Organic Picks of the Week 01/15/13

Best if Used By 01/22/13

Organic Picks of the week for January 15th, 2013 features
Red Grapefruit, Minneola Tangelos, Fuji Apples, Cilantro and Roma (Plum) Tomatoes


Organic Red Grapefruit

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Fresh Organic Red Grapefruit from Florida, Texas and California is in peak season for flavor and sweetness here in January and into February. The fruit is very juicy, has lots sweet flavor, but still enough tartness to remind you it is still a Grapefruit. The flesh color is running dark pink to red. Organic Grapefruit makes for a refreshing snack, is fantastic for juicing and can be used in salads, cooking and desserts.

Organic Grapefruit are in peak season – sweet-tart, so juicy!

Peak season trumps appearance when judging flavor for Organic Grapefruit. California grown Organic Grapefruits can have yellow skin yet rich dark-pink flesh, so exterior color is not really an indicator of internal color. Skin scars and cosmetic blemishes formed while ripening on the tree do not impact the flavor either. Simply select Grapefruit that is heavy for its size and avoid fruit that has soft spots. Fresh Grapefruit can be kept for about a month in the fridge or a week or so on the counter at room temperature.

Organic Minneola Tangelos

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Nothing brightens a cold winter day and boosts your immune system with Vitamin C quite like a refreshing Minneola Tangelo. A cross between a Tangerine and a Grapefruit, Tangelos are juicy and have a vibrant, mostly sweet flavor. Dark orange-skinned Organic Minneola Tangelo from California are now in peak season through mid-March. Minneolas are easy to spot – they have that goofy knob at the stem end, which actually makes them easier to peel. Their flesh is super juicy, has few to no seeds and delivers a sweet and tangy citrus flavor. Organic Minneola Tangelos are ideal for on the go snacking or for slicing onto salads – and fantastic for fresh squeezed juice. Select Minneolas that feel heavy for their size.

Just when you need it – a juicy shot of sunshine direct to the taste-buds. Organic Minneola Tangelos.

Other tasty organic citrus choices this week include Satsuma Mandarins and Clementines.

Organic Fuji Apples

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Gotta sweet tooth? You’ll love Organic Fuji Apples. Nicely crisp, fine-flesh textured, impressively juicy, mildly aromatic – those are all great eating characteristics for an Apple, but it’s the sweetness that sets the Fuji variety apart. Fuji Apples are not only awesome for snacking, they add texture to salads, complement cheeses and pair well Asian flavors in cooking. If you’ve got a juicer, Fuji’s can bolster sweetness in just about any green juice or vegetable juice blend plus add lots of liquid. Vitamix and smoothie enthusiasts also appreciate the Fuji variety for adding sweetness to green smoothies.

Sweet and crisp for snacking and salads. Excellent for juicing to add sweetness and volume to Green Juices.

Peak season shipments continue for Organic Fuji Apples from the Pacific Northwest. Skin color can range from almost solid red with a few green streaks to mostly light green with a few red streaks and small brown flecks, but either way has little impact on flavor. As with all Apples, select Fuji Apples that feel firm, are free from skin wrinkles or large bruises (round discolored spots) and store them in the refrigerator until a day or two prior to eating to maintain crispness.

Organic Cilantro

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

The herb green that ties the world together – in Latin, Tex-Mex, Indian, Caribbean, Chinese, East Asian, African, Southern European and even Scandinavian cuisines – is Cilantro. Cilantro leaves are packed with a strong, distinctive fresh flavor and aroma. Fresh Organic Cilantro adds freshness and vibrancy to recipes for salads, stews, stir-fries, sauces and garnish. Organic Cilantro is popular in “green juice” recipes too. In season Organic Cilantro is available this month from California, in spite of the cold weather they’ve been having there.

Recipes get freshness and vibrancy from Cilantro!

Organic Roma (Plum) Tomatoes

PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED

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 salads, cooking, soups, sauces and salsas. Roma’s are typically oval in shape and medium in size. With lots of “meaty-flesh” and not too much “jelly” inside, Roma’s chop easily without a watery mess. Like with all Tomatoes, store them at room temperature – NO REFRIGERATING. Cold temps zap flavor and make Tomatoes soft.

Organic Roma Tomatoes are convenient for chopping for “Wish it was summer” Salsa.

Organic Roma Tomatoes are in season from Florida and Mexico right now and plentiful enough to be reasonably priced. Flavor will not exactly remind you of summertime tomatoes, but Organic Roma’s from both growing regions should taste great when used for your favorite recipes.

Produce Geek’s “Wish it was summer” Salsa:

  • 5 fresh ripe Roma Tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can drained Corn
  • (note: I used some defrosted local sweet corn we froze during this past August – mmm still sweet!)
  • 1 Medium Onion, chopped
  • 1 clove fresh Garlic, minced
  • Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin and red pepper flake to taste

Optional Additions:

  • 1 can of Black Beans for protein and texture
  • 1 diced Jalapeno Pepper for more heat
  • 1 small handful of chopped Cilantro for freshness

READER NOTE 1/15/13:

DRAMA FOR ORGANIC SALAD VEGETABLES – COLD TEMPERATURES IN AZ & CA TO CAUSE SUPPLY GAPS

Freezing temperatures and other weather factors from early January have severely damaged lettuce, spinach, leaf, broccoli and other crops in Yuma, AZ as well as the Imperial and Coachella Valleys of CA – where much of the nation’s organic salad vegetables (and conventional, for that matter) come from during the winter months. This crop damage will cause serious gaps in supply, higher prices and even out-of-stocks on many fresh vegetables, especially on some of your favorite packaged organic salads.

As you know, fresh vegetables are not made in factories and cannot be stock-piled. So, please be patient with the Produce Staff where you shop as stores and growers are working hard to keep fresh vegetables in the pipeline for you. But it is winter after all, and we’ll all have to wait for weather, growing and supply conditions to improve, hopefully by mid-February. Meanwhile, stay tuned here for which fresh organic vegetables and organic fruits ARE in season and ARE available for you to enjoy.

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