When I was in junior high and high school, my parents were over-the-road truck drivers. Each week, they left our home in Nebraska and hauled meat out to the west coast. On their way back, they would pick up fresh fruit and vegetables from California and deliver them to St. Joseph, Missouri.
|Back when I was little and Dad was the only one trucking.|
I think I'm the same size as that steering wheel!
One of the advantages of having parents who delivered food across the country is knowing when fruits are in season. During different months, they would pick up boxed produce at different places, driving the same routes all over California at the peak season of crops. When she was home, Mom always knew what fruits to buy at the grocery store when they were their best, too. She shared a bit of this knowledge with me.
In June and July, drupes come in season, also known as "stone fruits." Drupes have an outer flesh which surrounds a pit that contains the seed. The hard shell gives them the name "stone fruit."
Cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots are all drupes and are in season during June and July. They are usually less expensive during these months, too, making it a good time to preserve them for later. I have had great luck canning peach jam and peach pie filling, as well as slicing and freezing peaches. A few years ago, I found sweet cherries at $0.99/lb. and we froze about 20 lbs.!
How to choose the best cherries:
Look for the darkest cherries for their variety. This indicates that they will be riper and sweeter. Larger cherries are better for eating since they have more flesh in proportion to their pit. Cherries with green stems are fresher, having been picked recently. If they don't have stems, make sure to eat them within a few days; since stemless cherries do not keep well.
How to store cherries:
Cherries can be refrigerated in the original bag for 5-7 days in the refrigerator. Do not wash until ready to eat.
How to choose the best peaches and nectarines:
Peaches and nectarines are essentially the same fruit, one being fuzzy while the other is smooth. When choosing peaches or nectarines, find fruits that will slightly yield to pressure and have rich yellow background color. If there is green near the stem, it is not ripe. The heavier the fruit, the more juicy it will be.
How to store peaches and nectarines:
Refrigerate only after ripe because the cold will halt the ripening process. Peaches and nectarines will ripen if stored at room temperature for 2-3 days. To hurry ripening process, peaches may be placed in a paper bag with an apple.
How to choose the best plums:
Choose fruits that have shiny skins and no bruises. Heavier plums will have more juice. Ripe fruits will also have a strong fragrance and will give slightly when squeezed gently
How to store plums:
Store ripe plums in an open bag for up to five days in the refrigerator. The cold will stop the fruit from ripening further. Unripened fruits will ripen at room temperature after several days. Plums can be ripened faster by placing in a paper bag.
In addition to eating fresh stone fruits, they are also perfect for canning, freezing, or in a delicious recipe. Here are a few smoothie and shake recipes from the blog. Most call for frozen fruit, but you can use fresh fruit, too.
Chocolate Cherry Protein Shake
Peach Cinnamon Smoothie
Peach Raspberry Smoothie
Which fruits are your favorite in the summer?
How do you like to eat "stone fruits"? Do you have any yummy recipes to share?