News from Our Organic Produce Department
February Produce News
What to Look for in Our Produce Department This Month:
Organic Strawberry supplies from all growing regions are looking solid heading into February. Signs look favorable for a Sweetheart Strawberry Sale before Valentine’s Day.
Enjoy the citrus season while it lasts! Look for organic clementines, mandarins, tangelos, Cara Cara navels, blood oranges, pomelos, and Meyer lemons. Organic Minneola tangelos continue to be in good supply with excellent quality.
The Gold Nugget Mandarin is now available at Whole Earth! The Gold Nugget is a seedless, sweet tangerine with a bright orange, slightly bumpy rind. It is a great juicer and the fruit is deep orange with a moderately fine texture. Gold Nugget tangerines have a rich, sweet taste and are considered by professional taste panels to be one of the best flavored citrus fruits in the world.
Organic Meyer Lemon groves planted several years ago in California are now beginning to produce significant volumes of fruit. Winter is the peak season for this variety, so look for organic Meyer lemons in our fruit case. They are slightly smaller than regular lemons and have a smoother skin. Is this the ultimate culinary lemon? Chefs and flavor enthusiasts are getting more and more excited over Meyer lemons. Why? This variety is sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons. You can even eat a Meyer lemon wedge without completely puckering up…well, sort of—it’s still a lemon, after all. They have smooth, thin skin that is golden yellow. Meyer lemons (also called Meyer Sweet Lemons) are quite refreshing. It leaves a hint of tangerine on your tongue and the aroma of its zest is almost floral. Use Meyer lemons almost any way you would a regular lemon, but less sugar is required in sweet recipes because the acidity is less intense. Flavor your ice water or hot tea with lemon. Add lemon juice to homemade vinaigrettes or right onto salads. Also, seasoning food, such as fish, poultry and salads, with Meyer lemons or regular lemons is a great alternative to salt.
Organic Kumquats from small organic citrus groves in Southern California are in peak season during January, February, and into March. Just give them a rinse under cold water and they’re ready to eat! You just pop 'em in your mouth like sweet-tart natural candy. In spite of being one of the smallest citrus fruits, kumquats are big on flavor. Bursting with citrus intensity, these bite-sized citrus fruits have a sour-sweet flesh with edible skins. Eat them whole — rind, flesh, small seeds, and all for a rush of sweet-tart zippiness. The flesh is acidic, yet the skin and pith bring out the sweetness. Your children might liken them to nature’s “Sour Patch Kids" candy.
Cara Cara Oranges look exactly the same as regular navels, but inside the beautiful and exciting differences are revealed. Cara Cara oranges have pink to light red flesh and are seedless, just like navels. But the straight-forward sweetness is balanced by a mild strawberry to cranberry-like finish. Cara Caras are quite juicy with tasty pink flesh that is packed with Vitamin C, and is an excellent source of Lycopene.
Organic Brussels Sprouts are back in force! We are enjoying an abundant supply out of Mexico, and quality has been very good. Brussels sprouts aren’t just for the holidays—and they offer so many health benefits, they have been labeled one of the world’s healthiest foods. Brussels sprouts have an earthy flavor and the bitter-sweetness of cabbage, and can be prepared in so many ways. Classic cooking methods for Brussels sprouts include roasting, braising, or pan frying in butter or oil with savory ingredients such as garlic, shallots, thyme, rosemary, and sage, which add depth and appeal while also bringing out their sweetness. Slow roasting in oil or butter is a great way to tame the sprout’s natural bitterness. They can be added to casseroles, gratins, soups, and they are a great addition to winter roasted vegetable medleys. They can also be tossed into a warm winter greens salad. Other choice culinary companions for Brussels sprouts include bacon, pork belly, cheese, cream, duck fat, eggs, ham, grapefruit, olive oil, cider vinegar, lemon, hollandaise, maple, mushrooms, mustard, nutmeg, pepper, pistachios, and pancetta.
Lady Alice apples are a relatively new apple variety that is gaining popularity. They tend to be round and squat in shape. The skin is striking—striped pink or red on a yellow-orange background. The crisp, juicy flesh is generally sweet with an aftertaste that runs to tart; some have compared it to Honeycrisp. As an all-purpose apple, the Lady Alice is great for a wide range of uses. Its flavor and texture make it a good choice for a snack, or cut up raw into salads, especially since it does not brown easily when exposed to air. This apple’s firm texture also means it holds up well when baked. Lady Alice apples store well when kept in the refrigerator. In fact, the flavor of the Lady Alice is vastly improved with age. Purchase them now and store until March for richer, more complex flavor.
Lastly, even though we are still in the grip of winter, you may have noticed a recent addition to our Produce Department that stirs hope and plans for spring: our Organic Seed Rack Display! When you’re ready to start planting, we’ve got the seeds you need. Once again we are selling 144 of the most popular varieties of certified organic seeds from High Mowing Organic Seeds. Based in Wolcott, Vermont, High Mowing began in 1996 with just 28 varieties, many of which originated in founder Tom Stearns’ backyard. Since then, the company has grown exponentially, and what started as a one-man operation is now a thriving business making available to home gardeners and commercial growers over 600 heirloom, open-pollinated, and hybrid varieties of vegetable, fruit, herb, and flower seed. True to their roots, many of the varieties they sell are still grown on their 40-acre farm, setting them apart from most other seed companies.
(Produce info, market news, and tips thanks to specialtyproduce.com, producegeek.com/#organic, and fsproduce.com.)