Apple Selection & Handling Tips
To maximize your apple-eating experience, follow these simple tips for selecting, handling, storing and preparing fresh apples. An apples skin should be shiny, dull appearing apples won't be crisp and tasty.
- Select apples that are bruise-free and handle them gently to prevent bruising
- Select apples that are firm to the touch.
- Store your apples in the refrigerator to slow ripening and maintain flavor. A properly refrigerated apple keeps longer.
- Store your apples away from strong smelling foods to prevent them from absorbing unpleasant odors.
- Wash your apples in cool water before serving.
- When serving sliced or diced apples, coat them in a mixture of one part lemon juice to three parts water - or in vitamin C-fortified 100% apple juice to reduce browning.
Pear Selection & Handling Tips
When shopping for pears, select clean pears with uninjured skin. Pears with no cuts and with the stem intact will keep longer. Surface russeting -- brownish areas on the skin are generally caused by weather -- does not affect the quality or flavor.
- Pears should be firm, or fairly firm, but not hard.
- Avoid wilted, shriveled, moldy or discolored pears.
- Check for good color for the variety you are selecting.
- Pears are picked when fully mature, but firm. A ripe pear will yield slightly to gentle pressure at the base of the stem.
- A pear is one fruit that will ripen after it is picked.
- To ripen, leave pears at room temperature in a paper bag until the flesh responds readily to gentle pressure.
Sweet Cherry Selection & Handling Tips
When shopping for sweet cherries, select plump, shiny cherries with green stems. Avoid cherries that are soft or have brown spots on them.
- Sweet Cherries are a delicate fruit and should be handled carefully to avoid damage.
- Avoid purchasing shriveled or soft cherries. Cherries do not continue to ripen after they are picked.
- Avoid placing cherries in the sun or warm areas, they may go limp quickly.
- Refrigerate your cherries immediately after purchase. Cherries can be kept fresh in the refrigerator for several days.
- For later use you can freeze fresh sweet cherries. It's best to pit them before freezing to easily incorporate into smoothies, baking or cooking needs.
Freezing Sweet Cherries
Work with small amounts (3 to 5 pounds) to allow for quick handling and freezing. Select firm, ripe cherries, rinse in cool water and drain them thoroughly. Use either of the following methods for freezing:
- Method 1: Use whole cherries and do not remove the stems. Spread your cherries in a single layer on a baking sheet then place in your freezer. When completely firm, remove the cherries from the freezer and place into freezer-proof containers or plastic freezer bags; remove excess air, cover or fasten tightly and return to freezer.
- Method 2: Use whole cherries with stems removed or pitted cherries. In a large bowl add 1/3 cup of sugar for each pint of cherries; toss lightly to coat cherries. Fill freezer proof containers or freezer bags; shake to pack fruit and continue to add cherries until full. Remove excess air, cover or fasten tightly and place into freezer.
Buying and Storing Blueberries
Choose firm, plump, blue berries with a dusty white sheen. These are the ripest and best tasting. (Reddish berries are not ripe.) Shake the container to make sure the berries move freely. If they're soft, damp or damaged, they'll stick together and soon get moldy and rot.
Pick out any bad berries to prevent the spread of mold and then store in the fridge in a container with holes. Blueberries will keep for about a week, but should be eaten as soon as possible.
Fresh berries are very fragile and should be briefly washed and gently patted dry. But washing blueberries removes the protective coating, so don't wash them until just before using.
Frozen blueberries make great snacks. When buying frozen berries, shake the bag to make sure they don't clump together. Clumping indicates they've probably been thawed and refrozen.
To freeze fresh blueberries, fill a plastic zip lock bag ¾ full, place in the freezer and shake every couple of hours until frozen - this keeps them from sticking together. Or freeze them spread out on a cookie sheet and pour into a storage container once frozen. They'll keep for up to a year.