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Eat This Now for the Week of 09/10/12

Best if Used By 09/17/12

Eat This Now for the week of September 10th, 2012 features
Gala Apples, Russet Potatoes, Zima Tomatoes,
White Mushrooms, and Organic Grapes

Gala Apples

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Just about everyone – kids and adults – likes Gala Apples. And why not! The good ones are crisp, juicy, sweet and mild tasting – a nice snack or good for salads! Peak season for fresh crop Gala Apples is in full swing at regional orchards here on the East Coast and in the Mid-West. Washington is now harvesting premium organic and conventional Gala Apples too. Time to enjoy!

Peak season for a favorite - crisp, sweet and mild Gala Apples!

When selecting your Apple give it a squeeze with your hand – it should feel hard. Avoid fruit with visible bruises. Don’t take home Gala’s that are dull or have wrinkled skin – a sign of being on the shelf too long and dehydration. Finally, keep the Apples you buy in the fridge until you’re ready to eat them. This time of year, Apples can last for a few weeks in the fridge.

Of course, if you need a little kick in the taste-buds – Honeycrisp Apples are in peak season too.

Russet Potatoes

PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED

Expect there to be some money-saving sales this month on what is already an affordable food – Russet Potatoes. Prolific growing regions in states like Wisconsin and Idaho are aggressively promoting their large harvests of the early season Russet varieties. Your best value can be found in 5lb and 10lb bags. Loose Russets are typically not deeply discounted at stores.

Seems like just about everyone has a favorite recipe, from the basics like Mashed Potatoes to fancier dishes like Potato Au Gratin – there are a ton of ways to love Russet Potatoes. Idaho-grown Russets have low moisture content making them fluffier (think baked or mashed), less likely to absorb oil (think fried or in casseroles) and easier to get crispy (think roasting and frying).

Tailgate on the cheap - Cajun Grilled Russets.

Here’s a game day recipe to try on Saturday or Sunday –

RECIPE: Cajun Grilled Russets

  • Pre-heat grill
  • Wash 4 medium to large Russet Potatoes, pat skin dry with a paper towel
  • Slice Potatoes length-wise into thirds, making the longest possible slices
  • Toss the football-shaped Potato slabs in a mixing bowl with 2 tbsp olive oil to coat them
  • Season with 1 tbsp of your favorite Cajun grill seasoning (or just salt/pepper/paprika)
  • Grill over high heat for about 4-6min on the first side, 3-4min on the opposite
  • They’re ready when they pierce easily with a fork or knife

Are Potatoes healthy? Potatoes themselves ARE since they’re a good source of Vitamin C, Potassium and Fiber, but how you prepare Potatoes and what you put on them determines the true healthy-factor.

Store Russets in a cool, dark place like your pantry closet, but not in the fridge – that’s too cold and will turn the starches into sugar, making them not cook the way they should. These early varieties of Russets should be used during September and October within a 7-10 days of purchase. Scrub Russets before baking or boiling.

Zima Tomatoes

BEST FLAVOR

Snacking Tomatoes are a fun way to get more veggies into your diet – yeah, I know tomatoes are scientifically a fruit, but do you really think of them as a fruit? The snacking tomato I’m excited about this month is the Zima. Zima Tomatoes are orange in color, super-sweet and can quickly become addictive. The come in these fun little containers where you can peel back the sticker that cover the opening, rinse the product with water and shake out into your hand the amount you’d like to snack on. Fun! This juicy tomato variety is also good for salads. Anyone else dig these?

Sweet. And perfect for snacking!

White Mushrooms

VALUE PRICED

It is always peak season for White Mushrooms since they’re grown indoors. So, as summer grilling fades to fall weekday evening meals and weekend family dinners, now’s a great time to think about incorporating the mild, earthy flavor of White Mushrooms into your meals. Mushrooms sliced raw for your salads, sautéed Mushrooms to top your protein, stuffed Mushrooms for appetizers, cooked into sauces… the recipe idea list goes on.

Many supermarkets promote Mushrooms frequently this time of year on this reasonably priced fresh product. Store White Mushrooms in the refrigerator in the container they were purchased in. For best freshness, use Mushrooms within a few days of purchase.

Not just mild, earthy flavor, but Vitamin D, Potassium, Riboflavin, Niacin, Selenium…

CLEANING: Mushrooms are picked from the compost/soil they grow in and packed right away. Dirt is simply part of the equation. So, what is the best way to clean them? It is important to know that Mushrooms are porous and soak up water easily. That doesn’t mean you can’t use water at all. A quick rinse in a colander before use will get much of the dirt off, but there still may be some to buff off with a paper towel. Soft-brush Mushroom cleaning tools actually exist, but I’ve never used one. Wiping with a damp paper towel is still my preferred method. Don’t peel them since it’s way too tedious and you end up peeling away flavor.

Organic Pick of the Week:
Organic Grapes

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Sweet and crisp, grown without the use of synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers – right now is one of the best times of the year to enjoy Organically grown seedless snacking Grapes. Red, Green and Black varieties of Organic Grapes continue to be in peak season from California. What a tasty snack! Keep your Grapes cold in the fridge and wash with cold water before eating. Select Grapes that have no wetness in the package, with berries that feel firm to a gentle squeeze, and are clinging to healthy-looking green stems, a sign of freshness. The California Table Grape site has a nice array of Grape recipes, tips and use ideas.

Organically grown Grapes continue in peak season this month. (Psst – the reds tasted fantastic!)

Buy Smart. Shop Healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

Forward this to a friend if you think they’ll like it – Here’s to fresh!

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