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.
These are popular because they're easy to select and very sweet. Ripe cantaloupes have dull yellow backgrounds with raised netting. Avoid those with protruding stems, or tears in the rind at the stem end--it's a tell-tale sign that the melon was picked too soon. When ripe melons are picked, the stem falls off easily, leaving a small, clean depression. After checking the stem end, flip the melon over and check the blossom end. It should be fragrant and yield a bit when pressed. Cantaloupes are cheapest in the summer.Learn more
Like its relative the tomatillo, the Cape gooseberry is covered with a papery husk. The fruit inside looks a bit like a yellow cherry, and tastes like a sweet tomato. You can eat Cape gooseberries whole, minus the husk, or use them to make very tasty preserves. They're hard to find in the United States; your best bet is a specialty produce market in the spring.Learn more
These aren't as flavorful as other melons, but they have a fairly long shelf life. Since they have thick rinds, it's useless to smell them as a test for ripeness. Look instead at the color (it should be bright yellow), and then check to see if the blossom end yields to gentle pressure.Learn more
This Brazilian fruit looks like a squishy apple with an odd-looking stem growing out of it. According to botanists, though, the grayish "stem" is actually the fruit, and it encloses the kidney-shaped cashew nut that we're familiar with. The cashew apple is the yellowish-orange part that's attached to the fruit. This fruit is juicy but somewhat astringent due to a high concentration of tannin. Be careful of the grayish substance that encloses the nut. It contains toxic oils.Learn more
This mild-flavored squash looks like a wrinkled, pale green pear. It needs to be cooked before serving, and for a longer time than other summer squash. You should peel a chayote before cooking it, but don't take the seed out--it's edible and tasty. Cooked chayotes make good low-fat substitutes for avocados.Learn more
This South American tropical fruit is shaped like a pine cone and has a gray-green, scaly skin. The soft white pulp inside has large black (inedible) seeds and tastes like a creamy blend of tropical flavors. Hard cherimoyas should be stored at room temperature until they give a little when squeezed, then they should be refrigerated until they're ready to serve.Learn more