Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Peaches: Fruit Philosophy

Peaches and other summer fruits are among the great joys of the season. But selecting flavorful fruit can be a frustrating experience for the unskilled shopper. Fresh seasonal fruit traditionally was consumed close to its source. Perishable ripe produce does not travel well, has minimal shelf life, and thus is not compatible with the marketing strategies of commercial supermarkets. True fruit aficionados must look elsewhere for quality fruit.

Searching for delicious fruit is a fun but serious adventure. Small produce markets, farmer's markets, and fruit stands are the best places to go fruit hunting. Get acquainted with the people who work in the market; they'll know which is the best fruit or when the next shipment is due. If you're a regular customer, you may be offered samples and background information about special items. Friends and neighbors who have fruit trees may be happy to share their abundant harvests.

Don't pass up fruit which is a bit small or very ripe; it is often the best and most reasonably priced. Much good quality fruit is rejected by big commercial markets for cosmetic reasons; it may be misshapen, too small, or slightly blemished. Small independent markets often purchase this fruit at bargain prices. If you're unsure about an item, buy a few pieces and plan to return for more if it's good.

Fruit shopping requires patience, flexibility, and a philosophical attitude. As a product of nature, fruit quality can be inconsistent and unpredictable and may range from the mediocre to the sublime. Be prepared to turn your less than fabulous fruit and almost too ripe fruit into salad or smoothies. Toss cut up fruit with lime juice and a few crushed mint or basil leaves. Eat slowly and imagine the perfect peach which is still out there waiting to be discovered on your next expedition.