Picking perfect summer fruit can be tricky, so here are some tips to help you out!
Apricots should have anywhere from a golden to blush-colored skin. Even the best apricots tend to have a slightly mealy texture, but when fully tree-ripened they have an exceptionally deep, complex flavor. All stone fruits (fruits with a stony pit) should be stored at room temperature and NEVER in the refrigerator, or they will be mushy and bland.
Look for a slight grey blush on blueberries, this is actually naturally occurring yeast and indicates a fresh, healthy fruit. Blackberries are best plump and shiny; if they are dull and wrinkled they are probably not very fresh and may taste bitter. Raspberries can vary greatly in size, color, firmness and taste. Wild raspberries will be smaller, dryer and quite tart compared to store-bought or farm-raised berries. Most raspberries are a reddish pink color, but they also come in black and yellow.
Two varieties commonly available in the Midwest are rainier and bing/dark red. Rainier cherries tend to be bi-colored, and are generally half red and half yellow. They are also larger than red cherries, and often have a firmer, crunchier texture. Bing/dark red cherries are usually smaller than rainiers, are red through and through and usually not as firm as rainiers. They have that great cherry flavor most people think of when they think of cherries.
Peaches should be stored at room temperature for best flavor and texture. Handle gently, as even firm peaches can develop bruises that will cause the fruit to degrade more quickly. Soft peaches should be eaten right away; firm peaches can be ripened on a kitchen counter for a couple of days. Be sure to check on them daily, especially in the summer, as a ripened peach can become a moldy peach quickly. Yellow peaches are the most common, but we carry white and donut peaches also.
They are also best stored outside of a refrigerator. Red or black plums should have a grey blush on them similar to blueberries (it is the same sort of naturally occurring yeast) indicating a healthy, fresh fruit. Firm plums will be slightly tart and astringent, soft plums will be sweet but messy to eat! Soft and overripe plums are an excellent addition to smoothies. Avoid plums with waxy, wrinkled skin.
Seeded watermelons tend to be sweeter, but there are some very fine seedless varieties on the market. Watermelons that are fresh will have a high pitched resonance when you rap on them with your knuckles, rather like smacking a new, fully inflated basketball. If the sound you hear is more of a dull thud, like that of an old, half inflated basketball, then the melon is probably full of over-ripe watermelon pudding. A good, fresh watermelon will also have a high likelihood of having a slight grey film on it, just like blueberries and plums, indicating a nice piece of fruit. Watermelons also have a cream/pale yellow colored “ground spot” on them where the fruit rested on the ground while growing. If this spot is white, then the melon was likely picked too early. Lastly, look for little drops of sugar that seep out of the melon, usually near the stem, which dry and harden into little black balls on the surface of the melon. These usually indicate a melon so sweet it can’t contain the sugar within!