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  • Selecting Summer Fruits

    7 posts, 6 voices, 1229 views, started Jul 7, 2009

    Posted on Tuesday, July 7, 2009 by Denise Richardson

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    • Diamond
      Offline
      Ambassador

      Selecting Summer Fruits

      All of the following fruits are reaching their peak right about now, so take advantage of the season. Here’s everything you need to know to get the fruit that’s ripe for you!

      •Strawberries. Great for desserts, baking, juicing, jams and jellies—and just plain eating! Good-quality strawberries should be firm (but not rock-hard), evenly shaped, and medium to large in size. Their coloring should be even and bright red. Avoid berries that are wrinkled, soft, spotted with mold, or leaking juice. Berries with more than a touch of green or white around the caps do not ripen well after they are picked.

      •Blueberries. Eat them fresh or use in fruit salads, pies, and glazes. Blueberries should be firm and plump with uniform size and color. The coloring of fresh berries should be deep purple to nearly black with a silver to white frost on the skin. They should also be dry and free from leaves and stems. Overripe or old berries will have a dull appearance and be soft or leaking juice.

      •Cantaloupe. Best in fruit salads or in fruit platters, good-quality cantaloupe will have large webbing or netting on the skin, have yellow/orange coloring, and be slightly soft on the stem end (firm elsewhere). The stem end should also have a pleasing smell, if it’s not too cold, and the scar at the stem end should be a smooth and well-rounded cavity. You can hear the seeds rattle inside a juicy melon when shaken. Often, melons will have a decidedly bleached side that rested on the soil—this does not affect the quality of the melon. Avoid cantaloupes with a rough stem end with portions of the stem remaining—this means the melon was harvested too early. Cantaloupes with green coloring, soft or sunken spots, or dark and dirty spots that look moldy are poor quality.

      •Peaches. Great plain or in fruit salads and pies. Good-quality peaches will be fairly large, firm to slightly soft, and will have a yellowish or creamy background. A red blush may be present on some peach varieties to differing degrees, but this is not a true sign of quality. An extremely ripe peach that is at room temperature will also have a sweet peach smell. Avoid peaches that are extremely small, hard, soft, or that have wrinkled skin at the stem end. Peaches that have a green background were picked immature and will not ripen well.

      •Watermelon. Great in fruit salads or in fruit platters. A ripe watermelon will be firm, evenly shaped, heavy for its size, and will have a deep-pitched tone when slapped with an open palm. Avoid melons with a high-pitched tone or a dead, thudding sound. One of the easiest methods to determine ripeness is to simply turn the melon over. If the underside is yellow and the rind overall has a healthy sheen, the melon is probably ripe. The flesh of cut melons should have a fresh, firm texture, and the seeds should be fully mature and hard. Watermelons do not ripen any further once they are cut from the vine. Avoid watermelons that are partially white or pale green, have soft spots, or are leaking a milky-white fluid. Melons shouldn’t have any dents, bruises, or cuts, but marks left from insect bites will not affect the melon’s flavor.  

      •Tomatoes. Often mistaken for a vegetable, tomatoes of all varieties are great on sandwiches and in salads, salsa, chili, stews, and casseroles, as well as stuffed or broiled. Good-quality slicing tomatoes will be firm, smooth-skinned, and at least pink in color. Tomatoes that are partially green will ripen if left at room temperature. (A brown paper bag helps the ripening process.) Avoid tomatoes that are too soft or wrinkled, or have broken skin. Tomatoes with a green blush will ripen, but avoid those with blotchy green or brown areas.



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