Eat This Now for the Week of 08/27/13

Best if Used By 09/03/13

Eat This Now for the week of August 27th, 2013 features
Ginger Gold Apples, Starkrimson Pears, Watermelon,
Red Potatoes, Sweet Corn


Ginger Gold Apples

PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED

Ah, the end of August and beginning of September: where late summer and early fall fruits overlap.

An early variety, Ginger Gold Apples feature a tart-sweet flavor and are in season through October.

So, are you hanging onto Peach Cobbler or are you craving some Apple Crisp? Me? I’m for both, because regional Peaches are still fantastic! Part of what presses the issue towards Apples in my case is the tree in my yard that is loaded with ripe Ginger Gold Apples. With all those Apples and not enough refrigerator space, trying out various Apple Crisp recipes is really a blast and almost a necessity.

Ginger Gold Apples are one of the first new crop Apples available. Under their greenish-yellow skin that is occasionally blushed with a spot of rouge is a crisp, fine-textured flesh that doesn’t brown easily after slicing. The old-fashioned flavor is nicely tart and pleasingly sweet with a hint of fall spice – ideal for baking and sauces. No, Ginger Golds definitely not the ultimate eating Apple, still their versatility, timeliness and affordability make them an excellent way to kick off “Apple Season.” Virginia and Pennsylvania are already into peak harvests and other Northeast, Midwest and California and Pacific Northwest orchards are shipping Ginger Golds too.

My Ginger Gold Apples aren’t as pretty as what you’ll find at the store, but they’re still excellent for baking and sauces.

NOTE:  Ginger Gold Apples are crisp when freshly picked, but too long at room temperature will quickly make them mealy inside. Select Apples that feel firm and are free from wrinkled skin. Keep them refrigerated.

Recipes we’re using for our Ginger Gold Apples:


Starkrimson (Red) Pears

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

So colorful, so sweet – Red Pears are easy on the eyes and easy on the taste buds. The fresh crop season of Conventional and Organic Red Pears from California, Oregon and Washington has begun. That means now through November is the best time to behold and enjoy Organic Red Pears. They’re great for snacking and for dessert or salads. The main late summer and early fall variety is the Starkrimson. Organic Starkrimson Pears feature vivid, red skin and creamy, sweet flesh and floral aroma.

Starkrimson Pears have fully red skin that brightens as it ripens at room temperature. The white flesh becomes creamy and juicy-sweet and is said to have a floral aroma.

Want to ripen your Starkrimson Red Pear to a smooth, juicy-sweet texture? Place it on your counter at room temperature to allow it to soften. Plus, Starkrimsons, like Bartletts, are one of the few pear varieties to change color as they ripen. The skin turns a brighter shade of red and the skin becomes more tender and thin. Not ready to eat your ripened pear? Put it in the fridge; it’ll stay in its ripened state for up to a week.

Sweet baby lettuce greens with green pepper and Starkrimson Pears tossed in a vinaigrette.

Watermelon

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

The kids are going back to school. Fresh crop Apples and Pears are back in season. Football is taking over the weekends. And there’s probably a list of things you wish you had gotten to this summer. Well, Labor Day is the perfect holiday to get in some of those last vestiges of picnicking fun. Whether you’re headed to the park, the beach or hosting a picnic or cookout. Bring some Watermelon and savor the summer flavor. Juicy and sweet Seedless Watermelons from local growers continue to be in steady supply and are likely to be on sale here at the end of August and beginning of September.

For picnic-friendly snacking, try Watermelon Sticks (aka Watermelon Fries)! Cut the center of the melon into a block and then make 1″x1″ thick slices. Finger food!

There’s no magic to selecting a Watermelon, but thump away if you like. It’s up to the farmers and harvesters to pick them at the right time and for stores/distributors to inspect them well.

LOOK FOR:

  • Firm-shelled melons. The rind should be hard when you squeeze it.
  • Mostly symmetrical melons that feel heavy (watermelons are 92% water)
  • A creamy yellow spot underneath show it ripened in the sun (that’s the spot where it sat on the ground)

AVOID:

  • Spongy melons that give to thumb pressure
  • Flat, darkly discolored spots – a sign of bruising caused the flesh to be translucent inside near that area.
  • Melons with washed-out color on the whole shell – an indicator of poor vine health

VIDEO: Selecting Watermelon – is there a secret method?

Red Potatoes

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

Red Potatoes are ideal for roasting, boiling for salads and grilling because of their high moisture content. For frying? Not so much. Since their tender and colorful skin is left on in recipe preparations, Red Potatoes are known for adding vibrant color to dishes.

Clean, good quality Red Potatoes grown in California, Washington and the Upper Mid-West states are in season right now. Prices are coming down as the more of the crop comes to market. Expect to find some sales and in-store specials. Organic Red Potatoes, though more expensive, are in peak season too. Select Red Potatoes that are firm and free odor or cuts. Store Potatoes in a cool, dry place that is dark (to prevent greening or sprouting) like the bottom of your pantry.

Easy Grilled Red Potatoes

RECIPE: Easy Grilled Red Potatoes

  • Pre-heat grill to HIGH during prep
  • 2-3 lb of A size (large) or B size (medium) Red Potatoes washed and cut into 3/4″ slabs
  • Place the Red Potato slabs in a mixing bowl
  • Pour 1-2 Tblsp Olive Oil over Potatoes
  • Season liberally with Course Salt, Cracked Black Pepper and Garlic Powder
  • Toss in mixing bowl to coat
  • Grill Potato slabs over medium-high heat, 10 minutes each side or until soft to a knife pierce

Here are some other recipes featuring Red Potatoes to consider:

Sweet Corn

PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED | BEST FLAVOR

Labor Day weekend is summer’s last “event.” How ‘bout one more round of Sweet Corn for you and your family and friends. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, the Northeast and in Eastern Canada the White and Bi-Color varieties are still going strong (and tasting great), especially from Lancaster County, PA. And at the supermarket, it’ll probably be on sale this week. Enjoy! If you want to get fancy with your corn, here are some tasty looking Sweet Corn recipes to try.

Labor Day = One last holiday-hurrah for fresh, local Sweet Corn. Though, it’ll remain in season through September.

P.S. Small, local growers in places like Lancaster County, PA want you to keep serving Sweet Corn to your families even after Labor Day. Why? They’ll have several plantings of Sweet Corn that are slated to be harvested throughout September.

SWEET CORN TIPS:

SELECTING: Choose Sweet Corn that feels full up and down the cob and has green husks.

STORAGE: Sweet Corn will last in your fridge for about a week when stored in a plastic bag, but will dehydrate and lose flavor every day it sits – so try to use it right away.

BOIL: Over-cooking Sweet Corn can lead to toughness and less flavor. 3-5 minutes in boiling water is really all it takes for perfect Sweet Corn on the Cob.

MICROWAVE: Microwave on high in the husk for 4-6 minutes. If fresh corn is already husked, wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave on high for about 5 minutes.

GRILL: Pre-heat Grill to high. Remove loose outer leaves of Sweet Corn. Rinse the husks with water to add some moisture. Grill for 8-11 minutes, flipping 1-2 times. Remove from heat and husk it just before serving. This method adds a smoky flavor to your corn and makes removing the silk a breeze!

RECIPES: If you want to get fancy with your corn, here are some tasty looking Sweet Corn recipes to try.

One of the very best things I ate this summer was Spicy Mexican-style Street Corn on the Cob. It was made by Zem, an entrepreneur who sells fresh produce to hundreds of produce-cart vendors in New York City and runs some food-carts in NYC on the side. Zem roasts fresh sweet corn in the husk, then husks an ear, serving it in foil topped with butter, lime juice, paprika, salt, chili powder and Cojita Cheese crumbles (like a Mexican version of Parmesan or Feta). The combination was sweet, spicy and tangy all at once. I had never tasted anything quite like this. Needless to say, I was floored.

Below was my first attempt to recreate some of those flavors. I could not find Cojita Cheese where I shop so I substituted plain Feta. Pardon the imprecise ingredient measurements.

RECIPE: Mexican-style Street Corn Salad with Tomatoes

  • 8-10 ears of Sweet Corn, cooked then cut from husk (about 2lb net) into a glass bowl
  • Trimmed Corn should be hot, melt 6 tbsp Butter into it (microwave if needed)
  • Squeeze the juice of 1 Lime onto the Corn
  • 2 Vine Ripe or Heirloom Tomatoes, cored, peeled, diced – add to bowl
  • Season with (approximates):
  • ½ tsp coarse Salt
  • ¼ tsp Paprika
  • ½ tsp Chili Powder (or to taste)
  • ¼ tsp Garlic Powder
  • ¼ tsp Cumin
  • Stir thoroughly
  • Top with ¼ Cup crumbled plain Feta Cheese (or Parmesan, or ideally Cojita Cheese) – re-stir
  • Serve Warm

Mexican-style Street Corn Salad with Tomatoes: sweet, spicy, tangy.

Buy Smart. Shop Healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy