Organic Picks of the Week 12/09/13

Best if Used By 12/16/13

Organic Picks of the week for December 9th, 2013 features Red Grapefruit, Tangerines, Golden Russet Potatoes, Meyer Lemons and Asian Pears


Organic Red Grapefruit

BEST FLAVOR | PEAK SEASON

Fresh Organic Red Grapefruit from Florida, Texas and California is in peak season. The fruit is juicy, tart-sweet in flavor and refreshing. Organic Grapefruit makes for a healthy snack, is fantastic for juicing and can be used in salads, cooking and desserts. Take your time and slice the flesh from the membranes section by section and spoon it out from the halved Grapefruit. Or, if you are impatient like me – squeeze the Grapefruit juice by hand and drink down the pulpy goodness, or hack it apart by filleting the flesh from the rind to eat whole. Do not let rules or customs prevent you from enjoying some juicy, tropical-like citrus.

Organic Florida Grapefruit is in peak season – tart-sweet, so juicy!

TIPS & NOTES:

Being “in-season” trumps appearance when judging flavor for Organic Grapefruit.

Exterior color is not really an indicator of internal color.

Skin scars and cosmetic blemishes formed while ripening on the tree do not impact the flavor either.

Simply select Grapefruit that is heavy for its size and avoid fruit that has soft spots.

Fresh Grapefruit can be kept for about a month in the fridge or a week or so on the counter at room temperature.

By Region this December:

California grown Organic Grapefruits have skin that is a bit thick and nice flavor.

Texas grown Organic Grapefruits have fantastic deep ruby flesh that tastes great.

Florida grown Organic Grapefruits are super-juicy, thin skinned and are getting sweet each week.


Organic Tangerines

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Seeds versus flavor. Most people are annoyed by seeds in their citrus and relegate seeded-varieties to making fresh-squeezed juice. Well, during December and January, Organic Citrus lovers in search of tasty seasonal varieties still appreciate Tangerines. Tangerines don’t peel quite as easily as Mandarins (a subset of Tangerine varieties) and have seeds. But Tangerines are very juicy and can be really delicious. Here are two varieties to look for here in December:

Organic Sunburst Tangerines from Florida feature that sunshiny, classic Tangerine flavor under blemished, yet vivid orange skin. The fruit is sweet and lightly tangy, and is loaded with juice.

Bright-orange Organic Sunburst Tangerines are in season – juiciness, seeds and all!

Organic Daisy Tangerines are actually considered a Mandarin by some because the fruit tastes a bit like Clementines. Daisy Tangerines are in season from California and have dark orange skin over dark orange flesh. I must admit, of the eight citrus varieties I tasted this weekend the Organic Daisy Tangerines were the most intensely sweet – wow.

Intensely sweet, Organic Daisy Tangerines from California are hard to top in the flavor department.

Select Tangerines that feel heavy for their size. Avoid soft and squishy feeling Tangerines as they are likely to go bad soon. Keep them in the fridge for a week or on the counter at room temperature for a couple days.

Still not wanting to deal with seeds? Try easy-peel Organic Satsuma Mandarins or Organic Clementine Mandarins this month!


Organic Golden Russet Potatoes

PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED | BEST FLAVOR

What is a Golden Russet Potato? It is a variety with light-brown russet skin that is not too thick with gold flesh inside. How do they taste? Well, I tried some Organic Golden Russet Potatoes from Colorado this weekend to find out for myself. The cooked flesh was more moist than a Russet Potato, but drier and less waxy than a typical Yukon Gold. They tasted very nice – slightly buttery and smooth. I baked mine at 350F for 60 minutes and topped it with fresh Guacamole. Keep an eye out for Organic Golden Russets at Natural Food Stores and food co-ops this winter in 5lb bags sold at fair prices.

Organic Golden Russet Potatoes feature thin, russet skin and tasty gold flesh.


Organic Meyer Lemons

BEST FLAVOR | PEAK SEASON

Chefs and flavor enthusiasts are clamoring over Meyer Lemons. Why? These smooth, thin-skinned, golden-yellow citrus fruits are sweeter and less acidic than regular Lemons. You can even eat a Meyer Lemon wedge without completely puckering up… well, sort of… it’s still a lemon, after all. They’re actually quite refreshing with tones of tangerine left on your tongue. Meyer Lemon zest, the shavings of the outer colored portion of skin, is almost floral.

Smooth skin, smooth flavor – try in-season Organic Meyer Lemons for your culinary quests this winter.

Meyer Lemons are a cross between a Lemon and a Mandarin. Organic Meyer Lemons can be found in co-ops, natural foods stores and organic markets with a broad produce selection right now as the peak growing season in California is rolling along here in the winter months. Use Meyer Lemons almost any way you would a regular Lemon, but less sugar is required in sweet recipes since the acidity is less intense.

Can’t find Meyer Lemons? No worries. Regular Organic Lemons are in season and can become a versatile part of your holiday baking or cooking, as well as your healthy eating goals for the New Year. Flavor your cold water or hot tea with Lemon. Add lemon juice to homemade vinaigrettes or right onto salads. Did you know that seasoning food like fish, poultry and salads with Meyer Lemons or regular Lemons is a great alternative to salt?

VIDEO: Meyer Lemons vs. regular Lemons


Organic Asian Pears

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Enjoy the best of both worlds. Asian Pears have the texture of a very juicy apple yet taste like a sweet, ripe pear – earning them the nickname “Apple Pears.” Here’s the best part: the cream-colored flesh is crisp and crunchy like an Fuji Apple, at the same time extremely juicy like a ripe Bartlett, nicely sweet and has a familiar Pear flavor. Brown-skinned Hosui and Olympic variety Asian Pears from fall harvests at organic orchards in Oregon and Washington are available this month and the fruit tastes great as a snack. They’re also ideal for enjoying with sharp cheese, slicing into salads and slaws or simply sharing for dessert since a sliced Asian Pear is naturally slow to oxidize, or brown.

Eats like an apple. Tastes like a pear. In-season Organic Asian Pears are exceedingly juicy, crisp and sweet. Plus, they’re naturally slow to brown when cut, making them ideal for salads, slaws, and fruit and cheese platters.

TIPS:

Asian Pears may thicker skin than other pear varieties, but their juicy flesh bruises easily. Handle with care!

Select Asian Pears that feel heavy for their size, have no wrinkled skin, punctures or large bruises.

Some prefer to peel their brown-skin Asian Pears, but that is up to preference.

Asian Pears do store well and fresh ones will keep for a few weeks in the fridge.

They’re excellent for cheese trays or fruit trays since the sliced flesh is slow to oxidize or brown.

Asian Pears bring sweetness and juiciness to this seasonal, winter fruit salad.

RECIPE: Winter Fruit Salad

Crunchy, juicy, sweet and robust – this salad is the perfect way to highlight the best flavors of November and December.

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, healthy food.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy