Organic Picks of the Week 09/11/12

Best if Used By 09/18/12

Organic Picks of the week for September 11th, 2012 features
Gala Apples, Russet Potatoes, White Mushrooms,
, and Pineapples

Organic Gala Apples


Just about everyone – kids and adults – likes Gala Apples. And why not! The good ones are crisp, juicy, sweet and mild tasting – a nice snack or good for salads! Peak season for fresh crop Organic Gala Apples is in full swing at certified organic orchards in Washington state.

A snacking favorite – peak season Organically grown Gala Apples.

When selecting your Apple give it a squeeze with your hand – it should feel hard. Avoid fruit with visible bruises. Don’t take home Gala’s that are dull or have wrinkled skin – a sign of being on the shelf too long and dehydration. Finally, keep the Apples you buy in the fridge until you’re ready to eat them. This time of year, Apples can last for a few weeks in the fridge.

Organic Russet Potatoes


One of the better values in the organic produce department, Organic Russet Potatoes, are in peak season. That means reasonable prices on fresh product. Prolific organic growing regions in states like Colorado and California are promoting their harvests of the early season Russet varieties. Your best value can be found in 5lb bags. Loose Organic Russets typically sell at a slightly higher price per pound than the bags.

Seems like just about everyone has a favorite recipe, from the basics like Mashed Potatoes to fancier dishes like Potato Au Gratin – there are a ton of ways to love Russet Potatoes. Russets have lower moisture content than Red or Gold Potatoes making them fluffier (think baked or mashed), less likely to absorb oil (think fried or in casseroles) and easier to get crispy (think roasting and frying).

Tailgate on the cheap - Cajun Grilled Russets.

Here’s a game day recipe to try on Saturday or Sunday –
RECIPE: Cajun Grilled Russets

  • Pre-heat grill
  • Wash 4 medium to large Russet Potatoes, pat skin dry with a paper towel
  • Slice Potatoes length-wise into thirds, making the longest possible slices
  • Toss the football-shaped Potato slabs in a mixing bowl with 2 tbsp olive oil to coat them
  • Season with 1 tbsp of your favorite Cajun grill seasoning (or just salt/pepper/paprika)
  • Grill over high heat for about 4-6min on the first side, 3-4min on the opposite
  • They’re ready when they pierce easily with a fork or knife

Are Potatoes healthy? Potatoes themselves ARE since they’re a good source of Vitamin C, Potassium and Fiber, but how you prepare Potatoes and what you put on them determines the true healthy-factor.

Store Russets in a cool, dark place like your pantry closet, but not in the fridge – that’s too cold and will turn the starches into sugar, making them not cook the way they should. These early varieties of Russets should be used during September and October within a 7-10 days of purchase. Scrub Russets before baking or boiling.

Organic White Mushrooms


It is always peak season for Organic White Mushrooms since they’re grown indoors. So, as summer grilling fades to fall weekday evening meals and weekend family dinners, now’s a great time to think about incorporating the mild, earthy flavor of Organic White Mushrooms into your meals. Mushrooms sliced raw for your salads, sautéed Mushrooms to top your protein, stuffed Mushrooms for appetizers, cooked into sauces…the recipe idea list goes on.

Store White Mushrooms in the refrigerator in the container they were purchased in. For best freshness, use Mushrooms within a few days of purchase.

Not just mild, earthy flavor, but Vitamin D, Potassium, Riboflavin, Niacin, Selenium…

CLEANING: Mushrooms are picked from the compost/soil they grow in and packed right away. Dirt is simply part of the equation. So, what is the best way to clean them? It is important to know that Mushrooms are porous and soak up water easily. That doesn’t mean you can’t use water at all. A quick rinse in a colander before use will get much of the dirt off, but there still may be some to buff off with a paper towel. Soft-brush Mushroom cleaning tools actually exist, but I’ve never used one. Wiping with a damp paper towel is still my preferred method. Don’t peel them since it’s way too tedious and you end up peeling away flavor.

Organic Grapes


Sweet and crisp, grown without the use of synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers – right now is one of the best times of the year to enjoy Organically grown seedless snacking Grapes. Red, Green and Black varieties of Organic Grapes continue to be in peak season from California. What a tasty snack! From what I’ve tasted in the past few days, the Red Seedless have tasted the best – really sweet. The best eating Greens are actually not the prettiest ones – their color is more yellow.

Organically grown Grapes continue in peak season this month. (Psst – the reds tasted fantastic!)

Keep your Grapes cold in the fridge and wash with cold water before eating. Select Grapes that have no wetness in the package, with berries that feel firm to a gentle squeeze, and are clinging to healthy-looking green stems, a sign of freshness. The California Table Grape site has a nice array of Grape recipes, tips and use ideas.

Organic Pineapples


Super sweet variety organically grown gold-flesh Pineapples from are tasting great this month. Steady harvests this month from Costa Rica are keeping prices affordable on this natural treat. They’re perfect for sweetening up your blend if you are into juicing, cubing up for fruit salad, adding to Pacific-Rim recipes and carving up for a dessert centerpiece. Go ahead splurge on one, but take your time to enjoy it. Each Organic Pineapple takes about 18-24 months to grow.

Juicy, sweet Organic Pineapples.

Select Pineapples that feel firm, appear vibrant, have a sweet aroma and have fresh looking tops. Remember, Golden Pineapples won’t get much sweeter once they’re picked, just older, so don’t let it sit there on the counter as until it turns soft and brown. Need a refresher on how to carve a pineapple?

This video will help.

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!