Eat This Now for the Week of 10/25/10

Best if Used By 11/01/10

Eat This Now for the week of October 25th, 2010 features: Pomegranates, Green Squash, Bosc Pears, Honeycrisp Apples, and Organic Romaine Hearts.

BONUS – What’s best next year!

1. Pomegranates

You can do your own research on the theology of Pomegranates vs. Apples in the Garden of Eden, on the cure-all-prevent-all (or not so much) health properties of Pomegranates, on whether some varieties of Pomegranates are healthier than others, and on the other benefit claims associated with Pomegranates. There is no denying that fresh Pomegranates are a healthy fruit. But here you won’t read about any of those things – just stuff about the fruit itself.

It’s fresh Pomegranate season in California and the best varieties, like the Wonderful, are hitting stores across the country right now – both Organic and Conventional. The prize inside a Pomegranate is the juicy, sweet, bold arils (seeds encapsulated with sacs of juice). These arils are fantastic by themselves as a flavorful snack, to top a salad, in yogurt parfaits, with desserts or cocktails, and of course for juicing. The taste is somewhere between concord grape juice and cranberry juice on the sugar to acid scale, but deliciously unique.

Select fresh Pomegranates that are heavy, a sign of juice content. Store in the fridge for best shelf-life, but they’ll last for a couple weeks on the counter too as an interesting centerpiece. But how do you get at those arils?

1. Murder method: Hack it open, pry the membranes apart and splatter the staining juice all over yourself and your kitchen. Fun for Halloween, but there are better ways.

2. Aqua method: Quarter the fruit, pull arils from membranes over or under water to keep the splatter to a minimum. The arils sink and the membranes float – strain and you’re done. Check out more here…

3. Deseeder Tap method: I came across this “60 Second Deseeder” at a produce industry convention last week. Halve the fruit, put it face down on the deseeder grate and tap out the arils with a heavy utensil. I tested it out this weekend and it worked well! It’s a new product, so I’m not sure where they’re sold yet.

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2. Green Squash

Zucchini ‘a plenty! With new fields being harvested in Florida, Georgia and Mexico, and without any recent bad weather to slow down production, Organic and Conventional Green Squash is both plentiful and high quality this week.

Select Zucchinis that are firm and do not have pitting (sunken areas). Some varieties have solid dark green skin while others have lighter green speckled skin, but both taste essentially the same.

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3. Bosc Pears

Tall, rustic looks, take a while to soften up, but surprisingly sweet under weathered skin – no I’m not talkin’ about Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino – I’m talkin’ about Bosc Pears! Now in season Organically and Conventionally-grown from the Pacific Northwest, Bosc Pears are nectar-sweet with flesh that stays crunchier and firmer longer into the ripening process than other Pears. Don’t let the russeted brown skin intimidate you – it doesn’t need to be peeled. Just bite in and enjoy the sweet crunch!

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4. Honeycrisp Apples

RED ALERT! Local orchards have exhausted their stores of Honeycrisp Apples. Regional grower/shippers in the Mid-West and Northeast are down to final shipments, if they’re not already sold out. Washington and British Columbia growers have about 2 weeks or so of supplies left on Organic and Conventional fruit to feed our nation’s voracious appetite for Honeycrisps. As these last perfectly crisp, explosively juicy and tangy-sweet Apples get sucked through the supply chain – don’t get caught flat-footed. Buy some now to delight your tastebuds, because by Thanksgiving it’ll be “Adios! See you next fall!”

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Organic Pick of the Week:

5. Romaine Hearts

A crisp organic Caesar Salad sounds good, doesn’t it? Or maybe a salad with apples, onions and cider vinaigrette? How ’bout a gluten free salad topped with Pomegranate arils? All of these are great ideas this week for utilizing fresh and affordable Organic Romaine Hearts! Grilled Romaine Hearts, anyone?

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BONUS: What’s best next year!

Each week I write about what fresh produce is good, in season, a value and/or tasty right now. Last weekend I attended the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit convention in Orlando, FL where I had the opportunity to get a leg up on what new things are likely to be really good next year. Here are a few to watch for in coming months and years:

Red Celery: Duda Farm Fresh Foods unveiled a new variety of Celery with deep red color streaked through the ribs that is not only interesting to the eye but higher in antioxidants than regular Celery while tasting the same. Look for red “Celery Sensations” in select markets this winter and across the country sometime next year.

SweeTango Apples: This newer premium Apple is a cross between the Honeycrisp and Zestar varieties. SweeTango are being grown in a handful of orchards in NY, MI, MN and WA where production is ramping up to meet the demand for this firm, sweet up-and-coming Apple. I thought it was sweet and slightly spicy, but the texture was not quite as pop-rock punchy as Honeycrisp. Next year you’ll see SweeTango at more and more supermarkets. Try it when you see it.

MAG-nificent Cantaloupes: Del Monte Fresh Produce has been working on a variety of Cantaloupe for their winter production in Central America, called the MAG-nificent, that they hope will be consistently sweet, smoothly textured, vibrantly orange, thinly rinded and full of usable flesh. The MAG’s I’ve tasted so far are better than the yellow-flesh, hard, often cucumber-flavored winter Cantaloupes typically available. Del Monte is increasing acreage of MAG’s this coming winter, so keep an eye out for them in the early part of next year.

Have a question about fresh fruits or vegetables? Email the Produce Geek

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Forward this to a friend if you think they’ll like it – Here’s to fresh!

The Produce Geek,

Jonathan K. Steffy