Organic Picks | November 18th, 2014

Sweet PotatoesOpal ApplesDandelion GreensSweet Onions

Best if used by 11/25/14

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Organic Sweet Potatoes

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Flavorful and sweet – Sweet Potatoes are so delicious that it’s easy to forget you’re eating something so good for you. They’re loaded with Fiber, Beta Carotene, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Manganese. There is an amazing spectrum of healthy “any day” recipe ideas to enjoy along with all of the holiday recipes you’re probably familiar with.

This time of year I love baked Sweet Potato Fries with taco seasoning for game day, roasted Veggies & Sweet Potatoes or Baked Apples & Sweet Potatoes with cinnamon as supper side dishes, and of course whipped Sweet Potatoes topped with nuts or Sweet Potato Casserole for the holidays. Oh, and few things remind me of my Grandma’s Thanksgiving spread more than pan fried yellow-flesh Sweet Potatoes and Butter.

Peak season is here! The best, clean-skinned, premium Organic Sweet Potatoes (aka Organic Yams) are at the pinnacle of their quality, availability and affordability from California farms. The finest of the late Summer and Fall crop harvest, several varieties, will be carefully stored for shipping now through the Winter months. Organic farms in North Carolina are now shipping their orange-flesh Sweet Potatoes too which are not quite as pretty, but certainly tasty and a more economical option for East Coast shoppers.

Organic Sweet Potato (Yam) Varieties

  • Jewel Yams are gorgeous with a reddish-purple skin and deep orange flesh that is quite moist.
  • Garnet Yams are an ever-popular variety that features orange-red skin and vivid orange flesh.
  • Covington Sweets are grown prominently in North Carolina. They’re an all-purpose, red-tan skin variety with moist orange flesh.
  • Japanese Sweets (aka Oriental Sweets) have purple skin with white flesh and feature a very sweet flavor and firm, dry texture.
  • Hannah Sweets have a light yellow to tan skin with white flesh that has mild flavor and nice sweetness.

Sweet Potato Tips

  • Orange-flesh Sweet Potatoes are ideal for boiling, whipping, roasting, casseroles, fries and baking.
  • White-flesh Sweet Potatoes have a drier texture and are excellent for baking, roasting or pan frying.
  • At home, Sweet Potatoes do not get stored in the fridge. Simply, keep them in a cool, dry place like the bottom or your pantry.
  • Do not seal uncooked Sweet Potatoes inside a plastic bag during storage.  Some ventilation is best.

Recipe Ideas

Top: It’s Organic Sweet Potato season! From Left: Hannah Sweet, Japanese Sweet, Covington, Garnet, Jewel


Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Carrots and Delicata Squash for dinner time


Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Taco Seasoning for game time

Organic Opal Apples

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Attention Apple Enthusiasts! Here’s a variety to be on the lookout for in late November, December and into the winter months: Organic Opal Apples. The Opal variety looks like a Golden Delicious with some brown russeting near the stem area, but that’s where the similarities end. Opal Apples are very crisp and firm in texture. The flesh is sweet with some tanginess in the background – excellent for snacking. Their flesh is naturally slow to oxidize, so a cut Opal Apple slice with not turn brown as quickly as other varieties, making Opals ideal for salads. You can bake with them too – check out the recipes on the Opal Apples site.

The Opal apple variety is grown in the US by the Broetje family (First Fruits brand) at their organic and conventional orchards in Washington. Opals are harvested in late fall and become a little sweeter tasting in storage, so that’s why they’re held back until the winter months. I had the opportunity to meet Ralph Broetje and tour his orchards in August 2013. The variety, a cross between Golden Delicious and Topaz discovered in Europe in 1999, has been well-received by those that have tasted it. The Broetje’s are planting a lot of Opal Apples so you will see more of this variety in produce departments in the next 5-10 years.

Delicious, sweet and tangy Opal Apples are very crisp and firm with flesh that is naturally slow to brown.

Organic Dandelion Greens

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Organic Dandelion Greens typically serve two purposes: 1) big flavor for those seeking bold flavors, and 2) big detox for those seeking a reboot. Dandelion is a bitter green, a flavor somewhere between spinach and spring mix. It can be chopped raw and used in fresh salads or blanched then sautéed with garlic and onions. They’re also high in vitamins and nutrients, and are a natural diuretic commonly used in juicing diets. Organic Dandelion Greens are in peak season this Fall in both Florida and southern California.  Enjoy them while they’re great!

Recipe Ideas

Organic Dandelion Greens from Florida are looking gorgeous this November! Great for full flavor salad or for green juices.


Organic Sweet Onions

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Sweet Onions are ideal for sautéing, baking, dip and casserole recipes or for eating raw in salad or sandwiches since they have less pungency than regular Yellow Cooking Onions. The slightly higher sugar content allows for flavorful caramelization during cooking, and crispness and mildness make them ideal for both fresh use. “Sweetie Sweet” Organic Sweet Onions are in peak season from the irrigated dessert growing areas of Nevada during late Fall. This particular Sweet Onion variety grows in more of a globe shape than typical saucer shape, but the flavor is exactly what you’d expect out of a Sweet Onion.

Sweet Onion Tips

  • Select Sweet Onions that are free from soft spots, sponginess or strong odor. Yes, the outer skin will flake off and may look ugly, but that is what a fresh-crop Sweet Onion is like.
  • Use Sweet Onions within a week of purchase so they don’t spoil. Since the all Sweet Onion varieties are a “fresh onion” (not allowed to cure and form a tough outer skin layer) they will not hold up as long in your pantry as a regular Yellow Onion.

Recipe Ideas

Organic “Sweetie Sweet” Sweet Onions are in peak season from Nevada this Fall!


Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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