Organic Picks | December 10th, 2014

Baby Bok ChoyRed GrapefruitClementine MandarinsAsian Pears

Best if used by 12/17/14

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Organic Baby Bok Choy

Peak Season    Best Flavor

It is a great time to do some cooking with Organic Baby Bok Choy (Baby Bok Choi) since it is in season from both Florida and California farms. The “baby” versions are an entirely different group of varieties all together, but visually, Baby Bok Choy is different from regular Bok Choy in that the head is only about 2-4” wide and 6-10” long. The color is all light green on both the crisp and juicy ribs and tender leaves. The flavor has a mild peppery zip to it, like a juicy version of raw cabbage, yet is sweeter than regular, full-sized, white-ribbed Bok Choy. Typically, Baby Bok Choy is chopped raw for Asian-style salads, grilled, roasted, steamed, braised or sautéed and served as the whole head – or at least whole leaves.

Baby Bok Choy Recipe Ideas

In-season Organic Baby Bok Choy brings a fresh and mild flavor to Asian chop salads, stir-fry, steamed dishes and more!

 

Organic Red Grapefruit

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Fresh Organic Red Grapefruit from Florida, Texas and California is now in peak season. The fruit is juicy, tart-sweet in flavor and refreshing. Organic Grapefruit makes for a healthy snack, is fantastic for juicing and can be used in salads, cooking and desserts. Take your time and slice the flesh from the membranes section by section and spoon it out from the halved Grapefruit. Or, if you are impatient like me – squeeze the Grapefruit juice by hand and drink down the pulpy goodness, or hack it apart by filleting the flesh from the rind to eat whole. Do not let old-fashioned rules or customs prevent you from enjoying some juicy, tropical-like citrus, friends! Dig in!

Red Grapefruit Tips and Notes

  • Being “in-season” trumps appearance when judging flavor for Organic Grapefruit.
  • Exterior color is not really an indicator of internal color.
  • Skin scars and cosmetic blemishes formed while ripening on the tree do not impact the flavor either.
  • Select Grapefruit that is heavy for its size and avoid fruit that has soft spots.
  • Fresh Grapefruit can be kept for about a month in the fridge or a week or so on the counter at room temperature.

By Region this December

  • California grown Organic Grapefruits have skin that is a bit thick and nice flavor.
  • Texas grown Organic Grapefruits have fantastic deep ruby flesh that tastes great.
  • Florida grown Organic Grapefruits are super-juicy, thin skinned and are getting sweet each week.

Organic Florida Grapefruit is in peak season – tart-sweet, so juicy!

Organic Clementine Mandarins

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Snacking citrus rocks! There is a short window here in winter when organically grown Clementine Mandarins are available from California. The Clementine variety has a bright orange, smooth skin that peels fairly easily and has juicy, seedless flesh inside. The Organic Clementines I’ve tasted have been great – sweet, flavorful yet mild enough for kids. They’re mostly sold as loose pieces of fruit and displays at natural foods stores, coops and organic markets will have a range of sizes to choose from. Some stores are beginning to stock 2lb or 3lb bags.

If you don’t see Organic Clementines, you might still find another mandarin variety that is just as good, if not better – Organic Satsuma Mandarins which I wrote about here last week. Satsumas have a pebbly skin that is often puffy, making the fruit extra easy to peel with your fingers. Expect the Organic Satsuma Mandarins to be very sweet and a little tangy at the same time. Fantastic! December and early January are prime time for these two varieties and before you know it the Organic Clementine and Satsuma season will be over.

The Organic Clementines I’ve tasted have been great – sweet, flavorful yet mild enough for kids.

 

Organic Satsuma Mandarins (left) vs Organic Clementines (right)

Organic Asian Pears

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Enjoy the best of both worlds. Asian Pears have the texture of a very juicy apple yet taste like a sweet, ripe pear – earning them the nickname “Apple Pears.” Here’s the best part: the cream-colored flesh is crisp and crunchy like an Fuji Apple, at the same time extremely juicy like a ripe Bartlett, nicely sweet and has a familiar Pear flavor. Brown-skinned Hosui and Olympic variety Asian Pears from fall harvests at organic orchards in Oregon and Washington are available this month and the fruit tastes great as a snack. They’re also ideal for enjoying with sharp cheese, slicing into salads and slaws or simply sharing for dessert since a sliced Asian Pear is naturally slow to oxidize, or brown.

Asian Pear Tips

  • Asian Pears may thicker skin than other pear varieties, but their juicy flesh bruises easily. Handle with care!
  • Select Asian Pears that feel heavy for their size, have no wrinkled skin, punctures or large bruises.
  • Some prefer to peel their brown-skin Asian Pears, but that is up to preference.
  • Asian Pears do store well and fresh ones will keep for a few weeks in the fridge.
  • They’re excellent for cheese trays or fruit trays since the sliced flesh is slow to oxidize or brown.

Recipe: Winter Fruit Salad

Crunchy, juicy, sweet and robust – this salad is the perfect way to highlight the best flavors of late Fall and early Winter.

  1. Wash and prep the following fruits:
    • 2 Asian Pears, cored, chopped
    • 2 Fuyu Persimmon, calyx removed, chopped
    • Arils from 1 fresh Pomegranate
    • 3 Clementine or Satsuma Mandarins, peeled, sectioned
  2. Combine in a mixing bowl, serve chilled

Eats like an apple. Tastes like a pear. In-season Organic Asian Pears are exceedingly juicy, crisp and sweet. Plus, they’re naturally slow to brown when cut, making them ideal for salads, slaws, and fruit and cheese platters.

Asian Pears bring sweetness and juiciness to this seasonal, winter fruit salad.

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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