Peak Season Best Flavor
Attention Apple Lovers: Honeycrisp Apples are back in season! Explosively juicy. Crackingly crisp. Brightly flavorful – an amazing blend of sweet and tart that keeps you interested with every bite. Something to really look forward to each September through November – a seasonal treat. This is what Honeycrisp Apples are all about. Honeycrisp season has started locally here in Pennsylvania and across most apple growing regions, and the fruit is tasting fantastic. Organic Honeycrisp Apples from Washington are available too. Indeed, Honeycrisps are more expensive than other varieties because of high demand and they’re a little tricky to grow, but the delectable eating experience is worth it for those with a passion for texture and flavor. So far this season the Pennsylvania Honeycrisp have been sweet with a noticeable tangy backend flavor, while Washington grown Honeycrisp Apples have had more red color and leaned more to the sweet profile. Both origins have had excellent juicy-crunchy-crisp texture. Sure, you can bake and cook with Honeycrisps, though why would you when they’re so darn good for eating out of hand. There are plenty of other varieties that are perfectly good baking that cost half the price right now – like Ginger Golds and McIntosh.
- Select Apples that feel heavy for their size and are free from wrinkled skin, obvious punctures or large flat bruised areas.
- Honeycrisp don’t need to have all red skin to be delicious, but if they’re completely green they’ll likely be more tart.
- For the best shelf-life and texture, keep Apples in the dry-fruit drawer of your refrigerator until the day you’re ready to eat them.
- Be gentle! Honeycrisp Apples can bruise easily, and bruises cause brown areas of flesh inside. They’re not rocks – they’re a fruit damageable cells. Treat them with care and ask the check-out clerk to do the same.
Peak Season Best Flavor Value Priced
Looking for an affordable, fresh, in-season, portable and sweet fruit that’s good in the lunch box, at the office, for after school snacking, in salads, for juicing and in other culinary uses? Oh, and one grown locally, organically or at least right here in the USA? The ever-popular Gala Apple is an accessible variety that the whole family will love. Good ones are lightly crisp yet easily chewable, have thin tender skins, and taste juicy, sweet and pleasantly mild. Sounds nice, right? Gala Apples are ideal for snacking out of hand, but you can also use them on salads and in many baking recipes. Local fresh crop Gala Apples are now in peak season in the Mid-Atlantic, New England and Mid-West. Organic and conventional Gala Apples from the Pacific Northwest, are also now in season. In Washington, the largest apple producing state, the 2015 Gala crop is heavily slanted towards small fruit so the best deals will likely be on apples fist size and smaller, much of which will be packed into bags. Expect excellent flavor and texture on all of this fresh crop fruit during early fall.
Gala Apple Do’s and Don’ts
- Do Squeeze the apple with your whole hand – it should feel hard.
- Don’t Select Galas with visible bruises or flat soft areas – signs of damage during handling.
- Do Choose Galas that have a vibrant color with bright red to deep pink blush-streaks over golden yellow. Dull appearance, no matter what the color shades are is a sign of age or improper storage.
- Don’t pick ones that have wrinkled skin, a sign of being on the shelf too long and dehydration that causes a mealy textured flesh.
- Do Refrigerate the Apples you buy until the day you’re ready to eat them to protect their crispness. This time of year, Apples can last for a few weeks in the fridge. Be gentle, even fresh crop apples bruise easier than most people expect.
Peak Season Best Flavor
Enjoy the best of both worlds. Asian Pears have the texture of a very juicy apple yet taste like a sweet, ripe pear – earning them the nickname “Apple Pears.” Asian Pears are collection of Pear varieties that originated in Asia hundreds of years ago, but are now grown all over the world. Varieties include the AsuJu, Hosui, Kosui, Ichiban Nashi and Olympic. Their shape is round and, depending on the variety, their skin color is pale yellow, gold, tan or russet brown. Here’s the best part: the cream-colored flesh is crisp and crunchy like an Fuji Apple, at the same time extremely juicy like a ripe Bartlett, nicely sweet and has a familiar Pear flavor. Asian Pears are perfect for eating out of hand as a delightful snack. They’re also ideal for enjoying with sharp cheese, slicing into salads and slaws or simply sharing for dessert since a sliced Asian Pear is naturally slow to oxidize, or brown. Tender-skinned and sweet Yellow Asian Pears and super-juicy russet-skin Brown Asian Pears are now in peak season from local orchards in VA and PA and other varieties will be available through November! Organic and conventional Asian Pears from commercial orchards in California, Oregon and Washington are also in season.
Asian Pear Tips & Fun Facts
- Asian Pears may thicker skin than other pear varieties, but their juicy flesh bruises easily. Handle with care!
- Select Asian Pears that feel heavy for their size, have no wrinkled skin, punctures or large bruises.
- Asian Pears do store well and fresh ones will keep for a few weeks in the fridge and over a week at room temperature.
- They’re excellent for cheese trays or fruit trays since the sliced flesh is slow to oxidize or brown.
Peak Season Best Flavor
These little guys are super sweet! The fresh crop of Seckel Pears is in season from local orchards and from the pear growing regions of the Pacific Northwest. What’s a Seckel Pear? This mini green to maroon-blushed-skinned pear variety is believed to be a chance seedling that was discovered near Philadelphia in the 1800s. Sometimes called “Sugar Pears,” Seckel Pears are tiny pears that are have a crisp, sugary flesh that ripens to creamy with a tiny core. They’re fun to for dessert recipes and as a little fresh snack on the go or in the lunchbox.
5 Cool Things to Do with Seckel Pears
- Pocket Pear – these little pears are perfect for on-the-go healthy snacking
- Kid Pears – elementary age kids can’t handle a whole Anjou or Bosc – try one of these in their lunch box
- Mini Desserts – poach or roast for a delectable dessert
- Pickling – don’t knock it till you try it!
- Chocolate Dipped – nuf’ said. Caramel-dipped would be fun too.
Peak Season Best Flavor Value Priced
In-season Butternut is the most popular hard squash variety and is ideal for soups and roasting. It’s flesh is very moist and has a nutty flavor that falls somewhere between cooked carrots and sweet potato – familiar and accessible. Rich in Vitamins, nutrients and anti-oxidants, it’s healthy too! Butternut Squash needs to be baked, boiled, roasted, micro-waved or steamed. Organic and conventional Butternut Squash is now in peak season harvest from farms in the Mid-Atlantic region so keep an eye out for affordable pricing on locally or regionally grown product this September and October!
- Select Hard Squashes that are solid, free from stem-mold and feels heavy for their size.
- Because they’re so firm, they can be often be kept at room temperature on your counter for a few weeks.
- Save some for later. Chopped hard squash, like Butternut, that is uncooked will last for several days in the fridge packed in a plastic bag or container.
Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower, Carrots and Butternut Squash
- Toss these Vegetables in a bowl with 2 tsp Olive Oil
- ½ head of Cauliflower separated into bite-sized florets
- 3 Carrots peeled and bias-cut into bite-sized pieces
- ½ of a Butternut Squash, cleaned and chopped into large-bite chunks
- Season with Coarse Salt and Cracked Black, or a Seasoned Salt mix (I love Penzy’s Centennial Rub)
- Spread out evenly on large cookie sheet
- Roast at 450 F for 30 min
More Recipe Ideas
Kitchen Tip of the Week
How to cut and peel Butternut Squash
Cutting and Peeling
- Cut the bulb end from the neck.
- Stand the neck end up on its flatly cut base and peel it with a knife or sturdy vegetable peeler.
- Peel the bulbed end, then halve it.
- Scrape out the seeds and pulp with a spoon.
- Chop the flesh into bite sized pieces.
- Now it is ready to boil or steam or roast. Butternut Squash is cooked when the flesh can easily be pierced with a fork.
- Clean just makes sense. Pre-rinse the squash in running water and wipe the skin with a clean rag or paper towel. This keeps your cutting surface clean and your knife (which goes into the flesh) clean.
- Keep your fingers, cut the squash. Use a sharp, sturdy knife for peeling, cutting and chopping hard squash. Dull knives will cause you to press to hard and risk slipping off the vegetable and onto your fingers or hand. And be sure your cutting board does not move by placing a silicon mat or towel underneath it.
- Warm it up to peel it up. By nuking your whole Hard Squash in the microwave for 2-3 minutes the skin will soften a little and become easier to peel with a knife. Try it!