By Emily McKenna, Recipe Developer & Tester for EatingWell Magazine
About this time every year, I get excited for all the delicious, sweet summer fruit that's showing up at my local farmers' market. Apparently so do my friends and family, because they ask me for my best tips for buying, storing and cooking berries, stone fruit and other summer fruits. Here are my tips for choosing the best fruit at the market and for storing the fruit once you get home.
How to pick ripe raspberries: Raspberries do not ripen once they are picked, so you want to choose plump, brightly colored berries. Skip any berries with the hull still attached, as this is a sign that the berries were picked too early and might be sour. As with all berries, check for any juice or mold, which are signs of spoilage, in the container.
How to store raspberries: Fresh raspberries are fragile and highly perishable. Store raspberries in the refrigerator and use within 2 days. To wash raspberries, gently spray with a fine mist just before using--the weight of water pouring from a faucet may crush them.
Raspberry Recipes to Try: Moist Lemon-Raspberry Muffins and 16 More Fabulous Summer Raspberry Recipes
How to pick ripe strawberries: Choose strawberries that are uniformly red and feel heavy for their size. Strawberries with spots of white or green are not fully ripened and can taste bland. Strawberries should be free of mold and bruises. The leaves should be attached and should look fresh and green, not dried out.
How to store strawberries: Discard any strawberries that show signs of mold--it spreads quickly to other berries. Store strawberries in the refrigerator and wash them in cool water just before you plan to eat them, leaving the leaves on until after the berries are washed.
Strawberry Recipes to Try: Luscious Strawberry Shortcake, plus More Sweet and Savory Strawberry Recipes
How to pick ripe peaches: Use your nose! Choose peaches that smell like peaches--slightly sweet and flowery. Ripe peaches will give a little when gently pressed. The red or blush color on the skin is a characteristic of variety and not ripeness. Avoid peaches that are overly green, as they were picked too early and won't ripen properly.
How to store peaches: If your peaches aren't ripe, set them in a single layer on the counter and allow them to ripen for a day or so at room temperature. Once ripe, transfer them to the refrigerator and use within a week.
Peach Recipes to Try: Creamy Peach Custard Pie, Peach-Blueberry Cobbler and More Amazing Peach Desserts
How to pick ripe watermelon: Watermelon should be firm and symmetrical, without bruises, cuts or dents. It should feel heavy for its size and have a creamy yellow spot where the melon sat on the ground to ripen in the sun. Precut melon flesh should be dense, firm and appear moist.
How to store watermelon: Wash whole watermelons in clean, running water and dry before eating to remove surface dirt. (When purchasing cut watermelon, wash and dry the rind of the watermelon.) Watermelon temperature should be maintained--if it is purchased at room temperature, it should be stored at room temperature. If the melon was refrigerated at the supermarket, do so at home as well. Cut melon should be refrigerated immediately, either in a covered container or with cut surfaces covered with plastic wrap to prevent the flesh from becoming mushy.
Watermelon Recipes to Try: Bring a batch of Watermelon Salsa to your next picnic or try one of these other refreshing watermelon recipes.
How to pick ripe blueberries: Choose plump and firm blueberries. If you purchase blueberries from the grocery store, be sure to avoid those with signs of mold at the bottom of the package.
How to store blueberries: Cover and refrigerate blueberries. Eat them within 3 days.
Blueberry Recipes to Try: Wake up with a plate of Blueberry-Ricotta Pancakes or try one of our other amazing blueberry recipes.
What's your favorite summer fruit?
By Emily McKenna
Emily McKenna tests and develops recipes in the EatingWell Test Kitchen. Emily recently moved to Vermont from New York City, where she worked at Food & Wine, food52.com and Real Simple. She is a recent convert to the glories of kale and has a weakness for doughnuts, strawberry licorice and anything her Italian-American grandmother makes, especially pizza.
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