Picking the Right One
Sometimes we crave a juicy watermelon or sweet corn to go with our afternoon barbeque, but we realize they’re out of season. They may not taste the same, or they’re just not available. That can be a real bummer, but here at Health Life, we have you covered. Here are 10 seasonal fruits and vegetables and when and how to pick them.
This fruit is a welcomed staple on a hot summer day. No matter its size, the watermelon should feel heavy. Look for a creamy yellow splotch, which means it’s ripe. Tap the bottom of the watermelon to test its hollowness. If it has a deep hollow sound, it’s ripe, but over-ripe or under-ripe have a dull sound.
• High water content (92%)
• Reduces risk of heart disease
• Keeps kidneys healthy
This vegetable is a southern staple, but some find it hard to like due to its slimy disposition. When picking the right okra stalk, it must be firm but not hard. There are some red varieties, but most are green. Both taste the same.
• Promotes healthy skin
• Protects against stomach ulcers
• Rich in Amino Acids
This juicy melon rounds out a fruit salad in the best way. A cantaloupe should have a sweet, slightly musky scent. It’s heavy, and the rind looks like raised netting.
• Helps regulate hormones
• Reduces stress
• Strengthens immunity
This sweet vegetable can be difficult to pick because it’s hidden behind its green wrapping. Without taking a peek, look for tiny brown holes in the husk near the stalk. Those are wormholes. Feel the kernels and make sure they’re plump and plentiful. Look for tassels at the top and make sure they’re brown and sticky. Older ears of corn are dry and black. If the color of the wrapping is bright green, it’s fresh.
• Aids in anti-aging
• Strengthens hair
• Lowers cholesterol
Our state fruit is the peach for a reason. This Georgia staple should be soft when given a gentle squeeze. Hard ones should be left behind. If they are kind of soft but not ready to eat, place them in a paper bag to ripen. They give off ethylene gas, which causes the fruit to ripen faster when trapped inside.
• Rich in antioxidants
• Boost immune system
• Assist kidney and liver function
Nothing goes better with a salad than a nice crisp cucumber. Look for firm cucumbers with no soft spots or blemishes. They should have a dark green color with no yellow spots. If you’re not a fan of seeds, look for smaller cucumbers instead of the large, fat kind.
• Eases heartburn, stomach acid, and ulcers
• Kills bad-breath-causing bacteria
• Eases headaches
Mangos- summer & fall
This sweet fruit goes great in salsa and smoothies. To pick the right mango, don’t focus on the color. Always judge by feel. A ripe mango will give slightly when squeezed. Like peaches, they become softer as they ripen.
• Combats acidity
• Boosts immune system
• Promotes good eyesight
Bell Peppers- summer & fall
These colorful veggies are sweet and crunchy, and fajitas and stir-frys wouldn’t be the same without them. These guys must be well-shaped, firm, glossy, and taut. They are best when they are thick walled and juicy.
• Helps anemia
• Burns calories
• Lowers blood pressure
Pineapple- fall & spring
This is also a fruit you must smell before picking. The bottom of the pineapple should smell like a pineapple, and it should give a little when squeezing.
• Rich in Vitamins A & C
• Helps break down food
• Prevents cough and colds
Avocado- spring & summer
Over the past few years, these delicious devils have grown in popularity. You can basically put these babies on anything you want for a more buttery consistency. These are more difficult to pick because they go bad after a few days, so pick ones depending on when you’re going to use them. A ripe avocado is dark and firm when gentle pressure is applied. They shouldn’t feel overly soft.
• Helps with cholesterol levels
• Aids in digestion
• Promotes healthy eyes
Written by: Julie Jernigan