Organic Picks of the Week 03/26/13

Best if Used By 04/02/13

Organic Picks of the week for March 26th, 2013 features
Sweet Potatoes, White Mushrooms, Ambrosia Apples,
Medjool Dates and Red Grapefruit

Organic Sweet Potatoes (Yams)


Holiday cooking for Easter or Passover often includes Sweet Potatoes, commonly referred to as Yams. Baked Yams & Apples, Sweet Potato Casserole, Sweet Potato Soufflé, Sweet Potato Pie, Candied Yams – what’s your best recipe? Loaded with Beta Carotene, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Manganese, Sweet Potatoes are healthy and delicious too. Organic Sweet Potatoes from California are in steady supply with beautiful appearance and flavor.  The Jewel variety has red skin and orange flesh, while the Garnet variety has both orange skin and flesh – both taste great!

High quality Organic Sweet Potatoes are a smart and delicious buy for Easter or Passover cooking!

I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with my juice extractor lately and here’s a lovely recipe that seems to fit for the occasion – it is sweet, bright, fresh and provides you with a feeling of renewal! …must be all of the Vitamin A & C and beta carotene.

JUICER RECIPE: “Easter Brunch”

  • 1 large Sweet Potato (Yam)
  • 2 whole Carrots
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper
  • 1 large Cara Cara Orange (or 2 small)

Easter Brunch.

Organic White Mushrooms


Organic Mushroom growers here in Pennsylvania are geared up for Easter Mushroom sales. White Mushrooms from the smallest Button to the biggest Stuffer sizes are smart choice this week for salads, stuffing and sauces.

From Buttons to Stuffers this will be a good week to find fresh Organic White Mushrooms at a fair price.

Here are some recipes to ideas:

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

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 dry or slightly 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.

NOTE: Organic Asparagus continues to be an excellent choice for holiday cooking.

Organic Ambrosia Apples


Greek mythology refers to Ambrosia, which means “food of the gods.” How did an apple variety that was discovered from chance seedling decades ago in a Vancouver orchard get that name? The fruit from this tree was delicious – juicy, low in acid, with a pleasing aroma, fully sweet – thus inspiring the name: Ambrosia Apples.

Ambrosia: Very sweet, low acid, juicy, crisp yet finely textured to be almost creamy when you chew it.

Ambrosia Apples have become more and more popular over the years because of their unique eating qualities. The fruit is crisp when you bite in, yet finely textured and almost creamy when you chew. The flesh is naturally slow to oxidize (or brown) when cut, making it ideal for salads. Most people just love them for a delightful, sweet snack. Organic Ambrosia Apples from the Pacific Northwest are coming to the end of their availability for this season, but best of the crop is what is in organic produce departments here in late March and early April.

Organic Medjool Dates


So sweet, so delectable, so amazing! Medjool Dates might not be much to look at, but one bite reveals their fantastic flavor. Yum! Medjool Dates are good for a high fiber, pick-me-up snack; as a natural sweetener in baking and cooking; are wonderful in smoothies and turn into fantastic desserts – then you’re missing out, my friend. Dates store well, making them available all year long, still Easter and Passover are eating events that lend themselves to keeping around this week.  .

A delightful treat: caramel-sweet, gooey-chewy Organic Medjool Dates.

Caramel-sweet, plump and gooey, Organic Medjool Dates are often mistaken for dried fruit, but in fact, the fruit ripen to perfection on palm trees in Certified Organic date-palm groves in Southern California and Western Arizona. Dates will manage to stay delicious on your counter for a couple weeks and in your ‘fridge for a couple months. The Medjool variety is larger than other Dates and ideal for eating whole (just don’t forget about the ½”pit). Delicious recipe inspiration for Medjool Dates can be found here.

A side dish that’s like a healthy dessert: Sweet Potatoes with Medjool Dates and Pecans.

RECIPE:  Sweet Potato, Date and Pecan Bake

  • Preheat the oven to 450F
  • Peel and chop 3lb of Sweet Potatoes into even 1″ chunks
  • Toss them in 2 tablespoons of olive oil to coat in a mixing bowl
  • Season them with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, coarse salt and cracked black pepper – retoss
  • Bake seasoned Sweet Potatoes in a 8″x8″ casserole dish, covered with foil at 450 degrees for 20 minutes
  • While they cook, pit and dice 10 Medjool Dates and chop 1/2 a cup of Pecans (or Walnuts)
  • Add Dates and Nut pieces across the top, then roast for about 10 more minutes uncovered (or until the Sweet Potatoes could be easily pierced with a fork)

Organic Red Grapefruit


Fresh Organic Red Grapefruit from California continues in peak season production.  The flesh is quite juicy, plus flavor and sweetness has been very nice lately.  Organic Grapefruit makes for a refreshing snack, is fantastic for juicing and can be used in salads, cooking and desserts.  Peak season trumps appearance when judging flavor for Organic Grapefruit. California grown Organic Grapefruits can have yellow to orange 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 Red Grapefruit from California have juicy, sweet-tart flesh that is dark pink to deep ruby right now.

Looking for an easier to snack on piece of organic citrus?  Organic W. Murcott Mandarins have a couple more weeks on peak season flavor.

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