Organic Picks of the Week 10/28/13

Best if Used By 11/04/13

Organic Picks of the week for October 28th, 2013 features
Persimmons, Anjou Pears, Parsnips and Red Beets


Organic Persimmons

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Persimmons… How do you if they’re ripe or how to eat them? Few fruits confuse shoppers more than Persimmons. Why? One type is literally un-edible until it ripens to super-soft. The other can be eaten firm right away. Oh, and the two types kinda look similar.

Sweet with fall spice flavor. LEFT: Cone-shaped Hachiya Persimmons to eat soft. RIGHT: Flat-shaped Fuyu Persimmons to eat firm.

It is now peak season for Organic Persimmons from California. They’re a fantastic fall and early winter flavor – rich, sweet and just a little spiced. This is what you need to know about the two primary varieties to have a great seasonal eating experience, not one that makes your mouth pucker up worse than “bitter-beer” face:

Organic Fuyu Persimmons: You can eat Fuyu Persimmons right away when hard like an apple. They’re the short, squatty-shaped ones with skin color that is yellow-orange. Cool nights can bring out patches of black blush. Sweet, crunchy, memorable – a surprisingly crisp, sweet-spice treat! Remove the leaf calyx and quarter the fruit for a snack, or chop it into bite size pieces to add to a fall fruit salad of apples, pears, pomegranate arils and grapes. Fuyu Persimmons are also fine when soft-ripe and can be used in baking recipes that call for Persimmons.

Flat-shaped Fuyu Persimmons are eaten hard like an apple or soft-ripe.

Organic Hachiya Persimmons: You must allow Hachiya Persimmons to ripen to a soft, gooey state before eating, baking or cooking with them. These are the long, heart-cone shaped ones with deep orange skin. Hard, unripe Hachiya’s are full of tannins and are so astringent that they’ll draw your cheeks and lips inside out (childhood memory – pretty sure my Dad dared me to try an unripe one). Ripen Hachiya Persimmons at room temperature until the skin begins to wrinkle and the fruit feels like water balloon – then, amazingly, they’ll they taste quite sweet! Slice off the top of a ripe one and spoon out the tasty pudding-like flesh for a distinctive snack, to make Persimmon Pudding or to use in breads and other baking recipes.

High-cone-shaped Hachiya Persimmons can only be eaten when gooey soft. Hard = astringent. Soft = sweet.


Organic Anjou Pears

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

Green Anjou Pears are good for just about any purpose – snacking, cooking, baking and salads. When their flesh is ripe flesh it’s creamy, juicy and quite sweet. Peak season Organic Green Anjou Pears are readily available during late Fall and early Winter. Have one for lunch or give some of these recipes a try!

All-purpose, go-to Pears: juicy, creamy, sweet…Organic Green Anjou Pears!

Anjou Pears don’t really change color as they ripen. So how do you know when they’re juicy-ripe? Check the neck. Gentle thumb pressure near the stem will clue you in to the firmness inside. A little give means they’ll be sweet and juicy! Ripen Anjou Pears at room temperature or speed up the process by placing them in a paper bag.

Organic Parsnips

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

Parsnips taste great and are a delightful fall flavor – crunchy, savory – like a Celery flavored, slightly spicy Carrot that’s white and a little less sweet. Parsnips can be pan fried, roasted, stewed or boiled and whipped like potatoes. Simply peel and slice to eat raw as a crunchy snack, to add flavor to soups and stews, or to roast for a delicious fall side dish. Find some delicious Parsnip Recipes HERE.

Organic Parsnips – like a white a carrot with a mild spiced flavor.

Organic Parsnips are in peak season supply during the fall and winter months. They’re affordable and are easy to store in the crisper drawer of your fridge for a couple of weeks without having to worry about them going bad.

RECIPE: Roasted Parsnips, Carrots and Brussels Sprouts

  • Pre-heat oven to 450F
  • 4 Parsnips, peeled, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 3 Carrots, peeled, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 10-12 Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 cloves fresh Garlic, peeled, whole
  • Toss vegetables in a mixing bowl with 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Season with 1/2 tsp course salt, 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper – re-toss to coat evenly (optional) Add other roasting seasonings for more flavor
  • Spread vegetables evenly on a baking tray. Roast at 450F for 12 minutes. Remove from oven to flip vegetables with a spatula. Roast for an additional 10-15 minutes. The vegetables are ready when they can easily pierced with a fork and have begun to brown.

Roasted Parsnips, Carrots and Brussels Sprouts – a sweet and savory mix of fall flavors.

Organic Red Beets

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

The Fall crop of Organic Red Beets is now in season from California. Bunched Red and Gold Beets are sold with the tops on them, while loose beets are usually bigger but sold without the tops by the pound. Loose Organic Chioggia Beets, with their gorgeous white and red marbling inside, are also in season too. No matter what the type of Beet, this nutrient-packed root needs to be washed and peeled first.

Sweet and earthy Organic Red Beets are ready for your autumn recipes.

Beets are typically steamed, roasted or pickled. They can stand alone as a side dish or be served over salad greens, paired with creamy or crumbly cheeses, or matched with other roasted root vegetables. Raw Beets can be sliced thin to serve on salads or used to make Beet Juice and juice blends with Beets. Oh, and those Beet greens (tops) can be braised or sautéed just like a tender version of Chard.

Here is collection of Red Beet Recipes to check out.

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. Enjoy good food.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy