The Smartest Ways to Buy and Store Summer Produce

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How you pick and store summer fruits can mean the difference between mealy disappointment and juicy perfection.

Berries

Buying: Turn to these antioxidant-packed fruits for a burst of sweet-tart flavor and vitamin C. When shopping for strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, look for plump and well-shaped pieces that are brightly colored and firm.

Storing: Berries can be stored at room temperature for about 1 to 2 days. After that, get more mileage by keeping them in the fridge. Wash just before using and dry gently with a paper towel. Want to freeze berries? Use these tips.

Melons

Buying: Whether it's watermelon, cantaloupe or a lesser-known variety like Sun Jewel or Casaba, melons boast vitamins A and C plus a wide array of cell-protecting phytochemicals. Look for melons that are heavy and have a firm skin. Wash the outside well before cutting to prevent outside germs from being pushed into the flesh by your knife.

Storing: Keep whole melon at room temperature for up to 1 week. Once sliced, store in the fridge in a sealed bag or container for 4 to 5 days.

Stone Fruit

Buying: Summer is the absolute best time for peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines. Pop them on the grill, add to salsa and salads or incorporate them into a batch of homemade frozen yogurt. When shopping, choose stone fruits that are firm and colorful and avoid pieces that are bruised or have broken skin.

Storing: Store on the counter for 2 to 3 days or, once ripe, in the refrigerator produce bin for 3 to 5 days (1 to 2 days for apricots).

Tomatoes

Buying: Look for  heirloom varieties of these lycopene-filled delights and choose pieces that are bright and smooth and possess tight skin.

Storing: Whatever you do, don't refrigerate. The chilly temp will ruin the flavor and sap the fruits of their juiciness. Simply keep tomatoes in a cool, dry place and savor every bite. Making and freezing homemade  tomato sauce is just one way to hold on to tomato goodness for months after the season has ended.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

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