Peaches, Plums, Apricots
- Let soften in a closed brown paper bag on the countertop until they yield slightly to the touch. Store in the fridge for a few days if you’re not ready to eat them.
- Add fresh slices to yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, or grain or green salads.
- Don’t forget summer’s dazzling hybrids like pluots, plumcots, and apriums.
- To prevent them from getting soft and moldy, don’t wash them until you’re ready to serve.
- Toss frozen pitted dark sweet cherries in oatmeal, smoothies, or yogurt.
- To prevent any kind of berries from getting soft or moldy, don’t wash them until you’re ready to serve.
- Got extra fresh berries? Freeze ‘em on a tray so they don’t stick together. Then transfer to an airtight container or bag.
- For the most intense flavor, try (pea-size) wild blueberries. For most of the year, you’ll only find them in the freezer case. Exception: late summer in New England, where they’re picked fresh.
- The stem end of a cantaloupe should have a smooth, round, depressed scar.
- A ripe cantaloupe has a yellowish cast to its rind. Honeydews are ripe when they have a creamy yellow color and are tacky to the touch.
- The underside of a ripe watermelon has a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened.
- Scrub melon rinds under running water with a clean produce brush before cutting.
- Mini (“personal”) watermelons are easier to cut.
- Ripe mangos should give slightly when squeezed gently. Sniff for a sweet aroma. Color isn’t a good way to tell whether a mango is ripe.
- Honey mangos—also called Champagne or Ataulfo—are smaller and sweeter. They’re in season from March to June. Don’t miss ‘em.
- Want to skip the peeling, pitting, and chopping? Snack on a bag of frozen mango chunks.
- Let ripen at room temperature until the skin is mostly yellow-orange.
- Slice in half lengthwise, scoop out the black seeds with a spoon, cut off the rind, then slice into chunks.
- Top with a squeeze of fresh lime juice before you dig in. The acidity really peps up the flavor.
- Don’t want to peel? Try a gold kiwi. Its (edible) skin is less fuzzy than a green kiwi’s. And the yellow flesh—it holds a smaller core and fewer seeds—is sweeter.
- Gold kiwis have nearly twice as much vitamin C as green kiwis. Greens have more vitamin K. So mix it up!
- Gold kiwis are easiest to find from May to November.
- Keep your eyes peeled for kiwi berries. They pop up for a short time in fall or winter. The grape-size fruit has smooth (edible) skin and kiwi-like flesh.
- Look for deep-green leaves and yellowish skin.
- Cut them up when they start to smell sweet, then refrigerate.
- Keep them on the countertop. Storing them in the fridge slows ripening and turns the skins black.
- On the verge of overripe? Peel, chop, and freeze. A few chunks of frozen banana take just about any smoothie from lackluster to creamy and sweet.
- Don’t want your bananas to ripen so fast? Store them away from other fruits and wrap their stem ends in a bit of plastic wrap.
Apples & Pears
- Don’t toss the skin. It contains about half the apple’s fiber.
- Want to go beyond Red Delicious? Try Honeycrisp, Cosmic Crisp, Fuji, SweeTango, Ambrosia, Envy, Kiku, Lady Alice, Jazz, or (naturally non-browning) Opal.
- Color isn’t a good way to tell if a pear is ripe. While a Bartlett’s skin color brightens as it ripens, most varieties show little change.
- The pear producers’ advice: “Check the neck.” Pears are ripe when the flesh around the stem yields to gentle pressure.
- Exception: Asian pears (which are round like apples) stay crisp. They’re picked when ripe, so you can eat them as soon as you buy them. Try one sliced in a leafy green salad.
- Enjoy pink-fleshed Cara Cara or maroon blood oranges from December to May. Both add a pop of color to salads.
- Like clementines? Also try tangy, juicy, easy-to-peel satsumas from October to January and larger, super-sweet Sumos from January to April.
- Meyer lemons are a little sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons.
- Look for thin, smooth skin. And the heavier they are compared to grapefruits of a similar size, the juicier they are.
If a fruit doesn’t have a rind or inedible peel, you can help reduce your exposure to pesticide residues by buying organic. (That rule of thumb isn’t perfect because some pesticides get into a fruit’s flesh, but it should help.)
If you also buy organic bananas, cantaloupes, or other fruit with peels or rinds, think of it as a present to the planet and to farmworkers.
Just keep in mind that if it’s a choice between eating fruit grown with pesticides and not eating fruit, you’re far better off eating the fruit.
A few examples:
Don’t Fear Fruit
Worried about catching the coronavirus from fruit? Don’t be. Just do what you always do: rinse fresh produce under running water (don’t use soap, detergent, or disinfectants). And wash your hands before preparing or eating any food.
Photos: stock.adobe.com (top to bottom): dimakp/stock.adobe.com, azzurrodesign/pixabay.com, bergamont/adobestock.com, Ancelin/pixabay.com, Capri23auto/pixabay.com, Roman Samokhin/stock.adobe.com.
The information in this post first appeared in the June 2020 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.
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