Organic Picks of the Week 11/13/12

Best if Used By 11/20/12

Organic Picks of the week for November 13th, 2012 features
Fennel, Fingerling Potatoes, Persimmons, Grape Tomatoes, and Green Beans

Organic Fennel

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Also referred to as Anise, Fennel has a distinctive licorice flavor that softens and sweetens during cooking. The texture is similar to Celery without the stinginess. Shaved Fennel bulb can be used raw in salads for a delicious crunch. Roasting sliced Fennel brings out a rich sweetness and sautéing Fennel is luxurious. A cool weather vegetable, Organic Fennel is in peak season from California this month. Try out some recipes this week to see if any will be Thanksgiving dinner worthy – you’ll be surprised!

Fennel, aka Anise. The bulb is sliced or quartered to be cooked or roasted, or sliced thin for eating raw.

Select Fennel that has a clean, firm, white bulb and healthy-looking green tops. Store it in the fridge crisper for up to 1-3 days, in a bag for 2-4 days. Remove the stems and green fronds, slice the bulb in half, remove the fibrous heart, then slice away! But don’t throw away all the fronds since they can be used as a fresh herb or garnish.

Mmm – rich, creamy, parmesan-y! The Potato & Fennel Gratin pictured here was a recipe adaptation from the one found in this Martha Stewart recipe collection for Fennel.

Potato and Fennel Gratin.

Organic Fingerling Potatoes

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Crunched for time? Fingerling Potatoes can speed up your meal preparation time, all while delighting your taste-buds. Because these high flavor, finger-shaped Potato varieties are smaller in size – roasting takes only 35 to 45 minutes at 425 degrees while boiling takes only about 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the Fingerlings. Halve larger ones length-wise to even the cooking time. When a knife can easily pierce their slightly waxy flesh, the Potatoes are properly cooked. Be sure to cook Fingerlings with their tender skin left on to trap in their rich flavors and moisture content.

Roasted Organic Fingerling Potatoes – easy way to gourmet.

Peak season is here for Organic Fingerling Potatoes from prime-organic-soiled growing regions in Colorado and Oregon. The most common varieties include: red French Finger, yellow Russian Banana, creamy Austrian Crescent, rosy Ruby Crescent, plus Heirloom blends that often include purple fingerlings. Most Organic Fingerling Potatoes are sold in 1.5lb packages. Try out some recipes, perhaps for Thanksgiving dinner!

Organic Persimmons

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Few fruits confuse shoppers more than Persimmons. Why? There are two main kinds of Persimmons sold in North American produce departments – one is un-edible until super soft, the other can be eaten firm… oh, and they kinda look similar. It is peak season for Organic Persimmons from California. They’re a fantastic fall and early winter flavor – rich, sweet and just a little spiced. This is what you need to know about the two primary varieties to have a great seasonal eating experience, not one that makes your mouth pucker up worse than “bitter-beer” face:

Sweet with fall spice flavor. LEFT: Cone-shaped Hachiya Persimmons to eat soft. RIGHT: Flat-shaped Fuyu Persimmons to eat firm.

 

Organic Fuyu Persimmons: You can eat Fuyu’s right away when hard like an apple. These are short, squatty-shaped ones with skin color that is yellow-orange. Cool nights can bring out patches of black blush. Sweet, crunchy, memorable – a surprisingly crisp, sweet-spice treat! Remove the leaf calyx and quarter the fruit for a snack, or chop it into bite size pieces to add to a fall fruit salad of apples, pears, pomegranate arils and dates. Fuyu Persimmons are also edible when soft-ripe and can be used in baking recipes that call for Persimmons.

Fuyu Persimmons are eaten hard like an apple or soft-ripe.

 

Organic Hachiya Persimmons: You must allow Hachiya Persimmons to ripen to a soft, gooey state before eating, baking or cooking with them. These are the long, heart-cone shaped ones with deep orange skin. Hard, unripe Hachiya’s are full of tannins and are so astringent that they’ll draw your cheeks and lips inside out (childhood memory – pretty sure my Dad dared me to try an unripe one). Ripen Hachiya Persimmons at room temperature until the skin begins to wrinkle and the fruit feels like water balloon. Slice off the top of a ripe one and spoon out the tasty pudding-like flesh for a distinctive snack, to make Persimmon Pudding or to use in breads and other baking recipes.

Hachiya Persimmons can only be eaten when gooey soft.

Organic Grape Tomatoes

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

Bite-sized Grape Tomatoes are perfect for snacking and popular for topping salads. November will be a good time to enjoy flavorful, juicy and FIRM Organic Grape Tomatoes from Florida. Expect sweet-eating fruit that will be priced reasonably. Here are some recipes to keep things fun when you have more Organic Grape Tomatoes than your snacking habits can take care of.

Peak season Organic Grape Tomatoes from Florida feature sweet flavor and firm texture.

Organic Green Beans

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Green Beans are a classic vegetable for holiday cooking. Canned and frozen Green Beans are fine for casseroles, but if you want to feature fresh Green Beans in your Thanksgiving recipes, this may be a good year to do that. Certified organic farms in Florida and California are harvesting nice quality Organic Green Beans this month and availability looks steadier than other times of the year. From bulk displays, select Green Beans that feel firm and snappy. Store them in a sealed bag or container in the refrigerator for up to a few days.

Garlic Green Beans with Chestnuts.

RECIPE: Garlic Green Beans with Chestnuts

  • Slice 8oz of roasted and peeled Chestnuts (vacuum pack steamed Chestnuts work well too)
  • Wash, trim and cut 12oz fresh Green Beans
  • Steam or boil beans until they’re just beginning to become tender
  • In a large sauce pan melt 2-3 tbsp butter over medium high heat
  • Add two cloves of slice garlic to butter – sauté for 1 min.
  • Add cooked beans and sliced Chestnuts to pan
  • Toss with tongs to combine for about 1 min.
  • Empty into serving dish with pan drippings

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!