Organic Picks | June 23rd, 2015

BlueberriesApricotsBroccoliGreen Seedless Grapes

Best if used by 06/30/15

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Organic Blueberries

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Hooray for great-tasting, peak season Certified Organic Blueberries! I can think of 20 ways I love to eat summer Blueberries right of the top of my head. How ‘bout you?

From late June through mid-July expect to find affordable and great tasting Organic Blueberries. There are several major growing regions where organic growers are now harvesting their prime crop the next several weeks: New Jersey, Oregon, Washington. Most of this fruit will be sold in 6oz and 1 pint (11oz) containers in the produce department, and you may also come across specials on big packs too.

Blueberry Tips

  • Select fresh Blueberries by inspecting the top and bottom of the package to avoid shriveled, smashed-together or wet berries.
  • Look for packs free from light purple or green berries. Those are immature and will taste sour.
  • Store the fruit cold in the fridge, try to use in within a few days of purchase.
  • Wait to wash them until just before using.
  • A dynamic collection of Blueberry recipe ideas can be found here.

Freezing: Want to capture the best pricing and best tasting fruit for later? Freeze peak season Blueberries right in the package you bought them in. Be sure they’re completely dry (you can rinse them before use later), place the pack(s) right into a reseal-able plastic bag and freeze. They keep well in the freezer for up to six months and are a convenient way to have healthy, peak season flavor Blueberries handy for baking or to use in smoothies and shakes later in the year.

Bloom: “What’s that white stuff on the Blueberries?” It’s not a chemical or man-made powder, it’s called Bloom.  I seek out Blueberries with the silver, powdery “bloom” on them. Bloom is a naturally occurring wax that forms a protective layer on the fruit while it is growing and is a tell-tale sign of freshness!

Select fresh Blueberries by inspecting the top and bottom of the package to avoid shriveled, smashed-together or wet berries.

 

Organic Apricots

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Some of the most beautiful looking and best tasting Organic Apricots of the year are now in season from Washington. Organic tree fruit growers there are picking the “Robada” variety, an Apricot known for its larger sizing and gorgeous, rosy-red skin blush. Now through late July is when Organic Apricots are at their peak from the Pacific Northwest. Orange-skin “Brittany Gold” and “Golden Sweet” variety Apricots are also available from organic farms in the San Joaquin Valley of California this month.

Fresh Apricots with their velvety-fuzzed skins are prized for their distinctive tasting orange flesh that ranges from slightly tangy to richly sweet. Apricots have a texture that is slightly less juicy than a plum, but the rich flavor always intensifies when baked or dehydrated. When Apricots are running sweet, I love ‘em as a satisfying, high fiber snack.

Apricot Tips

  • Select Apricots without cuts, punctures or large bruises. The fruit should be free from green color (a sign of under-ripe) and wrinkled skin (a sign of over-ripe).
  • Red blush on the skin varies from variety to variety. Apricots do not get redder after being picked.
  • Store fresh Apricots in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat them. Be gentle! It is a tender fruit.
  • If you want the fruit a little softer, set your Apricots on the counter for a day or two at room temperature.
  • Here are some delicious-looking Apricot recipes to explore.

 

Select Apricots without cuts, punctures or large bruises. The fruit should be free from green color (a sign of under-ripe) and wrinkled skin (a sign of over-ripe).

Organic Broccoli

Peak Season    Value Priced

Organic Broccoli from California continues to be is abundant here in late June and prices are lower than normal since growers are harvesting more than current demand can full keep up with. Raw for veggie trays, dipping and snacking, steamed as a healthy side, sautéed for richness, stir-fried with other vegetables, grilled or roasted for great flavor – what’s your favorite use for fresh Organic Broccoli? Low calories, high fiber, tones of nutrients and phyto-nutrients; we should all be eating lots of Broccoli! The key is in preparation.

Recipes: Raw Broccoli rules, but here are some delicious recipes to inspire you:

Broccoli Tips

  • Select Broccoli that has tight beads on the crown, is firm and has fresh, green cut ends.
  • Avoid Broccoli that has a strong odor or is flabby and limp.

Select Broccoli that has tight beads on the crown, is firm and has fresh, green cut ends.

Organic Green Seedless Grapes

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Organic Green Seedless Grapes from Mexico and Southern California have been in season for over a month, but the fruit in stores now through Independence Day is likely to be some of the best tasting so far this year. These Organic Green Grapes still have a nice crispness and the sweetness will have you snacking on more than you expected!

Fun Ideas

  • Frozen Grapes. Wash, remove from the stem, then freeze the fresh Grapes for snack your school-age kids (and you) will love to chill out with. “In Summer!” [insert Olaf reference for your kids here]
  • Candied Grapes. Turn your Green Grapes into a version of Sour Patch Kids!
  • Recipes with Green Grapes? Search Pinterest here for some visual inspiration.

Grape Tips

  • Look for Grapes with stems that are still green at the thickest parts and have most of the fruit still attached to the vines.
  • Lift up the bag or container and look at it from all sides. Avoid bags that are wet and sticky – a sign that some of the Grapes are going bad – or have berries with splits or cracks.
  • Select Grapes that feel firm to a gentle squeeze. Firm Grapes are crunchy Grapes!
  • Keep your Grapes refrigerated until you’re about ready to eat them, since they lose their crunch much quicker at room temperature.
  • Wash Grapes with a cold water rinse just before serving them.

Look for Grapes with stems that are still green at the thickest parts and have most of the fruit still attached to the vines.

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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