In the summer months there are several ways to escape the heat, but few are more refreshing than a cool cabana-style fruit creations. As the summer season heats up, so does our desire to take advantage of all the fruit filled-delicacies that this time of year brings us. From pool parties to picnics, the summertime lifestyle is one filled with good friends, fresh food, unique drink recipes and tons of seasonal produce. But, what are the best summer fruits to add to your cabana-worthy frozen beverage? Or better yet, what seasonal sweet treat can you use to kick up the flavor in one of your favorite grill items? For the answers, let's take a look at our countdown of the five most mouthwatering summer fruits, some creative ways to prepare them and tips for picking the best of them all season long.
It's Kool to be a Kiwi
With the summer time upon us, one of the first delightful treats we have to enjoy is the kiwi. Popular in both the traditional green kiwi form and gold kiwi variety, this mouthwatering seasonal fruit has the ability to go beyond pies and fruit salad mixes without skipping a beat. One of the best parts of serving up a nice party is creating truly original takes on classic dishes. For example, the Italian bruschetta has gained worldwide acceptance for its ease of preparation and delicious finished product. So what if you took that classic recipe of diced tomatoes, onion, garlic and basil and incorporated some freshly diced green and golden kiwi? What you end up with is the same deliciously toasted baguette only now it's topped with a combination of both sweet and savory. A refreshing summertime appetizer that will surely have your guests asking for more. When shopping for your kiwi you want to look for a fruit that is plump and slightly yielding, not soft. If you don't plan to eat it soon, the firmer the better. Avoid kiwi that is wrinkled or too soft.
Pineapple: the People Pleaser
Sure, you can top a pizza or make some sweet fruit ka-bobs with the island-inspiring fruit known as the pineapple, but have you thought about adding it to your savory recipes? Pineapple is great along with green peppers to create a tasty Polynesian chicken recipe, or simply sliced into thick rings, grilled like a steak, and coated with your favorite barbecue sauce. This is a great option for those vegetarian guests. Looking for a refreshing seasonal drink? Why not try a healthy little drink from Australia known as Gold Juice? The recipe is simple enough to make; just juice together half a pineapple, a lemon, a little ginger, and a yellow pepper and serve chilled. When shopping for your pineapple you want to look for a fruit that is brightly colored and has an apparent fruity smell. The bigger the fruit, the more edible flesh it yields. You want to stay away from pineapples that are sunken or are a dried, dull color.
The Bliss of Blueberry
As delicious as a blueberry muffin or blueberry jam on toast can be in the morning, the idea that this fruit can cross borders over into the realm of savory is remarkable. For example, have you ever had a blueberry turkey burger? No? Then you're missing out. All you need to make this incredibly simple dish is a pound of your favorite ground turkey, some basil, shallots and, of course, blueberries. Mix the ingredients together, form patties and grill like you would normally. Want to add another layer of this sweet summer fruit? How about making your own blueberry mayo dressing to top your turkey burgers? Simply bring a half a pint of blueberries to a boil in a quarter cup of water and a dash of sugar. Then, cool it down completely and mix it with even parts mayo. Now, spread it on your bun along with a slice of tomato and some greens. When shopping for your blueberries you want to look for plump berries with a dark, natural color that appear to be all the same size. Stay away from blueberries that are overly ripe or too soft.
Did Somebody Say Strawberry?
At first when you think about strawberries you think of the plump, sweet desserts that have been a summer staple for as long as any of us can remember. But, you can't box in this mouthwatering summer fruit. While gathering your friends and loved ones for a summer picnic, why not offer them some deliciously unique strawberry avocado salsa along with some white corn tortilla chips? It's simple enough to prepare, all you need to do is take a couple of cups of diced summer fresh strawberries and add some other summer favorites like diced avocado, red onion, cilantro and jalapeño. Zest a little lime, add its juice, and lightly mix. You'll have guests requesting it every year. When shopping for your strawberries you want to look for a fruit that has a bright red color, is firm and has a nice green cap. With strawberries you want to look for the smaller berries as they tend to have better flavor. You will want to stay clear of big strawberries that are uneven in color or ones that are shriveled in appearance.
The Original Orange
Finally, we come to everyone's favorite summer fruit, the versatile orange. From a fresh squeezed glass of orange juice to sweet afternoon smoothies, oranges provide an effervescent flavor that compliments just about anything in which you put it. If you are looking for a universal glaze that can top everything from pancakes to chicken, simply juice a couple of oranges into a sauté pan along with some butter and sugar and whisk until it firms up. Another light way to enjoy an orange is in a tasty summer salad along with some fennel. Simply toss some mixed greens, chopped fennel bulb, a peeled and segmented orange, diced red onion, almond slivers and dried cranberries. Then top with equal portions of red wine vinaigrette and extra virgin olive oil. When shopping for your oranges you want to look for a fruit that has a bright orange skin and is both firm and heavy in weight. You will want to stay away from oranges with either a spongy feel or a rough texture as these are signs of over ripening or a fruit that is lacking in edible flesh. Photo Credit: Scissor.Studio via Flickr.