Organic Picks of the Week 04/01/14

Best if Used By 04/07/14

Organic Picks of the week for April 1st, 2014 features
Ataulfo Mangos, Spring Onions, Romaine Hearts, Red Peppers, and Pineapples


Organic Ataulfo Mangos

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Creamy, golden Organic Ataulfo Mangos from Mexico are back in season! I can’t get enough of this seasonal Spring treat, and neither can my family! The Ataulfo variety is smaller than most other red and green skin varieties, but it also has a much thinner seed in the middle so you get more yummy fruit to enjoy. The texture of the golden flesh is smooth, free more free from stringiness than other orange-fleshed Mangos. The flavor? I love it! – sweet, a little tangy, tropical… almost caramel-like when they’re full ripe.

Allow Ataulfo Mangos to ripen at room temperature from lime green to a deep gold skin color. The fruit will be give to gentle pressure and the skin will begin to wrinkle just slightly when they’re ready to eat.

TIPS:
RIPENING

  • COLOR? As Ataulfo Mangos ripen on the store shelf or on your kitchen counter from firm with lime-green skin color to yellow with a slight give – they’ll be ready to eat with a balance of sweet and tangy.
  • WRINKLES? With most Mango varieties “wrinkles” indicate the fruit is past its prime, but Ataulfo Mangos that have ripened so far as to show just few wrinkles – they’ll likely be the SWEETEST!  But be careful, too wrinkled and the fruit may cut brown inside from over-ripe. (I love to ripen them as close to the edge as possible.)

SELECTING

  • APPEARANCE? Ataulfo Mangos often have small speckles and skin stains that look more pronounced on the peel as the fruit ripens.  Don’t worry, those cosmetic issues and will not impact the flavor.
  • Avoid Mangos with large sunken areas, skin punctures or excessive wrinkles.

INFO

  • SEASON? Ataulfo Mango season is here now and will last into June. The wonderful caramel flavor will be even more pronounced and tanginess will diminish as the season progresses through April and May. Yum!
  • NAMES? Ataulfo Mangos may be called: Yellow Mango, Manila Mango, or conventionally branded as “Champagne” Mango.

EATING


Organic Spring Onions

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Cooking with seasonal ingredients is great. Cooking with HYPER-seasonal ingredients is an exciting challenge! Hyper-seasonal crops are available for a short window of time – a moment – plus you can’t find the ingredient just anywhere. Spring Onions are what I would consider a hyper-seasonal crop. They are NOT the same as Scallions which are also called Green Onions. They are not the same as Leeks. Instead, Spring Onions are young onion plants pulled from the earth before the bulb begins to mature into its normal round shape. This is done in the Spring. Right now organically grown Spring Onions are in season from farms in California.

A hyper-seasonal culinary delight: Organic Red Spring Onions and Organic Spring Garlic.

The fresh, bright flavor of immature onions without the full sting of mature pungency is delightful. Spring Onions come in Red and White, which would mature to a yellow or sweet onion. You can cook with the slender bulb portion and the tender parts of the lower green tops. Spring Onions are grilled, roasted, sautéed, stir-fried and cooked into sauces and soups. Here is an amazing collection of Spring Onion recipes.

Need even more flavor? Organic Spring Garlic, with a  from California is in season for a couple weeks too!


Organic Romaine Hearts

VALUE PRICED

Organic Romaine Hearts are a crisp, juicy and affordable choice right now for making some great salad recipes at home. Organic growers in California have had ideal weather and multiple micro regions are in season this week, and harvests are plentiful. Romaine Heart Lettuce is excellent for making crunchy salads or blending in with more tender bitter baby greens to add texture. They can also be used in green juices.

Enjoy the flavors of Spring, prepared simply in this salad. Creamy Ataulfo Mangos, crunchy Romaine Hearts and fresh Mint.

RECIPE: Ataulfo Mango and Hearts of Romaine Salad

  • Rinse 1 Romaine Heart in cold water
  • Chop lettuce into ½” thick slice across the rib
  • Toss lettuce in a large mixing bowl with
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
    • Pinch of coarse salt
    • Cracked Black Pepper to taste
  • Cut 1 Ataulto Mango (mostly to full ripe) into cubes
  • Plate the dressed Hearts of Romaine and top with the Mango pieces


Organic Red Peppers

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

Sweet Red Bell Peppers can do it all. They’re great sliced for raw snacking, roasted for deep flavor, sauted for rich sweetness, chopped for a crisp raw topping, stuffed for a hearty meal, blended or juices for liquid nutrition – oh, the recipe ideas! Well, the good news is that it remains an outstanding time to choose Organic Red Bell Peppers since they are in peak season from multiple growing areas – the greenhouses of Israel are at the end of their season, Holland greenhouses are just ramping up their harvests and Mexican growers are shipping volumes too! Protected from the elements, the hothouse grown plants produce beautiful, sweet, flavorful Peppers. Select Bell Peppers that have firm shoulders, feel heavy for their size and feature a vibrant appearance.

Sweet, crisp Organic Red Bell Peppers. Whatchya makin’?


Organic Pineapples

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Pineapples are loaded with Vitamin C, B1 and B6, manganese, copper and fiber – oh, yeah they taste delicious! Each Organic Pineapple takes about 18-24 months to grow, but they’re worth the wait, especially when you get a good one. Organically grown Gold Pineapples are in season from Costa Rica and worth a try this April.

Sweet, tangy, tropical Organic Gold Pineapple!

TIPS:

  • Select Pineapples that feel firm, appear vibrant, have a sweet aroma and have fresh looking tops since even the super sweet varieties of gold-fleshed Organic Pineapples tend to have a green-cast to the shell.
  • Pineapples won’t get much sweeter once they’re picked, just older, so don’t let it sit there on the counter as until it turns soft and brown.
  • Snacking, for juicing blends, salads, desserts – oh the ideas! Here’s a Pineapple recipe collection to get your cooking!
  • Need a refresher on how to carve a Pineapple? Watch here.

Sweetness from the Pineapple, freshness from the Pepper – a surprisingly refreshing Green Juice.

JUICING RECIPE: Pineapple-Pepper Green Juice
Juice the following in a juice extractor

  • 2 fistfuls of Baby Spinach
  • 1 Orange, peeled
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, seed cavity removed
  • ½ Pineapple, peeled but not cored
  • 1 tart Apple like Granny Smith

NOTE: Red Pepper can be substituted for more sweetness and antioxidants, but you get a juice that appears less green and more beige.

Missed last week’s post? Organic Strawberries, Organic Cucumbers and – READ MORE.

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