Organic Picks of the Week 05/14/12

Best if Used By 05/21/12

Organic Picks of the week for May 14th, 2012 features
Watermelon, Vidalia Sweet Onions, Mangos, Rhubarb and Sugar Snap Peas

What is Organic Produce?

Certified Organic Produce meets a set of standards for growing, handling and labeling that is governed by the USDA’s National Organic Program. Organic fruits and vegetables are grown without the use synthetic chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers. The terms “Natural” and “Local” are not the same as “Organic.” Learn more about Organic.

Organic Watermelon

BEST FLAVOR | PEAK SEASON

In the world of Certified Organic Produce, Organic Watermelons are one of the fruits that is not available year-round from somewhere in the world like its conventional counterpart. There is distinct seasonality for Organic Watermelon, and the good news is that the season is here now! Organic farmers in Florida are harvesting both Seedless Watermelons and Seeded Sugar Baby Watermelons. Not only do the solid dark green-skinned Organic Sugar Babies have seeds for spitting (what fun!, preferably outside), but they are also quite tasty.

Organic Sugar Baby Watermelons are back in season! Inspecting them can be a delicious time.

There’s no science to selecting a Watermelon. It’s up to the farmers and harvesters to pick them at the right time and for stores/distributors to inspect them well. Find one that is relatively symmetrical, feels heavy (watermelons are 92% water) and has a creamy yellow spot underneath (showing it ripened in the sun and that’s the spot where it sat on the ground). Avoid spongy-feeling melons. And go ahead – thump away if you like… it’ll make people think you know what you’re doing!

Organic Vidalia Sweet Onions

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Hey, hey! Organically grown Vidalia Sweet Onions are now in peak season. Organic Vidalia’s sweeten up and mellow out in flavor with cooking or grilling. And since their crisp flesh has sweetness yet still packs a little sass – Vidalia Sweet Onions are awesome on salads and in sandwiches. There’s lots of flavor without burning your nose. Look up some recipes here.

Organic Vidalia Sweet Onions – great for grilling, cooking or simply raw.

Organic Vidalia Sweet Onions are grown on certified organic farms in the rich soils of Georgia in and around Vidalia County where conditions are superb for growing mild, saucer-shaped Sweet Onions. Fresh Organic Vidalia Sweet Onions will remain in peak season for the next few months. Select Sweet Onions that are free from soft spots. Since they are a fresh Onion the will not hold up as long in your pantry as a regular Yellow Onion. Use Vidalia’s within a week or so of purchase for best quality.

Organic Mangos

BEST FLAVOR | PEAK SEASON

Harvests of Organically grown Mangos from Mexico are getting larger here in May and prices will become more affordable than the past month or so. Peak season for the Organic Tommy Atkins (dark red blush over dark green skin) and Organic Haden (bright red skin blush over light green skin with orange) Mango varieties is in full swing. The amount of redness on the skin is not an indicator of sweetness. These Mangos do not give visual clues to when they are ripe, so judge by the softness when you squeeze them. A little give indicates a ripe Mango. A lot of give will mean you better be ready to get sticky! In my book, a juicy chin means happy taste buds. Recipes, cutting tips and more can be found here.

Peak seasons Organic Mangos! Did you know redness or lack thereof is not an indicator of flavor or ripeness?

Organic Rhubarb

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Rhubarb is a perennial that  shoots up rosy stalks with big green leaves each spring. Think of its stalks as a red, tart version of Celery. The leaves are not for consumption, but the stalks are a distinctly flavorful ingredient to feature in baking and desserts. It is most typically paired with Strawberries. Growing up, we had Rhubarb in our garden and I adore my Mom’s Rhubarb Crisp. Still, there is a bigger world of uses for tasty Rhubarb than just pies, jams and cobblers. Check out these recipes including savory dishes and drinks. Fresh Organic Rhubarb is in peak season now – enjoy!

Spring crop Organic Rhubarb from Colorado – for more than just desserts.

Organic Sugar Snap Peas

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Mmm- sweet, crisp and fresh; Organic Sugar Snap Peas are now in peak season in California! Sugar Snap Peas are more plump than Snow Peas, but are still eaten pod and all. In addition to sautéing and steaming Sugar Snap Peas, they can be eaten raw on salads or as a crunchy snack. Find some spring-time Sugar Snap Pea recipes here.

Organic Sugar Snaps in the raw.

Buy Smart. Shop Healthy. Live Organic.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy
Forward this to a friend if you think they’ll like it – Here’s to fresh!