Organic Picks | April 13th, 2015

Ataulfo MangosCucumbersGreen SquashAbate Fetel Pears

Best if used by 04/22/15

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Organic Ataulfo Mangos

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Creamy, golden Organic Ataulfo Mangos from Mexico are in peak season! I can’t get enough of this seasonal Spring treat, and neither can my family! The Ataulfo variety is often smaller than most other red and green skin varieties, but it also has a much thinner seed in the middle so you get more yummy fruit to enjoy. The texture of the golden flesh is smooth, free more free from stringiness than other orange-fleshed Mangos. The flavor? I love it! – sweet, a little tangy, tropical… almost caramel-like when they’re fully ripe.

Organic Ataulfo Mango season is here now and will last into June. The wonderful caramel flavor will be even more pronounced and tanginess will diminish as the season progresses through April and May. Yum! As the popularity of Yellow Mangos continues to skyrocket in the USA, it will become easier to find this delightful fruit in produce departments.

Ripening

  • Color? As Ataulfo Mangos ripen on the store shelf or on your kitchen counter from firm with lime-green skin color to yellow with a slight give – they’ll be ready to eat with a balance of sweet and tangy.
  • Wrinkles? With most Mango varieties “wrinkles” indicate the fruit is past its prime, but Ataulfo Mangos that have ripened so far as to show just few wrinkles– they’ll likely be the SWEETEST! But be careful, too wrinkled and the fruit may cut brown inside from over-ripe. (I love to ripen them as close to the edge as possible.)

Selecting

  • Ataulfo Mangos often have small speckles and skin stains that look more pronounced on the peel as the fruit ripens. Don’t worry, those cosmetic issues and will not impact the flavor.
  • Avoid Mangos with large sunken areas, skin punctures or excessive wrinkles.

Eating

Recipe: Ataulfo Mango and Hearts of Romaine Salad

Enjoy the flavors of Spring, prepared simply in this salad. Creamy Ataulfo Mangos, crunchy Romaine Hearts and fresh Mint.

  1. Rinse 1 Romaine Heart in cold water
  2. Chop lettuce into ½” thick slice across the rib
  3. Toss lettuce in a large mixing bowl with
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
    • Pinch of coarse salt
    • Cracked Black Pepper to taste
  4. Cut 1 Ataulfo Mango (mostly to full ripe) into cubes
  5. Plate the dressed Hearts of Romaine and top with the Mango pieces

 

Allow Ataulfo Mangos to ripen at room temperature from lime green to a deep gold skin color. The fruit will be give to gentle pressure and the skin will begin to wrinkle just slightly when they’re ready to eat.

 

Enjoy the flavors of Spring, prepared simply in this salad. Creamy Ataulfo Mangos, crunchy Romaine Hearts and fresh Mint.

Organic Cucumbers

Peak Season    Value Priced

Great news for green juice and salad lovers. Organic Cucumbers are in steady supply with good quality from farms in Mexico, plus now Organic Cucumbers are in season from Florida too! With a cool, crunchy texture, Organic Cucumbers are great for salads, snacking and dipping. Excellent for juicing, Cucumbers have anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties, plus they add plenty of liquid volume to juice blends.

Recipe Ideas

Cucumber Tips

  • Choose Cucumbers that feel firm and have no sunken areas. Store them in the crisper of your refrigerator.
  • The bitter taste some people dislike in regular salad-type Cucumbers is found in the skin. For a more mild flavor, peel off some or all of the skin. Mature cucumber seeds can sometimes be bitter too, so taste the cucumber first and decide if you need to peel or de-seed it.
  • Organic Cucumbers, grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, are not waxed to extend their shelf life so try to use them within a few days of purchase.
  • If you desire a milder Cucumber without seeds that has a more tender skin – Organically grown European-style Seedless Cucumbers (aka English Cucumbers) are in season from Mexican and Canadian greenhouses. They come individually wrapped and are more expensive by the each, but the Seedless Cucumbers are longer and 100% usable with no peeling needed.

Affordable Organic Cucumbers are in peak season this April for your salads and green juices!

Organic Green Squash (Zucchini)

Peak Season    Value Priced

Organic Green Squash, also referred to as Organic Zucchini, is in season from farms in Florida and Mexico. Harvests are abundant in April so prices are quite reasonable. Enjoy the mild flavor of fresh Zucchini julienned raw for salads or pastas, simply steamed, sautéed with oil and garlic, baked into pies and quiches, or cooked in stews and casseroles. It’s also great on the grill!

Green Squash Tips

  • Select Zucchini that is firm, and is free from soft spots or open cuts.
  • Very large and thick Zucchini can have more mature seeds inside, making it less desirable in cooking yet fine for baking Zucchini Bread.
  • High heat for a short period of time – like grilling or stir-frying – can help you avoid a “mushy texture” when preparing Zucchini.
  • Here are some interesting Zucchini Recipes.

Recipe: Grilled Organic Green Squash Salad

  1. Pre-heat grill or stove-top grill-pan
  2. Slice 3-4 Organic Green Squashes into long slabs about 1/4″ thick using a knife or mandolin
  3. Toss Squash slabs in Olive Oil, season with coarse salt and black pepper
  4. Grill Squash slabs over high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side to get grill marks
  5. Allow grilled Squash to cool
  6. Combine Squash with Arugula and 1/2 Red Onion thin-sliced
  7. Toss with 1/4 cup Olive Oil & Vinegar Dressing (any garlic or balsamic-type vinaigrette)
  8. Top with crumbled Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese (or Feta could be used)

 

Grilled Organic Green Squash Salad.

Organic Abate Fetel Pears

Best Flavor    Value Priced

Old world pear. Timeless flavor. Abate Fetel Pears are named for a French monk who first bred them in an abbey orchard in the 15th century. They are quite popular in southern Europe, especially Italy – here’s why. Abate Fetel Pears are long and slender with a slight curve at the top of the neck. Their skin is green to yellow in color with natural freckles and areas of brown russetting. How do they taste? Abate Fetel are crisper than an Anjou and honey-sweet like a Bosc. Yes, they’re great for salads or baking. A pear as special as the Abate Fetel is best enjoyed as a stand-alone snack or dessert, paired with some fine, strong cheese.

Abate Fetel Pears are not a commonly grown variety in US orchards, but in certified organic orchards in Argentina (where it is their fall right now) it is peak season for Abate’s. Some of the harvest stays in South America, but much is exported the Europe…and the past few years more are now making their way to the States too. Keep an eye out for Organic Abate Fetel Pears at natural foods stores and organic produce departments through early May.

Ripeness Tip: Allow Abate Fetel Pears to ripen at room temperature until they give just slightly under thumb pressure near the stem for a sweet and fruity-flavored piece of fruit. Check them daily. Too hard and you won’t enjoy the sweetness at its best. Too soft and they might become mushy or mealy inside.

Abate Fetel: An old European variety gets renewed popularity from organic shoppers with texture that is crisper than Anjou and honey-sweet taste like Bosc.

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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