes a year and half for them to reach maturity,” greenhouse manager Elias Óskarsson explains. “And they take an awful lot of work to maintain for such little yield.”

Despite the geothermal heat, growth that takes a few months in Africa or South America drags on for 18 months in Iceland. This is due to the sun’s Arctic schedule, which plunges the island into extended darkness in winter and almost perpetual sunshine in summer.

Banana Greenhouse at Hveragerði

Did you know bananas grow in Iceland? Tweet us @office_fruit

Friday, 25 September 2015

Superhero Fruits - Cold Fighters Edition

It is now officially Autumn - after the Autumn Equinox on Wednesday, the days are set to draw shorter, and the weather is dropping. Now is the time that we battle with ourselves - should I put the heating on yet? Do I really need 3 layers of jumpers when it's only September? Do I need to banish my legs into trousers already? *sadface*

This is the season where colds begin to rear their ugly heads. Here at FFTO HQ, we like to try and find natural ways to prevent illness. Read on to find out which are our top fruits that help prevent (and fight) colds, and most of these can be found in your office fruit delivery:

The most popular source of antioxidants in our diet, one apple has an antioxidant effect equivalent to 1,500 mg of vitamin C. Apples are loaded with protective flavonoids, which may prevent heart disease and cancer

With 250 percent of the RDA of vitamin C, a papaya can help kick a cold right out of your system. The beta-carotene and vitamins C and E in papayas reduce inflammation throughout the body, lessening the effects of asthma.

Cranberries have more antioxidants than other common fruits and veggies. One serving has five times the amount in broccoli. Cranberries are a natural probiotic, enhancing good bacteria levels in the gut and protecting it from foodborne illnesses.

Loaded with vitamin C, grapefruit also contains natural compounds called limonoids, which can lower cholesterol. The red varieties are a potent source of the cancer-fighting substance lycopene.

One of the top food sources of vitamin B6, bananas help reduce fatigue, depression, stress, and insomnia. Bananas are high in magnesium, which keeps bones strong, and potassium, which helps prevent heart disease and high blood pressure.

To add these to your fruit delivery, visit our website.

What are your favourite fruits to keep you healthy? Tweet us @office_fruit

Thursday, 17 September 2015

How To Store Your Fruit

Here at Fruit For The Offce HQ, we know just how important it is that your office fruit delivery lasts you through the week. But do you find your apples wrinkling before Friday? Avocados ripening too quickly (or not quick enough?) Do your berries stand the test of time?

We've hunted for the best ways to store your fruit, to help you make the most out of your fruit delivery.

How to store bananas
The fruit delivery staple, bananas are one of the easiest fruits to grab and eat. However, these cheeky yellow fruits emit ethylene gas, which cause other fruits to ripen quicker. We suggest that to keep all of your fruit delivery ripe for longer, you store the bananas away from the other fruit.
You can also wrap the stems in plastic wrap to buy you several more days of ripening time. You can also separate and wrap them individually to slow down the process even more.

Image credit: Lifehacker

On the flip side of this, if your bananas are a little too green, and you prefer them a bit riper, you can pop them in a plastic bag for a day or two. The gas that the bananas produce will help ripen them quicker, leaving them perfect for munching for elevenses.

How to store apples
Apples, another fruit staple, are another fruit that gives out gases.  Remember the old adage: "One bad apple rots the whole bunch." Like bananas, apples give off a lot of ethylene gas, and so just one bruised and rotting apple will give off enough to swiftly ripen (and rot) the others. If you have any bruises or soft spots on an apple, set it aside for eating. Don't store with the other apples.
Apples are one of the few fruits that really do benefit from being stored in the fridge as quickly as possible.

How to store avocado
Avocados are delicious, and can be used in a variety of ways (check out our recipe for Eggs Baked in Avocado here).
How you store your avocados depends on how ripe they are when they are delivered. If you have selected ready to eat avocados, they should be just ripe for eating. These can be stored in the fridge until needed - refrigeration halts the ripening process. If you know they are going to be eaten within a day or two, they can be stored on the counter.
However, if you have selected unripe avocados, you will need to bring them on to ripeness before you can eat them. The best way to do this is to store them in a paper bag (the bags you recieve with your fruit delivery are perfect for this) on the counter, until they are ripe. You can tell if an avocado is ripe by pulling at the stem - if this comes away easily, the flesh inside is ready for eating.

How to store berries
Berries are a breakfast staple, and are great for snacks throughout the day. Berries aren't the cheapest of fruit - so it's disappointing if they don't last as long as you would like. Washing them before storage usually accelerates the deterioration, however, you can try washing your berries in the following way, to make them last longer in storage:
Wash the berries in a diluted vinegar bath (1 cup vinegar plus 3 cups water) and spin them dry in a salad spinner lined with paper towels until they are completely dry. Store the cleaned berries in a sealable container lined with paper towels, leaving the lid open a little to allow moisture to escape.
The vinegar destroys bacteria and mold spores on the berries, helping them stay fresh longer.
If you do not want to wash your berries in this way, keep them unwashed in the fridge.

How to store grapes
Grapes are best stored in a paper bag (or perforated plastic) in the refrigerator. They will last 1 to 2 weeks.

Image Credit: WikiHow

How to store kiwi
 Kiwi will continue to ripen after picking. If your kiwi is underripe, leave it on the kitchen counter for a few days. Ripe kiwi's can be kept in the refrigerator for several weeks.

How to store pears
Pears are always picked underripe as they do not benefit from ripening on the tree. They should be stored at room temperature. You will know a pear is ripe because it will give slightly when gently pressed and smell wonderfully aromatic. The stem will have a little give when jiggled slightly.

How to store lemons
Lemons are great to put in hot water as a cleanser for your digestive system. Lemons stored in room temperature conditions last for about a week before hardening. However, if they are sealed in a plastic bag, they can last up to four times as long.

You can find all of these fruits to buy here.

Do you have any tips on storing your office fruit delivery? Tweet us @office_fruit

Friday, 11 September 2015

Eggs Baked in Avocado

When researching our Rise of the Avocado blog post, we couldn't stop ourselves from thinking of all the different ways we can incorporate avocados into our meals. We stumbled upon this great recipe, Eggs Baked in Avocado. The baked avocado is creamy, and the combination of avocado, eggs and salsa is classic. These would be great for breakfast, (or if you're up late, brunch), or even as a small dinner.

Read on to find out how to make this eggy avocado deliciousness...

How long will it take me? 

Prep time - 10 mins
Cook time - 15 mins
Total time - 25 mins

What do I need to make it?
  • 1 large, just-ripe Haas avocado
  • 2 eggs - the smaller the better
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cooked red salsa or tomato sauce

How do I make it?
  1. Heat oven to Gas Mark 6. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Using a spoon, scrape out the center of each half - you want it to be large enough to accommodate a small/medium egg.
  3. Season the avocado halves with salt and place on the prepared baking sheet. Break each egg into a small bowl, then carefully slide the yolk, and as much as will fit from the white, into the center of each avocado half.
  4. Bake 15 minutes, or until whites are set. Remove from the oven. Allow to slightly cool, about 5 minutes (it will be too hot to enjoy straight out of the oven), then sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and garnish with salsa.

How do I eat it?

Serve as is with a spoon, or scoop it out and spread on warm toast.


Adapted from: 

What are your favourite avocado recipes? Tweet us @office_fruit! 

Friday, 4 September 2015

A - Z of Fruits

For this week's posts, here at Fruit For The Office HQ we challenged ourselves to find a fruit for every letter of the alphabet. This is what we came up with...

A is for... Apples
B is for... Bananas
C is for... Cherries
D is for... Date
E is for... Elderberry
F is for... Figs
G is for... Grapefruit
H is for... Honeydew Melon
I is for... Iyokan
J is for... Jackfruit
K is for... Kiwano Melon

Kiwano Melon

L is for... Lemon
M is for... Melon
N is for... Nadorcott Tangerine
O is for... Orange
P is for... Passionfruit
Q is for... Quince
R is for... Rambutan
S is for... Starfruit
T is for... Tamarillo
U is for... Ugli Fruit

Ugli Fruit
V is for... Voavanga
W is for... Watermelon
X is for... Ximenia
Y is for... Yangmei
Z is for... Zucchini (technically a vegetable!)

You can find many of these fruits (and more) available to purchase here.

Let us know if you have any fruits for Z! Tweet us @office_fruit

Friday, 28 August 2015

The Hottest Ways To Spend the Bank Holiday (August 2015 Edition)

As the August Bank Holiday approaches, and we while consider what to do with our extra day off, we've scoured the 'net to find out the hottest ways to spend this long weekend...

Notting Hill Carnival

If you're in the mood for a street party, look no further than Europe's largest street festival. Over 1 million people are expected to head into West London for this year's festivities.

This Carribean festival takes place from Saturday 29th August, and finishes on Monday 31st August.

The carnival weekend kicks off on the Saturday night with Panorama, a free open-air concert involving a steel band competition at Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park, from 6pm until 10pm.
Sunday at The Notting Hill Carnival is Family Day. It starts off with J’Ouvert, a fun opening with dance, drummers and steel bands from 6am until 9am. The Sunday Parade gets under way at 10am and continues until 8.30pm.
Bank Holiday Monday sees the main parade. In the evening, the floats leave the streets in procession and people continue the festivities at the many Notting Hill Carnival after-parties.

London public transport is the best way to travel to the Notting Hill Carnival. Check out the TFL website for the best ways to get to the carnival.

Camden Fringe

The Camden Fringe is a performing arts festival which takes place in Camden during August.  Shows take place throughout the day and generally last one hour. The Fringe ends on Sunday 29th August, so catch it while you can!

The Camden Fringe was set-up as an alternative to Edinburgh Festival in London, offering performers the chance to try out new material and different ideas in a supportive setting with less time and fewer financial commitments than Edinburgh.
To find out more, visit the Camden Fringe website here.

Beach East

Beach East at Queen Elizabeth Park, Stratford, is a free day out for the whole family. Open until Monday 31st August, this urban beach is over 2,200 square metres of sand despoitated at the site, ideal for endless sandcastle competitions and balmy evening walks.  A gigantic paddling pool and funfair rides will entertain the kids, and Pub Tropicana and Coconut Joe's bar will keep the adults suitably refreshed.


Located in the Multi Storey Car Park Former Television Centre in White City, this open air bar space offers a mix of food, art, alcohol and music. Open on weekends, and free to enter, you will find a variety of food stalls such as Crabbieshack and their soft-shell crab burgers, Le Bun's French American menu and Carribbean from White Men Can't Jerk.  Daytimes will feature brunch dishes, a bloody mary bar and day beds; evenings will focus on terrific cocktails, great DJs and – presumably – a pretty hot view of the city.

Storeys is open until Sunday 13th September.

What are your plans for this Bank Holiday weekend? Tweet us @office_fruit to let us know!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Frozen Fruit Treats

When the weather is hot, we tend to reach for ice cream, lollies, and other sugary frozen treats. But, did you know that frozen fruit can be even more satisfying? We've listed our favourite frozen treats, to help cool you down this summer...

1. Frozen Grapes

Did you know that grapes are members of the berry family?  Grapes are super-sweet, but they are packed with health supporting nutrients such as Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin B and potassium. Not bad!

For the perfect frozen grape, rinse them off throughly, dry, and put them in the freezer overnight for a good even freeze. Once frozen, they will be crunchy on the outside, while the inside becomes a smooth sortbet surprise (these are our favourite!)

If you have more of a sweet tooth, you may want to try freezing red or black grapes. Green grapes are a popular pick for those who enjoy the sweet and tangy flavor. Whether you are in need of a refreshing snack after a tough workout or craving a cool snack on a hot summer day, frozen grapes won’t dissapoint!

2.Frozen Strawberries

Fresh strawberries are a healthy addition to any diet. The health value of frozen strawberries depends on the type you choose. Unsweetened frozen strawberries provide many of the same nutrients as fresh and their benefits are available year-round; however, sweetened versions can add too much sugar to your diet.

If you do not want to buy ready-frozen strawberries, you can make use of the lovely British strawberries available at this time of year, and freeze overnight for a gorgeous sweet treat.

3. Frozen Raspberries

While raspberries are available all year round, we're lucky to have lovely British raspberrries available at this time of year. The freezing process accentuates their sharp, fresh falvour, and retain their seductive perfume.

They are relatively low in sugar, which is good for anyone who wants to lose weight. Or if not, they are a good alternative to a sugar-laden lolly!

4. Frozen Bananas

Bananas are a great treat for any time of year, and are full of great nutrients like potassium. Frozen bananas become like ice cream, and are a healthy alternative to ice creams. Kids in particular love it!

If you do decide to freeze bananas, we have the following tips:

  •  Choose ripe to slightly overripe bananas. Bananas that have not fully ripened will not ripen correctly if frozen. As soon as a banana has ripened, it can technically be frozen. Freezing a banana just before it becomes overripe or during the beginning stages of being overripe tends to preserve a stronger flavor, though, and is generally preferred.
  • Decide whether or not to peel the banana. A banana can be frozen both in the peel and out. Freezing the banana in the peel takes a little less initial effort, but you should be aware that there are some downsides. Out of the peel, frozen bananas tend to last roughly one month longer than when stored in the peel. Peeling a frozen banana can also be difficult, since you must wait until after the banana thaws and since the banana tends to be extremely mushy afterward.Also note that the skin of an unpeeled frozen banana will turn black when stored in the freezer, but the banana inside is still edible. 
  • Place peeled bananas on a cookie sheet and freeze. To prevent the bananas from sticking together as they freeze, you need to freeze them separately before storing them together. Place the peeled bananas on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper, spacing them apart so that they do not touch. Put the cookie sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes, or until the bananas are frozen solid. Note that unpeeled bananas do not need to be frozen separately first.
  • Thaw before peeling bananas. If you kept the peel on, you will need to wait until the banana has thawed some before you can remove it. The process will likely be a bit slimy, but the banana should still be good.
  • Use unpeeled bananas either frozen or thawed. If you are using the banana in something like a smoothie, you might be able to blend it into the smoothie while it is still fully or partially frozen. For use in baked goods, thaw the banana first.

5. Frozen Blueberries

 Blackberries are full of antioxidants, and it may be that frozen blueberries have even more antioxidents than fresh, according to new research from South Dakota State Universtity.

While you may not want to eat these on their own, frozen blueberries are great either smothered in yoghurt (we love greek yoghurt!) or tossed in a smoothie.

Do you have a favourite frozen fruit? Tweet us @office_fruit
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