Includes berries, citrus fruit, melons, tropical fruit, and tomatoes
Fruits are the matured ovaries of plants, containing the seeds for the next generation of plants. Many plants cunningly make their fruits sweet, the better to attract animals like us to eat them and disperse the seeds. Fruits are often delicious enough to eat out of hand, but they can also be made into tarts, compotes, shakes, juices, preserves, liqueurs, and many other things.
Most of the bananas you and I have eaten in our lifetimes are the yellow Cavendish bananas. The burro banana = chunkey = chunky is shorter than the Cavendish, and has an interesting lemony flavor. The manzano banana is smaller yet and a bit drier, but it fits nicely into lunch boxes. The red banana has a purple peel and is best used for baking. The plantain is larger than other banana varieties, and is usually fried, baked, or mashed before eating. Yellow bananas with a few dark spots are ripe and ready to eat, while green ones will ripen at room temperature in just a few days. Refrigerating ripe bananas will keep them from getting softy and mushy, though the peels will darken.Learn more
Red and yellow peppers are riper, more flavorful, and pricier than the more common green ones. You can occasionally find bell peppers in other colors as well, like brown, white, pink, orange, and purple. Bell peppers are the perfect size for hollowing out and stuffing, or you can slice them into strips for snacking or dipping.Learn more
These are olives that have been allowed to ripen on the tree. American recipes that call for black olives are probably referring to the Mission olive. Other varieties of black olives are the Aleppo, Alphonso, Amphissa, black Cerignola, Gaeta, black Greek, Kalamata, Ligurian, Lugano, Moroccan dry-cured, Niçoise, Nyons, Ponentine, and Royal.Learn more
These would be excellent berries were it not for their rather large seeds. They're still great for eating out of hand, but cooks often strain out the seeds when making pies and preserves. Select berries that are free of mold, and as black as possible. They arrive in markets in the summer.Learn more
Blueberries are small and sturdy, so they're perfect for tossing into cakes, muffins, cereal bowls, and fruit salads. Like other berries, they also make good preserves and tarts. Select firm, dark berries that have a whitish bloom on them. Keep them refrigerated and wash them just before you eat them. You can find fresh blueberries in the summer, but frozen blueberries are available year-round and work well in many recipes. Frozen berries get a little mushy after they're defrosted, but they'll work well in many recipes. Canned blueberries also work in pies and baked goods, but drain off the liquid and rinse them first.Learn more
This is the plant that the H.M.S. Bounty was carrying in the South Pacific when its crew mutinied. Captain Bligh's goal had been to transport the seedlings from Tahiti to the Caribbean, so that slaves there would have a ready source of starch and calories. Breadfruit is highly perishable, so fresh ones are hard to find outside the tropics. The canned version is a good substitute. A seeded version is called a breadnut.Learn more