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.
This grapefruit-mandarin cross looks like a grapefruit in an ill-fitting suit. It's sweet and juicy, though, and simple to eat since the peel comes off easily and the fruit pulls apart into tidy segments that are virtually seedless. Americans pronounce the name "ugly," but in Jamaica, where it's grown, it's pronounced "HOO-glee." Some marketers have tried calling it "Uniq fruit®," but the name hasn't caught on much. Ugli fruit are available from December through April. Most specimens are much uglier than the one pictured here, but don't let that deter you. Select fruits that are heavy for their size, and that give a little when you press them.Learn more
For best flavor, tomatoes should stay on the vine until they're fully ripened. This is a tall order for growers, who prefer to pick tomatoes while they're still green and sturdy, and then gas them with ethylene until they turn red. Vine tomatoes, on the other hand, are picked after they begin to "break" or turn red, which allows them to develop fuller flavor. Expect to pay more for the special handling required to bring these to market.Learn more
There are about 50 varieties of watermelon on the market. They all taste about the same, but they vary in size, flesh color, and in whether they are seeded or seedless. Picnic melons are largest, while icebox melons are round and compact. Many stores also carry yellow-fleshed, white-fleshed, and seedless melons. The rind should be heavy for its size, and free of bruises, soft spots, or cuts. To check for ripeness, look at the pale side of the melon (where it rested while it was growing)--it should be yellow, not white. If your market sells halved watermelons, inspect the flesh--it should be firm, brightly colored, and free of white streaks. Seeded watermelons should have dark brown or black seeds. To store, wrap watermelon slices loosely in plastic and refrigerate for up to two days. Uncut watermelon can be stored at room temperature (preferably in a cool spot) for up to two weeks.Learn more
This tropical fruit has sweet, creamy pulp that's wonderful in fruit salads or shakes. They arrive in the summer. Since they bruise easily when ripe, they're usually sold while they're still hard. Take them home and let them ripen on the counter for a few days until they yield to a gentle squeeze. Remove the peel and seeds before serving.Learn more
Winter squash come in many sizes and shapes, but all have hard outer rinds that surround sweet, often orange flesh. Winter squash arrive late in the growing season and they have a long shelf life, so they've long been a staple in winter and spring, when other vegetables are harder to come by. Unlike summer squash, winter squash must be cooked. They're usually baked or steamed, and then sometimes puréed. Select squash that are heavy for their size.Learn more
America's most popular summer squash, zucchini can be served raw, sautéed, baked, grilled, and even shredded and baked in a cake. Green zucchini is the most popular, but some grocers also carry a bright yellow variety. There's also a globe-shaped round zucchini that's easy to stuff.Learn more