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Florida Food Contributors

Florida
Episode Description | State Plate Seasons

Wild Bill's Airboat Tours

Wild Bill’s Airboat Tours  |  Aaron Bengwerff

Gator Bites | Website

Wild Bill’s Airboat Tours is the first airboat tour in Florida approved by The U.S. Coast Guard. The company takes tourists, thrill seekers, wildlife enthusiasts and others up for an adventure on an exciting (often soaking!) ride down the Withlacoochee River into unspoiled wilderness, through wetlands and swamps searching for Florida alligators.

They accommodate large or small groups, those who want to mosey down the river and those who want to cut through the water at speed.

How well did Taylor Hicks survive his tour with Captain Aaron at the helm? Did he have an alligator sighting? You’ll have to watch to find out.

See ya later, Alligator! And you’d be running fast if you saw this guy hanging around! The Florida State record for the longest male alligator is 14 foot 3-1/2 inches, a gator from Lake Washington in Brevard County.

 


Bret Johnson

Bret Johnson  |  Bret Johnson

Gator Bites


Fresh off the Boat Seafood

Fresh off the Boat Seafood  |  Dylan McClain

Stone Crab | Website

Family owned and operated for 25 years, Fresh Off The Boat Seafood provides premium seafood, specializing in Florida stone crab from the Gulf of Mexico. They offer premium quality, fresh stone crabs taken directly from their own boats, processed, cooked, shipped and delivered to customers’ doors the very next day.

How to Crack the Claw: Stone Crab claws are hard and sharp. The temptation is to take a mallet and whack it! Stop! Step away from the hammer! You’ll only end up with tiny shards of claw embedded in the meat. Use a butter knife, instead. You read that right. A butter knife. Place the claw in the palm of your hand and using the handle of the knife, strike the claw to simply fracture the shell on both sides. Now, just pull from the tips of the pinchers to remove the meat. Still difficult? Continue to fracture until the meat comes out easily.

 


Summer Corbitt

Summer Corbitt |  Summer Corbitt

Swamp Cabbage

For Summer Corbitt, cutting down a cabbage palm tree, paring it down to the heart and cooking it up with salt pork or a ham hock is a matter of pride that goes beyond winning prizes at fairs. It’s family. It’s a typical, regional side dish she can share at a potluck or serve at holidays, special occasions or to friends who’ve never tasted the rich, soft stew. It’s about tradition. It’s about her earliest memories of being on her dad’s farm.

Summer admits there’s one reason some people might not experience the savory taste of this special side dish.

“Most people are nervous to try something called Swamp Cabbage, and it does look a little “swampy,” but nine-out-of-ten people who try it really love it,” she says, “For me, I love the rich pork flavor and the slightly creamy taste the swamp cabbage produces. Swamp Cabbage just tastes like home to me because it is so unique to our area and because we’ve been making it as a family for as long as I can remember.”

The palm heart is naturally fibrous and takes a few hours to boil down. One has to be careful to cook it just to the point of being tender. If it’s overcooked, it becomes too mushy, and not recognizable as swamp cabbage.

Pick Your Palm:

For the sweetest swamp cabbage, cut down an average-size tree. Trees that are extra-large or that grow close to the water tend to have hearts that taste bitter.

 


Kumquat Growers

Kumquat Growers  |  Greg Gude

Kumquat | Website

The Gude family has been in the kumquat growing business since 1971. For almost 27 years, Greg Gude, General Manager of Kumquat Growers, has overseen the harvesting, packing, processing and shipping of Fresh Florida Kumquats. In addition to shipping fresh kumquats to restaurants and individual customers, the company also sells a variety of jams, jellies, sauces and pie.

Known as “the little gold gems of the citrus family,” kumquats are believed to be native of China. They come in four varieties, but the ones that grow best in Florida are the sweet, round-shaped Meiwa, and the tart, oval-shaped Nagami. The taste is distinctive, a sweet and sour sensation.

Kumquat season runs from November through about April. That’s when the Gudes and their employees, many of whom have been with the company for over 30 years, kick into high gear.

Kumquat Fact: Kumquats are the only citrus fruit you can eat “skin and all.” In fact, the peel is the sweetest part and can be eaten separately.

 


Mike's Pies

Mike’s Pies  |  Michael Martin

Key Lime Pie | Website

In the mid-70s, native Floridian Mike Martin, then a linebacker at the University of Kentucky simply couldn’t wait for the holidays to enjoy his mother’s sweet pies. So he asked her to give him a crash course in pie making, especially cherry pie, his favorite at the time. And that started a lifelong love of baking.

In 1992, he finally gave in to friends and family who’d urged him to start selling his pies and he opened a small retail store in Tampa, and business took off, selling to loyal local customers and restaurants.

Today, his award-winning company has grown, to national proportions with distribution in 38 states, and is housed in a 30,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility. But still Mike holds true to his mission: to provide consistent, high-quality desserts, made without adding fillers, preservatives or other artificial ingredients. And how could he not stick to his values! His mom’s recipes continue to be the backbone of his success.

As for that young linebacker with a sweet tooth? He’s older now, but the sweet tooth is still there! His website states, “…Mike still engages in ‘quality control’ every chance he gets.”

Mike’s Pies has won 13 National Championships at the annual Great American Pie Festival.

And his authentic Key Lime Pie is one of them as a four time national champion! The pie filling is made with egg yolks, condensed milk and Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime Juice®. Nothing else. It’s poured into a scratch-made graham cracker crust and baked to perfection—cutting no corners, because as Mike says, “There are no corners on pies!”

Pie Chart:
113 million — the number of Americans who have eaten pie for breakfast
9% — the number of Americans who prefer to eat their pie crust before the filling
6 million — the number of American men between the ages of 35 and 54 who have eaten the last slice of pie—and denied it!
47% — the number of Americans who associate the word “comforting” with pie

 


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