Organic Picks of the Week 08/14/12

Best if Used By 08/21/12

Organic Picks of the week for August 14th, 2012 features
Green Grapes, Mini Seedless Watermelons,
Roma (Plum) Tomatoes
, Chili Peppers and Cherry Tomatoes

Organic Green Grapes


Where are all the Green Grape fans? Great news! Peak season is here for some of the best Organic Green Seedless Grapes from California, like the classic Thompson variety that is known for its long shape and sweet taste. Now through mid-September is one of the best times of the year to enjoy certified Organic Green Grapes for eating quality, reasonable prices and steady availability in the organic produce department.

Peak season = best flavor for Organically grown Green Grapes from California.

What does it mean when the Grapes are more yellowish than green? In my experience, yellow hue indicates a very sweet eating berry – yum! But keep ‘em refrigerated and eat ‘em quick since the more sugar the fruit has the shorter the shelf life will be. Avoid Green Grapes that appear wet and sticky in their package. Select Grapes that feel firm to a gentle squeeze and are clinging to healthy-looking green stems. Refrigerate Grapes and rinse with water just before eating. The California Table Grape site has a nice array of Grape recipes, tips and use ideas.

Organic Mini Seedless Watermelons


August is usually a great time for Organic Watermelons in the Mid-Atlantic, but blight and disease issues have stymied several major growers making local Organic Watermelon availability sporadic. There is a good alternative that I recommend – Organic Mini Seedless Watermelons. These “personal sized” melons range from 4 to 8 pound each and are in peak season in California right now. The ones I’ve tasted have been sweet with crisp flesh. Plus, they’ll fit in your fridge without having to move your shelves around.

Fridge-sized Organic Watermelons in peak season from California.

Organic Roma (Plum) Tomatoes


There are Slicing Tomatoes. There are Snacking, Cocktail and Salad Tomatoes. And then there are Roma Tomatoes, also called Plum Tomatoes. Roma’s are their own “use category,” ideal for cooking, sauces and salsas. They are smaller than round tomatoes and have an egg shape, and the varieties often grown during local summer season are elongated. Roma Tomatoes are meaty and have less gel inside than larger round varieties. This makes them ideal for dicing for use as an ingredient or topping.

Peak season Organic Roma Tomatoes – the salsa, sauce, topping, ingredient tomato.

Full-flavor. Here in August and into September, you’re likely find vine-ripened Organic Roma Tomatoes grown in the Mid-Atlantic. These Organic Roma’s are a softer and redder than the ones you find in stores during the winter, and you can taste the difference – rich, acidic Tomato flavor – making them perfect for homemade Tomato Sauce. Romas also wedge well to add to salads, can be stuffed and intensify with roasting. Save the flavor! Do not refrigerate Tomatoes until after you cut them.

Produce Geek’s Easy Bean Salsa:

  • 1 can drained and rinsed Black Beans (frijoles)
  • 3 ears of boiled Sweet Corn knife-scraped from the cob (or 1 can drained Corn)
  • 5 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • 1/2 Jumbo Sweet Onion, chopped
  • Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin and red pepper flake to taste
  • Stir and Enjoy!

Organic Chili Peppers


Get your endorphins levels up this month with some natural heat. Organic Chili Peppers are in peak season at certified organic farms on the East Coast, so there’s no better time to try spicing things up! Fresh salsa, relishes, sauces, salads, grilled, roasted and stuffed– go for it!

Local Organic Chili Peppers (from left): Poblano’s for stuffing, Anaheims for roasting, Jalapenos for heat

Here are a few basic varieties that you may find, ranked from most mild to most hot:

Poblano: sometimes called Pasilla, dark green, wide-flat cone shape, just a little spicy, great for Tex-Mex, roasting, grilling and stuffing like in Chile Rellenos!

Anaheim: green, red when mature, mild to medium heat, ideal in Southwest cooking and salsa, awesome for roasting.

Jalapeno: small, dark green, immediately spicy; perfect for salsa, pico de gallo and kicking anything up a notch; smoke them and Jalapenos become… Chipotle.

Organic Cherry Tomatoes


Bursting with juicy and intense tomato flavor, Organic Cherry Tomatoes are fun for salads, snacking and roasting. They’re bigger and slightly more acidic than Grape Tomatoes. August is peak season for local crops of Organic Cherry Tomatoes in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Enjoy!

Ch-ch-ch-cha Cherry Toms!

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!