Organic Picks of the Week 08/12/13

Best if Used By 08/19/13

Organic Picks of the week for August 12th, 2013 features
Green Seedless Grapes, Yellow Nectarines, Cherry TomatoesRaspberries and Pluots

Organic Green Seedless Grapes


Calling all the Green Grape fans. Great news! Peak season is here for some of the best Organic Green Seedless Grapes from California, like the classic Thompson variety that is known for its long shape and mellow-sweet taste, or barrel-shaped crisp and lightly sweet Princess variety. Now through mid-September is one of the best times of the year to enjoy certified Organic Green Grapes for eating quality, reasonable prices and steady availability in the organic produce department.

What does it mean when the Grapes are more yellow than green? In my experience, yellow hue indicates a very sweet eating berry – yum! This is sometimes referred to as “amber.”

Green Grape lovers: The best tasting California Organic Green Seedless Grapes are in season!

Why is it important to keep Grapes refrigerated? You can’t see it happening, but Grapes lose the crispiness and crunchy pop of their texture rather quickly when out of refrigeration. Their vines dehydrate quicker and the berries can fall off the stems. Plus, Grapes, full of natural sugar will break down rapidly and go bad. Keep them refrigerated and eat ‘em quick since the more sugar the fruit has the shorter the shelf life will be. Rinse with water just before eating.

How do you select Grapes? 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.

A frozen snack? To sweeten juice blends or smoothies? On salad greens or in chicken salad? How do you like to use fresh Grapes? The California Table Grape site has a nice array of Grape recipes, tips and use ideas.

Organic Yellow Nectarines


Sometimes I forget how delicious Nectarines can be.

I was sampling some summer fruit this past week and the Organic Yellow Nectarine from Washington I ate was excellent, simultaneously tangy in the back of my jaw and sweet on my tongue! Then, I let two two more of those set on my desk at room temperature for about 36 hours. These Nectarines were just ripe – inside they were creamy-fleshed and the juiciness caused me to slurp. Simply a fantastic snack.

Remind your taste-buds how delicious Nectarines can be.

Just before their apple and pear crops arrive Organic growers in the irrigated mountain slopes and valley plains of Washington harvest Organic Peaches and their smooth-skinned, creamy cousin: Organic Yellow Nectarines. These Nectarines are typically left on the tree slightly longer to get the best natural sugar levels possible before shipping them to natural food stores, co-ops and supermarkets across the country. Now through early September will be the best time for you to rediscover how amazing Nectarines can taste.

Select Nectarines that are free from soft spots or wrinkled skin. It only takes a day or two at room temperature to ripen a Nectarine to nicely soft and juicy enough to require a napkin. They should not be rock-hard, just firm with the slightest give. 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 in case you’d like to move beyond good ol’ snacking.

Organic Cherry Tomatoes


Bursting with juicy and intense tomato flavor, Organic Cherry Tomatoes are fun for salads, snacking and roasting. They’re bigger and slightly more acidic than Grape Tomatoes. August is peak season for local crops of Organic Cherry Tomatoes in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Enjoy!

Peak season summer Organic Cherry Tomatoes from the Mid-Atlantic region = big tomato flavor in a medium sized bite.

Oven Roasting will intensify the taste of Cherry Tomatoes. If you find them on sale try some new recipes like making blender salsa this month while they’re value priced.

Organic Raspberries


The “CLIFF NOTES”: Organic Raspberries taste really good this week and aren’t likely to cost an arm and a leg.

Peak late-summer season Organic Raspberries from California feature a rich, sweet flavor with some mild, familiar tanginess underneath and have a texture that is not hard, but rather firm for a Raspberry.  Mmm – sounds perfect. While never “cheap”, now is still a great time to keep an eye out for ad pricing and in-store specials on quality, organically grown Raspberries!

Organic Raspberries – natural perfection.

Raspberries are good for snacking, as a topping for cereal, yogurt and salads, in smoothies and their flavor can be intensified in cooking and baking. Check out these beautiful recipes on Driscoll’s website – they’re one of the best Organic Raspberry growers in the world. Not only are they flavorful, but the health benefits of Raspberries are formidable – antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients and emerging research linking Raspberries to obesity management.

Always keep Raspberries refrigerated. A Raspberry is a delicate fruit – wait to wash them until just before use. When shopping for Raspberries, inspect the package from all sides to be sure there’s no mold, wet spots, black spots or smashed and clumped berries. And the best advice is: when you find a nice Raspberry pack enjoy it quickly – fresh is best. Protect your investment by eating it – not by storing it.

Organic Pluots


What is a Pluot? Glad you asked: Part Plum. Part Apricot. All delicious! (…at least more often than not.) It is like giving your plums an upgrade.  They’re great for snacking, salsas, salads and more!

Discover the juicy-sweet spectrum of flavors with in season Organic Pluots.

Early August varieties of Organic Pluots are plentiful during late July and August from certified organic orchards California’s sunny San Joaquin Valley. Growers and plant breeders work tirelessly to come up with the best new varieties of Pluots that are super sweet, juicy and flavorful – and boy, are there some good ones out there right now. The come in many flesh and skin colors – from yellow to ruby flesh – from speckled skin to bright red. And Pluots have cool names! You might find golden Mellow Yellow, black Flavor King, purple-spotted Mariposa, red Flavor Jem, the ever popular speckled and mottled Dapple Dandy varieties. Even if you don’t like regular Plums, you owe it to your taste buds to try some Organic Pluots!

What is that powder-like film on the skin? It’s called “bloom.” Bloom is a natural, protective wax that forms on the fruit as it grows on the tree. When you rub up Plum or Pluot it gets it’s shine from the bloom.

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