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Eat This Now for the Week of 07/16/14

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Eat This Now | July 16th, 2014

Local Sweet CornPluotsGreen BeansDark Sweet CherriesGold Pineapples

best if used by 07/22/14

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Local Sweet Corn

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Summer is for Sweet Corn. Sweet, flavorful, juicy, and yeah, you can eat it with your hands – nice features for a veggie. Corn-on-the-Cob is pretty much required eating at picnics, parties and BBQ’s – and nobody is really complaining about that, right? Oh, some may complain about getting kernel skins stuck in their teeth, but that usually doesn’t stop them from enjoying it. Maybe you can keep toothpicks handy for them. If you want to go beyond picnic food, here are some cool Sweet Corn recipes to try.

Peak season for Local Sweet Corn has arrived in the Mid-Atlantic region and will continue through the summer. Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania growers are now picking their super-sweet varieties daily. In my neck of the woods, Lancaster County, PA grown White and Bi-Color Corn is tasting fantastic – explosively juicy and bursting with sweetness – I can eat it raw!

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 smokey flavor to your corn and makes removing the silk a breeze.

There is no corn as good as fresh summer Sweet Corn grown close to you! Late July marks the launch of peak season for local Sweet Corn in the Mid-Atlantic – the freshest, best-tasting stuff!

One of the very best things I ate last 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 used to run 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 is my attempt to recreate some of those flavors. If you can’t get authentic Cojita Cheese where you shop, try substituting plain Feta.

Recipe: Mexican-style Street Corn Salad with Tomatoes

  1. 10 ears of Sweet Corn (8 if they’re XLG), cooked then Sliced from cob (about 2lb net) into a glass bowl
  2. Melt 6 tbsp Butter into hot trimmed corn (microwave if needed)
  3. Squeeze the juice of 1 Lime onto the Buttered Corn Kernals
  4. Add 2 Vine Ripe or Heirloom Tomatoes, cored, peeled, diced to bowl
  5. Season with (approximates): ½ tsp each Coarse Salt, Chili Powder and ¼ tsp each Paprika, Garlic Powder, Cumin
  6. Fold ingredients together with a spoon or spatula
  7. Top with ¼ Cup Cojita Cheese (or Parmesan, or plain Feta Crumbled Cheese) – re-stir
  8. Serve Warm

 
 

Pluots (Plumcots)

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Wanting more out of your Plums this summer? Do you like Plums but get frustrated with their inconsistency in sweetness and occasional dud flavor? You should upgrade to Pluots (aka Plumcots): Part Plum. Part Apricot. All delicious! (…at least more often than not.) They’re great for snacking, salsas, salads and more!

Mid-summer varieties of Plumcots and Pluots are now in peak season from the sunny orchards California’s San Joaquin Valley during the rest of July and throughout August. Prices have been a little higher than previous seasons, but the flavor and quality has been impressive.

Growers and plant breeders work tirelessly to come up with the best new varieties of Plumcots that are super sweet, juicy and flavorful. 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! You might find Dapple Fire, Dapple Dandy, Golden Treat, Plumogranate, Flavor Jem, Midnight Splendor and Big Daddy. Even if you don’t like regular Plums, you owe it to your taste buds to try some Pluots!

Pluots are like plums with a broader spectrum of exciting flavors and colors. Try some this July or August.

Recipe: Summer Pluot & Corn Salsa

Step 1 – Produce Prep.

  1. 4lb high-flavor variety Tomatoes (like Heirlooms, especially dark-fleshed)
  2. Wash Tomatoes, core stem area, cut into wedges
  3. 3-4 Pluots, washed, pit removed, cut into wedges (Plums can be substituted)
  4. 1 medium Sweet Onion, skin removed, cut into wedges
  5. 3 ears Sweet Corn, cooked, sliced from cob (or 1lb home-frozen Sweet Corn, defrosted)

Step 2

  1. In a blender or food processor-separately pulse prepped Tomatoes, Pluots and Sweet Onion until diced
  2. Place diced ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  3. Add Sweet Corn to bowl
  4. Empty bowl contents into a colander to strain excess juice to 20-30 seconds

Step 3

  1. Return strained ingredients to the large bowl
  2. Sprinkle with Salsa Seasoning until evenly covered (I used about 1oz of Mrs. Wages Salsa Mix. Salt, Pepper, Cheyenne Pepper, Cumin, Garlic Powder could be used)
  3. Stir thoroughly, allow to set for 10 minutes
  4. Refrigerate for up to 36 hours

Enjoy this richly flavored, sweet-spicy blend that is perfect for big, chunky scopes with Tortilla chips. I think you’ll find it hard to stop! It can also be used for topping chicken, mushrooms or fish. In-season Plums or Peaches could be substituted for the Pluots.

Green Beans

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Peak of the summer season is here for fresh Green Beans and harvests have been strong in the growing regions of Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Take advantage of lower prices and abundant supplies from local growers the next several weeks. Select Green Beans that are free from discoloration, wrinkling or a floppy texture. Store fresh beans in a plastic bag or container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

Recipe: Grill-steamed Green Beans

  1. 1lb fresh Green Beans, washed, ends trimmed
  2. Place the Beans on a 14-18″ piece of aluminum foil
  3. Add some coarse salt, cracked pepper and a teaspoon of butter or olive oil
  4. Wrap the Beans up in the foil, but leave a sliver of an opening at the top
  5. Place the foil pack on a grill over high heat for about 10 minutes
  6. The beans will self-steam to an al dente texture and have a subtle smokiness to the flavor. Mmm!

If you’d like a chilled recipe for some of those fresh beans, try this one: Creamy-Cool Green Bean and Tomato Salad.

Farms (and home gardens) throughout the Mid-Atlantic are now into their mid-summer peak harvest of fresh Green Beans, perfect for side dishes and salads.

Dark Sweet Cherries

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Hurry up and slow down. Time to slow down with a bowl full of flavorful, firm-textured Cherries – one juicy-sweet bite after another. But hurry up if you want Cherries from the Pacific Northwest while they are at their very best!

Dark Sweet Cherries are an indulgent summer snack to just savor simply, and now’s the time to do just that! This summer’s peak season crop of Organic and Conventional Dark Sweet Cherries from growing regions in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana will go for another few weeks, but mid-July and early August high-elevation fruit is some of the very best. Keep an eye out for sale prices too!

Then, before you know it summer and Sweet Cherry season will be over.

Cherry Tips

  • Sticker-shock? Even during peak season, even on sale Cherries can surprise you at the register, so buy smart. Remember, small (almost empty-looking) cherry bags weigh about 1.25lb and the average random-weight bag on display weighs about 2.2lb. Bagged Cherries are sold by the pound, so do the math or check a scale to know about what you’re going to pay in total.
  • Selecting: Carefully inspect all sides of the Cherry packages to avoid wetness or splits. If the Cherries are in a bag, give a couple a gentle squeeze – you’ll want them to feel firm.
  • Storage: Keep Cherries cold in the fridge and use them within a few days of purchase for the best texture. Rinse Cherries just before use and put whatever you don’t eat back in the refrigerator.

Beyond Snacking

  • Freezing: Peak season Cherries can be washed, then frozen with the stems still on in plastic bags with the air removed, then thawed in the refrigerator up to three months later for a convenient snack.
  • Canning: Into preserving the season’s best? Check out this great site dedicated to stone fruit canning.
  • Recipes Ideas: From desserts to salads to drinks, find in-season Cherry Recipe inspiration HERE.
  • Health & Nutrition: Learn how Cherries may impact Inflammation, Alzheimer’s Disease, Diabetes and Cancer HERE.

Summer doesn’t last forever and neither will this year’s fantastic Sweet Cherry crop from the Northwest. Slow down with a bowl full of goodness this July.

Gold Pineapples

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Gold Pineapples from Central America are plentiful this July. I’ve been seeing plenty of advertised and in-store specials to promote the fruit. 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.

Sweet Gold Pineapple – what intensity of flavor! But remember, they don’t get any sweeter after being picked, just older – so, go ahead and cut your Pineapple as soon as you buy it.

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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