Organic Picks | July 8th, 2015

Yellow NectarinesGreen KiwifruitSunGold KiwifruitHeirloom Tomatoes

Best if used by 07/23/15

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Organic Yellow Nectarines

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

What’s a good summer snack for this week? Organic Yellow Nectarines from California have been tasting very nice! – creamy flesh that is juicy, sweet and just tangy enough to have an exciting flavor. This is the point in the California Yellow Nectarine season where the varieties transition from “cling-stone” types like the Grand Candy to “free-stone” types like Honey Royale where the flesh easily separates from the pit.

Yellow Nectarines are ready to eat when the fruit gives just slightly to a squeeze on the palm of your hand. Did you know that Nectarines do not gain any sugar content through ripening after they are picked? However, as a Yellow-flesh Nectarine softens and the juices release within the flesh – the fruit tastes sweeter.

Nectarine Tips

  • Select Nectarines that are free from soft spots or wrinkles. The fruit should have deep yellow skin with red blush over must of it.
  • Avoid Nectarines that have green-color where yellow would be – a sign of immaturity.
  • An ideally ripe Nectarine will give just slightly to a squeeze in the palm of your hand. It only takes a day or two at room temperature to soften a Nectarine to juicy-sweet.
  • 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.

Select Nectarines that are free from soft spots or wrinkles. The fruit should have deep yellow skin with red blush over must of it.

Organic Green Kiwifruit

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Some of the best quality Green Kiwifruit in the world are grown in New Zealand where the fall season has just finished. The peak season harvest from organic kiwifruit vineyards has arrived to the US and will be available throughout the summer for kiwi lovers to enjoy.

Snack healthy! Did you know that two Green Kiwifruit have more potassium than a banana, more than twice the daily RDA of Vitamin C and more fiber than a bowl of bran flakes – all that for about 100 calories? Whoa. Digestion aid, indeed! Oh, and they’ve got antioxidant Vitamin E, Lutein, Folate, Magnesium and more.

  How-To

When is Green Kiwifruit ripe? Hard = Very Tart. Slightly Soft = Tangy-Sweet.

Some Green Kiwifruit on display at stores will be rock-solid. That’s OK. They were picked hard but at peak maturity and ripen off the vine, slowly. An unripe Kiwifruit is aggressively tart and hard, while a ripe Kiwifruit will make come back for seconds with its sweet-tangy flavor and juicy texture! A Kiwifruit is ready to eat when it gives a squeeze in the palm of your hand. The softer the fruit, the sweeter and less tangy they’ll taste. Store hard Kiwifruit at room temperature until they’re ripe, or place them in a paper bag to speed up the process by trapping the natural ethylene emitted by the fruit. Ripe Kiwifruit can be held at that stage for about week in the fridge if you’re not ready to eat them.

How do you eat a Green Kiwifruit? Here are three ways I enjoy them:

  1. Sloop: To eat a ripe Kiwifruit simply slice it in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. This is how Kiwi (those from New Zealand) eat kiwifruit.
  2. Fillet: Trim the ends, lay the Kiwifruit on its side and peel the skin away with a sharp knife – rolling it along the cutting board over the knife. Then slice it into discs.
  3. Skin ‘N All: (not for everyone) The last way to eat a Kiwifruit is for the adventurous: rinse the fruit, take a big bit to suck out the juicy flesh and eat basically eat it whole – most of the skin and all! The skin is a little fuzzy, but edible.

 
 

Fillet: Trim the ends, lay the Kiwifruit on its side and peel the skin away with a sharp knife – rolling it along the cutting board over the knife. Then slice it into discs.

Organic SunGold Kiwifruit

Peak Season    Best Flavor

So, you’ve tried Green Kiwifruit before – maybe you liked it, maybe you didn’t – but SunGold Kiwifruit are much more accessible thanks to their extra sweet and mellow flavor. Kids love ‘em!  Unlike Green Kiwifruit, new SunGold Kiwifruit have a smooth, dark brown skin that is almost more a tender-shell than skin and a deep golden bronze flesh that is less acidic than typical Kiwifruit. I love the taste of the SunGold variety – sticky sweet, juicy and refreshing, tropical yet not intense.

SunGold is a new variety from Zespri, a New Zealand organization that is essentially a cooperative of growers marketing their fruit to the world. The variety is already a smash hit in Japan, Taiwan and other Asian countries, but was only introduced in North America last year, so you may have to ask the produce manager at your local store to bring some in. Peak season Organic SunGold Kiwifruit are available in the US at natural food stores and food co-ops during July and August.

  How-To

When is SunGold Kiwfruit ripe? Hard = tart. Slightly Soft = Sweet and Juicy!

SunGold Kiwifruit are picked hard but at peak maturity and ripen off the vine, slowly. An unripe SunGold Kiwifruit is hard and not very juicy, while a ripe SunGold Kiwifruit will make come back for seconds with its sweet and mellow flavor and juicy flesh! A SunGold Kiwifruit is ready to eat when it gives to a gentle squeeze in the palm of your hand. The softer the fruit, the sweeter and juicier they’ll taste. Store firm SunGold Kiwifruit at room temperature until they’re ripe, or place them in a paper bag to speed up the process by trapping the natural ethylene emitted by the fruit. Ripe SunGold Kiwifruit can be held at that stage for about week in the fridge if you’re not ready to eat them.

How do you eat a SunGold Kiwifruit? The easiest way to enjoy a ripe SunGold Kiwifruit simply slice it in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. It’s like a sweet treat in that comes in its own bowl!

What else can you do with SunGold Kiwifruit?

SunGold Kiwifruit are fantastic for snacking but here are some of the other ways I enjoyed them while on my trip to New Zealand last year: smoothies, dried SunGold Kiwifruit, in Muesli, in a sauce over beef, in salads, served warm over grilled salmon, baked into muffins and as part of a salsa.

Find interesting recipe ideas for Green and SunGold Kiwifruit here.

Discover the taste of SunGold Kiwifruit

SunGold Kiwifruit Harvets in NZ

Organic Heirloom Tomatoes

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Heirloom Tomatoes and summer go hand in hand for me. It is all about flavor and legacy with Heirlooms. Organic Heirloom Tomatoes season is for people that 1) want their Tomatoes that taste like something memorable, 2) care about where the seeds came from and 3) care how the plants are grown. Organically grown Heirlooms Tomatoes are now in peak season from small and medium sized farms in California during July and will begin to be in-season here in the Mid-Atlantic from organic growers like Lady Moon Farms by August.

Try some for yourself this summer to discover the tapestry of Tomato flavor out there. Heirlooms are perfect chopped for homemade fresh salsa or sliced for a Caprese salad. I often enjoy them simply with a dash of coarse salt and cracked pepper, or sliced thick for a sandwich.

What exactly are Heirloom Tomatoes?

Most conventional, round Tomatoes have been hybrid-bred for consistency of size, shape, color, shelf-life and firmness – all so that they can safely make it through the supermarket supply channel and into your kitchen without getting soft or going bad. Heirlooms, on the other hand, are old and diverse varieties that have been around since WWII. Some have been passed down over the years by a family and others were created through natural cross-pollinations, still others were commercially produced by a seed company or university ag program over 75 years ago. With Heirloom varieties you can take seeds from this year’s fruit and plant it year after year and get the exact same tomato plant. Each Heirloom variety has its own special taste, texture, shape, size and color characteristics that make them unique and wonderful in their own way.

“Wait, these Tomatoes feel soft!”

Organic Heirloom Tomatoes are soft to begin with – you should expect them to have a little give. Since they are not hybridized for shelf-life or firmness, do not expect a long shelf-life. Use them quickly. Oh, and they’re ugly by most normal standards, …but the flavor, whether sweet, earthy, bold, tangy or bold – is always beautiful! Since Heirlooms are not bred for maximum production or disease resistance – yields are typically smaller and they cost more to grow. That is why you can expect to pay more at the register. What is flavor, farming and philosophy worth to you?

What do they taste like?

There is a broad range of flavors when it comes to Heirloom Tomatoes and that is a great thing! In my experience, the following color categories have some flavor similarities, but this is by no means a definitive guide. Explore and discover for yourself!

  • Reds: rich tomato taste, sweet with noticeable acidity, “Beefstake” often in the name
  • Pinks: pronounced acidity, full throttle tangy garden tomato taste, “German” often in the name
  • Yellows: sweeter flavor than most red varieties
  • Browns: bold, earthy and intense flavors, “Black,” “Purple” or “Russian” often in the name
  • Striped: range from bitter to sweet depending on the variety or how ripe the fruit is when picked.

Local Organic Produce Picks: for readers in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states during mid-July:

    • Organic Blueberries
    • Organic Greens – Kale, Lacinato, Collards, Chards
    • Organic Green Beans
    • Organic Cabbage – Green and Red
    • Organic Squash – Zucchini and Yellow
    • Organic Cucumbers
    • Organic Grape and Cherry Tomatoes

 

Heirlooms are perfect chopped for homemade fresh salsa or sliced for a Caprese salad. I often enjoy them simply with a dash of coarse salt and cracked pepper, or sliced thick for a sandwich.

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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