Showing posts with label fresh food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fresh food. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Life's a Peach, but Is It Ripe?

August is Peach month! So to honor this month celebrating the deliciously tart & tangy peach, let’s take a look at how to pick and enjoy seasonal fruits.

Grocery stores are currently stocked up on melons, peaches, tangerines, and plums. Apples have taken a backseat to the brightly colored finds of deep summer. So how do you pick the best peach? How about a good melon?

There are a few things to consider. How quickly do you anticipate eating your fruit? Do you need it to keep for a few days? Are you going to be eating them throughout the week? You may want to choose a few ripe fruits for the next couple of days, and a couple of fruits that need to ripen for later in the week.

When choosing a fruit, use these tips to choose a fruit that is ripe:

Take the fruit in your hand and gently palpate the skin.  

Fruit
Ripe – eat today
Almost Ripe – eat in 2-3 days
Need to ripen – eat in 3-5 days
Peach & Tangerine
When you press the skin, it gives in easily without tearing
Feels firm, but yields a bit
Hard to semi-hard
Melons
Smells fruity; feels heavier than it looks, as though filled with water
Smells faintly fruity; a bit heavy
No scent; feels solid and dry
Pineapple
Can be a bit green, with a strong pineapple smell
Also can be a bit a bit green, with faint aroma
Very green, no scent
Plums
When you press the skin, it gives in easily without tearing
Feels firm, but yields a bit
Hard to semi-hard
Strawberries
Bright red, smell fruity, soft to touch without being mushy
Medium to bright red, light smell
Soft red shade, no scent, firm to touch
Raspberries
Bright color, smell fruity, soft to touch without being mushy
Medium to bright color, light smell
Lighter color, little scent, firm to touch
Avocado (remove the stem bud and look beneath it)
Bright yellow under the stem bud; soft in hand, but not mush (if mushy, check stem bud – discard if dark or moldy underneath)
Bright yellow under the stem bud; firm in hand, with very little yield when pressed
Bright yellow or green under stem bud; hard in hand, like a rock
Plantains (when using for a dessert/sweet application)
Blackened skin, strong banana scent
Starting to blacken; light scent
Yellow skin, similar to banana in color; no scent
Tomato
When you press the skin, it gives in easily without tearing
Feels firm, but yields a bit
Hard to semi-hard

A few basics for the novice shopper in the fresh foods aisle. 
  • Most foods are going to be best when they smell as you expect. Melons should smell like melons. Lettuce should smell like lettuce. So don’t be afraid to use your sniffer! 
  • If you see black spots or discoloration, for most foods (with the exception of plantains!) that’s not a good sign. Foods like lychees, berries, and mushrooms can easily grow mold as they are moist. So beware, as while you can pick the moldy parts off and still use them, they won’t last long.
  • If a food feels mushy, that’s typically a sign to skip it and find a fresher one. And if the food smells fermented, it’s most likely overripe.
  • Few fresh foods will last more than a week. If you are buying organic, expect that your fruit and vegetables will last only a few days at the most. Many foods can be frozen, and fruits are no exception. If you fear that your fruits will not get eaten fast enough, rinse and dry them thoroughly. Then pack them into a freezer safe bag or container, put a date on the lid, and pop them in the freezer. They can be used either as a refreshing frozen treat, or added to recipes like ice cream or cakes. Typically, fruits turn to mush when you defrost them, so I wouldn’t plan on eating them defrosted.

Bowl of peaches


Lastly, I leave you with one of my favorite ways to enjoy a ripe peach that is just about ready to be a bit too ripe: slice into bite-size pieces, plop them in a bowl, and pour over top some full-fat coconut milk, or heavy cream. I sweeten my coconut milk or heavy cream with a few drops of vanilla stevia. It’s delicious and very satisfying, not to mention, healthy!

I’d love to hear more tips on how to make the most out of seasonal fruits and vegetables, so let us know down below if there’s some tried and true rules you use for your own shopping.

Contributing Writer