Organic Picks | October 28th, 2014

PersimmonsConcorde PearsGranny Smith ApplesBrussels SproutsKitchen Tip of the Week

best if used by 11/04/14

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Organic Persimmons

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Persimmons… How do you if they’re ripe or how to eat them?

Few fruits confuse shoppers more than Persimmons. Why? One type is literally un-edible until it ripens to super-soft. The other can be eaten firm right away. Oh, and the two types kinda look similar.

Late October through mid-December is peak season for Organic Persimmons from California. They’re a fantastic Fall and early Winter flavor – rich, sweet and just a little spiced. Here is what you need to know about the two primary varieties to have a great seasonal eating experience, not one that makes your mouth pucker up worse than sucking on a Lime:

Fuyu Persimmons: You can eat Fuyu Persimmons right away when hard like an apple. They’re the short, squatty-shaped ones with skin color that is yellow-orange. Cool nights can bring out patches of black blush. Sweet, crunchy, memorable – a surprisingly crisp, sweet-spice treat! To eat them, remove the leaf calyx and quarter the fruit for a snack, or chop it into bite size pieces to add to a fall fruit salad of apples, pears, pomegranate arils and grapes. Fuyu (flat) Persimmons are also fine when soft-ripe and can be used in baking recipes that call for Persimmons.

Hachiya Persimmons: You must allow Hachiya Persimmons to ripen to a soft, gooey state before eating, baking or cooking with them. These are the long, heart-cone shaped ones with deep orange skin. Hard, unripe Hachiya’s are full of tannins and are so astringent that they’ll draw your cheeks and lips inside out (childhood memory – pretty sure my Dad dared me to try an unripe one). Ripen Hachiya (high cone shape) Persimmons at room temperature until the skin begins to wrinkle and the fruit feels like water balloon – then, amazingly, they’ll they taste quite sweet! Slice off the top of a ripe one and spoon out the delicious pudding-like flesh for a distinctive snack, to make smoothies, Persimmon Pudding or to use in breads and other baking recipes.

Sweet with fall spice flavor. TOP LEFT: Cone-shaped Hachiya Persimmons to eat soft. TOP RIGHT: Flat-shaped Fuyu Persimmons to eat firm.

 

A Fall Fruit Salad: Fuyu Persimmons, Pomegranate Arils, Green Grapes and Pears

 

Flat-shaped Fuyu Persimmons

 

High-cone-shaped Hachiya Persimmons

Organic Concorde Pears

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Have you ever heard of Concorde Pears? It is a variety that is gaining some popularity among pear fans, and organic orchards in Oregon and Washington are paying attention. Concorde Pears are a good all-purpose pear that features an easy-sweet flavor, similar to Comice. This variety is naturally slow to brown when cut and is ideal for baking, cookingpoaching and snacking out of hand.

Concorde Pears have a long neck like Bosc that is sometime curved near the top. The skin is light green and often shows cosmetic blemishes – we’ll call it “rustic looks.” And similar to the Bosc, they taste sweet when the flesh is firm and crunchyor soft and juicy. Organic Concorde Pears are in peak season now through Christmas. Keep an eye out for them at natural food stores, food co-ops and other markets with extensive organic selection.

Can’t find Organic Concorde Pears where you shop? No worries – juicy Organic Bartlett, crunchy Organic Bosc, creamy Organic Anjou and vivid red Organic Starkrimson remain in peak season supply!

Organic Concorde Pears: easy-sweet flavor comes through when firm & crunchy or soft & juicy. They’re also naturally slow to brown when cut.

Organic Granny Smith Apples

Peak Season    Best Flavor

On the apple flavor spectrum at the opposite end from all-sweet Fuji are tart Granny Smith – about as tart as apple varieties get. There are times when being at the extremes wins you fans and that is surely the case for Granny Smith Apples. Green skinned, firm and tart Granny Smith Apples are fantastic paired with rich and savory ingredients in cooking like cheddar cheese, salty meats, salads, sweet potatoes and hard squashes. For baking, they add acidic balance to desserts and hold their shape. For juicing, they add fresh, sweet-tart flavor and keep a nice green color for green juices. And of course, there are those who prefer tart Apples for snacking… they love Granny’s.

Here is a delicious collection of recipes featuring Granny Smith Apples.

Organic Granny Smith Apples are in peak season from Washington where the harvest was bigger than last Fall. That should translate into reasonable pricing, sharp quality and even some ads or in-store specials now through February 2015.

Recipe: Granny Fennel Green Juice

Juice the following ingredients in a juice extractor for a phyto-nutrient-rich green juice that packs a tart-sweet punch with tones of licorice.

  1. 3 stalks Kale
  2. 1 bulb of Fennel (feel free to include stems and fronds)
  3. 1 Lime, mostly peeled
  4. 3 medium Granny Smith Apples

Tart and firm. And Granny Smith likes it that way. (Glad my grandma’s were much sweeter!)

 

Granny-Fennel Green Juice packs a tart-sweet punch with a mild licorice flavor.

Organic Brussels Sprouts

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Fifteen years ago as I started my formal career in fresh produce it would have been hard to imagine that I’d be craving Brussels Sprouts each Fall and Winter. But being exposed to the many mouth-watering ways fresh Brussels Sprouts can be prepared over the years like the delectable “Organic Brussels Sprouts with Pine Nuts, Cherry Vinegar and Crispy Serrano” served at Father’s Office gastropub in Santa Monica, CA, or the simply tasty “Roasted Brussels Sprouts” from the catering team at George’s Dreshertown ShopNBag supermarket in Dresher, PA, has put this cruciferous veggie high on my craveable veggie list. I’ve been inspired to experiment with new recipes at home. What fun!

Brussels Sprouts look like mini cabbages that grow on long stalks. They taste nutty and rich, but if you over-boil or over-steam Brussels Sprouts you’ll actually bring out a sulfur nastiness that is the number one reason people don’t like them in the first place. A quick blanch and then sauté or roasting them in high heat are great ways to bring out the best smooth and sweet flavors. Brussels Sprouts can also be enjoyed raw in salads or slaws if shaved thinly like lettuce. Their flavor raw is a little like cabbage. Shaved Brussels Sprouts go great with sweet-creamy dressings or sharp vinaigrettes that can balance the bitter edges of the raw flavor.

Organic Brussels Sprouts are in season from Southern California with steadier supply. Their appearance is not perfect, but flavor is very good.

Recipe: Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F
  2. Trim ends, remove loose leaves of about 10-16oz of fresh Brussels Sprouts, Slice biggest Sprouts in half to get an even size
  3. Toss Sprouts and 2-3 whole peeled Garlic Cloves in a mixing bowl to coat with 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  4. Season with about 1 tsp Coarse Salt and Cracked Black Pepper
  5. Spread Brussels Sprouts evenly on a cookie sheet or baking pan
  6. Roast for 15 min at 450F, remove to flip/shuffle, Roast for 10-15 min more until fork-tender (Yes, they’ll get black on the outside, and Yes, it’ll taste good!)

 

Recipe: Shaved Brussels Sprouts Slaw

I’m all about Roasted or Sautéed Brussels Sprouts – sooo good! But sometimes you need to mix things up. So, how can you “mix things up” and get out of a one recipe-rut? By going raw.

  1. Rinse and clean 1lb of fresh Brussels Sprouts by removing loose outer leaves
  2. Shave Brussels Sprouts into 1/8” shreds using a mandolin (or a food processor, or your nifty knife skills
  3. Shave ½ a Red Onion into 1/8”  shreds (soak slices in ice water for 10-20 min to soften the boldness, if desired)
  4. Prepare Vinaigrette by whisking 3 tbsp Cider Vinegar, 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard, 6 tbsp Olive Oil
  5. Season Vinaigrette with Coarse Salt, Cracked Pepper and 1/2 tsp Minced Garlic or Garlic Powder
  6. Toss shreds with Vinaigrette and 1/2 cup Raisins or Dried Cranberries

More Brussels Sprouts recipe ideas here.

Kitchen Tip of the Week

Trimming fresh Brussels Sprouts

Always wanted to try making fresh Brussels Sprouts at home, but weren’t sure how to get started? First, select Brussels Sprouts that are nice and green, and have tight, firm heads. Avoid Brussels Sprouts with heavy black discoloration on the ribs at the base or ones that have more than a few aphids visible (small, harmless bugs that can often be found on Organic Brussels Sprouts. Yes, the aphids can be rinsed and brushed off, but that can be tedious). Size, large or small, does not affect flavor, but it will impact the cooking time. Store Brussels Sprouts in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator in a plastic bag or container.

You’ll spend about 5-7 minutes properly prepping 1 lb of fresh Brussels Sprouts for use in recipes. Here’s what to do:

  1. Trim the bottom ¼” off the bottom stem end of the head.
  2. Peel off the loose outer leaves with your fingers, usually 1-2 layers
  3. Slice larger Brussels Sprouts head into halves or quarters, slicing along the stem direction, while leaving the smallest ones whole. This will even out the cooking time.

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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