27 ways to enjoy July’s best fruits and veggies
July is such a vibrant month: umbrellas all over the beach, floats all over the pool, and a true bounty of produce in every color. You’re probably regularly firing up your grill for many meals these days, but don’t forget about the many different ways to prep fruits and veggies too! While so much is in season, read on for our best tips to buy, store, and use three of our faves: tomatoes, eggplant, and blueberries.
Tomatoes are botanically a fruit, but widely considered a vegetable. When purchasing tomatoes, choose firm, heavy, fragrant ones and avoid any with soft spots or black marks. (Note: this applies to regular tomatoes. Marks and scars on heirloom varieties are fine.) Shop farmers’ markets for a wide variety of just-harvested, sweet, and ripe options. Supermarkets often pick and refrigerate immature fruit, which means your tomatoes can be mealy and have less flavor. Which brings us to an important point: do not refrigerate whole, ripe tomatoes. Instead, store them at room temperature for three to four days for the best texture and flavor. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A and C, and also contain significant amounts of the antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene.
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Eggplants come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Aside from the familiar rich-purple eggplants, there are smaller varieties called Asian, Chinese, or Japanese, which are more slender, thinner-skinned, and less likely to be bitter. No matter which type you choose, all eggplants should be plump and firm with smooth, glossy, unblemished skin, and fresh-looking green “caps.” Refrigerate eggplants in your crisper drawer and use them within two to three days.
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When buying blueberries, look for plump, firm berries that are blue-black, deep indigo, or purple. Avoid any that are red; redness is a sign that the berries were picked too early and will be tart. If you can, check the basket or clamshell for squished, moldy, or wrinkly berries at the bottom. If you see some, purchase a fresher-looking batch instead. Refrigerate berries, loosely covered, for a few days; remove any that show signs of mold. Blueberries are one of the easiest berries to freeze. Just place unwashed berries loosely in an airtight container and freeze for up to six months. Because of their outstanding antioxidant content, blueberries are sometimes referred to as “brain berries” or “youth berries.”