Organic Picks of the Week 12/16/13

Best if Used By 12/23/13

Organic Picks of the week for December 16th, 2013 features Navel Oranges, Red Anjou Pears, Sweet Mini Peppers, Orlando Tangelos and Mixed Cherry Tomato Medley

Organic Navel Oranges


The classic snack citrus – Navel Oranges are now in peak season from organic orchards in the San Joaquin. There’s nothing quite like a juicy Organic Navel Orange from California with its vivid orange skin that is separates from the flesh without too much work, and its sweet and citrusy flesh packed with bright flavor. Navel Oranges are a favorite for many because they pull apart into sections easily and have no seeds. In fact, that little orange within the orange – aka the navel – is what keeps this orange variety seedless.

The king of winter citrus snacking – sweet, brightly flavored, seedless Organic Navel Oranges are now in season from California.

“California? Wait, wasn’t there freezing weather this past week in California?” Yes, indeed there were several nights of temperatures in the high 20s (F). But there were plenty of Organic Oranges already harvested and since Navels have a thicker skin and high sugar content they can handle a short freeze. Still, there may be some damage to the late Winter crop that is yet to be assessed. In the meantime, enjoy this juicy in-season fruit!

In season Organic California Navel Oranges are beginning to taste their juicy, flavorful best – a balance of sweetness and acidity. The flavor will get even sweeter over the next two months. Navels best for snacking, since there are better juice orange varieties for making homemade orange juice that will taste superior and hold up longer once juices. But if you have more Navel Oranges than you can eat – squeezing out their juice is a fantastic way to use them up quickly. Find the juiciest ones by selecting Navels that are heavy for their size. Speaking of size, big to small, all Navels are tasting good right now so go with whatever type is best for your snacking preferences.

Organic Red Anjou Pears


So colorful, so sweet – Red Pears are easy on the eyes and easy on the taste buds. Organic Red Anjou Pears, with their burgundy skin and sweet, succulent flesh, are the what is in season right now – picked from organic orchards in Oregon and Washington earlier this fall. They’re perfect for slicing onto salads made with bitter greens or lettuces, pairing with strong cheeses and for snacking. Their color makes them perfect for holiday gift baskets too. Red Anjou taste best when the fruit has been allowed to soften at room temperature, letting the flesh become juicier, taste sweeter and smell more aromatic. Check the neck for ripeness!

Burgundy beauties in fall become holiday sensations in winter. Allow Red Anjou Pears to ripen at room temperature to soft around the neck to bring out their sweetness, juiciness and aroma.

Organic Sweet Mini Peppers


Have you discovered Sweet Mini Peppers? These lil’ babies are awesome! As the name implies, Sweet Mini Peppers are sweet, crunchy, bite-sized and delicious. One to four inches long, Organic Sweet Mini Peppers come packed in pint containers or bags and are in season from Mexico right now.

These sweet Baby Peppers are perfect for snacking, stuffing and roasting!

Fiesta Stuffed Mini Peppers
Pesto Shrimp Stuffed Sweet Baby Peppers

Sweet Pepper Poppers

Easy Roasted Sweet Mini Peppers

Organic Orlando Tangelos


You want an exceptionally juicy piece of citrus to brighten you day? Try Orlando Tangelos! The Tangelo category of citrus are variations of natural plant breeding crosses between Tangerine and Grapefruit. The “Orlando” variety, created over 100 years ago, is usually fist size and smaller, has light orange skin and a flattened shape. Their flesh is sweet and mild and packed with juice. The thin skin clings to the flesh so I usually use Orlando Tangelos for hand-squeezed juice. Four pounds of Tangelos will make a pitcher of juice. Orlando Tangelos are in season during December from organic orchards in Florida.

Juicing pick of the week! Hand-squeezed Organic Orlando Tangelo juice: sweet and mild.

Organic Mixed Cherry Tomato Medley


Here’s a product to keep an eye out for: Organic Mixed Cherry Tomato Medley, also called Organic Rainbow Cherry Tomatoes. They’re a blend of robust-earthy brown, candy-sweet gold and yellow, tangy pink and sweet-acidic red Cherry, Grape and Cocktail Tomato varieties, many of which are heirloom-style. These bite-sized Tomatoes are great for snacking out of hand, topping salads or roasting.

Organic Mixed Cherry Tomato Medley packs are in season from Lady Moon Farms in Florida.

Color and flavor abound with Organic Rainbow Cherry Tomatoes, a medley of Cherry Tomato varieties that are grown separately in Lady Moon’s organic fields in Punta Gorda, FL then blended when packed in 1 pint containers. This product is in high demand, so you may not find them just anywhere – but if you do, I highly recommend giving it a try! And if you can’t find Organic Mixed Cherry Tomato Medley packs where you shop – regular Organic Cherry Tomatoes are in season too. Cherry Tomatoes are bigger and slightly more acidic than Grape Tomatoes. Their flavor intensifies with Oven Roasting.

Cajun-seasoned Organic Rainbow Cherry Tomatoes over Quinoa.

RECIPE: Cajun Cherry Tomatoes over Quinoa

  • Steam 2 cups of Quinoa according to package directions
  • While Quinoa is simmering add ½ teaspoon Cajun Seasoning or Rub
  • Toss 1 pint of Organic Mix Cherry Tomato Medley in bowl with 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • Season with 1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning or Rub – re-toss to coat
  • Place Cherry Tomatoes on grilling skewers
  • Grill over high heat for 3-5 minutes, flipping once
  • (Too cold to Grill?  Roast the Cherry Tomatoes at 450F for 10 minutes on a baking tray.)
  • Serve grilled tomatoes over Quinoa

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