Most baby vegetables are fully ripe miniature vegetables cultivated for perfection. Others are immature vegetables picked before fully grown. They are as nutritious as regular-size vegetables and most offer a more tender and delicate taste. There are about 45-50 types currently rnarketed in the United States.
-- Baby artichokes: Domestic supplies primarily are available March through May. These have no choke; once outside leaves are peeled, the whole vegetable is edible.
-- Baby avocados: Available year-round and produced in California, baby avocados also are known as cocktail avocados. They contain no seed and are about I inch wide by 3 inches long.
-- Baby beets: Produced year-round, these are available in gold, red and long red. The goldens are the size of a quarter, with 7-inch tops. They have a milder, sweeter flavor than reds, which are more hearty in flavor and have darker tops.
-- Baby carrots: Produced year-round, baby carrots are very sweet and can be served with some of their greens. They are available in French, round and white. Baby French carrots are 4 inches long and 3/4 inch wide with a tender, sweet flavor. Use as a snack with a partial top or cook with other light vegetables. Baby round carrots are 1 inch in diameter with strong carrot flavor. Baby white carrots are 5 inches long and inch wide with long tops and white roots.
-- Baby cauliflower: Available year-round, miniature cauliflower has a flavor similar to mature product. Baby snowball cauliflower is 2 inches in diameter.
-- Baby celery: Available in the fall and winter, baby celery is about 7 inches long and tastes stronger than mature product.
-- Baby corn: Mexican imports supplement domestic crops and help make this a year-round product, Baby corn is available in white and yellow varieties.
-- Baby eggplant: Available May through October, both round and elongated shapes are produced. Some varieties, particularly purple and white, can be bitter and contain many seeds.
-- Baby French green beans: Commonly called haricot verts, this small, slender and flavorful strain of green or snap beans was developed and popularized in France; they recently have gained appeal in the United States. Available February through November from Southern California.
-- Baby green onion: Available year-round. Taste is similar to chives.
-- Baby lettuce: Produced year-round in California, several baby lettuce varieties such as Red Royal oak leaf, romaine, green leaf and iceberg. Red royal oak leaf is 6 inches in diameter and has rough-cut leaves dark red in color.
-- Baby scallopini: Available May through October, this is a cross between scallop and zucchini. It tastes like its larger relatives and comes in dark green and yellow varieties.
-- Baby soft squash: Available May through October, soft-shelled varieties include Baby patty pan, Sunburst, Table Queen green and gold and crook varieties. Baby patty pan is round with scalloped edges with white or pale green skin. Sunburst is the same as baby patty pan except it has bright yellow skin. Baby squash is sold with or without flowers intact.
-- Baby tear-drop tomatoes: Available May through October, red and yellow varieties are produced; the latter is very sweet.
-- Baby zucchini: Available from domestic sources May through October, supplies in the off-season come from Mexico and Guatemala. Baby zucchini often is sold with flowers still attached.
Most baby vegetables are shipped in waxed cartons that can withstand moisture from outside as well as inside, For example, baby carrots, radishes and lettuces often are packed with crushed ice; waxed boxes do not disintegrate.
Baby squash with flowers are shipped in 5-pound cartons while those without flowers are packed in 10-pound cartons. Also available are 1-pound plastic bags and 1-pint packaging for salad bars.
Most baby vegetables should be kept at a relative humidity of 90-95 percent. Temperatures vary; squash and baby tear-drop tomatoes should be maintained at 48-50 degrees F. to avoid chilling or spoilage.
Traditional items found at white-tablecloth restaurants, baby vegetables also are gaining popularity at retail. Promote them as elegant products for entertainment purposes. They can be served as hors d'oeuvres, snack and salad items.
Calorie contents of baby vegetables are comparable to their larger counterparts.
-- 1990 Produce Availability & Merchandising Guide/427