Ever wonder what comes in that bowl of fresh fruit restaurants offer as a potential dessert choice or side dish? Well, summer would be the time to find out! With warm weather on its way, so too are the delicious likes of succulent watermelon, bright red strawberries, juicy nectarines and all different kinds of cherries (try to get your hands on some white ones, they’re like heaven in cherry form). And don’t forget your plums, blueberries, pineapple, honeydew, cantaloupe, raspberries, and blackberries. Yes, the list goes on and here’s where you can get the dish on these summer crops. Even grapes are in season!
Summer seems to be the best bearer of fruits which means it can be the best time to pack in those essential vitamins and nutrients that come from a healthy dose of fruit consumption. Besides being delicious, most summer fruits are also jam-packed with vitamin C, as you might already know. But what you might not know is that peaches and cherries are great sources of fiber and watermelon offers the perfect supply of vitamin A. For some more info on nutrition facts, click here.
How do these fruits fit into my menu?
While typically incorporated into desserts, these fruits don’t have to be served that way! Berries are delicious as salad toppers. You can mix some strawberries with some greens and throw a few candied nuts and you’ve got a great start to any meal. You can even make your favorite vinaigrette (mine is raspberry vinaigrette) out of summer berries to top it off. Mangoes make a great salsa (Mango Salsa), as do pineapples (Pineapple Salsa), and melons make a refreshing and tantalizing soup (Cold Melon Soup). And just about any variety of summer fruits can be blended with ice to make a refreshing smoothie. Try this Kiwi Mango Smoothie on for size. Fruit smoothies can be great snacks, or even a delicious and nutritious breakfast.
Some interesting facts about:
Watermelon– Did you know that watermelon is both a fruit and a vegetable? If you’re in a crunch trying to pack in your recommended daily servings of both, just eat a whole bunch of juicy pink watermelon! Originating in Southern Africa, explorers have found an abundance of watermelon in the Kalahari Desert. Oddly enough, the watermelons also serve as a symbol for the Mexican Day of the Dead and are depicted in a great deal of Mexican art.
Recipes to sink your teeth into:
Mangoes – This bright yellow fleshed tropical fruit is native to Southern Asia. Centuries ago, these tree fruits popped up all over India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. A very sweet fruit, the mango is made up of 15% sugar and hosts significant amounts of vitamins A, B, and C.
Some mango recipes to tango with:
Strawberries – From rumors of being poisonous as well as nourishing the skin, strawberries are not just chockfull of vitamin C but also history! That’s right, the Lady of Thermidor was said to take baths in strawberries to bring out the full radiance of her skin, while the nineteenth century Argentineans would not go near the red prong-shaped berries fearing their poisonous potential. Regardless of which you believe, the fruit is surely sweet and now incorporated into many a daily menu.
Try a few of these strawberry recipes out (and even the bath!):
Pineapple - These odd-shaped fruits get their name from their resemblance to pine cones. Their bright and juicy yellow flesh is probably much tastier than the inside of a pine cone though, plus it is great for the digestion. This fruit comes from Southern and Central America.
Pineapple recipes with a twist!:
Blackberries– Not to be confused with the popular brand of PDA, blackberries are actually a variety of the raspberry. This fruit is not actually a berry but an aggregate fruit from the bramble raspberry plant. Lately Mexico has been producing bounties of blackberries. And as myth (in the UK) would have it, blackberries should not be picked after September 15th because the devil has supposedly claimed them. Good thing they are considered a summer fruit!
Not-so-average 'berry recipes:
The bagel peach: a unique fruit case study
Ever seen a peach that looks like a bagel? Well they probably haven’t been mixed up in the bakery yet as they’re new in the last couple of years, but these white-fleshed fruits are a whopping 3 inches in diameter and take on a round, but flat shape. Also called the galaxy peach, you might confuse this rare delicacy for a miniature UFO. Introduced by the USDA in 2004, this peach typically ripens in the third or fourth week of June.
United States Department of Agriculture, Wikipedia's entries on blackberries, watermelon, mangoes, strawberries, and pineapple, www.fruitsinfo.com, Yale-New Haven Hospital