Organic Picks of the Week 07/01/13

Best if Used By 07/08/13

Organic Picks of the week for July 1st, 2013 features
Watermelon, Green Grapes, Grape Tomatoes, Nectarines
and Blueberries


Organic Watermelon

BEST FLAVOR | PEAK SEASON

A cool, crisp slice of sweet and juicy Watermelon on a hazy, hot summer day… there’s nothing quite like it. In the world of certified organic fresh produce, Organic Watermelons are one of the fruits that are not always readily available year-round from somewhere in the world like its conventional counterpart. So, appreciate and enjoy the distinct seasonality of Organic Watermelon here in summer! During early July, organic farms in California are harvesting Seedless Watermelons and Mini Seedless Watermelons, while Lady Moon Farms is into their peak crop of Seeded Sugar Baby Watermelons with dark green skins and Seedless Watermelons with striped green skins.

Seasonal snacking at it’s finest.

Check out these 10 cool recipes for Watermelon from thekitchn.com.

There’s no magic to selecting a Watermelon. It’s up to the farmers and harvesters to pick them at the right time and for stores/distributors to inspect them well. Find one that is relatively symmetrical, feels heavy (watermelons are 92% water) and has a creamy yellow spot underneath (showing it ripened in the sun and that’s the spot where it sat on the ground). Avoid Watermelons that feel spongy. And go ahead – thump away if you like… it’ll make people think you know what you’re doing!  I still tap to listen for the perfect hollow-ish thump, but alas, it only works some of the time.

Video: Is there a secret method to picking a good Watermelon?

Organic Green Grapes

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

Which type of Seedless Grape do you prefer?  Reds or Greens. Me? I love the sweet and crisp pop of the Red Flame variety Organic Red Seedless Grapes right now from Mexico and Southern California. But I know that many people prefer Green Grapes (aka White Grapes). Well, there’s good new Green fans – Organic Green Seedless Grapes are now tasting better than they did in May and June, plus prices are reasonable. The round to oblong-shaped Sugarone variety is now in season, so expect sweet and tangy flavor and plump texture.

Tasting good – sweet and just slightly tangy: Organic Green Seedless Grapes.

What does it mean when the Grapes are more yellowish than green? I actually look for a little yellow in my Green Grapes.  In my experience, a light golden hue indicates a very sweet eating berry – yum! But keep fresh Grapes refrigerated and eat them quick since the more sugar the fruit has the shorter the shelf life will be. Avoid Green Grapes that appear wet and sticky in their package. Select Grapes that feel firm to a gentle squeeze and are clinging to healthy-looking green stems.  Rinse with water just before eating.

Have a few grapes left in the bag that you didn’t get to snack on? Have some grapes that aren’t quite crunchy enough anymore for your kids? Don’t let those grapes in the bottom of your fridge go to waste!  Juice ‘em!

A sweet way to get your greens: Grape n’ Greens juice.

JUICING RECIPE:  Grapes n’ Greens

Juice the following in a juice extractor.  Stir before serving.

  • 4 stalks Leafy Green Kale
  • ½ lb Green Grapes (de-stem if your juicer requires it)
  • 1 whole Lime (or peeled if you want less citrus flavor)
  • 2 Pink Lady Apples

Organic Grape Tomatoes

BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED | PEAK SEASON

Bite-sized Organic Grape Tomatoes are perfect for snacking and for topping salads. Open pack, give them a rinse and enjoy! Organic farms in Georgia are into nice harvests of sweet and flavorful Grape Tomatoes, so expect fair pricing and even some specials in early July. Remember, tomatoes hate the fridge – room temperature is best to preserve their flavor and texture.

The sweetness of Grape Tomatoes paired with the acidity of Balsamic brightens the earthy crunch of raw Kale.

RECIPE: Balsamic Grape Tomato & Kale Salad

  • 3 Stalks Kale – cut leaf from stems
  • Slice folded Kale leaves into thin ribbons
  • 1 pint Grape Tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • Combine shredded kale with cut grape tomatoes in a mixing bowl
  • Toss with 4 tbsp Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing
  • Allow to rest for at least 2 minutes, then serve

Organic Nectarines

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Fuzzy-skinned Peaches have a smooth cousin – the Nectarine. It is peak season in California for Yellow-flesh Organic Nectarines. I’ve been enjoying some really sweet ones this week! Select Nectarines that are free from soft spots or wrinkles. It only takes a day or two at room temperature to ripen a Nectarine to nicely soft and juicy enough to require a napkin. Yum! But too many days on your counter or, worse too many days in your fridge, will leave you with a mealy Nectarine. Here is a collection of 12 Nectarine recipes featured on Babble .com in case you’d like to move beyond good ol’ snacking.

Smooth-skinned, flavorful organic and conventional Yellow Nectarines are now in peak season from California.

Organic Blueberries

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

Superfood alert! Make some room in the fridge. Make some room in the freezer. Peak season for Organic Blueberries from New Jersey has arrived! Now through mid-July will be the best time of the year to buy plump, flavorful, certified Organic Blueberries from the Garden State. The biggest and sweetest tasting Duke variety Blueberry harvests will be happening in the next 10 days. Eat ‘em by the handful, or take advantage of the ad and in store special prices to try out some tasty recipes.

Celebrate July 4th with plump, sweet peak season Organic Blueberries grown about 35 miles from where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Indeed Organic Blueberries are in season from North Carolina and California too, but I prefer the New Jersey grown fruit since they’re relatively local to me AND because the flavor/sweetness/texture combination is typically stellar during peak season. Look for the “Jersey Fresh” logo or a New Jersey farm/packer address on the package. Select fresh Blueberries by inspecting the top and bottom of the package to avoid shriveled, smashed-together or wet berries. Seek out Blueberries with the silver, powdery “bloom” on them. Bloom is a naturally occurring wax that forms a protective layer on the fruit while it is growing and is a tell-tale sign of freshness!

Blueberries can be frozen right in the package you bought them in. Be sure they’re completely dry (you can rinse them before use later), place the pack(s) right into a reseal-able plastic bag and freeze. They keep well in the freezer for up to six months and are a convenient way to have healthy, peak season flavor Blueberries handy for baking or to use in smoothies and shakes later in the year.

Easy Blueberry-Banana Blend

SMOOTHIE RECIPE:  Easy Blueberry-Banana Blend

  • 1 Banana, peeled then frozen
  • 1 pint Blueberries, rinsed
  • 3 large tbsp plain Greek Yogurt
  • Pulse and blend until smooth

Splurge – Make some Blueberry Buckle!

RECIPE: Blueberry Buckle (my Wife and Mother-in-Law’s recipe version)
Buckle:

  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Shortening
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 & 1/2 Cups Flour
  • 2 & 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Milk

Topping:

  • 1.5 Pints Fresh Blueberries
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Cup Butter (cubed)

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 350
  • Cream the Sugar & Shortening
  • Beat in the Egg
  • In separate bowl combine Flour, Baking Powder & Salt
  • Alternate adding dry mix and milk to batter
  • Spread in greased 8×8 pan
  • Top with Fresh Blueberries
  • Combine Topping Sugar, Cinnamon and Butter
  • Sprinkle above step 8 over Blueberries
  • Bake 45-50 minutes

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