Summer is here and that means it’s time for some of the most delicious fruit on the market! Fruits like watermelons and sweet cherries are nutrient dense, and contain antioxidants such as lycopene and vitamins A and C. It can be tricky to pick the perfect summer fruit, but once you know how to pick them, you can enjoy the best of nature’s bounty without suffering through a dry watermelon or a tart cherry.
Did you know that watermelon is a great re-hydrator? Watermelons are made up of about 90% water, so a heavy melon is a sign of a juicy melon. A watermelon ripened on the ground will have a creamy yellow spot where it sat on the earth. Pick up the melon, and if it’s heavy, it has passed the first test. Turn it over and look for its yellow spot. Should the watermelon pass the first two tests, give it the final test: the knock. Knock on the melon and give a listen; a juicy melon will have a hollow sound. Once you bring the watermelon home, refrigerate it if you want it to last up to two weeks uncut.
1 cup of chopped watermelon has 20% of the daily value for vitamin C and 15% of the daily value for vitamin A. Watermelon is also a good source of potassium, lycopene, and even vitamin B6.
Have you ever heard the saying, “The darker the berry, the sweeter the juice?” The same adage holds true for sweet cherries, like the Bing cherries we see in supermarkets across the country. When picking cherries, look for dark ones that give to the touch but are not mushy. Cherries that are lighter in color will be dry and have a tart flavor. Cherries that are past their peak will be very soft to the touch, and may have wrinkled skin or brown patches. If you have the opportunity to do so, taste one before buying. Sweet cherries can last one week in the refrigerator. That time may decrease depending on the time the cherries sat in the market.
According to the research review, Cherries and Health, “Cherries, and in particular sweet cherries, are a nutritionally dense food rich in anthocyanins, quercetin, hydroxycinnamates, potassium, fiber, vitamin C, carotenoids, and melatonin.” What a fantastic fruit!
Remember that the average person should eat approximately two cups of fruit each day. Choosing the perfect summer fruit will make that recommendation easy to follow.
By Beth Rosen, MS, RD, CDN
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.