Organic Picks of the Week 05/14/13

Best if Used By 05/21/13

Organic Picks of the week for May 14th, 2013 features
English Peas, Honeydew, Cauliflower, Abate Fetel Pears
and Mangos


Organic English Peas

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

For a brief period of time each Spring, fresh Organic English Peas are in season. Unlike Sugar Snap and Snow Peas, which can be eaten pod and all, English Peas must be removed from the pod. English Peas are the Green Peas you’re used to buying in cans from the shelf or bags from the freezer. Fresh English Peas? – now, that’s something special! Yes, it takes a little extra effort, OK… tedious focus, to take the peas from the pod during preparation, but the fresh seasonal flavor and satisfaction of doing it yourself will make it an enjoyable food experience. These tender peas will taste much better than what was piled on your plate at the junior high cafeteria as a kid – I can assure you of that.

It’s Spring! Whole, fresh Organic English Peas are in season for a limited time.

Fresh, Organic English Peas from California and Mexico sold whole in their shells can be found during May at natural food stores, organic markets and food co-ops that carry a broad variety of vegetables. Select pods that have vibrant green color and feel fairly firm. Occasional light green or white marks on the pod are caused during harvesting and shipping, but have little to no impact on the quality of the peas inside. Pull the pods open and scoop the peas out with your finger. 1lb of whole English Peas will get you a little less than 1 cup of shelled peas. Shelled Peas should be cooked right away or blanched for freezing. Here is a gorgeous collection recipes featuring fresh English Peas – mmm!

Organic Honeydew

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Sweet and flavorful Organic Honeydew melons are now in season from Mexico and the southern California crop is just getting started too. The melons right now are small in size, but are dense, juicy and have small seed cavities – giving you more melon for the money. The Organic Honeydew right now have firm flesh and a nicely sweet flavor, but a day or two on the counter will help soften them up for better ripeness.

Organic Honeydew are now back in season. Ripen at room temperature for a softer flesh that tastes sweeter.

Ripe Honeydew will have a waxy feel and begin to emit a tropical aroma as they ripen and soften at room temperature.  Slice the melon in half, scoop out the seeds, peel on a cutting board, chunk the flesh and store cut melon in the fridge. Honeydew is good by itself as a snack, to mix into fresh fruit salads, to pair with cheese, to flavor homemade spa water and make smoothies.

Organic Cauliflower

PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED

Cauliflower doesn’t have to be just a cold weather veggie. Perusing some recipe pictures may inspire a spring or summer dish idea for you. Organic Cauliflower prices swing way up and down dramatically throughout the year based on exaggerations of supply and demand. Here in mid-May harvests from certified organic farms in California are plentiful, thus driving prices down. Keep an eye out for affordable prices and in-store specials.

Cauliflower: nutrient profile to support detox, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant systems.

Select Organic Cauliflower that looks fresh and has no soft or slimy spots, but don’t get too worried if you see a little brown spot on a few florets – those discolored spots are easy to trim off with a knife when you are cutting up the head.

Easy side dish: Steam, toss with Italian Vinaigrette and Parmesan Cheese.

RECIPE: Steamed Cauliflower Italian Toss

  • Cut 1 head of Cauliflower in half, from top through base of stem
  • Slice 1 half into bite-sized florets from the core with a paring knife
  • Rinse florets with water to wash
  • Boil ¼” of water in stove pot, season with a pinch of salt
  • Place Cauliflower florets in steam basket, position above boiling water, cover
  • Steam for 3-4 minutes for tender yet crisp texture (5-7 minutes for fully cooked)
  • Toss steamed florets in a mixing bowl with 2-3 tbsp Italian Vinaigrette dressing and 1-2 tbsp Parmesan Cheese

Organic Abate Fetel Pears

BEST FLAVOR | PEAK SEASON

Old world pear. Timeless flavor. Abate Fetel Pears are named for a French monk who first bred them in an abbey orchard in the 15th century. They are quite popular in southern Europe – here’s why. Abate Fetel Pears are long, slender, slightly curved and have green-yellow skin that is splotched with smooth brown russetting. Allow them to get just a little soft near the stem for a sweet and fruity-flavored Pear – some say tones of honey. They’re definitely worth a try!

Crisper than an Anjou, honey-sweet like a Bosc – Abate Fetel Pears are a wonderful old world variety!

Abate Fetel Pears are not a commonly grown variety in US orchards, but in certified organic orchards in Argentina where it is their fall right now it is peak season for Abate’s. Some of the harvest stays in South America, but much is exported the Europe… and now to the States too. Keep an eye out for Organic Abate Fetel Pears at natural foods stores and organic produce departments this May. Yes, they’re great for salads or baking, a pear as special as the Abate Fetel is best enjoyed as a stand-alone snack or dessert, paired with some fine, strong cheese.

Organic Mangos

VALUE PRICED | PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Organic Mangos continue in their peak season from Mexico. The popular Tommy Atkins variety is what you’ll find with dark red blush over dark green skin. I recommend cubing the flesh of Tommy Atkins Mangos since it can be a tad stringier than in other varieties like the creamy and yellow Ataulfo Mango. Don’t get me wrong, the Tommy Atkins variety Mangos from Mexico during May will be super delicious when ripe. And here’s the great news, there is a over abundance of large sized Organic Mangos this month, so keep an eye out for ads and in-store special pricing!

Sweet, in season Tommy Atkins variety Mangos from Mexico: Red skin color does equal “ripe.” Squeeze for ripeness.

So, how do you pick a good one? The amount of redness on the skin is not an indicator of sweetness. Tommy Atkins variety Mangos do not give visual clues to when they are ripe, so judge by the softness when you squeeze them. Hard means they’ll be kinda crunchy, while a little give indicates a ripe Mango for snacking, smoothies and salsas. Recipes, cutting tips and more can be found here.

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