Organic Picks of the Week 07/31/12

Best if Used By 08/07/12

Organic Picks of the week for July 31st, 2012 features
Pluots, Eggplant, Honeydew, Red Grapes and Champagne Grapes

Organic Pluots (Plumcots)


Are you a fan of Plums but frustrated with their inconsistency in sweetness and occasional dud flavor? You should upgrade to Pluots: Part Plum. Part Apricot. All delicious! (…at least more often than not.) They’re great for snacking, salsas, salads and more!

Plum + Apricot = Pluot. But the flavor multiplies!

Mid-summer varieties of Organic Pluots, also referred to as Organic Plumcots, are plentiful during August from certified organic orchards California’s sunny San Joaquin Valley. Growers and plant breeders work tirelessly to come up with the best new varieties of Pluots that are super sweet, juicy and flavorful – and boy, are there some good ones out there right now. The come in many flesh and skin colors – from yellow to ruby flesh – from speckled skin to bright red. And Pluots have cool names! You might find “Mariposa,” “Dapple Fire,” “Flavor Jem,” and “Dapple Dandy.” Even if you don’t like regular Plums, you owe it to your taste buds to try some Organic Pluots!

Fun fact: What is that powder-like film on the skin? It’s called “bloom” and it is a natural, protective wax that forms on the fruit as it grows. When you rub up Plum or Pluot it gets it’s shine from the bloom.

Organic Eggplant


Mmm – fried Eggplant is delicious, but loaded with calories since Eggplant really soaks up the oil. Try this Crispy Baked Eggplant recipe instead! It’s a great time to experiment with healthy Eggplant recipes since Certified Organic Eggplant from local farms in the Mid-Atlantic is in peak season now through early September. Select Eggplant that is firm, not flabby, is free from brown-sunken areas, and has some green color still in calyx around the stem.

Organic Eggplant in peak season from Mid-Atlantic farms.

Organic Honeydew


There’s Honeydew. Then, there’s peak season, vine-ripened California Organic Honeydew. Much of the year, Organic Honeydews can be hard to come by, let alone consistent in flavor, but during August it will actually be difficult to find one that isn’t yummy! This is how Honeydew is supposed to taste!

May not always be pretty in outward appearance, but peak season Organic Honeydew won’t let you down in flavor and sweetness!

The sweetest California Organic Honeydew have a creamy skin color that feels almost waxy and gives off a tropical aroma. Select melons that feel heavy for their size. Sugar-veins and scars (rough spots or streaks) on the skin do not mean it is a bad melon, and are common on organically grown melons. In fact, sugar-vein is typically a sign that the Honeydew will be very sweet. Store Honeydew at room temperature until it gives just slightly to firm thumb pressure. Slice the melon in half, scoop out the seeds, peel on a cutting board, chunk the flesh and store cut melon in the fridge… that is, if you don’t devour it first or use it in a recipe.

Organic Red Grapes


The Grapes that kinda crack when you bite them and then pop with sweet flavor in your mouth when you chew are here! Crisp, round Red Flame variety Seedless Grapes are in peak season the next few weeks from one of the best table grape growing areas in the world – the hot, flat lands between Bakersfield and Fresno in California, home to a few top notch organic ranches – just West of the Sierra Mountains. In the organic produce department, look for bags or containers of Organic Red Grapes that are free from wet or smashed berries and are filled with bunches clinging to fresh, green stems.

Crunch, pop – yum! Peak season Organically Grown Red Flame Seedless Grapes from California.

NOTE: Full red color is not necessarily an indicator of sweetness. During peak season, Organic Red Flame Seedless Grapes that are not fully red in color can still taste fantastic and have excellent texture.

Organic Champagne Grapes


Here’s a fun thing to try this August: Organic Champagne Grapes. No, these are not the famous wine grapes from the Champagne region of France. Organic Champagne Grapes are miniature Red Seedless Grapes that grow in tight clusters on tender, thin stems. The name comes from the “tiny bubbles,” I suppose.

Tiny bubbles. Organically grown Champagne Grapes, not for spirits, but for spirited snacking.

The flavor of Organic Champagne Grapes is rich and sweet with a hint of tanginess underneath. I enjoy eating them by grabbing the thick base of the stem on a cluster, biting down on the whole bunch, and then pulling the main stem from between my teeth. Sure, you might get a few mini-stems in with the grapes but they’re so tender you don’t really notice them as you chew. Maybe you think I’m crazy, but try a pack of these this month and enjoy the reaction from friends and family as you eat or prepare them in your own ways.

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.

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!