Dark pitted cherries, strawberries, raspberries, watermelon and cantaloupe top the list of favorite summertime fruits. With the vast array of options, the thrill of the season is to rise early to select the freshest produce from local farmers’ market vendors. In the semi-cool temperatures, patrons often feel at leisure to peruse before buying. During your next visit, become a well-informed, savvy shopper by knowing how to spot the most delicious jewels the season has to offer!
Yes, even fruit has basic rules! You certainly cannot go wrong with the following tips:
#1: Take time to inspect the fruit and all-sides of the packaging. Look at the coloring of the fruit; berries are plump, and apples have a shine. If the packaging is crushed, do not take a chance!
# 2: You can smell the health of a nectarine. Trust your senses! Fragrant fruits most likely are delicious!
# 3: Feel the fruit. An apple should feel heavy, for instance!
Apple: Four characteristics will guarantee a good pick – firmness, a natural shine, vibrant coloring and a good weight.
After Buying Tip: Always remove the fruit from its crate, box or bag and assess each one for dents, bruises or rot. One bad apple will indeed ruin the bunch. For best longevity, individually wrap apples and other similar tree fruits in paper and place in a cool location.
Blackberries: Choose the package which has shiny and plump blackberries. Similar to tree fruits, immediately remove from the packaging to ensure molded or crushed berries do not rot and spread, ruining the bunch.
Washing Tip: Only rinse the berries you intend to eat. Water will result in soggy fruit and rot.
Blueberries: Always check the bottom of the basket to ensure blueberries are firm, dry and blue!
Freezing Tip: While “pick your own” opportunities are an experience, never wash fruit before freezing, especially berries, which includes strawberries.
Cantaloupe: The coloring should be cream or golden, and not green. Avoid choosing fruit with soft spots. And, if choosing between two, try the smell test. The most fragrant melon wins!
Where to Buy Tip: Small farming communities will showcase their local produce at the town farmers’ markets and grocery stores. Odds are the fruit was recently plucked or picked, and packaged.
Cherries: The sweetness varies from farm to farm, tree to tree and week by week. For long-lasting fruit, always look for plump, shiny cherries that contain an intact stem.
Rules for cherries: The best container is either a paper bag or loosely covered container and refrigerated. Only wash the fruit you intend to eat. While freezing is an option, pit the fruit first!
Peaches: Dreaming of homemade ice cream with fresh peaches? Size can indicate the best. Go for a mid-sized peach with a golden-yellow or white coloring near the stem. Looks alone will not guarantee a perfectly ripe peach; choose a firm peach that is slightly soft.
Pineapples: Avoid pineapples that have soft spots or dry brown leaves. While smelling the fruit is a benefit to choosing the perfect one, try lightly pulling on an inner green leaf. If it comes out quickly, you have a good one!
Strawberries: A package of strawberries is alluring. Most often the shiniest, exceptionally large and reddest fruit with fresh green tops rest on the surface. Before grabbing quickly, ask yourself if the box has a sweet fragrance or the bottom contains yellow or green, crushed or spoiled berries?
Watermelon: A cut melon already has a limited shelf-life; therefore, try to buy a whole one. Look first at the skin; it should be slightly waxy without cuts or dents. If possible, pick up the one that has an attached stem. Holding it in your arms, it should possess a good weight and be symmetrical without flat sides. The last test: Give it a few knocks. If you hear a hollow thump, choose it!
What the body needs: By containing vitamins A and C, and an anti-oxidant termed lycopene, which is excellent for heart and bone health, the body benefits from eating the red slices of watery-meat. Keep in mind, cut watermelon wrapped in plastic can endure three to five days in the refrigerator.
Include in your summer vacation and long weekend plans time to stop at the farmers’ markets along the way. You’ll be amazed at what delicious fruits are available in other locations. Happy eating, and remember to pack extra napkins!