One thing we most look forward to in the summer is eating fresh seasonal foods, especially fruit. The colors, textures, and flavors of these juicy sweet goodies can make your summer party food recipes even better. But knowing how to select and store fruits properly can have some people scratching their heads.
While summer fruits can be eaten as is, used in salads, or to make smoothies, salsas, pies and tarts, their limited "shelf life" can be tricky. We pulled together a guide on selecting and storing these gems and have included some great party food recipes using fruit.
Let's take a look at the more popular, or common summer fruit choices. While most fruits are available year-round thanks to global shipping, when describing peak availability and freshness, summer fruits are those that are considered 'in season' from mid-June to late September.
- Blackberries: Choose berries that are firm and plump, then store at room temperature or refrigerate in a single layer. These need to be used within a day or two. Wash when ready to eat.
- Cherries: The stems should be flexible and green. The fruit should not have any splits, or any soft spots. They can keep at room temperature for several days, but will last longer when refrigerated. Do not remove the stems, as this will cause rapid deterioration.
- Honeydew melon: Look for smooth green-ish skin and the absence of bruises. If the melon is not quite ripe, keep it in a paper bag at room temperature for 2-3 days. Once ripe, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
- Mangoes: Mangoes should have a yellow- red skin and should yield a bit when pressed. The smaller ones are typically better. Store mangoes at room temperature.
- Peaches: These should have a noticeable sweet scent. Select peaches that have some give, but are not mushy or hard. Leave the soft or bruised ones alone. They can keep at room temperature for a few days or for longer in the refrigerator.
- Strawberries: Pick strawberries that have a good red color and the green stems in place. The smaller ones tend to have much better flavor. Keep them refrigerated in a single layer for up to two days.
- Watermelon: A ripe watermelon will give a bit to pressure at the stem end and will have a sweet scent. Store these at room temperature for 2-3 days, but refrigerate after cutting.
Here are some simple party food recipes using fruit:
Mango-Peach Salsa (food network)
- 2 peaches peeled & diced
- 1 mango peeled & diced
- ½ cup chopped red onion
- 1 jalapeno, seeded, finely chopped
- 1 tsp fresh lime juice
- 1 Tbs vegetable oil
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- salt and pepper
Toss peaches, mango,onions, jalapeno, lime juice, olive oil and cilantro together. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.
Chicken Salad with grapes
- 1 ½ pound chicken tenders
- 5 cups water
- 1 ¾ cups chicken broth
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 Tbs Dijon Mustard
- 1 cup seedless grapes
- 1 Tbs dried tarragon
- salt and pepper
- Boil chicken tenders in water and broth, then dice.
- Cut grapes in halves or quarters according to preference
- Combine mayonnaise and yogurt, Dijon mustard, tarragon, salt, and pepper.
- Add chicken and grapes
- Serve on croissants or rolls.
Here's a great recipe from Food and wine magazine:
Pick fresh seasonal fruits and use them in some party food recipes this summer!