Organic Picks of the Week 09/09/13

Best if Used By 09/16/13

Organic Picks of the week for September 9th, 2013 features
Butternut Squash, McIntosh Apples, Eggplant, Broccoli
and Red Seedless Grapes


Organic Butternut Squash

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

There’s a reason that Butternut Squash the most popular of all Hard Squash varieties. Butternut is ideal for soups and roasting. It’s flesh is very moist and has a nutty flavor that falls somewhere between cooked carrots and sweet potato – familiar and accessible. It’s healthy too! Rich in Vitamins, nutrients and anti-oxidants, Butternut Squash needs to be baked, boiled, roasted, micro-waved or steamed.

Good news – it’s in season! The late summer crop of locally grown Organic Butternut Squash has begun here in the Mid-Atlantic and organic farms in the Northeast and Mid-West will be starting soon too, making now through Thanksgiving one of the best times of the year to buy it at affordable prices and enjoy good quality at the same time.

Ideal for soups and roasting, Organic Butternut Squash is now in peak season from local farms.

How do you prepare Butternut Squash? Cut the bulb end from the neck. Stand the neck up on its flatly cut base and peel it with a knife. Peel the bulbed end, then halve it. Scrape out the seeds and pulp. Chop the flesh into bite sized pieces. Now it is ready to boil or steam or roast. Butternut Squash is cooked when the flesh can easily be pierced with a fork.

TIPS:
Keep your fingers, cut the squash.
Use a sharp, sturdy knife for peeling, cutting and chopping hard squash. Dull knives will cause you to press to hard and risk slipping off the vegetable and onto your fingers or hand. And be sure your cutting board does not move by placing a silicon mat or towel underneath it.

Warm it up to peel it up. By nuking your whole Hard Squash in the microwave for 2-3 minutes the skin will soften a little and become easier to peel with a knife. Try it!

Pre-rinse the squash in running water and wipe the skin with a clean rag or paper towel. This keeps your cutting surface clean and your knife (which goes into the flesh) clean.

Save some for later. Chopped hard squash, like Butternut, that is uncooked will last for several days in the fridge packed in a plastic bag or container.

Selection and storage. Select Hard Squashes that are solid, free from stem-mold and feels heavy for their size. Because they’re so firm, they can be often be kept at room temperature on your counter for a few weeks.

Centennial Roasted Cauliflower, Carrots and Butternut Squash

RECIPE – Roasted Cauliflower, Carrots and Butternut Squash

  • ½ head of Cauliflower separated into bite-sized florets
  • 3 Carrots peeled and bias-cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ of a Butternut Squash, cleaned and chopped into large-bite chunks
  • Toss Vegetables in a bowl with 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • Season with Coarse Salt and Cracked Black, or a Seasoned Salt mix (I love Penzy’s Centennial Rub)
  • Spread out evenly on large cookie sheet
  • Roast at 450 F for 30 min

Here are some other Butternut recipes that look delicious!

Butternut Squash Soup
Balsamic-roasted Butternut and Apples
(try it with McIntosh!)
Paleo Butternut Squash Lasagna

Penne with Braised Squash and Greens

Organic McIntosh Apples

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Ideal for old-fashioned baking and sauce recipes, the McIntosh variety features a classic tart-sweet flavor and a juicy, semi-crisp texture. This round-shaped, red-skinned apple best is best as an ingredient, but there are some folks who prefer McIntosh for snacking and salads in spite of their tanginess and medium-crisp texture. HINT: Keep your McIntosh in the fridge since room temperature will make them mealy inside even though the still look fresh on the outside.

Tart-sweet and juicy, Organic McIntosh Apples are in-season in limited way here in during September and October.

Here on the East Coast, the McIntosh – a chance seedling discovered by John McIntosh in New York over 100 years ago – is a variety so ubiquitous that one bite can make you recall Mom’s apple cake or Grandma’s applesauce. But have you ever found Organically grown McIntosh? Here’s your chance. Peak season has arrived for Certified Organic ones grown at orchards in California, Oregon and Washington. Not a lot of Organic McIntosh Apples are in production compared to conventional and the window of the availability is shorter, so pick up a bag or a handful if you find them and enjoy a vintage flavor of fall.

Organic Eggplant

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Eggplant Parmesan Pizza? Roasted Eggplant and Feta Dip? It’s a great time to experiment with healthy Eggplant recipes since Certified Organic Eggplant is in peak season now through late September from local farms in Pennsylvania and New York, as well as organic farms in the Mid-West. Select Eggplant that is firm, not flabby, is free from brown-sunken areas, and has some green color still in calyx around the stem.

The next few weeks are an excellent time to try out some new or old-favorite recipes using Organic Eggplant.

Organic Broccoli

PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED

Is fresh Organic Broccoli part of your weekly meal planning this month? It should be and here’s why:

Save money this month! A peak season harvest flush is here at many organic farms in California is keeping prices affordable on this vitamin rich vegetable – both the Crown-cut and regular Broccoli bunches with the stem.

It’s versatile: Broccoli is perfect for school lunches, game day veggie trays and in all kinds of cooked or raw recipe preparations for lunch and dinner:

Raw for Slaw – a great way to use up the stalks
Raw for Salads
– combine sweet and tangy flavors with broccoli crunch
Steamed simply.

Roasted for flavor and texture.

Health. Broccoli is loaded with vitamins and nutrients, plus it has fiber that fills you up!

Steamed Broccoli over Spaghetti Squash. Season simply with salt and pepper, or toss with your favorite vinaigrette for more flavor.

Organic Red Seedless Grapes

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

September is a good month for enjoying Organic Red Seedless Grapes from California for flavor and affordability. Organic vineyards are now harvesting the Crimson Seedless and Ruby Seedless varieties. Crimsons are oblong may not always be fully red, but they will be fully sweet and crisp when fresh – yum! Ruby’s are smaller, round to oval and have a rich flavor.

Don’t let the coloring fool you, these in-season Organic Crimson Seedless red grapes taste great!

In the organic produce department, look for bags or containers of Red Grapes that are free from wet or smashed berries and are filled with bunches clinging to fresh, green stems. The berries should feel firm when you squeeze them (if can feel them in their bag). Keep your Grapes refrigerated until you’re about ready to eat them, since they lose their crunch much quicker at room temperature. Wash Grapes with cold water just before serving them.

Find some outstanding Grape Recipes 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.

Eat in-season. Choose organic.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy