Organic Picks of the Week 02/12/13

Best if Used By 02/19/13

Organic Picks of the week for February 12th, 2013 features
Cara Cara Oranges, Shiitake Mushrooms, Minneola Tangelos, Pummelos and Russet Potatoes

Organic Cara Cara Oranges


If Navel Oranges taste like sunshine – pleasant and sweet, then Cara Cara Oranges taste like sunshine in a berry patch – sweet with something extra! Here’s the tricky part: from the outside Cara Cara Navels look exactly the same as regular Navels. Inside the beautiful and exciting differences are revealed. Pink-fleshed Cara Cara Oranges are seedless like regular Navels, but the straight-forward sweetness is balanced by a delightful Strawberry to Cranberry-like finish.

Flavors of cranberry and strawberry make this extra sweet Navel variety a hit! Cara Cara Oranges.

Organic Cara Cara Navel Oranges from California continue to be in their peak season, and the fruit is tasting excellent! My mouth is watering as I write this, recalling my last tasty, juicy-sweet bite! If you’re an Orange fan, Cara Cara’s are worth a try for tasty snacking. They’re also fun for salads, desserts and prepared with fish.  Cara Cara Brownies – as Valentine’s Day treat? Why not! Select Oranges that feel heavy for their size and are free from soft spots.

VIDEO: How to use a Citrus Peeler.

Organic Shiitake Mushrooms


Shiitake Mushrooms are an ancient variety that originated in East Asia. This brown capped Mushroom with white gills underneath has a flavor that is rich and smoky. The stems are a little tougher and take longer to cook, so usually the caps are the prized portion. Shiitakes are best enjoyed sautéed, braised, steamed or in soups. Organic Shiitakes Mushrooms are grown indoors on logs or blocks of wood chips and are in season all year long from top mushroom growing states like Pennsylvania.

Smokey and rich, Shiitake Mushrooms are excellent for soups, sautés and roasting.


Cleaning: Shiitake Mushrooms are picked from the logs or wood fiber 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. Gently wipe the caps a damp paper instead of rinsing them with water. Don’t peel Mushrooms, since it’s way too tedious and you end up peeling away flavor.

Preparation: After cleaning Shiitake Mushrooms, cut the stems off.  The stems tend to be tougher than the caps, though they can be saved for making soups.  Gill side up, slice the caps into ¼” strips for sautéing and stir-frying.  Whole Shiitake Caps are good for roasting.

Crispy Roasted BBQ Shiitake Mushrooms & Red Potatoes

RECIPE: Crispy Roasted BBQ Shiitake Mushrooms & Red Potatoes

  • Pre-heat Oven to 425F
  • Wash 4-5 large Red Potatoes, allow to dry
  • Slice Red Potatoes into 1 inch pieces, skin on
  • Remove stems of 2-3oz fresh Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Gently dry-wipe Shiitake caps with paper towel to clean
  • Toss Mushrooms and Potatoes with 2-3 tbs Olive Oil in a mixing bowl
  • Season with BBQ rub seasoning (I use Penzy’s BBQ 3000), re-toss to coat
  • Spread evenly on a bake tray, Shiitake Gills facing up
  • Roast at 425F for 15 minutes
  • Flip, rearrange with spatula, Roast for 15-20 additional minutes
  • When complete, Shiitake caps will be crispy, Potatoes will be easily pierced

More Recipe ideas:

Organic Minneola Tangelos


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 orange flavor with hints on tangerine tanginess. Dark orange-skinned Organic Minneola Tangelos from California at the peak of their growing season now through mid-March. The fruit is exceptionally juicy right now and fairly easy to peel.

Peak season Organic Minneola Tangelos have few seeds, are fairly easy to peel and are SO JUICY!

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, slicing onto salads, making smoothies – and fantastic for fresh squeezed juice. Select Minneolas that feel heavy for their size and are free from soft spots.  Skin scars, where the fruit rubbed against the leafs and stems on the tree, have no impact on eating quality.

Organic Pummelos


Ever see that huge green to yellow skinned Grapefruit-lookin’ thing in the organic produce section where you shop? Pummelos (also called Pomelo) are the biggest of all citrus fruits.  Here in February and March Organic Pummelos are in season from California.  Go ahead… try one!  This video will help you learn how to peel Pummelo.

The prize inside the thick-skinned Pummelo is the mild, grapefruit-like cells that easily separate. Great for snacking, smoothies, adding to salads and citrus salsas.

Pummelo tastes like Grapefruit – only a little less juicy and without the bitterness. The pink cells within the sections are sweet, mild and flavorful, plus they are easy to break apart from the membrane without smashing to use as a salad topping or as a refreshing snack. Oh, and there’s the skin… a lot of it too – it gives off a wonderful tropical citrus aroma and it extremely thick. Yes, they take a while to peel, but if you already paid a pretty penny for one – just take your time and enjoy the entire event.

Recipe Ideas:

Organic Russet Potatoes


One of the better deals in the organic produce department is Organic Russet Potatoes. Supplies from this past fall’s harvest continue to plentiful, which means reasonable prices on taters from prime organic growing regions in states like Colorado.

Organic Russet Potatoes are a great value right now!

It seems like just about everyone has a favorite recipe, but there are two things in particular that Russet Potatoes are ideal for – baking and mashing. Russets have lower moisture content making them fluffier than Red or Gold Potatoes. They also absorb less oil when fried or used in casseroles than other potato varieties and crisp up well when roasted.

Sour Cream Mashed Parsnips & Potatoes

RECIPE: Sour Cream Mashed Parsnips & Potatoes

  • 4 Large Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 4 Parsnips, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • Boil for 30 – 35 min
  • Drain, then add to large mixing bowl
  • Add 4 tbsp butter, 1 cup of sour cream, salt and pepper to taste
  • Whip the contents of the bowl with a mixer
  • NOTE: whipping may take slightly longer than regular mashed potatoes

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