Eat This Now | November 19th, 2014

CarrotsFingerling PotatoesGrapefruitGold PineappleChestnutsKitchen Tip of the Week

Best if used by 12/03/14

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Carrots

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Carrots. BORING! Right?

Well, maybe not. Fresh Carrots are so versatile in cooking, roasting, baking, soups, salads, pickling and snacking, that it can be easy to take them for granted. Many people have only ever tried raw carrots, over-boiled carrots or carrots killed in the microwave. But with the right recipe preparations you can really impress your friends and family this holiday season… and do it on the cheap too!

Fresh, in season Organic and Conventional Whole and Baby Cut & Peeled Carrots from California are in peak season. Bagged Whole Carrots from this Fall’s Canadian crop remain a tremendous value. For more flavor and visual excitement, consider Rainbow Carrots, heirloom varieties of yellow, purple, pink and orange. Rainbow Carrots are becoming more and more popular, especially organically grown ones from California.

Recipe and Use Ideas

Fresh, in season Organic and Conventional Whole and Baby Cut & Peeled Carrots from California are in peak season.

Fingerling Potatoes

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Fingerling Potatoes are small, gourmet varieties with tender skins, elongated shapes and flesh that has a waxy texture. 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 takes only 30 to 45 minutes at 425 degrees, while boiling takes only about 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the Fingerlings. 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.

Organic and Conventional Fingerling Potatoes are now in season from prime-organic-soiled growing regions in Colorado, Washington and Oregon. Red French Finger and Ruby Crescent, Yellow Russian Banana and Purple Peruvian are some of the more common varieties, and many stores stock a variety pack that allows you to enjoy many types at once. Try some now through January while they’re at their best!

Recipe: Easy Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

  1. Delicious, flavorful potatoes ready without much prep! How cool!
  2. Pre-heat oven to 425F
  3. Rinse 1.5lb Fingerling Potatoes in water and pat dry.
  4. Slice larger Fingerlings in half length-wise to even cooking time
  5. Toss Fingerlings in 2tbs Olive Oil, then season with ½tsp each: Coarse Salt & Black Pepper (or your favorite roasting seasoning)
  6. Spread Potatoes out evenly on a baking tray and roast at 425F for 25-30 minutes or until the Fingerlings are easily pierced with a fork

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

 

Grapefruit

Peak Season    Value Priced

Fresh Red and Pink-flesh Grapefruit from Florida and Texas are now at the beginning of their prime growing season. The Grapefruits I’ve eaten this week have been very juicy with nice flavor. Sweetness is pretty good too and will improve throughout the Winter. Florida fruit tends to have the thinnest skin and Texas fruit tends to have the biggest flavor. I enjoy them both! Grapefruit makes for a refreshing snack, is fantastic for juicing and can be used in salads, cooking and desserts.

Grapefruit Tips

  • Exterior color is not a sure-fire indicator of internal color and skin scars do not impact the flavor.
  • Size has no impact on flavor.  Small Grapefruit are just as delicious as big Grapefruit.
  • Select Grapefruit that is heavy for its size and avoid fruit that has soft spots.
  • Fresh Grapefruit should keep for about a month in the fridge or a week or so on the counter at room temperature. But it will become dehydrated over time, so buy what you hope to eat after each trip to the store.
  • The sweetest Grapefruit is yet to come. Flavor will continue to improve through the season until it reaches its pinnacle of flavor in January through March from Florida and Texas citrus groves.

Grapefruit is season is here from citrus groves in Florida and Texas and the flavor will continue to get even better throughout the Winter months.

Gold Pineapples

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Gold Pineapples from Costa Rica are plentiful this Fall. From what I’ve heard reported from growers, there will be extra volume being sent to the US during late November and early December to help move this harvest flush. Expect to find some advertised and in-store specials at stores. Take advantage! These super-sweet varieties are delicious. And Pineapple is not just for snacking, here are some beautiful, healthy Pineapple recipes to inspire your cooking.

Pineapple Tips

  • Select Pineapples that feel firm, appear vibrant, have a sweet aroma and have fresh looking tops.
  • Eat your Pineapple right away. Golden Pineapples won’t get sweeter once they’re picked, just older, so don’t let it sit there on the counter as until it turns soft and brown.
  • Need a refresher on how to cut them? This video will help.

Green to Gold? Not really. More like Green to Old!

Gold Pineapples have gold flesh, but can sometimes have a green color to the shell. Pineapples don’t get any sweeter after being picked, just older – so, go ahead and cut your Pineapple as soon as you buy it.

Chestnuts

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Strong flavors evoke strong memories. When I eat Chestnuts it reminds me of when I was a kid picking up the urchin-like, prickly husks from underneath my Grandpa’s Chestnut tree behind their big barn. I’d separate the dark brown smooth-shell nuts from their lawn-mower-destroying outer layer. I think Grandpa paid me a few Quarters per bucket (that or with an ice cream cone). Then my mind drifts to sitting at the “kids table” on Thanksgiving Day for a wonderful family feast and eating a few bites of my Grandma’s Chestnut Bread Filling. Good memories.

Create some memories this holiday season by serving dishes or dessert that feature Chestnuts. Their rich, earthy and mildly sweet taste combined with their waxy texture is a truly seasonal eating experience. Premium, fresh crop Chestnuts from California, Italy and South Korea are in season now through Christmas and are likely to be at their best quality, though not exactly cheap. But don’t let the price-point scare you for it only takes a few Chestnuts to contribute some robust flavor to your fall dishes. Add Roasted Chestnuts to your Turkey Stuffing, Bread Filling, Green Bean dishes, Brussels Sprouts, an old world dessert or serve them on their own.

Recipe Ideas

Premium, fresh crop Chestnuts from California, Italy and South Korea are in season now through Christmas and are likely to be at their best quality, though not exactly cheap.

Kitchen Tip of the Week

How to Roast Chestnuts

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Score the flat side of the Chestnuts with a knife in an X pattern (this will prevent the Chestnuts from exploding as they steam themselves)
  3. Roast the Chestnuts on a baking tray for 30-40 minutes, until the scores opens
  4. Place the cooked Chestnuts in a wet dish towel for 4-6 minutes to make them easier to peel
  5. Peel the outer shell off and the inner skin.  Now your Chestnuts are ready for use in recipes.
  6. Bonus Tip: Does all of roasting and peeling sound like more than you’re ready to tackle? Look for cryovac packs of Steamed Chestnuts in the produce department which taste better than the canned ones and are recipe ready.

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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