Keeping fresh fruit around the house provides a healthier alternative when your sweet tooth comes calling. Understanding how and when to buy at the peak of ripeness (or just before, in some cases) can help you avoid food waste while keeping your doctor happy.
Consider these simple tips for recognizing ripe fruits:
- Strawberries: Check the area at the top of the berry near the stem and leaves. A ripe strawberry is fully red; green or white near the top means the fruit is underripe.
- Watermelon: The “field spot,” or the area where the melon sat on the ground, should be yellow, and a tap on the rind should produce a hollow sound.
- Cherries: Flesh should appear dark with a crimson color and feel firm.
- Blueberries: Similar to cherries, color should deepen to dark blue. A reddish or pink color may be visible in unripe berries.
- Blackberries: Look for a smooth texture without any red appearance. Because blackberries don’t ripen after being picked, they tend to spoil quickly.
- Cantaloupe: You should detect a sweet smell, and the melon should feel heavy upon lifting.
- Peaches: A sweet, fragrant odor should be apparent. Skin should feel tender but not soft.
- Pineapple: Smell is again an important factor for pineapple – a sweet scent shows it’s ready, but a vinegary one likely means it’s overripe.
- Raspberries: Generally follow the same rules as blackberries. Best eaten within a couple days of purchase, a bright red color represents ripe berries.
- Bananas: A ripe banana features a peel lightly spotted without significant bruising. Your best bet may be to purchase bananas still slightly green and allow them to ripen at home.
Find more food tips, tricks, recipes and videos at Culinary.net.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
(Family Features) Fresh fruits are one of the highlights of summer. Try this tasty Fresh Pear Dumplings with Raspberry Sauce recipe, bringing pears and raspberries together for a delicious seasonal dessert.
Find more dessert ideas at Culinary.net.
Watch video to see how to make this recipe!
Fresh Pear Dumplings with Raspberry Sauce
Recipe adapted from Pillsbury
- 2 firm, ripe pears, cored and chopped
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 pie crust
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 package (10 ounces) frozen raspberries
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- Heat oven to 425° F.
- In medium bowl, combine pears, raisins and brown sugar. Mix well.
- Lay out pie crust. Cut into quarters. Spoon pear filling on top of dough. Brush edges with water. Fold up sides to form three seams.
- Place dumpling, seam-side up, on baking sheet. Brush tops of dough with milk. Sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake 18 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on rack.
- In blender, blend raspberries until smooth. Pour blended raspberries into saucepan. Add cornstarch and sugar. Bring to boil, stirring often. Place in freezer 10 minutes.
- Drizzle raspberry sauce on plate. Place dumpling over sauce. Top dumpling with additional raspberry sauce.
(Family Features) There’s no time like a hot summer picnic to let your patriotic spirit show. These all-American snacks featuring a classic favorite fruit – watermelon – are the perfect solution for nearly any summertime celebration.
Watermelon is a patriotic picnic staple for countless reasons, not the least of which is that it’s a beloved treat that many people associate with memories from childhood. However, nostalgia isn’t the only reason adults are just as likely to gravitate toward watermelon at a summer event. Its sweet, cool and refreshing flavor also makes it a favorite for all ages.
From a practical standpoint, watermelon is also quite portable, versatile and easy to serve, and with a composition of 92% water, it’s a simple way to sneak in some extra hydration on a hot day. Another benefit is its value; watermelon is one of the best values in the produce section among fruit, and just one watermelon can feed up to three dozen people.
Serving watermelon at a party can be as simple as slicing wedges, or you can prepare a dish such as:
- A fruit basket, with the rind serving as a colorful bowl to hold the watermelon and other fresh fruits.
- A charcuterie board with a selection of fruit, cheese and protein for simple snacking.
- Creamy parfaits, perfect for a summery brunch or alternative to more traditional desserts.
- A creatively colorful and patriotic “cake” that makes for a tasty centerpiece on the dessert table.
Find more ideas for incorporating watermelon into your summer festivities at watermelon.org.
Easy Summer Thirst Quencher
A simple fruit-infused water can give your summer event an instant upgrade in no time at all. Add extra dimension and complexity to the flavor by adding some of your favorite herbs like basil and mint.
- 2 cups watermelon balls or cubes
- 1 cup other fruit, such as berries
- herbs, such as basil or mint
- Place watermelon, fruit and herbs in pitcher and cover with water. For best flavor, allow to chill in refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.
Red, White and Blue Watermelon Parfait
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 container (6 ounces) Greek yogurt (vanilla, lemon or coconut)
- 1 cup watermelon, plus three pieces diced watermelon
- whipped cream, for serving
- In pint canning jar, layer blueberries, yogurt and 1 cup watermelon. Top with whipped cream and garnish with three diced watermelon pieces.
Note: To make ahead or make thicker, drain Greek yogurt on paper towels to absorb some liquid.
Patriotic Fruit Salad
- 1 watermelon
- Slice 1/4 inch off bottom of watermelon, lengthwise, to create stable base.
- Use pencil to draw zig-zag lines for basket opening. Using paring knife, make cuts through rind.
- Carefully remove top section, pull out large chunks of flesh and cut them into 3-by-3-inch squares.
- Trim 3/4-inch thick slices off squares to use for cutting out stars with 1 1/2-3-inch, star-shaped cookie cutters.
- Use ice cream scoop to remove flesh from inside basket and cut scoops into quarters for fruit salad. Place in bottom of basket. Add honeydew and blueberries; stir to combine.
- Cut out white stripes from honeydew.
- Garnish top of fruit salad with watermelon stars, honeydew stripes and blueberries.
Patriotic Charcuterie Board
- 1/2 medium seedless watermelon, cut into wedges
- 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
- 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
- 10 strawberries (dipped in white chocolate, if desired)
- 5 ounces fresh goat cheese
- 1/2 cup toasted, salted cashews
- 2 ounces cured meats like prosciutto, pancetta, coppa, salami, soppressata, sausage or pepperoni
- 1 Honeycrisp apple, cored and sliced
- lemon juice
- fresh basil leaves
- On large board or platter, arrange watermelon, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cheese, cashews, meat and apples. Drizzle fruit with lemon juice. Garnish with basil leaves before serving.
Flag Kebab Cake
- 1 pint fresh, washed blackberries
- 12 wooden skewers
- 1 seedless watermelon, flesh cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 angel food cake, cut into 1-inch cubes (white part only)
- dips, such as yogurt, chocolate, caramel or marshmallow (optional)
- Thread five blackberries on each of five skewers, followed by alternating watermelon and cake cubes.
- On remaining skewers, alternate watermelon and cake so first and last cubes are watermelon. Place skewers on platter; fruit and cake will create stars and stripes when lined properly.
- Serve with dips, if desired.
(Family Features) With summer comes the opening of farmers markets bursting with fresh produce ripe for the taking. Pair your fresh-picked bounty with wholesome pecans for power-packed seasonal recipes from salads and snacks to side dishes and main courses.
American Pecans are The Original Supernut; a naturally sweet superfood that’s nutritious, versatile and local as it’s the only major tree nut native to America. Pecans are also among the highest in “good” monounsaturated fats and contain plant protein, fiber, flavonoids and essential minerals, including copper, manganese and zinc, so you can feel good when adding them to your next meal or snack.
After a morning at the farmers market, cook up a nourishing spread for breakfast or lunch. For a quick, mess-free brunch, try Sheet Pan Eggs with Pecan Breakfast “Sausage.” Substitute flavored ground pecans for your sausage and add fresh greens for a quick, good-for-you option with plant-based protein.
For a simple yet sweet take on dessert, try Mini Pecan Lemon Berry Tarts with a three-ingredient, pecan-based crumb as the base, topped with a light filling and fresh berries.
To find additional seasonal recipes, nutrition information and cooking tips, and to learn more about America’s native nut, visit AmericanPecan.com.
Mini Pecan Lemon Berry Tarts
Mini Pecan Crusts:
- 2 cups pecan pieces or halves
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 24 Mini Pecan Crusts
- 1/2 cup lemon curd
- 1/2 cup blueberries or raspberries
- powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
- To make Mini Pecan Crusts: Heat oven to 350° F. Line mini muffin tin with paper liners.
- In food processor, blend pecans, butter and sugar until mixture forms coarse dough.
- Scoop about 2 teaspoons pecan mixture into each muffin tin. Use back of wooden spoon or fingers to press mixture evenly along bottom and up sides of each muffin cup.
- Bake 12 minutes, or until crusts are golden brown. Allow crusts to cool completely before removing from pan.
- Spoon 1 teaspoon lemon curd into each Mini Pecan Crust. Top each with one raspberry or three small blueberries. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.
Sheet Pan Eggs with Pecan Breakfast “Sausage”
Pecan Breakfast Sausage:
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
- 1 teaspoon sage
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup raw pecan halves
Sheet Pan Eggs:
- 12 eggs, beaten
- 3/4 cup fat-free or low-fat milk
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
- nonstick cooking spray
- Heat oven to 325° F.
- To make Pecan Breakfast “Sausage”: In pan over medium heat, add olive oil, onion, coconut aminos, sage, thyme, nutmeg, garlic powder, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook about 4 minutes until onion is translucent.
- In food processor, pulse onion mixture and pecans until consistency of ground beef is reached, about 8-10 pulses.
- To make Sheet Pan Eggs: In large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper until combined.
- Add pecan “sausage” and spinach to eggs and stir. Lightly spray nonstick 12-by-17-inch sheet pan with cooking spray. Pour egg mixture onto prepared pan. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until eggs are fully cooked.
Source: American Pecan Council
(Family Features) It seems like every week there is a new product claiming to promise nutrition and improve your health. However, there are some foods you likely already have on hand that can improve your diet quality and support clean-eating efforts.
Skip the total diet overhaul or the latest fad, and keep it simple by focusing on small but powerful changes to help you clean up your diet. Dairy products have always been cost-effective and nutrient-packed. These three tips can help you make the most of dairy’s health benefits.
Inspect the ingredient label. With just three ingredients, milk is the original clean and clear food, unlike trendy milk alternatives, which may contain up to 10 ingredients.
Examine the benefits beyond bone health. It’s widely known that dairy products provide calcium to build strong bones, but milk, cheese and yogurt actually provide a unique package of nine nutrients, including high-quality protein to support muscle health.
Explore its versatility. Dairy can be easily incorporated into meals and snacks to help make healthy and clean eating simple. Getting the recommended three servings of dairy every day is a cinch once you discover the possibilities.
Resolve to get three servings of milk, cheese and yogurt every day by pledging Dairy 3 for Me. You may be surprised how easy it is to create a healthier menu all day long. Try these ideas to get started:
- Make milk your mealtime beverage. White, chocolate, strawberry; no matter the flavor, all milk provides the same nine nutrients.
- Build a breakfast parfait with your favorite yogurt, fruit and whole grain cereal, or mix things up with milk or yogurt by blending a smoothie.
- Sneak in healthier eating by pairing cheese with fresh fruit or vegetables. Research shows when cheese is coupled with these foods, it helps kids eat more of all of them.
- After a workout, recover with a tall glass of chocolate milk, which studies have proven to be effective in aiding tired muscles.
- Boost nutrition and flavor by adding shredded cheese to casseroles, soups and pasta dishes, or sprinkle on top of tacos and chili.
To find more delicious recipes to support your nutrition goals and to pledge Dairy 3 for Me, visit MidwestDairy.com.
Raspberry-Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie
Recipe courtesy of Midwest Dairy Association
Prep time: 5 minutes
- 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
- 1 cup unsweetened frozen raspberries
- 1 cup unsweetened frozen strawberries
- 3/4 cup low-fat milk
- 1 cup ice (about 12 cubes)
- Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth. Serve immediately.
Pulled Pork Soft Tacos
Recipe courtesy of Midwest Dairy Association
Prep time: 8 hours, 35 minutes
- 2 pounds boneless pork loin roast
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 small white onion, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 limes, cut in half
- 1/2 cup nonfat sour cream
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 scallions, trimmed and chopped
- 12 soft corn tortillas (6 inches each)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat Colby Jack
- 1 bag (8 ounces) shredded red cabbage
- 3/4 cup fresh salsa
- Trim excess fat off roast. In small bowl, combine brown sugar and ginger; rub generously over roast. Place in slow cooker with garlic, onion and orange juice; cook on low heat 8 hours (or high 4-6 hours.)
- Transfer pork to large bowl and shred with forks. Strain pork liquid from slow cooker and pour over pulled pork to moisten. Squeeze lime juice on top and mix well. Divide into 12 servings.
- In small bowl, mix together sour cream, cumin and scallions.
- Cover each corn tortilla with 2 tablespoons cheese; microwave 20 seconds. Top with pulled pork, 2 teaspoons sour cream mix, 1 1/2 tablespoons shredded cabbage and 1 tablespoon salsa. Fold and serve immediately.
Source: Midwest Dairy Association
(Family Features) Fireworks, family and food are what the Fourth of July is all about. This year, add some spark to backyard staples like grilled chicken and potato salad with a little help from tangy condiments, smoky rubs and your cast-iron skillet.
For a main dish that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser, smother grilled chicken with a white barbecue sauce – the South’s tangy little secret. It’s made with simple pantry ingredients like mayonnaise, cider vinegar and mustard.
Make a one-pan side dish next to the cooking chicken by placing your cast-iron skillet directly on the grates. Smash whole potatoes in the pan then top with bacon, cheese and a chipotle seasoning. Let it all melt together and then top with sour cream for a smoking side.
Round out the meal with a festive cake that looks as impressive as it tastes. Dye white cake mix batter red and blue using food color then assemble in a flag shape with whipped cream and berries.
Find more recipes and ideas to fire up your Fourth of July at McCormick.com.
White Barbecue Sauce with Smoky Chicken
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
White Barbecue Sauce:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Zatarain’s Creole Mustard
- 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
- 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Coarse Ground Black Pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Garlic Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup hickory wood chips
- 2 pounds bone-in chicken parts
- 2 tablespoons McCormick Grill Mates Applewood Rub
- To make sauce: In medium bowl, mix mayonnaise, vinegar, creole mustard, horseradish, black pepper, garlic and salt until well blended. Cover. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving to blend flavors.
- To make chicken: Cover wood chips in water and soak 30 minutes. Season chicken with rub. Drain wood chips. Fill smoker box with wet wood chips. Place smoker box under grill rack on one side of grill before lighting. Close grill.
- Prepare grill for indirect medium heat (350-375° F). Heat grill by turning all burners to medium. Once cooking temperature is reached, turn off burner(s) on one side. Place chicken on unlit side of grill. Close grill cover.
- Grill, turning occasionally, 30-40 minutes, or until internal temperature of thickest part of chicken is 165° F. Move chicken to lit side of grill with skin side down. Turn lit side of grill to high.
- Grill, uncovered, 3-5 minutes longer, or until chicken is charred. Serve chicken with White Barbecue Sauce.
Test Kitchen Tip: Refrigerate any leftover sauce and use as salad dressing, condiment for burgers or dipping sauce for pretzels and vegetables.
Grilled and Loaded Smashed Potatoes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
- 1 1/2 pounds medium Yukon gold potatoes
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 5 teaspoons McCormick Grill Mates Bacon Chipotle Seasoning, divided
- 6 slices Applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- Heat grill to medium.
- Place potatoes on microwavable plate. Pierce potatoes with fork several times. Microwave on high 5-6 minutes, or until fork-tender but still firm. Let stand until cool enough to handle. In large bowl, toss potatoes, oil and 3 teaspoons seasoning until well coated.
- Place potatoes on grill and cook, turning frequently, 4-5 minutes or until skin is crispy. In large cast-iron skillet on grill, cook and stir bacon 8-10 minutes, or until crisp. Add yellow onion and bell pepper; cook and stir 2-3 minutes, or until tender-crisp.
- Push bacon mixture to one side of skillet. Add potatoes to other side of skillet. Smash each potato with heavy spatula, bottom of small sturdy bowl or meat pounder. Sprinkle potatoes with remaining seasoning. Spoon bacon mixture over potatoes. Sprinkle with cheese.
- Cover pan or close grill. Cook 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. To serve, sprinkle with green onions and dollops of sour cream.
Test Kitchen Tip: Cooking potatoes before grilling reduces overall grill time.
Red, White and Blue Cake
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 1 package (2-layer size) white cake mix
- 2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 teaspoon Blue McCormick Assorted Neon Food Colors & Egg Dye
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons McCormick Red Food Color
- nonstick spray
- 1 container (16 ounces) white frosting
- 1 cup raspberries
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Prepare cake mix as directed on package, adding vanilla. Transfer 1 1/2 cups batter to small bowl and tint with neon blue food color. Tint remaining batter red by adding cocoa powder and red food color. Pour each color batter into separate 9-by-5-inch loaf pans sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
- Bake blue-tinted cake 20-25 minutes; red-tinted cake 30-35 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely.
- Trim cakes to remove rounded tops and edges. Slice red cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers. Place one layer on platter. Slice remaining red cake layer in half lengthwise. Slice blue cake in half lengthwise. (Blue and red cakes should be same dimensions.)
- Frost red cake layer on platter with 1/3 frosting. Top with lengthwise slices of red and blue cake side-by-side. Frost with 1/3 frosting. Repeat cake layer and frosting. Garnish with raspberries and blueberries to resemble flag.
Source: McCormick Spice