Organic Picks | September 30th, 2014

PomegranatesBosc PearsKale GreensDelicata SquashKabocha Squash

best if used by 10/07/14

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Organic Pomegranates

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Organic Pomegranates from California are back in season! The delicious prize inside a fresh Pomegranate is the juicy, sweet, bold flavored arils (seeds encapsulated with sacs of juice). You eat the arils whole. These arils are fantastic by themselves as a flavorful snack – juicy, sweet, a little tangy then crunchy. The taste is somewhere between concord grape juice and cranberry juice on the sugar to acid scale, but deliciously unique, robust. Pomegranate arils can also be used to top a salad, in yogurt parfaits, with desserts or cocktails, and of course for juicing. Me? I love them as a delicious snack!

Pomegranate Tips

  • Select fresh Pomegranates that are firm and heavy, a sign of juice content.
  • Scarring on the skin really has no impact on the internal quality of the fruit.
  • The redness of the skin can vary from variety to variety and is not a true indicator of aril quality.
  • Store Pomegranates in the fridge for best shelf-life, but they’ll last for a week or so on the counter.
  • Here are some recipe ideas.

Super-food Pomegranates are an ancient fruit but have been in the news lately for their health benefits. The juice on the Pomegranate Arils has all three polyphenols – tannins, anthocyanins, ellagic acid.

  How to open a Pomegranate

If you decide to hack open a fresh Pomegranate on a cutting board and then pry the membranes apart, get ready to clean up your crime scene – I mean, kitchen. There will be juice splattering on your cutting surface and surrounding area, and likely on you. Fun for Halloween maybe, but there are better ways.

Aqua Method

  1. You’ll need a knife, large bowl of water and a colander.
  2. Slice the crown off the top.
  3. Score the skin making 4 cuts from top to bottom.
  4. Open the Pomegranate over the bowl of water.
  5. Pull the arils from membranes under water to keep the splatter to a minimum.
  6. The arils sink and the membranes float – strain and you’re done.

Deseeder Tap Method

One of my favorite kitchen gadgets is the “60 Second Pomegranate Deseeder” I came across this product a few years ago. This archive video shows me testing it. I still use this thing… because it works!

  1. Halve the fruit.
  2. Put it face down on the deseeder grate and tap (or slap) out the arils with a heavy utensil onto a plate. Voila.

Aqua Method

Recip: Raw Fennel & Kale Autumn Salad

This salad is a refreshing and robust mix of sweet, tangy, creamy and crunchy from seasonal fruits and vegetables.

  1. Wash, Core and thinly slice 1 Fennel bulb
  2. De-stem and ribbon-slice the leaves of 2 stalks of Kale
  3. In a mixing bowl massage 2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar into the Fennel and Kale
  4. Allow vegetables to rest for at least 5 minutes
  5. Serve topped with sliced ripe Anjou Pears and Pomegranate Arils

Raw Fall. Crisp fennel and earthy kale are tenderized with Balsamic and Cider vinegars and paired with creamy-sweet Anjou Pears and rich-sweet Pomegranate Arils.

 

Organic Bosc Pears

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Like a crunchy pear? Bosc is the right variety for you! Organically-grown Bosc Pears are now in peak season as orchards in Oregon and Washington begin to pack their harvest. Quality looks great so far. Bosc feature honey-sweet flavor and a delightful juicy-crisp texture make them perfect for snacking, salads and desserts.

Pears and apples are excellent for sweetening your green juices and other veggie juices because the fruit contains lots of liquid and is low on the glycemic index. Did you know that when using pears in juice extractor recipes it is actually ideal to use a firm to hard pear? This is why Bosc are ideal for this purpose. Fully soft-ripe pears can make your juices sludgy and grainy in texture and leave extra juice in the discarded pulp fiber.

Like crunchier pears? Firm-textured, honey-sweet Bosc are for you! Organically grown Bosc Pears from the Pacific Northwest are now in season.

 

Organic Kale Greens

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Kale. Laughable health fad? Or wonder-veg? Comedian Jim Gaffigan nails Kale’s trendiness in this hilarious bit. Nevertheless, Kale has become part of my diet over the past few years and I’m glad it has. Kale is packed with phyto-nutrients and has curly, deep green leaves with a slightly bitter, earthy flavor. Kale has calcium, Vitamin K and magnesium for healthy bones; potassium for vascular health; and anti-oxidants like Vitamin C too.

No vegetable continues to be more talked about right now amongst health conscious shoppers, the food media, restaurateurs, and juicing enthusiasts than Kale. Did you know that Wednesday, October 1 is National Kale Day – learn more HERE. Right now, certified Organic Leafy Green Kale is in peak season at local farms from the East Coast to the Pacific Northwest and from larger organic farms in California.

And thanks to social media, cooking shows and restaurants, people are discovering there are more ways to eating it besides just cooking it down in a big pot, like: sautéed with garlic and oil, raw in salads, lightly baked or dehydrated into chips, added to soups and casseroles, blended into smoothies or juiced with fruit into green juices. But Kale can be intimidating to prepare for those of us that didn’t grow up eating it. No worries! Check out these tips and recipe ideas:

Tips & Recipe Ideas from NationalKaleDay.org

National Kale Day is Wednesday October, 1 – but any day this October is a fine time to try out some new ways to enjoy this powerful green.

A power RAW salad: Shredded Organic Kale Greens, Shaved Organic Brussels Sprouts, Dried Cranberries, Chopped Walnuts in a Lemon + Cider Vinaigrette

 
 

Organic Delicata Squash

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Fall Hard Squash season is about more than just Acorn, Butternut and Spaghetti. Delicata Squash is an wonderful heirloom variety that tastes like yellow-flesh Sweet Potatoes, slightly starch and lightly sweet. The skin is actually edible, simply remove the pulp and seeds and bake or roast until you can pierce with a fork. The flavor is fantastic.

Organic Delicata Squash is in peak season during October from regional organic farms in the Northeast and Mid-West. But since the skin is less thick than other hard squashes, it doesn’t store for months and months. So enjoy some Organic Delicata this Fall while it is at its seasonal best! Here are some recipes to peruse.

Delicata Squash can be eaten with the skin on once cooked. So simply scooping out the seeds and pulp then cutting it into rings or semi-circles is a great way to prep it for cooking

 

Organic Kabocha Squash

Peak Season    Best Flavor

A hard squash variety that is really growing in popularity is Kabocha Squash!  Why?  It tastes great, and it is featured in many delicious recipes at popular restaurants.  I don’t know if it is on the menu at the moment, but the best Kabocha Squash I ever had was at Gramarcy in Manhattan, a Squash and Endive Salad with Maple Vinaigrette. Wow.

Kabocha Squash, often referred to as Japanese Pumpkin, is an Asian variety that has a hard green skin and orange flesh.  It is known for its dry texture and sweet flavor.  Kabocha Squash can be boiled, braised for added flavor, roasted for sweetness or cooked then pureed for soup. Here in October and November, Organic Kabocha Squash is in peak season from local farms. Select hard squash that is entirely firm, including the stems.

Kabocha Squash Tips

  • Kabocha is prepare for roasting by cutting it in half when the squash is set flat, scooping out the seeds, then quartering twice.
  • Peeling Kabocha removes the green skin, but it can be a bit laborious since the skin-shell is not very smooth.  The best way for effectiveness and finger safety is to quarter or eighth the squash first so the pieces are easier to cut and peel on the curved edges.
  • Kabocha’s flesh is drier when compared to Butternut Squash, so it is important to not overcook it. It will be ready when the flesh gives just slightly to the poke of a fork.

Recipe: Roasted Kabocha Squash with Honey-Orange Sauce

Squash

  1. Preheat oven to 425F
  2. Cut 1 Kabocha Squash in half from stem to blossom end (flat).
  3. Remove the seeds and pulp, then cut into 10-12 wedges
  4. Toss wedges with 2 tbsp olive in a large bowl then season with:
    • 1 tsp Course Salt,
    • ½ tsp Cracked Black Pepper,
    • ¼ tsp Ground Ginger,
    • ¼ tsp Nutmeg
  5. Arrange evenly on a baking tray and roast at 425F for 12-20 minutes until fork-tender

Sauce

  1. Meanwhile, heat the following in small sauce pan
    • Juice from 1 orange
    • 3 tbsp Honey
    • A shake each of Nutmeg and Ginger Powder
  2. Simmer this sauce stirring frequently until reduced to lightly syrupy consistency
  3. Pour sauce over the roasted Kabocha Squash slices

Thank you for reading and for being interested in seasonal produce! If you have specific questions for feedback, feel free to contact us via email: jksteffy@producegeek.com or through our social media channels @OrganicPG on Twitter and Facebook.com/organicproducegeek.

Kabocha Squash often called Japanese Pumpkin, is gaining in popularity too for its dry texture and sweetness that is excellent roasted.

 

Roasted Kabocha Squash with Honey-Orange Sauce

 

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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