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Organic Picks of the Week 10/11/15

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Organic Picks | October 11th, 2015

Fingerling PotatoesCranberriesHoneycrisp ApplesBaby Sweet PotatoesPomegranatesKitchen Tip of the Week

Best if used by 10/21/15

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Organic Fingerling Potatoes

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Fingerling Potatoes are small, gourmet varieties with tender skins, elongated shapes and flesh that moist, waxy texture. What’s so great about these little spuds? Fingerling Potatoes can speed up your meal preparation time, all while delighting your taste-buds. Because these high flavor, finger-shaped Potato varieties are smaller in size – roasting usually takes only 20 to 30 minutes at 425 degrees, depending on the thickness of the Fingerlings. Boiling takes only about 15 to 30 minutes and is another easy way to cook them. Boiled Fingerlings served with butter, salt, pepper and freshly chopped chives is always a hit.

Tip: Halve larger ones length-wise to even the cooking time. When a knife can easily pierce their waxy flesh, the Potatoes are properly cooked. Be sure to cook Fingerlings with their tender skin left on to trap in their rich flavors and moisture content.

Organically grown Fingerling Potatoes are now in season from prime-organic-soiled growing regions in Colorado, Washington and Oregon. The first to make to the shelves of organic produce departments this Fall are the red French Finger and Rose Finn types, along with yellow Russian Banana and Austrian Crescent Fingerlings. Most Organic Fingerling Potatoes are sold in 1.5lb packages, ideal for a family meal side dish. Try some now through January while they’re at their best!

Recipe: Easy Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Delicious, flavorful potatoes ready without much prep! How cool!

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425F
  2. Rinse 1.5lb Fingerling Potatoes in water and pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. Slice larger Fingerlings in half length-wise to even cooking time
  4. Toss Fingerlings in 2tbs Olive Oil, then season with ½tsp each: Coarse Salt & Black Pepper (or your favorite roasting seasoning)
  5. Spread Potatoes out evenly on a baking tray and roast at 425F for 20 minutes.
  6. At 20 minutes poke the Fingerlings with a fork. If the fork easily pierces the potatoes they’re done, otherwise keep roasting

Fingerling Potatoes are prized for their rich flavor and texture, as well as their short cooking time.

Easy Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Organic Cranberries

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Fresh Organic Cranberries from Wisconsin and Quebec, Canada are now in peak season! Time to “think Autumn”, dust off your recipe cards and go to the web for some new recipe ideas to take advantage of these antioxidant-rich, intensely tangy berries.

Can you eat Cranberries raw? Yes, you can, but Fresh Cranberries are rather tart. (Dried Cranberries usually sweetened with sugar.) Fresh Cranberries are best used in recipes for: appetizers, relishes, sauces, chutneys, relishes, breads, muffins, drinks and desserts.

Find recipe ideas for Fresh Cranberries ideas here.

Organic Honeycrisp Apples

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Organically grown Honeycrisp Apples are in peak season from Washington! Stay calm and snack on.

Explosively juicy. Crackingly crisp. Brightly flavorful – an amazing blend of sweet and tart that keeps you interested with every bite. Something to really look forward to each September through November – a seasonal treat. This is what Honeycrisp Apples are all about.

Organic Honeycrisps are, in fact, more expensive than other varieties because of the high demand plus they’re a tricky to grow, but the delectable eating experience is worth it for those with a passion for texture and flavor… and for organic growing methods. Sure, you can juice them, bake and cook with Honeycrisps, but why would you when they’re so darn good for eating out of hand? There are plenty of other varieties that are perfectly good baking that cost a third less right now.

Tips & Hints

  • Select Apples that feel heavy for their size and are free from wrinkled skin, obvious punctures or large flat bruised areas.
  • Honeycrisp do not need to have all-red skin to be delicious, but if they’re completely green they’ll likely be more tart.
  • For the best shelf-life and texture, keep Apples cool in the dry-fruit drawer of your refrigerator until the day you’re ready to eat them.
  • Be gentle. Honeycrisp Apples can bruise easily, and bruises cause brown areas of flesh inside. They’re not rocks – they’re a fruit with easily damaged cells. Treat them with care and ask the check-out clerk to do the same.

Select Apples that feel heavy for their size and are free from wrinkled skin, obvious punctures or large flat bruised areas.

Organic Baby Sweet Potatoes

Peak Season    Best Flavor

I snickered at the “microwaveable” pack until the first time I actually tried it. But those Organic Baby Sweet Potatoes turned out great! Flavor meets convenience with this healthy product, and I’ve been a fan since.

The harvest of fresh crop Organic Yams (sweet potatoes) is well under way in California’s Central Valley. The biggest organic yam grower, AV Thomas who sells the Natural Beauty brand, is now shipping their “Microwaveable Baby Sweets” line. The 1lb microwave trays are filled with pre-cleaned and washed small-sized Organic Sweet Potatoes including orange-fleshed Jewel and Garnet Yams, plus yellow-white fleshed Japanese and Hannah Sweets.

Just throw the pack in the microwave for about 6-8 minutes for perfectly cooked sweet potatoes, ready for your favorite toppings. Look for this item at natural food stores, food co-ops and large variety organic produce departments this fall.

Topping Ideas

  • Something Creamy: Butter, sour cream, cheese, Greek yogurt, guacamole or ripe avocado
  • Something Spicy: hot sauce, chili peppers, salsa or pico de gallo, spices or seasonings
  • Something Veggie: chopped bell peppers, onions, broccoli, scallions
  • Something Fresh: chopped herbs like parsley, dill, cilantro

Pictured Recipe: I cooked the Organic Baby Sweet Potatoes according to the package instructions. Then I blended this in the Vitamix: 2 ripe Hot Peppers (Jalapeno or Serrano), 3 cherry tomatoes, 1 cup plain Greek Yogurt and ½ tsp Coarse Salt. It made a delightfully spicy yet cool and creamy yogurt dressing to compliment the sweetness in the baby yams. I topped it with chopped parsley to add freshness.

Organic Pomegranates

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Organic Pomegranates from California are back in season! The delicious prize inside a fresh Pomegranate is the juicy, sweet, bold flavored arils (seeds encapsulated with sacs of juice). You eat the arils whole. These arils are fantastic by themselves as a flavorful snack – juicy, sweet, a little tangy then crunchy. The taste is somewhere between concord grape juice and cranberry juice on the sugar to acid scale, but deliciously unique, robust. Pomegranate arils can also be used to top a salad, in yogurt parfaits, with desserts or cocktails, and of course for juicing. Me? I love them as a delicious snack!

Pomegranate Tips

  • Select fresh Pomegranates that are firm and heavy, a sign of plenty of juice content inside the fruit.
  • Scarring on the skin really has no impact on the internal quality of the fruit.
  • The redness of the skin can vary from variety to variety and is not a true indicator of aril quality.
  • Store Pomegranates in the fridge for best shelf-life, but they’ll last for a week or so on the counter.

Recipe: Raw Fennel & Kale Autumn Salad

Raw Fall. Crisp fennel and earthy kale are tenderized with Balsamic and Cider vinegars and paired with creamy-sweet Anjou Pears and rich-sweet Pomegranate Arils.

  1. Wash, Core and thinly slice 1 Fennel bulb
  2. De-stem and ribbon-slice the leaves of 2 stalks of Kale
  3. In a mixing bowl massage 2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar into the Fennel and Kale
  4. Allow vegetables to rest for at least 5 minutes
  5. Serve topped with sliced ripe Anjou Pears and Pomegranate Arils

Super-food Pomegranates are an ancient fruit but have been in the news lately for their health benefits. The juice on the Pomegranate Arils has all three polyphenols – tannins, anthocyanins, ellagic acid.

Raw Fennel & Kale Autumn Salad

 

Kitchen Tip of the Week

How to open a Pomegranate

If you decide to hack open a fresh Pomegranate on a cutting board and then pry the membranes apart, get ready to clean up your crime scene – I mean, kitchen. There will be juice splattering on your cutting surface and surrounding area, and likely on you. These are the two methods I use in my kitchen for speed and to avoid big messes:

Aqua Method

You’ll need a knife, large bowl of water and a colander.

  1. Slice the crown off the top.
  2. Score the skin making 4 cuts from top to bottom.
  3. Open the Pomegranate over the bowl of water.
  4. Pull the arils from membranes under water to keep the splatter to a minimum.
  5. The arils sink and the membranes float – strain and you’re done.

Deseeder Tap Method

One of my favorite kitchen gadgets is the “60 Second Pomegranate Deseeder” I came across this product a several years ago. This old archive video shows me testing it. I still use this thing… because it works!

  1. Halve the fruit.
  2. Put it face down on the deseeder grate and tap (or slap) out the arils with a heavy utensil onto a plate. Voila.
  3. Tap Deseeding Method

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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