Eat This Now | May 27th, 2016

Strawberries Seedless Watermelon Mint Apricots

Best if used by 6/8/16

Subscribe and get our content emailed to you automatically!

Strawberries

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

For all you Strawberry lovers out there – go for it – peak season has arrived! Strawberries are a family favorite. It is an indulgence that virtually guilt-free for kids and adults, alike!  Late May and June is all about organic and conventional berries – blue, black, rasp and straw.

Strawberries from prime growing regions in the Salinas and Watsonville areas of California will likely be at affordable sale prices this late May and early June thanks to large harvests.  The fruit has been delicious!, especially Organic and Conventional Strawberries from Driscoll’s.

In my part of the country (Pennsylvania), local Strawberries have come on later than normal due to the cool May we had, but June will be peak season. Local Strawberries typically taste amazing, but have shelf-life measure in hours, not days.

Strawberry Tips

Selecting

  • Look for plump, vibrantly colored berries with healthy looking, green caps.
  • Inspect the packages from all sides, avoiding fruit with dark sunken areas, signs of mold or wet spots on the berries or containers.

At Home

  • Keep them cold in the fridge, but they’ll have better taste and texture if you use them within a couple days.
  • Wash Strawberries under cold water just before use.
  • Have extra fruit that is beginning to become overripe? Turn them into an ingredient for a smoothie or shake.

Eating

 

Inspect the packages from all sides, avoiding fruit with dark sunken areas, signs of mold or wet spots on the berries or containers.

Seedless Watermelon

Peak Season    Value Priced

Warm weather is finally here and Watermelons are in season from points south – Florida, Mexico.  Stores are promoting Watermelon on sale for the Memorial Day holiday period. Sounds like the perfect combination!  Juicy, sweet Seedless Watermelon, when you get a good one, is so delicious!

How do you choose a good Watermelon?

There’s no magic to selecting a Watermelon, but thump away if you like. I still tap the melons every time, not sure I can explain why. Really, it’s up to the farmers and harvesters to pick them at the right time and for stores/distributors to inspect them well – and good news is that has been going well this season! Still, here a few things you can do to give yourself a great chance of getting a delicious Watermelon:

Look For

  • Firm-shelled melons. The rind should be hard when you squeeze it.
  • Mostly symmetrical melons that feel heavy (watermelons are 92% water).
  • A creamy yellow spot underneath show it ripened in the sun. That’s the spot where it sat on the ground as it grew and ripened.
  • Tapping? You have to really know what you’re listening for so I can’t recommend it as a sure-fire way (even though I almost always tap melons myself).

Avoid

  • Spongy melons that give to thumb pressure is a sign of poor texture or quality inside.
  • Flat, darkly discolored spots are a sign of bruising caused the flesh to be translucent inside near that area.
  • Melons with washed-out color on the whole shell is an indicator of poor vine health.

How to Make Watermelon Sticks

Here is a picnic-friendly way to slice up whole Watermelons so that you and your kids or guests have perfect finger-food portions that are less messy to eat than wide wedge slices.

  1. Slice the whole Seedless Watermelon in half.
  2. Cut the round edges off both melon halves to make them into a block with green rind only on the bottom.
  3. Cut the block into 1” thick slabs.
  4. Slice the slabs into 1” thick sticks.

Note: Don’t throw away the scraps created by cutting out the heart of the melon into a block. Those edge pieces still should have some nice red flesh to slice off the rind for melon chunks.

How to Make Watermelon Sticks

Note: Don’t throw away the scraps created by cutting out the heart of the melon into a block. Those edge pieces still should have some nice red flesh to slice off the rind for melon chunks.

Mint

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Fresh Mint is in peak season supply from farms on the East Coast. My garden is bursting with it!  Local growers often pack it into big-sized bunches that you can take home from the store and make something formidable with – like a batch for mojito’s, brewed Mint Tea, Meadow Tea, or an Herb Salad. Here are some intriguing Mint recipes to try.

Yep, Peppermint, Spearmint and other fresh green Mint varieties are in fact Herbs, so there is no caffeine. Fresh Mint can flavor more than beverages; it livens up both fruits and vegetables it is served with. Mint is particularly good paired with citrus juice and sliced berries, melons, stone fruit and mangos, or baby salad greens.

Mint Tip: Store fresh Mint in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator, or with the stems in a glass of water.

Recipe: Lime Meadow Tea

Growing up in Lancaster County, PA I may not have known what a Mojito or Mint Julep was, but Meadow Tea made from backyard Mint – now that was liquid sunshine! Here’s my take on a classic – Meadow Tea – with the tanginess of Lime.

  1. Rinse 3 large bunches of fresh Mint (about 4-6 cups packed)
  2. Place the Mint, stem-leaf-and-all, into a large spaghetti pot
  3. Fill pot with water, up to 2.5 gal, and submerge the Mint
  4. Bring water up to a high temp, turning the heat off just before it gets to a rolling boil
  5. Cut 5 Limes in half, squeeze their juice into the steeping water first, then add the fruit
  6. Allow Mint and Limes to steep in the pot for up to 1 hour
  7. Strain and pour Tea into jugs or containers. Refrigerate to cool.
  8. Serve cold or over ice. Keep refrigerated for up to three days.

*If you like your Meadow Tea sweet, add 1 cup of sugar (or to taste) at step 5.

Fresh Mint can flavor more than beverages; it livens up both fruits and vegetables it is served with. Mint is particularly good paired with citrus juice and sliced berries, melons, stone fruit and mangos, or baby salad greens.

Apricots

Peak Season

Fresh Apricots with their velvety-fuzzed skins are prized for their distinctive tasting orange flesh that ranges from slightly tangy to richly sweet. Apricots have a texture that is slightly less juicy than a plum, but the rich flavor always intensifies when baked or dehydrated. When Apricots are running sweet, I love ‘em as a satisfying, high fiber snack. My preferred way to eat them is after the fruit as softened for a couple of days at room temperature. Orange-skin Apricot varieties are in season from California during late May and June.

Apricot Tips

  • Select Apricots without cuts, punctures or large bruises. The fruit should be free from green color (a sign of under-ripe) and wrinkled skin (a sign of over-ripe).
  • Red blush on the skin varies from variety to variety. Apricots do not get redder after being picked.
  • Store fresh Apricots in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat them. Be gentle! It is a tender fruit.
  • If you want the fruit a little softer, set your Apricots on the counter for a day or two at room temperature.
  • Here are some delicious-looking Apricot recipes to explore.
 

Select Apricots without cuts, punctures or large bruises. The fruit should be free from green color (a sign of under-ripe) and wrinkled skin (a sign of over-ripe).

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

Subscribe and get our content emailed to you automatically!