Food: Learn about the summer fruit mangos
SWEET AND SPICY FRUIT SALAD
1/3 cup stevia, agave syrup or sugar
1 serrano chile, halved
1 whole dried star anise
7 to 8 cups mixed cut fruit, like kiwi, peaches, plums, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, mango, pineapple, oranges, grapefruit, pears or bananas
2 teaspoons chopped tarragon
2 teaspoons chopped basil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Mascarpone or crumbled ricotta salata, for garnish (optional)
1. Place sweetener, 3/4 cup water, chile and star anise in a small pot and bring to boil. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until mixture is as thick as maple syrup and spicy tasting. Strain syrup. (Syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance; store in the refrigerator.)
2. Toss fruit with half of sugar syrup, the tarragon and the basil. Add more syrup to taste, depending on how sweet and spicy you want the salad. Season very lightly with salt and pepper. If desired, add dollops of mascarpone or crumbled ricotta salata on top.
This summer has produced a bountiful crop of fruits. While I often take advantage of the fruits on sale, sometimes I have questions about how to prepare and store them. The following tips can help you prepare and enjoy fresh fruits and keep them at their most flavorful.
WHICH FRUITS CONTINUE TO RIPEN AFTER THEY’RE PICKED?
Apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pears, plantains and plums continue to ripen at room temperature after they’re picked.
To speed their ripening, put them in a loosely closed brown paper bag. Plastic bags don’t work for ripening. Once fully ripened, fruits may be stored in the refrigerator to lengthen their storage time. Though the outside skin of a refrigerated banana will turn dark brown, the inside will remain light-colored.
Fruits that should be picked or bought ripe and ready-to-eat include: apples, cherries, grapefruit, grapes, oranges, pineapple, strawberries, tangerines and watermelon.
SHOULD FRUITS AND VEGETABLES BE WASHED BEFORE THEY’RE PUT AWAY?
The Food and Drug Administration advises that we wash our fresh fruits and vegetables when ready to eat rather than when they’re first purchased or picked. Here are some tips for washing fruits and vegetables before use:
Don’t use soap, detergents, or bleach solutions. Make sure your kitchen sink is clean, or place a large mixing bowl in the sink. Add the produce to the sink and cover with cold water. (Don’t overcrowd the sink.) Add 1-2 cups of plain white vinegar and soak for 10-15 minutes. If some of the fruits bob to the top just swirl them around in the water and rub gently with your fingertips for a few moments. I rinse well using cold water to remove any traces of vinegar. Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush to remove surface dirt.
Try to cut away damaged or bruised areas — bacteria can thrive in these places. To prevent this, thoroughly rinse fruits that require peeling or cutting — such as cantaloupe and other melons — under running water before eating.
After purchase, put produce that needs refrigeration away promptly. Fresh produce should be refrigerated within two hours of peeling or cutting. Leftover cut produce should be discarded if left at room temperature for more than two hours.
WHAT IS THE EASIEST WAY TO PEEL AND SLICE A MANGO?
Wash the mango. Cut the mango by sitting it on its bottom and cutting vertically along the flat side of the center seed by slicing off each fleshy cheek of the mango. Hold one mango half peel-side down and score the fruit down to the peel (but not through it) in a tic-tac-toe fashion.
Hold the scored portion with both hands and bend the peel backward so that the diamond-cut cubes are exposed. Cut cubes off peel, then remove any remaining fruit clinging to the seed.
HOW CAN I KEEP CUT FRUIT FROM TURNING BROWN?
Coat them with an acidic juice such as lemon, orange or pineapple juice. Cut fruits as close to serving time as possible. Cover and refrigerate cut fruit until ready to serve. Avoid leaving cut fruit at room temperature for more than two hours.
My recipe for Sweet and Spicy Fruit Salad uses a variety of your favorite fruits in a delicious new way.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is http://www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.
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The first in-person local festival of the year has arrived with Dandelion Day making its return to Sopris Park in Carbondale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday.