This summer has produced a bountiful crop of fruits. My local farmers market and grocery store have supplied an abundance of budget-friendly ingredients for my favorite summer dishes. While I often take advantage of the fruits on sale, I sometimes have questions about how to prepare and store them.
The following tips can help you prepare and enjoy fresh fruits and keep them at their most flavorful. The recipe for Rainbow Fruit Salad also is a great way to use a variety of your favorite fruits.
Which fruits continue to ripen after they’re picked?
Apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pears, plantains and plums continue to ripen at room temperature after they’re picked. To speed their ripening, put them in a loosely closed brown paper bag or ripening bowl at room temperature. (NOTE: Ripening bowls are sold at many stores that sell kitchen supplies for the home.) Plastic bags don’t work for ripening. Once fully ripened, fruits may be stored in the refrigerator to lengthen their storage time. Though the outside skin of a refrigerated banana will turn dark brown, the inside will remain light-colored.
Fruits that should be picked or bought ripe and ready to eat include apples, cherries, grapefruit, grapes, oranges, pineapple, strawberries, tangerines and watermelon.
Should fruits and vegetables be washed before they’re put away?
Here are some Food and Drug Administration guidelines for safely handling fruits and vegetables:
* Thoroughly rinse raw fruits and vegetables under running water before eating them. Don’t use soap, detergents or bleach solutions.
* Always scrub firm produce — such as melons and cucumbers — with a clean produce brush to remove surface dirt.
* Try to cut away damaged or bruised areas; bacteria can thrive in these places.
* Any bacteria on the outside of fruits can be transferred to the inside when the fruit is peeled or cut. To prevent this, thoroughly rinse fruits that require peeling or cutting — such as cantaloupe and other melons — under running water before eating them.
* If buying fresh, cut-produce, be sure it’s refrigerated or surrounded by ice. After purchase, put produce that needs refrigeration away promptly. (Fresh, whole produce such as bananas do not need refrigeration.) Fresh produce should be refrigerated within two hours of peeling or cutting. Leftovers should be discarded if left at room temperature for more than two hours.
What’s the easiest way to peel and slice a mango?
If you find yourself trying to tango with a mango, try this method:
- Wash the mango. Cut in half lengthwise by slicing off each fleshy cheek of the mango vertically along the flat side of the center seed.
- Hold one mango half peel-side down and score the fruit down to the peel (but not through it) in a tic-tac-toe fashion.
- Hold the scored portion with both hands and bend the peel backward so that the diamond-cut cubes are exposed. Cut cubes off peel, then remove any remaining fruit clinging to the seed.
How can I keep cut fruit from turning brown?
Keep cut fruits such as apples, pears, bananas and peaches from turning brown by coating them with an acidic juice such as lemon, orange or pineapple juice. Or use a commercial anti-darkening preparation, frequently called a “fruit protector.”
Cut fruits as close to serving time as possible. Cover and refrigerate cut fruit until ready to serve. Avoid leaving cut fruit at room temperature for more than two hours.
RAINBOW FRUIT SALAD
You can use any combination of fruits including the ones suggested below to make your salad.
1 large mango, peeled and diced
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 nectarines, unpeeled and sliced
2 cups fresh strawberries, halved
2 cups seedless grapes
2 bananas, sliced
1 kiwifruit, peeled and diced
- Prepare the fruit.
- Combine all ingredients, and mix.
- Just before serving, pour Honey-Orange Sauce (see recipe below) over fruit. Makes 12 servings.
1/3 cup unsweetened orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Dash of nutmeg
Using a small bowl, combine orange juice, lemon juice, honey, ginger and nutmeg until well-blended. When ready to serve, pour sauce over fruit salad.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian, and the author of seven cookbooks. Please join The Kitchen Diva in supporting Mattress Firms’ efforts to assist foster children through the Ticket to Dream Foundation to make a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of foster children in need. They believe not everyone can be a foster parent, but anyone can help a foster child. (www.tickettodream.org)
© 2020 King Features Synd., Inc., and Angela Shelf Medearis