Best if Used By 09/10/13
Eat This Now for the week of September 3rd, 2013 features
Gala Apples, Romaine Hearts, Bartlett Pears, Kiwi, White Potatoes
PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED
Need a 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? The ever-popular Gala Apple is an accessible variety that the whole family will love. Good ones are crisp yet not overly hard to bite, juicy, sweet and pleasantly mild-tasting. Great news! The August-September 2013 harvest is underway for fresh crop Organic and Conventional Gala Apples from California, Oregon and especially Washington. Plus, local harvests of conventionally grown Gala Apples are underway in Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York – the Mid-West too. Expect good quality, flavor and reasonable prices on this fresh crop fruit.
Gala Apple DO’s & DON’T’s:
DO Squeeze the apple with your hand – it should feel hard.
DON’T Select Galas with visible bruises – a sign of damage during handling.
DO Choose Gala’s that have a vibrant color – bright red to deep pink blush-streaks over golden yellow.
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.
INSIDER TIP: The supply chain in the U.S. still has some old crop Gala Apples in the pipeline from countries in the Southern Hemisphere like Chile and New Zealand. These Gala’s, if they meet the Do & Don’t criteria above, will still taste fine and might be on sale, but will likely have a shorter shelf-life and run the risk of the occasional “mushy apple.” Check the bag label or PLU sticker on the fruit to find it’s Country of Origin. USA = fresh crop. Other origins = select carefully and consume quickly.
VALUE PRICED | PEAK SEASON
Romaine Hearts are excellent for making crunchy salads or blending in with more tender bitter baby greens to add texture. The convenient 3 count package makes them easy to handle and store whatever you don’t use right away. You can even grill them an exciting mix of flavors and textures! Here’s the good news for early September: growers of Romaine Hearts in California and Quebec are in a period of bountiful harvests, allowing for in store discounts and ad promotions. Take advantage and make some salad this week!
Recipe: Greek Salad with Cucumber & Green Bell Pepper
- 1 and ½ Romaine Hearts, washed
- Chop Lettuce across the rib into ¾” thick ribbons
- ½ Green Bell Pepper, sliced into ribbons
- 1 Cucumber (peeled and seeds removed) or ½ Seedless Cucumber cut length-wise then into ¼” slices
- ½ Red Onion, sliced
- 1 Vine Ripe Tomato, wedged
- Toss vegetables with 4 tbsp Greek Vinaigrette in a large mixing bowl
- Top salad with crumbled Feta Cheese and Hot Banana Pepper Rings
- Black Olives optional
- Nice portions for 4 people. Serve immediately.
PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED
Fresh crop Organic and Conventional Bartlett Pears are back in season! – the ones with the classic light bulb shape. Bartlett Pears are the variety that shows you how ripe it is by the color of its skin. Bartlett Pears have lots of familiar Pear flavor and taste sweeter as they ripen at room temperature. They’re fantastic for fresh snacking, to eat with cheese, in salads and of course, in desserts. Bartlett Pears are preferred by many for home canning too.
Summer harvests of delicious Bartlett Pears are just about finished at orchards in California. But some of the best Bartletts around are still being picked and packed at northern Oregon and central Washington’s orchards right now, making the September and October the peak time to enjoy this classic seasonal fruit. Locally grown Bartletts may be available at farm markets and stores that support local growers this month too.
Three Shades of Bartlett: (ripen at room temperature)
Green: Hard and crunchy texture with a tart-sweet taste. This is the ripeness for stage for someone who is without a napkin, is hungry enough or impatient enough to eat a Pear that will taste much better in a day or two.
Yellow-Green: Nicely sweet, classic pear flavor and succulent flesh. This is for typical lunch room eating.
Full Yellow: The chin-dripper! Outrageously juicy, richly-ripe and sticky sweet. This is the lean over the desk waist basket with wet-wipes handy or lean over the kitchen sink and slurp up the sweetness. Yes, Bartletts do not stay at the full yellow stage for long before going bad AND the tender skin will likely show scars and bruises from handling. Be gentle.
Not ready to use them? Store green Bartletts in the fridge to slow the ripening process. Have some over-ripe Bartletts that you won’t be able to snack on before they go bad? Juice them! Bartlett Pears add intense sweetness and a pear-spiced flavor to vegetable juice blends. Explore some Bartlett Pear recipes here.
PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR
Fun for your taste buds. Serious nutrition for your body. Kiwi Fruit has it all! Two Kiwi have more potassium than a banana, more than twice the daily RDA of Vitamin C and more fiber than a bowl of bran flakes – all that for about 100 calories. Whoa! Oh, and they’ve got antioxidant Vitamin E, Lutein, Folate, Magnesium and more. Did I mention that they taste delicious? Kiwi are juicy, sweet and tangy…in fact, my mouth waters from the back of my jaw as I recall that last flavorful bite. Snacking, salads, smoothies – here is a collection of Kiwifruit Recipes. Fresh Kiwi are in season from Chile this time of year, as well as Organic and Conventionally grown ones from New Zealand – the country that gave this ancient Chinese fruit it’s common name.
How do you know when a Kiwi is ripe? A Kiwi is ready to eat when it gives to thumb pressure. The soft the fruit, the sweeter and less tangy they’ll taste. Store hard Kiwi at room temperature until they’re ripe, or place them in a paper bag to speed up the process by trapping the natural ethylene emitted by the fruit. Ripe Kiwi can be held at that stage for about week in the fridge if you’re not ready to eat them.
How do you eat a Kiwi? Here are three ways I enjoy them:
SLOOP: To eat a ripe Kiwi simply slice it in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
FILLET: Trim the ends, lay the Kiwi on it’s side and peel the skin away with a sharp knife – rolling it along the cutting board over the knife. Then slice it into discs.
SKIN ‘N ALL: The last way to eat a Kiwi is for the adventurous: rinse the fruit and eat it whole – skin and all! The skin is a little fuzzy, but edible.
PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED
Peak season for fresh crop White Potatoes is here in the Mid-Atlantic. Harvests are abundant in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania so look for value priced advertised specials, especially on 5lb or 10lb bag of White Potatoes. Quality is nice, but since they’re packed fresh and have lots of moisture in them, you’ll be wise to store them in your dark, dry pantry and use them within a couple of weeks. Moist-fleshed White Potatoes are excellent boiled, smashed, mashed and fried. Anyone have a good ‘n healthy Potato recipes to share?
If you’re eating what’s in season, you’re likely saving money and enjoying produce at its peak of flavor.
The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy