Organic Picks of the Week 04/09/13

Best if Used By 04/16/13

Organic Picks of the week for April 9th, 2013 features
Strawberries, Chard Greens, Ataulfo Mangos, Asparagus
and Savoy Cabbage


Organic Strawberries

VALUE PRICED | PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Harvests of the spring crop of certified Organic Strawberries from southern California and Baja, Mexico are now in full swing. Woohoo! With bountiful supplies come lower prices, so keep an eye out for both in-store and advertised specials here in mid-April. The berry size is running medium to large and the flavor has been pretty good. Learn about the broad health benefits of Strawberries here.

Check out this strawberry recipe resource.

Mid-April is shaping up to be a great time for spring crop Organic Strawberries.

TIPS:

  • At the store, inspect the packages from all sides, avoiding containers with wet spots on the berries or bottoms of the containers.
  • Look for plump, red berries with healthy looking, green caps.
  • Keep them cold in the fridge, but they’ll have better taste and texture if you use them within a couple days.
  • Wash Strawberries under cold water just before use

 


Organic Chard Greens

PEAK SEASON

Isn’t is cool how some of the most beautiful vegetables are often some of the healthiest? Take Chard Greens for example. Dark green leaves loaded with Vitamins K, A and C sprawling from bright white, red or yellow stems – they’re impressive to behold… and tasty to cook with! Certified Organic Green, Red Swiss and Rainbow Chards (a mix of stems with different colors) are in season right now from Florida and California.

Highly nutritious, in season Organic Swiss Chard Greens – ideal for sautéing, braising and steaming.

A cousin to Spinach, Chard Greens, also called Swiss Chards, are a super healthy green. You can cook both the leaf and the stem. Though Chard stems require a few minutes of extra cooking time from the greens, they do add color and texture. Steam, sauté, braise or juice – what’s your favorite Chard preparation to mellow out or compliment it’s naturally earthy, slightly bitter flavor? The sweet, tangy and herb-fresh juicer recipe below has been my favorite use for Chard.

RECIPE: Swiss Miss Green Juice (Juice these ingredients in a juice extractor)

  • 3-4 stalks Swiss Chard Greens or 3-5oz cut chard
  • 1 Seedless Cucumber or 1 mostly peeled salad Cucumber
  • 1 bunch Flat Leaf Parsley
  • 1 Lime, partially peeled
  • 1 tart Apple like Granny Smith
  • 2 sweet Apples like Fuji

Swiss Miss Green Juice


Organic Ataulfo Mangos

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

I can’t get enough of this seasonal Spring treat! Creamy, golden Organic Ataulfo Mangos from Mexico are back in season! The Ataulfo variety (aka Yellow Mango, aka Manila Mango, or conventionally branded as Champagne Mango) is smaller than most other red and green skin varieties, but it also has a much thinner seed in the middle so you get more yummy fruit to enjoy. The texture of the golden flesh is smoother and less stringy than other orange-fleshed Mangos. The flavor? I love it! – sweet, a little tangy, tropical… almost caramel-like when they’re full ripe.

Allow Ataulfo Mangos to ripen at room temperature from lime green to a deep gold skin color. The fruit will be give to gentle pressure and the skin will begin to wrinkle when they’re ready to eat.

As they ripen on the store shelf or on your kitchen counter from firm with lime-green skin color to yellow with a little give – they’ll be ready to eat with a balance of sweet and tangy. As Ataulfo Mangos ripen from yellow with a little give to gold, some wrinkles and soft – they’ll be get even sweeter. Peak season is here now and will last into June. The wonderful caramel flavor will be even more pronounced and tanginess will diminish as the season progresses into April and May. Yum!

How to cut at mango.


Organic Asparagus

VALUE PRICED | PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

The flavor and texture of healthy peak season spring crop Organic Asparagus is really hard to beat!  Packed with packed with vitamins and nutrients, the taste of Asparagus evokes feeling of Spring. Organic growers in California and Mexico are harvesting crisp and reasonably priced Organic Asparagus here in April. The sizing is fairly thick, but don’t be fooled into thinking that it will be tough – large Asparagus is delicious, juicy and cooks up great! Try it in this Asparagus Quesadillas recipe.

Peak flavor spring crop Organic Asparagus is in season!

Asparagus can make meals exciting in many ways. Blanch it before adding it to a spring salad. Boil or steam it as a delicious green side dish, dressed simply with oil, butter, fresh herbs or a squeeze of lemon. Roast it in the oven with olive oil, balsamic or the juice from an orange. Or grill it! No matter how you prepare fresh Asparagus – remember this rule to avoid that awful mushiness from over cooking: high temperature for a short time. Enjoy!

Here is a wonderful Asparagus Recipe collection from VegetarianTimes.com

ASPARAGUS TIPS:

• Readers often ask, Why is Asparagus displayed standing upright in water at some supermarkets? Asparagus, like the lily it is related to, can soak up water at the cut end, preventing wilt and keeping it fresh longer. Should you do that at home? Meh, that can get messy. I simply recommend wrapping a moist paper towel around the stem ends and storing the Asparagus in the refrigerator.

• How do you choose?  When shopping for fresh Asparagus avoid bunches that have an odor, wrinkled spears, spread open tips or soft tips. Look for a healthy green color, though a little purpling is not a problem.

• Is the whole spear edible? Cut the tougher bottom portion of the spear off – usually the last 3/4″ to 1-1/2″. If you prefer the snap method, it takes more time but it does work too. Grab the bottom of the stem and the middle of the spear then bend – the Asparagus will snap where the woody portion ends.

• How do you cook it? Steam or blanch fresh Asparagus for 2 to 3 minutes. Grill for 2 to 4 minutes after lightly coating the Asparagus in olive oil and seasoning with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Sauté in olive oil over medium heat for 3 minutes covered. Or Microwave in about 1/4 cup of water for 5 minutes in a tightly covered container.

Organic Savoy Cabbage

BEST FLAVOR

Ever see that Cabbage with the funky ribbed leaves? It is called Savoy Cabbage, and it’s quite tasty! Savoy Cabbage has thicker, curly-textures leaves that are sweeter and more tender than regular Green Cabbage. Roast a wedge or chop it for sautéed cabbage or use the leaves to roll a sandwich wrap.

Here is an easy recipe idea for Sautéed Savoy Cabbage with Scallions and Garlic from Epicurious.com

“Savoy” = Ribbed Leaves x (Sweet Flavor + Tender Texture)

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