‘Tis the season for summer fruits and we couldn’t be more excited. With the warmer weather comes a beautiful array of fruits perfect for enjoying on sunny days. Strawberries, raspberries, cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, blackberries, and blueberries are all in season and ripe for the picking, but what should you look for when buying these delicious fruits and how should you store them to ensure that they last? Below you’ll find our best tips and tricks for buying this season’s best fruits and berries.
Strawberries – Choose strawberries that are red across the berry, from the bottom to the very tip of the berry. If the strawberry still has a bit of a whiteish colour at the tip it was likely picked too early, this means it may not be as sweet as a berry that is red all over. Strawberries, unlike tomatoes, don’t continue to ripen once picked so, pick berries that look ready to eat right away. When storing berries (including those mentioned below) it’s recommended that you only wash them just before eating. The reason for this is washing them before storing them in the fridge creates an environment with excess moisture, and that excess moisture can lead to mouldy or spoiled berries.
Raspberries – Choose brightly coloured raspberries that are uniform in colour. Raspberries can very easily become mouldy if exposed to too much moisture store them in a container that promotes air circulation. As raspberries are delicate and prone to spoiling with moisture, you can store them between layers of paper towel to promote a dryer environment.
Blackberries – Look for berries that are deep in colour and nice and glossy. If blackberries have a red hue, they aren’t yet ripe. Pick blackberries that look plump and juicy, yet firm. Like other berries, it’s important to wash them just before consumption.
Blueberries – Choose purple or a purplish-black colour blueberries. Don’t be alarmed by the whitish coating on the berries, this is called bloom and is a natural characteristic of fresh blueberries. Make sure the skin on the blueberries looks firm and isn’t wrinkled. Larger sized blueberries are often sweeter than smaller blueberries. When storing blueberries keep them refrigerated in a container that allows air to circulate around the berries, as storing them in an airtight container can speed up the growth of mould.
Cherries – To pick the freshest cherries you’ll want to look for fruit that is deep and consistent in colour, glossy with a nice green flexible stem. The greener and more flexible the stem the more recently the cherry was picked. Cherries should be stored cold as it keeps them fresh for longer. Cherries kept at room temperature will generally only last for up to two days while cherries that have been refrigerated can stay fresh for up to five days.
Apricots – When choosing apricots, it’s best to choose fruit that has a deep golden colour. They should firm with a little give, and the skin should be smooth and without wrinkles. Unlike berries, some stone fruit like apricots, nectarines and peaches will continue to ripen once removed from the tree. Place unripe apricots in a brown paper bag for 2-3 days at room temperature to help them ripen. When the apricots are ripe, they can be stored in the fridge for up three days.
Nectarines and Peaches – These two stone fruit are incredibly popular and can be used in a variety of recipes from desserts to salads. Add them to a pavlova for a brilliant summer dessert, or cook them on the barbecue and wrap with prosciutto for a sweet and salty taste sensation. Storing these fruits depends on whether they are ripe when you buy them. If the fruit is still firm, store it in a cool dry place to ripen. A temperature less than 24 degrees is optimal because if the location is too warm or damp, you risk the fruit turning too quickly, and becoming over-ripe. If the fruit is ripe and ready to eat store it in the fridge for up to five days.