Organic Picks of the Week 07/15/13

Best if Used By 07/22/13

Organic Picks of the week for July 15th, 2013 features
Dark Sweet Cherries, Portabella Mushrooms, Vidalia Sweet Onions, Blueberries and Mangos

Organic Dark Sweet Cherries


Hurry up and slow down. Time to slow down with a bowl full of flavorful, firm-textured Cherries – one juicy-sweet bite after another. But hurry up if you want Organically grown Cherries from the Pacific Northwest before the season is over. Dark Sweet Cherries are an indulgent summer snack to just savor simply, and now’s the time to do just that! This summer’s peak season crop of Organic Dark Sweet Cherries from growing regions in Oregon and Washington met some weather complications causing what looks like a shorter season.

Hurry up and slow down with Organic Cherries, while they last.

Warning: Since that late Spring and early Summer weather did not do growers any favors this year and the harvest volume is much smaller than most years, this good-for-you treat will be more expensive this year. The Organic Cherries that are being harvested are mostly large in size and have outstanding flavor and texture. The remainder of July will be the best time (and only time) to enjoy the rich, classic red Cherry flavor and sweet juiciness until next season.

Red, White & Blues over French Toast.

This was a delicious breakfast: Dark Sweet Cherries, pitted and halved, with New Jersey Blueberries and Yogurt over French Toast. M-m-mmm. Have you ever tried using Cherries in recipes?

Even during peak season, Organic Cherries can surprise shoppers at the register, so buy smart. Remember, the average bag on display weighs 1.25lb to over 2lb and Cherries are sold by the pound, so do the math or check a scale to know about what you’re going to pay in total. Carefully inspect all sides of the Cherry packages to avoid wetness or splits. If the Cherries are in a bag, give a couple a gentle squeeze – you’ll want them to feel firm. Keep Cherries cold and rinse just before use. Peak season Cherries can be washed, then frozen with the stems still on in plastic bags with the air removed, then thawed in the refrigerator up to three months later for a convenient snack.

Organic Portabella Mushrooms


The steak of veggies, Organic Portabella Mushroom caps are big, have meaty flesh, grill up well and feature a rich, earthy yet accessible flavor. Grown inside, Mushrooms are always in season, but fresh Portabella (aka Portobello, Portabello) Mushrooms are especially timely around grilling season. Pick up some Organic Portabella Mushrooms this week to marinate and grill for your vegetarian guests instead of burgers or to simply enjoy yourself! Did you know my home state (woo-hoo) of Pennsylvania grows more Mushrooms than any other?

Totally grill-able.

Recipe: Easy Grilled Portabella Caps

  • Wipe Portabella Mushroom caps gently with a damp paper towel to remove dirt
  • Marinade in Italian Dressing (gill-side up) for about an hour
  • Grill over high heat gill-side down for 3-5 minutes to make grill marks
  • Flip, then grill gill-side down for 2-3 minutes until Mushrooms are tender

Organic Vidalia Sweet Onions


Sweet Onions just seem to go hand-in-hand with Summer Grilling, Picnicing, Salads and Healthy Eating. Vidalia Sweet Onions are awesome on the grill because they caramelize so nicely, plus they’re excellent raw on salads and in sandwiches since they’re milder than other onions. There’s lots of flavor to enjoy… without burning your nose. Organic Vidalia Sweet Onions are from the rich soils of Georgia in and around Vidalia County where conditions are superb for growing mild, Sweet Onions.

Healthy Onion recipes can be found here.

Fire up the grill! Peak season continues for Organic and Conventional Vidalia Sweet Onions.

The crop has all been harvested and growers are now packing Organic Vidalia Sweet Onions from storage. July will likely be the last month to find Organic Vidalia’s. Select Sweet Onions that are free from soft spots. Yes, the outer skin will flake off and may look ugly, but the Onion will be find so long as it does not feel spongy or have a strong odor. Sweet Onions do not hold up as long in your pantry as a regular Yellow Onion, so plan to use Vidalia’s within 7-10 days of purchase so they don’t spoil.

Organic Blueberries


Peak season summer Blueberries? Organically grown, no less? That is a beautiful thing, my friends! Here in mid-July you can expect to find plump, flavorful, certified Organic Blueberries in the organic produce department sold in 6oz or full Pint packs. New Jersey growers are harvesting the tail-end of their peak season, but Washington and British Columbia organic growers are just entering the height of their crop. Eat ‘em by the handful, or take advantage of the ad and in store special prices to try out some tasty recipes.

Summer Fruit Salad: Organic Blueberries, Strawberries, Cantaloupe and Mango.

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.

Organic Mangos


Certified Organic Mangos continue to be in season from orchards in Mexico with the popular and commonly-found Tommy Atkins variety. There are lots or Organic Mangos available right now, so prices will be affordable. Expect sweet, tropical-peach flavor from this variety. The orange flesh can be a little stringy, so I recommend cutting the Mango into slices or cubes instead of trying to pull it from the skin with your teeth. Recipes, cutting tips and more can be found here.

Cut sweet-ripe. Tommy-Atkins variety Mangos into cubes to minimize stringiness in their texture.

TIPS: The amount of redness on the skin is not an indicator of sweetness or ripeness with the Tommy Atkins variety Mango, which features red blush over dark green skin. Tommy Atkins variety Mangos do not give much in the way of 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 sweet snacking, smoothies and salsas.

Blueberry-Mango Smoothie

Recipe: Blueberry-Mango Smoothie

  • Add the following ingredients to your blender
  • 5-6 ice cubes
  • 6oz washed Blueberries
  • 2 Mangos, peeled, seed removed
  • 1 cup Milk (soy, almond or dairy)
  • Pulse, then blend until smooth

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