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Eat This Now for the Week of 08/12/14

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Eat This Now | August 12th, 2014

Yellow PeachesChili PeppersLocal Sweet OnionsPluotsBlackberries

best if used by 08/19/14

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Yellow Peaches

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

What’s your all-time favorite fruit? When I’m asked that question I immediately think of Yellow Peaches allowed to ripen fully on the tree from small orchards in Lancaster or Berks County, PA during August… the kind that drip juice down your chin when you take a bite, causing you to slurp, and with fuzz that reminds your lips that this is a really fresh, intensely flavored piece of fruit. For me, Local Peaches are like summer picked from a tree. A juicy-sweet Yellow-flesh Peach, ripened to perfection for the ultimate balance of sugars and acid – what a treat! They’re perfect for snacking out of hand and for using in baking, with cereal, shakes, smoothies salsas or salad recipes .

Now (mid-August) through early September marks the heart of summer, the time when the very best of the season local Yellow Peaches varieties are harvested in states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and New York. Other regions in the South, Mid-West, Pacific Northwest and California are also in their peak seasons. Red Haven, July Flame, Zee Fire, Zee Lady, Flavor Crest, Sun Crest… many of these Peaches are “free-stone” or “semi-free-stone” varieties where the flesh releases from the pit, making recipe preparation easier. Seek the best, the freshest, most cared for Peaches and enjoy!

Looking for Certified Organic Peaches? They’re in peak season from Washington this month.

Peach Tips

  • Select Peaches that feel heavy and have no soft spots and no wrinkled skin.
  • The amount of redness on the skin can vary from variety to variety and is not a true indicator of ripeness.
  • Greenish areas on the skin is a sign of immaturity.
  • Yellow-flesh Peaches must ripen to allow the acidity to mellow and the sweetness to shine through creating a balanced sweet and tangy taste.
  • Store Peaches at room temperature to allow them to get to the softness you desire for your eating preference. Then, eat them immediately! Age, plus going in and out of refrigeration can cause the dreaded MUSHY-MEALY PEACH… Oh, no!
  • Impatient? Have some Peaches that are too hard? Place them in a paper bag to speed up ripening.
  • PEACH RECIPES? Check out this tasty-looking collection of Yellow Peach recipes.

Local Yellow Peaches during August – juicier, sweeter, more flavorful.

Recipe: Peach Melba Milkshake

Instructions: Blend the following ingredients in a blender until at the desired consistency.

  1. 4 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
  2. 2 cups Milk
  3. 3 Yellow Peaches, pitted (skins optional)
  4. 1 heaping tsp Raspberry Preserves (or a handful of fresh Raspberries)

 

Chili Peppers

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Heighten your senses. Get a rush. Spike your endorphins levels this month with some natural heat. Chili Peppers are in peak season at local farms so there’s no better time to try spicing things up! Fresh salsa, relishes, sauces, salads, grilled, roasted and stuffed – go for it!

Chili Pepper Rundown!

Here’s a rundown for some of what you may find at the farm market or in your favorite produce department, ranked from most mild to most hot:

  1. Cubanelle: aka Frying Peppers, crooked-cone shaped, lime green, thin-walled and mild – great for stuffing, frying, grilling and roasting
  2. Banana: sweet, yellow-green – make sure they’re sweet banana instead of hot yellow wax
  3. Poblano: sometimes called Pasilla, dark green, wide-flat cone shape, just a little spicy, great for Tex-Mex, roasting, grilling and stuffing like in my favorite Poblano recipe: Chile Rellenos!
  4. Anaheim and Hatch: green, red when mature, mild to medium heat, ideal in Southwest cooking and salsa, awesome for roasting. New Mexico Hatch Chili Peppers are similar – the quintessential roasting chili.
  5. Long Hots: long, slender, crooked, dark green, medium heat but hot when you get to the seeds they pack some slow, sweat inducing burn. When allowed to ripen on the plant longer Long Hots turn red and become sweeter, but still have full hotness.
  6. Hungarian Wax: sometimes called Yellow Wax Peppers, long lime-yellow color, crisp, brightly spicy, ideal for pickling in sliced rings to top salads and sandwiches. Can be roasted or stuffed too,Eastern-European-style. – don’t confuse them with mild Cubanelle or sweet Banana Peppers that look similar.
  7. Jalapeno: small, dark green, immediately spicy; perfect for salsa, pico de gallo and kicking anything up a notch; smoke them and Jalapenos become… Chipotle. “Easy Jalapeno Poppers” recipe via InspiredTaste.net.
  8. Serrano: like Jalapenos except lighter green, thinner and 2-3x Hotter
  9. Scotch Bonnet and Habanero: Holy Cow! you better know what you are doing with these green, red or orange little gnarled-cone shaped mega-hot peppers – Watch out!

HOT to Mild (Left to Right) Orange Habanero, Serrano, Jalapeno, Long Hot, Poblano, Banana Pepper (or wait.. is that one a Hot Hungarian Wax Pepper!)

Chili Pepper Roulette – is this a SWEET Banana Pepper, MILD Cubanelle Frying Pepper or a HOT Hungarian Yellow Wax Pepper? Hot Pepper basics.

Local Sweet Onions

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

If you want a mild Onion to eat raw on sandwiches or salads, or to enjoy just grilled with some flavorful caramelization, then you should try some “PA Simply Sweet” Onions this August and September. Expect fresh Sweet Onions to have less pungency than regular Yellow Cooking Onions. The slightly higher sugar content and crispness make them ideal for both fresh and cooked recipes. “PA Simply Sweet” Onions are grown, you guessed it, in Pennsylvania – by a co-op of small growers, many of whom are Amish farmers in Lancaster County.

NOTE: PA Simply Sweets are a regional crop. There are still a few storage “Vidalia” Sweet Onions left in Georgia from the late spring harvest which you may find on display. Also, if you are from the West Coast, you might see Walla Walla Sweet Onions from Washington.

Tips

    • Select Sweet Onions that are free from soft spots or strong odor.
    • Store Sweet Onions in a cool to room temperature place that is dry (like your pantry). Only refrigerate Onions after they’ve been cut.
    • Since they are a basically fresh Onion the will not hold up as long in your pantry as a regular Yellow Onion, use Sweet Onions within a week or so of purchase for best quality.
    • Here are some recipe ideas to browse featuring Sweet Onions.

Ideal for salads, sandwiches and grilling, PA Simply Sweet Onions (aka Candy Sweet Onions) are in peak season during August.

Pluots (Plumcots)

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Want some juicy and delicious summer fruit? Some of my favorite varieties of Pluots (aka Plumcots) are in season from the sunny orchards California’s San Joaquin Valley here in August. Growers and plant breeders work tirelessly with new cross-pollinations using various Plum and Apricot root stock and branches to create varieties of Pluots that are super sweet, juicy and flavorful. This is not genetic modification – it is good old fashioned plant breeding. Each variety becomes ready at a specific time in the summer season and is available for a few weeks. They come in many flesh and skin colors – from yellow to ruby flesh – from speckled skin to bright red to black. And Pluots/Plumcots have cool names too!

Here is my recommended list of Pluot/Plumcot/Aprium varieties to seek out here in August:

      • Summer Punch – richly sweet with juicy red flesh
      • Tropical Sunrise – golden flesh and sweet, tropical plum flavor
      • Flavor Grenade – yellow flesh with excellent sweetness and acidic flavor
      • Flavor Pop – purple skin over gold flesh that is intensely sugary sweet
      • Red Rose and Purple Rose Apriums – fuzzy skin like an Apricot with sweet, flavorful flesh like a really good Plum

NOTE: Dapple Dandy Pluots are a very common variety. My opinion? Eh, this variety looks cool – like a dinosaur egg – with its mottled skin, but they lack the intense flavor of better varieties.

Pluots/Plumcots = more plum than apricot parentage

Apriums = more apricot than plum parentage

Both = exciting flavors

Blackberries

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Late summer-crop Blackberries are now in-season from California, plus local farms are picking their Blackberries too. These is some of the sweetest and best tasting Blackberries of the year flavor. Harvest this August are large enough to allow for promotions but prices are not as low as some years. The berries are large and plump and juicy-sweet with a little tanginess underneath. Organic Blackberries from California are also available.

Blackberry Tips

      • Select Blackberries that are free from wet, leaking or moldy spots in the pack. Look for berries that are totally black in color (no light red or pink cells on the fruit).
      • Blackberries are delicate and the sweetest ripest soft berries don’t last long. Store them in the fridge and try to use them within a few days of purchase to get the most out of your purchase.
      • Always rinse your Blackberries just before use.
      • Recipes? In addition to snacking, making smoothies and topping your cereal or yogurt. Here are some delicious Blackberry Recipes to explore.
      • Nutrition? Learn more about Blackberry nutritional benefits here.

Recipe: Blackberry Cobbler

My wife’s delicious Blackberry Cobbler is where calorie counting stops and indulgence in a seasonal treat begins.

      1. Pre-heat oven to 350F
      2. Line 8” or 9” baking dish with 4 cups fresh Blackberries
      3. Drizzle juice from ½ a fresh Lemon over the berries
      4. Mix the following in a bowl to make the batter:
        1. ½ cup Sugar
        2. ½ cup Milk
        3. ¼ cup room temp. Butter
        4. 1 cup Flour
        5. 2 tsp Baking Powder
        6. ½ tsp Salt
        7. 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
      5. Spread batter evenly over the Blackberries
      6. Mix 1 cup Sugar with ½ cup Water
      7. Pour sugar-water over the batter
      8. Bake for 1 hour at 350F
      9. Serve warm with Ice Cream

Sweet summer Blackberries!

 
 

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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