Organic Picks | August 26th, 2014

Gala ApplesBartlett PearsRed and Green Seedless GrapesBaby CarrotsKitchen Tip of the Week

best if used by 09/02/14

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Organic Gala Apples

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Looking for a fresh, in-season, portable and sweet fruit that’s good in the lunch box, at the office, for after school snacking, in salads, for juicing and in other culinary uses? Oh, and one grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers?

The ever-popular Gala Apple is an accessible variety that the whole family will love. Good ones are lightly crisp yet easily chewable, have thin tender skins, and taste juicy, sweet and pleasantly mild. Sounds nice, right? Gala Apples are ideal for snacking out of hand, but you can also use them on salads and in many baking recipes.

Here’s the great news! The 2014 harvest is underway for fresh crop Organic Gala Apples from California, Oregon and especially Washington. Expect excellent flavor and texture on this fresh crop fruit. Prices on organic apples have been very high the last 6 months, but look for varieties like Organic Gala to become more affordable headed into September.

Gala Apple Do’s & Don’ts

  • Do Squeeze the apple with your whole hand  – it should feel hard.
  • Don’t Select Galas with visible bruises or flat soft areas – signs of damage during handling.
  • Do Choose Gala’s that have a vibrant color – bright red to deep pink blush-streaks over golden yellow. Dull appearance, no matter what the color shades are is a sign of age or improper storage.
  • Don’t pick ones that have wrinkled skin – a sign of being on the shelf too long and dehydration that causes a mealy textured flesh.
  • Do Refrigerate the Apples you buy until the day you’re ready to eat them to protect their crispness. This time of year, Apples can last for a few weeks in the fridge. Be gentle, even fresh crop apples bruise easier than most people expect.

Shop like an insider

The supply chain in the U.S. still has some old crop Organic Gala Apples in the pipeline from countries in the Southern Hemisphere like Chile or New Zealand. These Gala’s, if they meet the Do & Don’t criteria above, will still taste fine and might be on sale, but will likely have a shorter shelf-life and run the risk of the occasional “mushy apple.” Check the bag label or PLU sticker on the Organic Gala Apple to find it’s Country of Origin. USA = fresh crop. Other origins = select carefully and consume quickly for best texture.

Cutting Tip

 How to prevent your apple slices from turning brown.

Gala Apples are a family favorite for its mild, sweet flavor, tender skins and lightly crisp flesh.


Fresh crop certified Organic Gala Apples are now in season from California, Oregon and Washington!

Organic Bartlett Pears

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Fresh crop Bartlett Pears are back in season! – the ones with the classic light bulb shape. Bartlett Pears are the variety that shows you how ripe it is by the color of its skin. Bartlett Pears have lots of familiar Pear flavor and taste sweeter as they ripen at room temperature. They’re fantastic for fresh snacking, to eat with cheese, in salads and of course, in desserts. Bartlett Pears are preferred by many for home canning too.

The 2014 USA harvest of delicious Organic Bartlett Pears is here!  Picking is mostly completed at orchards in California. The prime organic pear growing regions of northern Oregon and central Washington’s are now hard at work picking and packing some of the best Organic Bartletts in the world. Fresh crop Organic Bartlett Pears are at their seasonal peak for flavor, quality and affordability during late August, September and October. Enjoy!

Three Shades of Bartlett: Ripen Pears at Room Temperature

  1. Green: Hard and crunchy texture with a tart-sweet taste. This is the ripeness for stage for someone who is without a napkin, is hungry enough or impatient enough to eat a Pear that will taste much better in a day or two.
  2. Yellow-Green: Nicely sweet, classic pear flavor and succulent flesh. This is for typical lunch room eating.
  3. Full Yellow: The chin-dripper! Outrageously juicy, richly-ripe and sticky sweet. This is the lean over the desk waist basket with wet-wipes handy or lean over the kitchen sink and slurp up the sweetness. Yes, Bartletts do not stay at the full yellow stage for long before going bad AND the tender skin will likely show scars and bruises from handling. Be gentle.


Can’t convince your kids to eat Pears out-of-hand?  Make it fun! Get your young-ins involved with their after-school snack using one of these Kid-friendly Pear Recipes.

The 2014 USA grown crop of Organic Bartlett Pears is now in peak season!


Bartlett Pears change from green to yellow as the fruit ripens, softens and becomes juicer and sweeter tasting.

Organic Red and Green Seedless Grapes

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Forget the artificial fruit snacks.  Give your family (and yourself) the ultimate REAL FRUIT SNACK: fresh, in-season grapes!  It’s like eating candy… only its natural, full of fiber and antioxidants and micronutrients that are good for you. Organic Green and Red Seedless Grapes from California (which I’ve recommended already a few times this summer) continue to be in season and tasting great! Enjoy some soon while the crop is at its best and stores promoting this clean fruit at reasonable prices!

Here’s what to expect in the organic produce department during late August and early September. “Princess” are large, barrel-shaped green grapes with a semi-crisp texture and a sweet-tart flavor, though they’re much more sweet than tangy at this point in the season. “Pristine” are big and elongated grapes with light, bright green color, excellent crispness and vibrant sweetness. “Scarlet Royal” are oblong red grapes with maroon to purple color, a firm and crunchy texture and rich, deep sweetness.

For some creative snack ideas for the whole family, check out this California Grape Recipe collection.

Grape Tips

  • Select Grapes that feel firm to a gentle squeeze. Lift up the bag or container and look at it from all sides.
  • Look for Grapes with stems that are still green at the thickest parts and appear to still have life in them.
  • Choose packs that have most of the berries still on the vine.
  • Avoid bags that are wet and sticky – a sign that some of the Grapes are going bad – or have berries with splits or cracks.
  • Go ahead… ask the produce clerk for a sample grape or two. Tasting is believing!
  • Keep your Grapes refrigerated until you’re about ready to eat them, since they lose their crunch much quicker at room temperature.
  • Wash Grapes with a cold water rinse just before serving them.

Send your kids back to school with in season fruit for snacking! Expect crisp and sweet tasting Organic Green and Red Seedless Grapes from California this late August and early September.


Organic Baby Carrots

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Can you think of an easier, more convenient veggie snack than Baby Carrots?  Sweet, crunchy and snack-able, Organic Baby Carrots feature flavor and texture for your taste buds, plus lots of beta-carotene, fiber and antioxidants for your body. And not just for the lunch box or snack bowl, Organic Baby Carrots are wonderful raw and are fine for steamed, sautéed and roasted carrot recipes too.

Organic carrot growers in California plant carrot varieties that are tender, sweet and grow long and straight close together to harvest for Baby Carrot production. After harvest those carrots are rushed to the packing facility where the Carrot is trimmed into 3 or 4 sections, then those sections are smoothed down in special tumblers and packaged with a little water to become what we all know and love as “Baby Peeled Carrots.”

Oh no! My Baby Carrots turned white!  A chalky appearance can occur on Baby Carrots that have become dehydrated since their skin is no longer there to protect the flesh. If your chalky-looking Baby Carrots are still within the expiration date and have been kept cold you can bring them back to life by soaking the carrots in ice water for a few minutes to rehydrate them.

Easy, healthy, crunchy, sweet flavor – what’s not to love about Organic Baby Carrots!

Kitchen Tip of the Week

Quick Method to Peel Peaches and Tomatoes for Recipes

Does that Peach Crisp or homemade Salsa recipe you want to make call for “peeled Peaches” or “Tomatoes with the Skins removed?” Here’s a method to speed up your prep time.

  1. Bring a pot of water to a simmer.
  2. Add fully ripe Peaches or Tomatoes to the hot water for 30 seconds. (Firm-ripe Peaches may require 1-3 minutes.)
  3. Remove the fruit from the hot water and cool it under running water or a bowl of ice water.
  4. When the fruit is cool enough to handle the skins should easily separate from the flesh by just pulling it with your fingers.

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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