Best if Used By 09/26/11
Eat This Now for the week of September 19th, 2011 features:
Honeycrisp Apples, Hard Squashes, Concord Grapes, White Potatoes, Organic Gala Apples
($) = Value Bargain
(P) = Peak of the Season
(F) = Flavor for Foodies
1. Honeycrisp Apples: (F) (P)
Yessss! They’re back! It’s Honeycrips Apple season! The cracklingly crisp texture. The juiciness that explodes with flavor into your mouth. The sweet taste with a little tanginess underneath that keeps each bite so interesting. Nom-nom… The Honeycrisp is the darling of Apple enthusiasts and becomes more in demand with each new person who tries them and falls in love. And right now, my wife and kids… that’s the only snacking Apple they want, and I’m totally cool with that.
It’s snackin’ time, folks. Eastern Honeycrisp Apples are in peak season already. Mid-Western growers and Washington State Organic and Conventional growers are hitting peak production this week too, so the next 6 to 8 weeks will be the time for fresh Honeycrisps. Strong demand for this treat will keep prices a higher than other varieties, but one taste and you’ll remember (or discover) why it’s worth it!
Ahh, the nights are getting cooler, school is back in session and peak of the season Organic and Conventional Hard Squashes are filling produce department shelves. Oh, the possibilities! Smooth and nutty Butternut, easy to cut Acorn and noodle-fleshed Spaghetti are the three most common Hard Squashes (aka Fall or Winter Squash), but don’t miss out on some other tasty and interesting varieties available this time of year. Delicata taste like Sweet Potatoes. Hubbard varieties make delicious pies. Kabocha is gaining in popularity too for it’s dry texture and sweetness. Learn more here: http://whatscookingamerica.net/squash.htm
INSIDER TIP: Usually, picking out good Hard Squash that will last for weeks on your counter is a sure thing this time of year. But the summer has been particularly wet in many of the Eastern growing regions. Lots of water close to harvest can cause perfect looking Squashes to rot unexpectedly after being picked. Select Hard Squash that are, well, hard – give them a once over to make sure there are no soft spots. And it might not be a bad idea to use them within a couple weeks of purchase.
Those purple Grapes that are used to make classic grape jelly and grape juice are the Concord Grape variety. They have thick skins and chewy centers that have hard seeds in them. Hmmm. But… they taste sooo good – familiar, rich and sweet. The next couple of weeks are peak season for Concord Grapes from places like New York, Michigan and California. So snack away or make your own homemade jelly and juice.
INSIDER TIP: Be on the lookout for Thomcord Grapes. They have all the flavor of Concords without the seeds!
If you see a 5lb or 10lb bag of White Potatoes on sale this month go ahead and pick some up. Quality is great, prices are reasonable and they’ll keep for a couple weeks in your dark, dry pantry. Moist-fleshed White Potatoes are excellent boiled, smashed, mashed and fried. Anyone have a good ‘n healthy Potato recipe to share?
There have been very few Certified Organic Apples available in recent weeks at the end of the import season, and that’s part of what makes the arrival of peak season Organic Gala Apples from Washington so thrilling! These fresh crop Galas are gleaming, but more importantly they taste fantastic – crisp with a floral sweetness. Prices are starting to fall as volumes increase, making the next couple months a great time to go Organic on Galas.
Here’s to fresh!
The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy
Best if Used By 09/27/10
1. Asian Pears
Eats like an apple, tastes like a pear – whaaa? That’s right! Asian Pears are round and have crisp flesh like Apples, but have the mild flavor and smooth sweetness of Pears. Unlike European varieties like Anjou and Bartlett that get soft as they ripen, Pear varieties with Asian heritage, also called Apple Pears (go figure!), are picked ripe and stay crunchy-sweet even when cold-stored for a couple months.
If you’ve never tried one, the next couple months are a fantastic time to enjoy delicious Asian Pears. You can find Organic and Conventional Asian Pears from CA and WA at supermarkets and natural foods stores, plus from a large Asian Pear orchard in the Lehigh Valley of PA. Also look for them at your local orchard. Some Apple Pears have thick brown skin while other varieties have tender yellow skin. Store them in the fridge for a few weeks or at room temperature for a few days, but handle with care since they bruise easily. Asian Pears make a great snack and dress up a salad with ease. Crunch!
2. Red Seedless Grapes
Late varieties of Organic and Conventional Red Seedless Grapes including Majestic, Crimson and Scarlett Royal from California are now hitting stores. These varieties are all richly sweet and typically crunchy when fresh. TIP: Pay for quality – big, crisp grapes on vine stems that are still thick and green are worth it! Before you buy, squeeze a Grape or two to check for firmness, or better yet – ask for a sample.
3. Russet Potatoes
The new crop of Russet Potatoes is out of the ground from most growing areas, including Idaho, and are now hitting stores across the US. Expect good quality and promotional prices on consumer bags.
4. Concord Grapes
Jelly, juice, pies – yep… that Grape. Purple-blue Concord Grapes have skin that slips from the flesh and seeds in the center, but they are packed with juice and distinctive flavor. The short Organic and Conventional Concord season is on in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest. Look for them at upscale supermarkets, specialty stores and farm markets. Enjoy their hearty taste as a snack or take a crack at a recipe!
Organic Pick of the Week:
5. Kiwi Berries:
What the heck is a Kiwi Berry? They are delicious, little flavor bombs! These smooth-skinned, green-fleshed, bite-sized fruits are bigger than Grapes but smaller than Strawberries. Allow Kiwi Berries to ripen at room temperature until they are soft to bring out the amazing sweetness. Look for Organic Kiwi Berries from PA and OR in natural food stores, coops and upscale grocers for the next 4-6 weeks. You’ve gotta try these babies!
The Produce Geek,
Jonathan K. Steffy