Organic Picks of the Week 06/18/13

Best if Used By 06/25/13

Organic Picks of the week for June 18th, 2013 features
Yellow Peaches, Cluster Tomatoes, Cantaloupes, Ataulfo Mangos and Green Cabbage


Organic Yellow Peaches

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

The first official day Summer is June 21. I recommend celebrating the longest day of the year with in-season Organic Peaches! Organic growers in California and South Carolina are picking the front part of their summer Organic Yellow-flesh Peach crop. Here in mid-June, most Peaches being harvested will still be “cling-stone” varieties, meaning the flesh does not easily pull away from the pit, so you’ll have to cut slices off the sides or wedges off the pit. The fruit coming off the trees right now is juicy and has nice sweet-tangy flavor. That flavor and sweetness will keep getting better throughout the summer. Enjoy!

Summer officially begins June 21. Celebrate the glow of summer days with an in-season Organic Peach.

TIPS:

  • Select Peaches that feel heavy and have no soft spots and no wrinkled skin.
  • The amount of redness on the skin can vary from variety to variety and is not a true indicator of ripeness.
  • Greenish areas on the skin is a sign of immaturity.
  • Yellow-flesh Peaches must ripen to allow the acidity to mellow and the sweetness to shine through creating a balanced sweet and tangy taste. White-flesh Peaches are low-acid and can be eaten hard or soft.
  • Store Peaches at room temperature to allow them to get to the softness you desire for your eating preference.
  • Impatient? Have some Peaches that are too hard? Place them in a paper bag to speed up ripening.
  • Not ready to use your ripened Peaches? They will hold at that stage for a couple of days in the refrigerator.
  • Peach Recipe ideas HERE.

Craving berries? Organic Strawberries from California continue to be at their peak of flavor and will be promoted heavily here in June.

Organic Cluster Tomatoes

PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED

Summer-ripe, regional Organic Tomato crops are not quite ready yet. But there’s still a good option for an all-purpose Organic Tomato to use in salads, salsas and on sandwiches this month. Organic On-the-Vine Tomatoes, also called Organic Cluster Tomatoes, are in peak season production from the greenhouses of California and Canada, as well as Mexico. The fruit (yes, Tomatoes are scientifically a fruit) is healthy and plump with bright red color, particularly on the USA grown Organic Cluster Tomatoes. Expect mild flavor and juicy flesh that remains firm while slicing.

So fine, on the vine.

On-the-Vine Tomatoes keep well when you bring them home since the fruit can still draw on water and nutrients left in the vine – the healthier the vines, the better. Always store Tomatoes at room temperature since they lose flavor and become mushy in texture when held below 55 F. As in… DON’T refrigerate!

Organic Cantaloupes

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

Summer melon season has begun in southern California and the Organic Cantaloupes are tasting great and priced reasonably. Expect to see melons with thick brown webbing on the rind, and though their appearance may not be perfect – the flavor is excellent. Picked ripe, Organic Cantaloupes from California are ready to eat right away. If you prefer an even softer and juicier melon, allow them to set on your counter for a day or two.

Organically-grown Cantaloupes from California pass the sweetness tests with flying colors.

Do Organic Cantaloupes just taste better? Well, the “superior flavor of organics vs. conventional – or not” debate can rage on another time. Still, here’s a little science to consider from the sugar-content testing (Brix test) in fresh Cantaloupes from this particular week at the produce wholesale operation where I work: Conventional California/Arizona Cantaloupes tested 9%-13% sugar soluble content, and the Organic California Cantaloupes tested 11%-15% sugar soluble content. While two conventional specialty cantaloupe varieties did come close on flavor and sweetness (Arizona-grown Tuscan-style Cantaloupes and Georgia-grown Athena-style Cantaloupes) the Organic Cantaloupes were a big hit.

Organic Ataulfo Mangos

VALUE PRICED | PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Deal alert! Keep your eye out for in-store specials on creamy, golden Organic Ataulfo Mangos from Mexico here in mid-June. 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 still going for Organic Ataulfo, but will wrap up by – so enjoy them while you can.

How to cut at mango.

Organic Green Cabbage

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Organic farms in California and Florida have had little Organic Green Cabbage to harvest lately driving prices up. But reprieve has come for natural food stores, organic markets and food coops in the Mid-Atlantic this week as a couple of organic growers in the Chesapeake Bay area are now picking nice amounts of locally in-season Organic Green Cabbage. A fair price on local Organic Cabbage? Cool! Raw Cabbage is crunchy and has a slightly spicy zip to the flavor, while cooked Cabbage mellows out and becomes sweeter. Cabbage will hold up in your fridge for a couple of weeks, so buy some for juicing, slaws, kimchi, soups and salad recipes this week and save a head for next week’s holiday picnicking.

Taco Slaw!

RECIPE: Taco Slaw

  • 1 head Green Cabbage, shredded into strips
  • 1 Carrot roughly shredded
  • Small handful of fresh Cilantro leaves, chopped
  • ¾-1 cup Mayonnaise (or try plain Greek Yogurt)
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 2 tbsp Vinegar
  • ½ packet Taco Seasoning
  • Blend mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar and taco seasoning in a mixing bowl
  • Fold dressing into chopped vegetables to create slaw

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