Organic Picks of the Week 11/11/13

Best if Used By 11/18/13

Organic Picks of the week for November 11th, 2013 features Concorde Pears, Comice Pears, CucumbersGranny Smith Apples and Rutabagas

Organic Concorde Pears


An up-and-coming pear variety at organic orchards in Oregon and Washington is the “Concorde.” This pear is a good all-purpose pear that features an easy-sweet flavor, similar to Comice. Concorde Pears are naturally slow to brown when cut and are ideal for baking, cooking, poaching and snacking out of hand. The fruit has a long neck like Bosc that is sometime curved near the top. The skin is light green and often shows cosmetic blemishes – we’ll call it “rustic looks.” And similar to the Bosc, they taste sweet when the flesh is firm and crunchy or soft and juicy. Organic Concorde Pears are in peak season now through Christmas. Keep an eye out for them at natural food stores, food co-ops and other markets with extensive organic selection.

Organic Concorde Pears: easy-sweet flavor comes through when firm & crunchy or soft & juicy. They’re also naturally slow to brown when cut.

Organic Comice Pears


Since late fall is high-time for specialty pears, here’s another variety to put on your “gotta try it” list: Organic Comice Pears. Often called the “Christmas Pear,” sweet-tasting Comice are famous for being included in gourmet fruit baskets, including Harry & David’s line. Their sugary flavor and juicy texture make Comice the ultimate dessert pear, however they’re not ideal for cooking. Match Comice with soft cheeses, chocolate, caramel or simply enjoy the taste of Comice in its natural state.

The dessert pear. A ripe Comice Pear has custard-like flesh that is juicy and exceptionally sweet.

Organic orchards in the Pacific Northwest, particularly Oregon, are now shipping peak season Organic Comice Pears.  The fruit is wide around the middle and has a short neck. The skin can be all green or have a red blush. Organic Comice Pears are easily scarred or nicked up while they grow on the tree, but it rarely affects the flesh. Inside, Comice Pears ripen to a creamy, buttery texture that is succulent and juicy. Check the neck for ripeness with gentle thumb pressure.

Organic Cucumbers


Organic Cucumbers are abundant this mid-November as organic vegetable farms in Florida and Mexico are harvested lots of volume all at once. You may find ads or in-store specials on Organic Cucumbers where you shop. With a cool, crunchy texture, Organic Cucumbers are great for salads, snacking and dipping. Excellent for juicing, Cucumbers have anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties, plus they add plenty of liquid volume to juice blends.

There’s a bumper crop of Organic Cucumbers for mid-November. Time for some bumper salads and bumper juices!

The bitter taste some people dislike in regular salad-type Cucumbers is found in the skin. For a more mild flavor, peel off some or all of the skin.

Choose Cucumbers that feel firm and have no sunken areas.

Organic Cucumbers, grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, are not waxed to extend their shelf life so try to use them within a few days of purchase.

If you desire a milder Cucumber without seeds that has a more tender skin – Organically grown European-style Seedless Cucumbers are in season from greenhouses in Spain, Israel and Mexico.

Try these Cucumber Recipes.

Organic Granny Smith Apples


On the apple flavor spectrum at the opposite end from sweet Fuji, Granny Smith are about as tart as apple varieties get. There are times when being at the extremes wins you fans and that is surely the case for Granny Smith Apples. Green skinned, firm and tart Granny Smith Apples are fantastic paired with rich and savory ingredients in cooking like cheddar cheese, salty meats, salads, sweet potatoes and hard squashes. For baking, they add acidic balance to desserts and hold their shape. For juicing, they add fresh, sweet-tart flavor and keep a nice green color for green juices. And of course, there are those who prefer tart Apples for snacking… they love Granny’s.

Tart – and proud of it. Organic Granny Smith Apples are ideal for baking, cooking and juicing!

Organic Granny Smith Apples are in peak season from Washington. Organic growers have actually had a hard time keeping up with the high demand this season for certified organically grown apples in general. Though, smaller-sized Organic Granny Smith Apples, like the ones sold in 3lb bags, seem to be plentiful this fall.

RECIPE:  Granny Fennel Green Juice

Juice the following ingredients in a juice extractor for a phyto-nutrient-rich green juice that packs a tart-sweet punch with tones of licorice.

  • 3 stalks Kale
  • 1 bulb of Fennel (feel free to include stems and fronds)
  • 1 Lime, mostly peeled
  • 3 medium Granny Smith Apples

Granny-Fennel Green Juice packs a tart-sweet punch with a mild licorice flavor.

Organic Rutabagas


Yes, humble Rutabagas are often a forgotten or over-looked at the market. Too bad, because they pack some great flavor and texture! Check out these recipe ideas. Fall and winter are peak seasons for Organic Rutabagas from many regions like New England, the Upper Mid-West and the West Coast – so expect good quality and value pricing.

The oft forgotten about Rutabaga: a crunchy, savory-sweet raw snack; excellent mashed, roasted or in stews.

Rutabagas are a root vegetable similar to Turnips, but their yellow flesh is sweeter. They’re often waxed for shelf life, so peeling the skin is a necessary step. They can be sliced into thin sticks and eaten raw like Carrots for a savory-sweet and crisp snack. They are good added to stews, soups and are excellent when steamed or roasted. Rutabagas are also ideal for mashing, but require a little less milk than Potatoes due to the high moisture content.

RECIPE: Roasted Rutabagas, Gold & Sweet Potatoes with Brussels Sprouts

  • 10-12 Brussels Sprouts, ends trimmed, loose leaves removed, halved if bigger than 1”
  • 1 Sweet Potato, peeled, cubed into bite sized pieces
  • 1 Large Rutabaga (or 2 Small Rutabagas), peeled, sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 2 Large Gold Potatoes, skin-on, sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 3 Whole Cloves Garlic, peeled
  • Toss the above ingredients in a mixing bowl with 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Season with ½ tsp Coarse Salt and Cracked Black Pepper – re-toss to coat
  • Spread Vegetables evenly on a baking tray
  • Roast at 450 F for 15 minutes
  • Flip with a spatula and roast for 10-15 more minutes until vegetables can easily be pierced with a knife

Roasted Rutabagas, Gold & Sweet Potatoes with Brussels Sprouts.

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