Best if Used By 06/20/11
Eat This Now for the week of June 13th, 2011 features:
Sweet Red Peppers, Bananas, Green Squash, Mini Cucumbers, and Organic Lettuce.
($) = Value Bargain
(P) = Peak of the Season
(F) = Flavor for Foodies
1. Sweet Red Peppers: (F) (P) ($)
Need something to grill with Dad’s steak this Father’s Day weekend? How about grilling Sweet Red Peppers? Flames can be used to roast Peppers whole, or you can grill Pepper strips that were tossed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Hey, what about this “My Plate” concept: Make Half Your GRILL, Fruits and Vegetables!
The best thing about Sweet Red Peppers is that they are… sweet! The Pepper flavor is mild, but tangy enough to keep you interested. Grilling brings out the richness of the sugars… m-m-mmm. No grill? No problem! Sweet Red Peppers are great for snacking, sauteed and on salads!
Sweet Red Peppers are hitting the peak of their season this month. The long “La Rouge” varieties grown in the open fields of Southern California and the perfectly bell shaped “Dutch” varieties grown in the greenhouses of Canada are both in excellent supply. Prices are reasonable too – enjoy!
The laws of supply and demand rein supreme in the world of fresh produce! Right now the supply of Bananas coming from Central America and South America is beginning to exceed consumer demand. This is forcing growers and importers to make some deals here and there to keep the fruit moving, which translates to ad pricing or in-store specials at supermarkets interested in spurring on demand on an already affordable fruit.
Keep your eyes “peeled” for promotions this month and into July. But please do not think that $.33 to $.49 per pound is a sustainable everyday price for Bananas at US supermarkets. Someone in the supply chain, and usually its the growers and harvesters, does not get a fair profit at those prices.
Local Summer Squash is beginning to hit supermarket shelves here on the East Coast! VA, MD, DE, NJ and PA are into their summer harvests of Green Squash, also referred to as Zucchini. This is another great item to grill! Just be careful not add to much oil for cooking, since Green Squash soaks it up so easily. Select Green Squash that is firm – a sign of freshness – and without mold or decay spots. Scars and scratches on the skin will not impact flavor. Avoid jumbo, baseball bat Zucchini’s as they are too thick for most recipe uses.
Cool as a cute little Snacking Cucumber – cause that’s exactly what they are! Seedless Mini Cucumbers, sometimes called Persian Pickles, are becoming more popular with fresh veggie lovers and more prevalent in supermarket produce departments. Why? Grown in greenhouses, the skins are thin and less bitter than field Cucumbers, they’re seedless, plus these Mini Cucumbers are a juicy, crunchy, healthy and fun snack!
Certified Organic Red Leaf, Green Leaf and Romaine Lettuces are a fantastic choice for the next couple of weeks! Regional organic growers in NJ, PA and MA on the East Coast, plus organic farmers from California are picking lots of fresh Lettuce this month. Expect some of the best prices of the year. Time for a homemade salad!
Here’s to fresh!
The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy
Best if Used By 05/10/10
I dare you. There may be a few of you out there that are already fresh Artichoke at-home cooking experts, but my hunch is that the rest of you have tried Artichokes at a restaurant, loved ‘em, saw them at the store – all prickly and intimidating – and you chickened out, telling yourself that it must be really challenging to prepare them. Well, I dare you to buy some and prepare them yourself in the next several weeks as they hit peak of the season harvest in central California. That means, great quality and great pricing on Artichokes big and small. Boil, steam, bake, grill, saute, microwave – just go for it!
I knew I wanted to write about Artichokes this week after seeing all the high quality arrivals coming into the produce wholesaler I work for, including jumbo, medium, baby, and even Red Artichokes. Then on Saturday I stopped in at a store that just happened to be doing a live demonstration and sampling with small Artichokes and had them on sale at a hot price. So I bought four on the spot, determined to try a new recipe out on the grill Sunday night. What fun!
Put the web to work for you. Here’s a sample of one of the many Artichoke preparation, cooking, eating and recipe videos that are out the to help coach you along the path of deliciousness:
2. Hass Avocados
Cinco de Mayo is May 5th, in fact, it’s May 5th every year. Duh! Supermarkets like to get behind “eating events” and this holiday is a chance to promote Mexican foods… or better stated, Mexican foods that Americans and Canadians enjoy. And boy do we love Guacamole! You’ll be hard-pressed to find a store that doesn’t have Hass Avocados from California or Mexico on sale this week. Take advantage, but don’t get locked into a salty-fried-tortilla-chip-rut; Avocados can compliment lots more than that: www.avocadocentral.com .
3. Organic Strawberries
Taste over size. That’s the scoop right now on Organic Strawberries from California. They’re running a bit smaller than Conventional Strawberries, but the flavor has been phenomenal – intensely rich and nicely sweet. Are they worth the extra money? That’s for your taste-buds and wallet to decide.
4. Gala Apples
The freshest Organic and Conventional Gala Apples are coming from Argentina and Chile right now. (Find the Country of Origin on that little sticker on the apple or on the bag they’re in.) With Gala Apples from these areas, and New Zealand in coming weeks, you’ll be less likely to get a mushy piece of fruit.
5. Mini Seedless Cucumbers
Crunchy, juicy, portable, ready-to-eat, low-calorie – what else could you ask for in a healthy, refreshing snack? Organic and Conventional Mini Cukes are coming into peak greenhouse production, and more supermarkets are offering these babies in bags, containers or on trays. Thin, tender skin means no peeling is needed. Crunchy, seedless flesh means no burps or bitterness. Mini Seedless Cucumbers (aliases: Mini Cukes, Persian Pickles, Cucumber Bites) are an awesome fresh product that you’ve really got to find and try!
The Produce Geek,
Jonathan K. Steffy