Best if Used By 12/10/13
Eat This Now for the week of December 3rd, 2013 features Clementine Mandarins, Satsuma Mandarins, Broccoli Crowns, Cauliflower and Romaine Hearts
PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED | BEST FLAVOR
Usher in the holidays with the familiar aroma and flavor from America’s darling citrus variety: Clementine Mandarins! Peel one in your kitchen and the kids will come runnin’. Peel one at your desk and your co-workers will pop in to “see what you’re doing.” Bring them to a party and a group of “snackers” will gather around creating a pile of rinds over good conversation. Seedless, fairly easy to open, portable and fun! Clementines, when they’re good, are a hit!
There’s nothing quite like peak season. Yes, Clementines are available almost year-round from somewhere in the world these days, and have been prominent in produce departments since early November. But if you like the Clementines available from South Africa and Chile during the summer and early fall, you’ll LOVE the fruit now from Spain, Morocco and California. Bottom line, the Clementines available during December are the best – in flavor, sweetness, juiciness and prices. Just ask my daughter, that 4 year-old is polishing off 2 to 4 Cuties or Halos Clementines every day.
TIPS & STUFF:
Select Clementines that are free from brown, discolored areas (especially around the stem) or have visible wet or mold spots in the package.
Clementines hold up OK at room temperature for a couple days, but will begin to lose their juiciness and shelf-life if store out of refrigeration for too long. I’ve found the California grown Clementines to hold up better in my own kitchen.
Most 5lb gift boxes sold on the East Coast arrive via sea vessels from the sunny orchard slopes of Spain and Morocco.
California grown Clementine Mandarin production has really increased in recent years.
Cuties brand and Halos brand Mandarins are both packed with California Clementines in November, December and into January.
BEST FLAVOR | PEAK SEASON
These are a few of my favorite things: I look forward to tree ripe Peaches in August and tree ripe Satsuma Mandarins in December. As a Mandarin, Satsumas are easy to peel, juicy, fist-size and smaller, seedless and sweet. But here’s the deal: unlike Clementines, Satsuma Mandarins have a more complex flavor profile with more classic Tangerine notes in their deep orange, juicy-sweet flesh. Plus, their dimpled-rough skin is puffier, and therefore even easier to peel than Clementine Mandarins. And if you get them from the right California grower that allows them to fully ripen on the tree – you are in for one of the sweetest, most flavorful pieces of citrus you’ll find all year!
Select Satsuma Mandarins that are free from gooey-soft spots (decay), but if the skin feels loose that is normal for the variety.
Satsumas have high sugars and will go bad quicker than other citrus fruits so keep the fruit refrigerated until the day you intend to eat them.
For a touch of beauty and intrigue, some growers sell “Stem & Leaf” packs of Satsuma Mandarins with parts of the tree still attached.
OK, I’ll admit, you won’t be able to find this fruit just anywhere. Satsuma Mandarins are not widely available at most supermarkets, at least here on the East Coast. Specialty markets, natural foods retailers, organic markets, coops and independent retailers that focus on produce are most likely to stock them.
PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED
Is fresh Broccoli part of your weekly meal planning this month? It should be and here’s why:
Save money this month! Broccoli on Sale? Probably. A peak season harvest flush after Thanksgiving at many organic and conventional farms in California is keeping prices affordable on this vitamin rich vegetable – both the Crown-cut and regular Broccoli bunches with the stem.
It’s versatile: Broccoli is perfect for school lunches, game day veggie trays and in all kinds of cooked or raw recipe preparations for lunch and dinner:
Raw for Slaw – a great way to use up the stalks
Raw for Salads – combine sweet and tangy flavors with broccoli crunch
Roasted for flavor and texture.
Health. Broccoli is loaded with vitamins and nutrients, plus it has fiber that fills you up!
VALUE PRICED | PEAK SEASON
So maybe you pass on the Cauliflower when it’s on a veggie tray because it’s a tad bitter compared to the sweeter baby carrots. Maybe you don’t ever put raw Cauliflower florets on your salad because the flavor is just a little too strong for you. Time to try Roasting your Cauliflower, my friend! Baking Cauliflower quickly in high heat mellows the bitterness and gives it some caramelization for great flavor – m-mmm! Careful… you just might become a Cauliflower lover.
Now is a fantastic time to try out some new Cauliflower recipes! Why? Just like Broccoli there is a flush of Cauliflower in California growing areas this month. For much of December expect nice quality and the potential for advertised or in-store specials to move the extra harvests. Select Cauliflower that looks fresh, but don’t get worried if you see a little brown spot on a few florets – those discolored spots are easy to trim off with a knife when you are cutting up the head.
RECIPE – Roasted Cauliflower & Carrots with Baby Spinach
- ½ head of Cauliflower separated into bite-sized florets
- 1 Yellow or Sweet Onion sliced into 1 inch pieces
- 2 Carrots peeled and bias-cut into bite-sized pieces
- Toss Vegetables in a bowl with 2 tsp Olive Oil
- Season with Coarse Salt and Cracked Black, or a Seasoned Salt mix
- Spread out evenly on large cookie sheet
- Roast at 450 F for 30 min
- Toss Roasted Veggies with 2 cups fresh Baby Spinach to wilt
Romaine Hearts are excellent for making crunchy salads or blending in with more tender bitter baby greens to add texture. Expect some great sales and in-store specials during early December on this crisp veggie which is abundant this early December from the irrigated dessert fields of Arizona and California. Romaine Hearts rows are planted extra close together to help the Lettuce head grow tall and tight. The outer leaves are trimmed off, they’re immediately packaged three to a bag in the field (there is no “romaine heart factory”), rushed to the cooler and shipped around the country. How fresh is that!
Eat in-season. Choose fresh. Enjoy good food.
The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy