Best if Used By 04/28/14
Organic Picks of the week for April 21st, 2014 features
Mangos, Honeydew, Broccoli, Cluster Tomatoes, and Cucumbers
PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED
Organic Mangos are now in their peak season from Mexico. Expect excellent eating quality and reasonable prices for the next month. The popular “Tommy Atkins” variety is what you’ll find with dark red blush over dark green skin. When ripe, Organic Tommy Atkins Mangos have sticky-sweet flesh that is dark orange in color and is very juicy. They’re fantastic for snacking, salads and smoothies. 1 cup of cut Mangos is only 100 calories and for it you’ll get Vitamin C, Vitamin A, dietary fiber plus Folate.
- What’s the #1 mistake people make with Mangos? Lots of folks think Red skin color equals “ripe fruit.” This is incorrect. Red skin on the Tommy Atkins variety means that the mango got plenty of sunshine, but the amount of redness on the skin is not an indicator of sweetness. The skin color does not change after harvest or as the fruit ripens.
- So, how do you pick a good one? Squeeze for ripeness. Since Tommy Atkins variety Mangos do not give visual clues to when they are ripe, judge by the softness when you squeeze them in your palm. Hard means they’ll be crunchy, while a little give indicates a juicy-ripe Mango for snacking, smoothies and salsas.
- Tommy Atkins Mangos can feel a bit fibrous or stringy if you eat the flesh right off the pit with your teeth. I recommend cubing this variety or slicing the mango into peeled wedges. For a creamy-fleshed Mango, try Organic Ataulfo Mangos which are also in peak season.
- Want to know more? Like the best ways to slice a mango? Recipes, cutting tips and more can be found here.
PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR
Sweet and flavorful Organic Honeydew melons are now in season from Mexico. The melons right now are small in size, but are dense, juicy and have small seed cavities – giving you more melon for the money. The Organic Honeydew right now have firm flesh and a mild-sweet flavor, but a day or two on the counter will help soften them up for better ripeness to let the juiciness and flavor shine through.
- Ripe Honeydew will have a waxy feel and begin to emit a tropical aroma as they ripen and soften at room temperature. Honeydew should give slightly to firm thumb pressure when it is ready to cut.
- To get the most out of the melon: Slice the melon in half, scoop out the seeds, peel on a cutting board, chunk the flesh and store cut melon in the fridge.
- Honeydew is good by itself as a snack, to mix into fresh fruit salads, to pair with cheese and add to smoothie recipes like this one.
- Ever have Spa Water? It is basically flavoring your own water with fruit – a great way to stay deliciously hydrated. Honeydew and Watermelon is great for this! Find Spa Water Recipes here.
PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED
Organic Broccoli from California continues to be in peak season with reasonable prices too. Raw for veggie trays, dipping and snacking, steamed as a healthy side, sautéed for richness, stir-fried with other vegetables 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.
Raw Broccoli rules, but here are some delicious RECIPES to inspire you:
- Easy Roasted Broccoli
- Sesame-Ginger Broccoli Soup
- Steamed Broccoli with Lemon
- Broccoli Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing
- Keep your Broccoli refrigerated right up until you’re ready to eat it.
- 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.
Organic Cluster Tomatoes
PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED
Summer-ripe, regional Organic Tomato crops are not ready yet. But there’s still a good option for an all-purpose Organic Tomato to use in salads, salsas and on sandwiches this month. Organic On-the-Vine Tomatoes, also called Organic Cluster Tomatoes, are in peak season production from the greenhouses of Arizona, Mexico and Canada. The fruit (yes, Tomatoes are scientifically a fruit) is plump with bright red color and the vines are thicker and healthier than usual. Expect mild flavor and juicy flesh that remains firm while slicing.
- Cluster Tomatoes keep well when you bring them home since the fruit can still draw on water and nutrients left in the vine – so when selecting remember: the healthier the vines, the better.
- Avoid Tomatoes with wrinkled skin, punctured areas, black spots or that feel soft and squishy.
- Always store Tomatoes at room temperature since they lose flavor and become mushy in texture when held below 55 F. As in… DON’T refrigerate!
RECIPE: Tomato & Basil Frittata
Cooking brings out the flavor intensity of the tomatoes and fresh basil brightens the taste in this egg casserole that can be enjoyed for breakfast, brunch or even dinner.
- Pre-heat oven to 450F
- Whisk 12 eggs in a mixing bowl, season beaten eggs with ½ tsp coarse salt and black pepper
- Dice ½ an Onion finely and stir it into the eggs
- Slice 3 Cluster Tomatoes into thin rounds
- De-stem a large handful of fresh Basil leaves (I prefer living/hydroponic basil, when it is not in season locally or from my garden)
- Lightly coat a 13”x9” glass dish with cooking spray
- Layer the tomato slices evenly in 3 rows in the pan, then add the basil leaves
- Cover Tomatoes and Basil with 8oz of shredded Mozzarella Cheese (or use fresh Mozzarella to be fancy)
- Evenly drop ¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Slowly pour Egg/Onion over the vegetables and cheese
- Bake at 450F for 20 minutes or until the Frittata sets and begins to brown slightly (it will rise ½” to 1” during cooking)
- Allow Frittata to cool 10 minutes before cutting it and serving
VALUE PRICED | PEAK SEASON
It’s been a good run on peak season Organic Cucumbers from Mexico during March and April – great quality and record-low prices. But prices will float back up to more sustainable levels in coming weeks so enjoy the ads and specials this week while you can! 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.
- Cucumber Salad with herbs and vinegar
- Creamy Cucumber Salad
- Homemade Cucumber Refrigerator Pickles
- Cool Cucumber Soup
- Vegan Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
- Perfect Parsley-Lime Juice made with cucumber
- 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.
What is Organic Produce?
Certified Organic Produce meets a set of standards for growing, handling and labeling that is governed by the USDA’s National Organic Program. Organic fruits and vegetables are grown without the use synthetic chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers. The terms “Natural” and “Local” are not the same as “Organic.” Learn more about Organic.
Eat in-season. Choose organic. Enjoy good, healthy food.
The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy