Organic Picks | August 19th, 2014

Yellow NectarinesThomcord GrapesVine Ripe TomatoesCantaloupeKitchen Tip of the Week

best if used by 08/25/14

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Organic Yellow Nectarines

Peak Season    Best Flavor

It is easy to forget how exquisitely delicious a Nectarine can be.

Some of my favorite nectarines of the year are here! Organic Yellow Nectarine from the sunny slopes and valleys of Central Washington are known for their high quality and impressive flavor. You can expect ripe ones to taste simultaneously tangy in the back of your jaw and sweet on your tongue with smooth skin and creamy, juicy flesh!

If you eat a Washington grown Organic Yellow Nectarine this August or early September that has ripened at room temperature until it gives slightly to a soft squeeze in your hand – then prepare to slurp, ‘cause it’ll be a chin dripper!

Nectarine Tips

  • Select Nectarines that are free from soft spots or wrinkles. The fruit should have deep yellow skin with red blush. Avoid Nectarines that have green-color where yellow would be – a sign of immaturity.
  • Yellow Nectarines do not gain any sugar content through ripening after they are picked. However, as a Yellow-flesh Nectarine softens the acidity breaks down the flesh, releasing the sugars and juice so the fruittastes sweeter.
  • An ideally ripe Yellow Nectarine with give just slightly It only takes a day or two at room temperature to ripen a Nectarine to nicely soft and juicy enough to require a napkin. Yum!
  • Prevent “mealy fruit.” Too many days on your counter or, worse too many days in your fridge, will leave you with a mealy, dehydrated Nectarine. I recommend buying Nectarines from unrefrigerated displays and keeping them at room temp at home.  They won’t keep as long, but they will have better flavor, texture and juiciness.
  • Did you know that unlike their fuzzy cousin, the Peach, smooth-skinned Nectarines don’t need to be peeled for use in recipes? Here is a collection of Nectarine Recipes, in case you’d like to move beyond simply snacking on Nectarines as hand fruit.

Creamy and delicious Organic Yellow Nectarines from Washington are in peak season! Allow them to soften at room temperature until they give just slightly to a squeeze in your palm.

Organic Thomcord Grapes

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Do you love that classic flavor of Concord Grapes, but find the seeds and thick skins not so easy to snack on? Try Thomcord Grapes! They’re a round, thinner-skinned variety of Grape that features that rich, grape-juice or grape-jelly flavor of Concords plus the sugar levels and seedless characteristics of Thompsons. The flesh is deeply sweet and the chewable skins are just slightly tangy. Yum!

Organically grown Thomcord Grapes from California are in season for a short window of time during late August and into September. Keep an eye out for Organic Thomcord Grapes at co-ops, natural foods stores, organic markets and produce departments that stock a broad selection of organic fruit. Select packs that are free from wet spots. Keep the grapes refrigerated and rinse with water just before eating them.

Thomcord Grapes give you the rich, old-fashioned flavor of Concords, but without the tough skins and seeds.

 

Organic Vine Ripe Tomatoes

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

That time of year when you have a good-old-fashioned Tomato Sandwich like every other day of the week …maybe even more? It’s here!

August is prime time for the best-tasting tomatoes of the year in most parts of the U.S., including backyard gardens. Now through September is when you can get delicious Organic Vine Ripe Tomatoes from local or regional farms like Lady Moon Farms in Chambersburg, PA with red, meaty flesh that is juicy but not loaded with gel, flavor that is full and acidic but still slightly sweet. True Vine Ripened Organic Tomatoes are grown outside in rich soil fields that are cared for without the use of synthetic chemicals and bolstered with compost, ripen in the summer sun, and are picked from the vine when the Tomato is almost light red in color so that the fruit quickly turns dark red post-harvest. Organic Vine Ripe Tomatoes are delicate and have short shelf life, but man, is the flavor worth it! And for even bigger, bolder flavors try Organic Heirloom Tomatoes this August.

Public Service Announcements

  • NEVER Refrigerate Your Tomatoes (unless you’ve sliced them) because temperatures under the mid-50s make for poor texture and blunt the flavor.
  • Select Vine Ripe Tomatoes that are free from black spotting, water blisters (translucent area of skin) or unhealed splits. Scars, healed splits or leaf stains on the skin will not impact your eating experience.
  • August is for Tomatoes that TASTE like Tomatoes – and LOTS of tomato sandwiches!

Anatomy of a Summer Tomato Sandwich

  1. THICK slices of Vine Ripe Red Tomatoes or Heirloom Tomatoes
  2. Salt and Pepper
  3. More Mayonnaise than you would normal slather on a sandwich (Homemade Mayo Recipe here)
  4. Bread. (Soft Potato Rolls, Texas White Toast bread or Toasted 12 Grain Bread are my favorites)

Tomato Sandwich time! Flavorful certified Organic Vine Ripe Tomatoes are at their best from local farms the rest of August and into early September.

Organic Cantaloupe

Peak Season    Best Flavor

The Organic Cantaloupe season is winding down as the summer wanes, but here in mid-August you can expect some of the best tasting melons of the year! The Organic Cantaloupes from California that I’ve seen and tasted this week have been exceptional – a full-flavored melon. They to have dense, deep orange flesh that is firm in texture and tastes impressively sweet with lots of classic melon flavor. Delicious!

Cantaloupe Tips

  • When are they ready to eat? Organic Cantaloupe from summer harvests are picked at maturity, so the fruit is ready to eat as soon as you buy them.
  • Storing for a day or two at room temperature will soften the melon a bit, which can make it taste slightly sweeter.
  • Select melons that are free from sunken, discolored spots, or large soft areas (a sign of bruising). The Cantaloupe can have a little give, but it should not feel spongy.
  • Cut melon can be kept in the fridge for several days, but when it’s tasty – you’re likely to eat it right away.
  • Try Cantaloupes in one of these creative recipe ideas.

Organic Cantaloupes from California are tasting great this month! They have rich flavor, dense deep-orange flesh and tight seed cavities so you get more melon for the money.

Kitchen Tip of the Week

How to Control Fruit Flies in Your Kitchen

Here in the heart of summer, if you’re like me you probably have lots of summer produce on your kitchen counters and tables. And it doesn’t take long from some annoying and uninvited visitors to show up: Fruit Flies! Those little pests have a knack for finding the peach, nectarine, plum, tomato or pepper that is beginning to become over-ripe – and then they swarm, feed, grow in numbers and suddenly your kitchen feels like you’ve brought the compost pile inside! Yuck!

Here is a natural method for controlling fruit flies that my Mom recommended to me. Where she learned it, I don’t know, but it works!

  1. Fill a small jar or cup halfway with Cider Vinegar
  2. Add a drop of dish soup
  3. Cover the jar with plastic stretch wrap
  4. Poke several small holes in the plastic wrap (about 1/8”, bigger than a toothpick, smaller than a pencil)
  5. Place the jar near your room temperature produce

It has kept my kitchen free from fruit flies on my Heirloom Tomatoes and PA Peaches that are ripening on the kitchen island. The sweet, ripe aroma of Cider Vinegar seems to attract the fruit flies into the jar. Then the acidity of the vinegar and mild viscosity added with the dish soap trap them in the liquid. Brilliant!

Pesky kitchen fruit flies? Get them under control by setting out this homemade, chemical free trap.

 

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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