fruitsIf you walk into any grocery store you’ll find fresh fruits and vegetables available in fairly constant supply throughout the year. Fresh fruits add color and variety to any meal and because of their natural sweetness, are great for dessert and are a good low-fat snack alternative.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind

There is no substitute for your own expertise when choosing the right quality of fresh fruit or vegetables. In addition it seldom pays to buy perishable fruits and vegetables just because the price is low. Unless the lower price is a result of overabundance, the so-called bargain may be undesirable.

Buy only what you need. Refrigeration makes it possible to keep an adequate supply of most perishable fruits and vegetables on hand, but never buy more than you can properly refrigerate and use without waste — even if the product is cheaper in quantity.

Keep on the lookout for deterioration. Even with the most modern handling methods, product quality can decline rapidly while on display. Sometimes, this off quality can be bought for less money, but the waste in preparation may offset the price reduction.
Often a very attractive fruit or vegetable may not taste good because of a varietals characteristic, or because of some internal condition such as over maturity. On the other hand, a poor appearance due to poor color or superficial blemishes may be delicious.

Quality is usually higher and prices are more reasonable when fruits and vegetables are bought in season. Out-of-season produce is generally more expensive. When you must handle a fruit or vegetable to judge its quality, use care to prevent injury. Rough handling causes spoilage and waste and you pay for carelessness in the long run.

Fresh fruits and fruit juices contain many vitamins and minerals, they are low in fat (except avocados) and sodium, and they provide dietary fiber. Whole, unpeeled fruit is higher in fiber than peeled fruit or fruit juice. It is recommended that you consume 2 to 4 servings from the fruit group each day. Count as a serving an individual unit (one medium apple, pear, banana, orange), a fraction of a unit (grapefruit half, melon wedge), 1/2-cup berries, and 1/2 cup chopped or cooked fruit, or 3/4-cup fruit juice.

Under federal guidelines, a substantial number of retailers must provide nutrition information for the 20 most frequently eaten raw fruits. These fruits are: bananas, apples, watermelons, oranges, cantaloupes, grapes, grapefruit, strawberries, peaches, pears, nectarines, honeydew melons, plums, avocados, lemons, pineapples, tangerines, sweet cherries, kiwifruit, and limes. Information about other fruits may also be provided. The nutritional information may appear on posters, brochures, leaflets, or stickers near the fruit display. It may include serving size; calories per serving; amount of protein, total carbohydrates, total fat, and sodium per serving; and percent of the Recommended Daily Allowances for iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C per serving.

The following alphabetical list of fruits is designed as a reference to help you shop more intelligently.

applesThe many varieties of apples differ widely in appearance, flesh characteristics, seasonal availability, and suitability for different uses.

The best varieties to eat fresh are the commonly available: Red Delicious, McIntosh, Granny Smith, Empire, and Golden Delicious. For making pies and applesauce, use tart or slightly acid varieties such as Gravenstein, Grimes Golden, Jonathan, and Newtown.
For baking, the firmer fleshed varieties — Rome Beauty, Northern Spy, Rhode Island Greening, Winesap, and York Imperial — are widely used.

Look for firm, crisp, well-colored apples. Flavor varies in apples, and depends on the stage of maturity at the time that the fruit is picked. Apples must be mature when picked to have a good flavor, texture, and storing ability. Immature apples lack color and are usually poor in flavor. They may have a shriveled appearance after being held in storage.

Avoid overripe apples (indicated by a yielding to slight pressure on the skin, and soft, mealy flesh) and apples affected by freeze (indicated by internal breakdown and bruised areas).

Scald on apples (irregularly shaped tan or brown areas) may not seriously affect the taste.

Apple – Serving – 1 medium apple

 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 115.823 Calcium mg 9.660 Vitamin C mg 7.866
Energy kcal 81.420 Iron mg 0.248 Thiamin mg 0.023
Energy kj 340.860 Magnesium mg 6.900 Riboflavin mg 0.019
Protein g 0.262 Phosphorus mg 9.660 Niacin mg 0.106
Fat g 0.497 Potassium mg 158.700 Pantothenic acid mg 0.084
Carbohydrate g 21.045 Sodium mg 0.000 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.066
Fiber g 3.726 Zinc mg 0.055 Folate mcg 3.864
Copper mg 0.057 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.062 Vitamin A IU 73.140
Selenium mcg 0.414 Vitamin A, RE mcg 6.900
Vitamin E mg 0.442

apricotsMost fresh apricots are found in June and July, but a limited supply of imported apricots is available in large cities during December and January. Domestic apricots are grown principally in California, Washington, and Utah.

Apricots develop their flavor and sweetness on the tree, and should be mature but firm at the time that they are picked.

Look for apricots that are plump and juicy looking, with a uniform, golden-orange color. Ripe apricots will yield to gentle pressure on the skin.

Avoid dull-looking, soft, or mushy fruit, and very firm, pale yellow, or greenish-yellow fruit. These indicate over maturity or immaturity, respectively.

Apricot – Serving – 1 Apricot

 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 30.223 Calcium mg 4.900 Vitamin C mg 3.500
Energy kcal 16.800 Iron mg 0.189 Thiamin mg 0.011
Energy kj 70.350 Magnesium mg 2.800 Riboflavin mg 0.014
Protein g 0.490 Phosphorus mg 6.650 Niacin mg 0.210
Fat g 0.137 Potassium mg 103.600 Pantothenic acid mg 0.084
Carbohydrate g 3.892 Sodium mg 0.350 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.019
Fiber g 0.840 Zinc mg 0.091 Folate mcg 3.010
Copper mg 0.031 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.028 Vitamin A IU 914.200
Selenium mcg 0.140 Vitamin A, RE mcg 91.350
Vitamin E mg 0.311

avoAvocados, grown in California and Florida, are available all year. Two general types, and a number of varieties of each, are grown. Depending upon type and variety, avocados vary greatly in shape, size, and color. Most tend to be pear-shaped, but some are almost spherical. Fruits weighing less than 1/2 pound are most commonly available. Some have rough or leathery textured skin, while others have smooth skin. The skin color of most varieties is some shade of green, but certain varieties turn maroon, brown, or purplish-black as they ripen.

Despite this variation in appearance, avocados are of good eating quality when they are properly ripened, becoming slightly soft. This ripening process normally takes from 3 to 5 days at room temperature for the quite firm avocados usually found in grocery stores. Ripening can be slowed by refrigeration.

For immediate use look for slightly soft avocados, which yield to gentle pressure on the skin. For use in a few days, buy firm fruits that do not yield to the squeeze test. Leave them at room temperature to ripen. Irregular light-brown markings are sometimes found on the outside skin. These markings generally have no effect on the flesh of the avocado.

Avoid avocados with dark sunken spots in irregular patches or cracked or broken surfaces. These are signs of decay.

When preparing avocados, immediately place the peeled fruit in lemon juice until ready for use to avoid the browning of the flesh when exposed to the air

Avocados – Serving – 1 Cup Cubes
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 111.405 Calcium mg 16.500 Vitamin C mg 11.850
Energy kcal 241.500 Iron mg 1.530 Thiamin mg 0.162
Energy kj 1011.000 Magnesium mg 58.500 Riboflavin mg 0.183
Protein g 2.970 Phosphorus mg 61.500 Niacin mg 2.882
Fat g 22.980 Potassium mg 898.500 Pantothenic acid mg 1.457
Carbohydrate g 11.085 Sodium mg 15.000 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.420
Fiber g 7.500 Zinc mg 0.630 Folate mcg 92.850
Copper mg 0.393 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.339 Vitamin A IU 918.000
Selenium mcg 0.600 Vitamin A, RE mcg 91.500
Vitamin E mg 2.010


bananasBananas develop their best eating quality after they are harvested. This allows bananas to be shipped great distances. Almost our entire supply of bananas, available year-round, is imported from Central and South America. Bananas are sensitive to cool temperatures and will be injured in temperatures below 55 °F. For this reason, they should never be kept in the refrigerator. The ideal temperature for ripening bananas is between 60 and 70 °F. Higher temperatures cause them to ripen too rapidly.

Look for bananas, which are firm, bright in appearance, and free from bruises or other injury. The state of ripeness is indicated by skin color. Best eating quality has been reached when the solid yellow color is specked with brown. At this stage, the flesh is mellow and the flavor is fully developed. Bananas with green tips or with practically no yellow color have not developed their full flavor potential.

Avoid bruised fruit (indicating rapid deterioration and waste); discolored skins (a sign of decay); a dull, grayish, aged appearance (showing that the bananas have been exposed to cold and will not ripen properly). Occasionally, the skin may be entirely brown and yet the flesh will still be in prime condition.

Bananas – Serving – 1 Medium
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 87.627 Calcium mg 7.080 Vitamin C mg 10.738
Energy kcal 108.560 Iron mg 0.366 Thiamin mg 0.053
Energy kj 454.300 Magnesium mg 34.22 Riboflavin mg 0.118
Protein g 1.215 Phosphorus mg 23.600 Niacin mg 0.637
Fat g 0.566 Potassium mg 467.280 Pantothenic acid mg 0.307
Carbohydrate g 27.647 Sodium mg 1.180 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.682
Fiber g 2.832 Zinc mg 0.189 Folate mcg 22.538
Copper mg 0.123 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.179 Vitamin A IU 95.580
Selenium mcg 1.298 Vitamin A, RE mcg 9.440
Vitamin E mg 0.319

blueFresh blueberries are on the market from May through September. Generally, the large berries are cultivated varieties and the smaller berries are wild varieties.

A dark blue color with a silvery bloom is the best indication of quality. This silvery bloom is a natural, protective, waxy coating. Buy blueberries that are plump, firm, uniform in size, dry, and free from stems or leaves.

Avoid soft, mushy, or leaking berries.

Blueberries – Serving – 1 Cup
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 122.685 Calcium mg 8.700 Vitamin C mg 18.840
Energy kcal 81.200 Iron mg 0.247 Thiamin mg 0.070
Energy kj 339.300 Magnesium mg 7.250 Riboflavin mg 0.072
Protein g 0.972 Phosphorus mg 14.500 Niacin mg 0.521
Fat g 0.551 Potassium mg 129.050 Pantothenic acid mg 0.135
Carbohydrate g 20.488 Sodium mg 8.700 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.052
Fiber g 3.915 Zinc mg 0.160 Folate mcg 9.280
Copper mg 0.088 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.409 Vitamin A IU 145.000
Selenium mcg 0.870 Vitamin A, RE mcg 14.500
Vitamin E mg 1.450

cherryMost sweet cherries found in grocery stores are produced in the Western States and are available from May through August. Red tart cherries, also called sour or pie cherries and used mainly in cooked desserts, have a softer flesh, lighter red color, and a tart flavor. They generally are shipped to processing plants and are sold frozen or canned.

Good cherries have bright, glossy, plump-looking surfaces and fresh-looking stems.
A very dark color is your most important indication of good flavor and maturity in sweet cherries. Bing, Black Tartarian, Schmidt, Chapman, and Republican varieties should range from deep maroon or mahogany red to black for richest flavor. Lambert cherries should be dark red. Rainier cherries should be straw-colored.

Avoid over mature cherries lacking in flavor, indicated by shriveling, dried stems, and a generally dull appearance. Decay is fairly common at times on sweet cherries, but because of the normal dark color, decayed areas are often inconspicuous. Soft, leaking flesh, brown discoloration, and mold growth are indications of decay.

Cherries – Serving – 1 cup
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 117.102 Calcium mg 21.750 Vitamin C mg 10.150
Energy kcal 104.400 Iron mg 0.566 Thiamin mg 0.072
Energy kj 436.450 Magnesium mg 15.950 Riboflavin mg 0.087
Protein g 1.740 Phosphorus mg 27.550 Niacin mg 0.580
Fat g 1.392 Potassium mg 324.800 Pantothenic acid mg 0.184
Carbohydrate g 23.997 Sodium mg 0.000 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.052
Fiber g 3.335 Zinc mg 0.087 Folate mcg 6.090
Copper mg 0.138 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.133 Vitamin A IU 310.300
Selenium mcg 0.870 Vitamin A, RE mcg 30.450
Vitamin E mg 0.189

cranA number of varieties of fresh cranberries are marketed in large volume from September through January. They differ considerably in size and color, but are not identified by variety names in your grocery store.

For the best quality look for plump, firm berries with a lustrous color. Duller varieties should at least have some red color.

Avoid brown or dark, discolored berries and soft, spongy, or leaky berries should be sorted out before cooking, because they may produce an off-flavor.

Cranberries – Serving – 1 cup chopped
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 95.194 Calcium mg 7.70 Vitamin C mg 14.850
Energy kcal 53.900 Iron mg 0.220 Thiamin mg 0.033
Energy kj 225.500 Magnesium mg 5.500 Riboflavin mg 0.022
Protein g 0.429 Phosphorus mg 9.900 Niacin mg 0.110
Fat g 0.220 Potassium mg 78.100 Pantothenic acid mg 0.241
Carbohydrate g 13.948 Sodium mg 1.100 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.072
Fiber g 4.620 Zinc mg 0.143 Folate mcg 1.870
Copper mg 0.064 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.173 Vitamin A IU 50.600
 Selenium mcg 0.660 Vitamin A, RE mcg 5.500
Vitamin E mg 0.110

grapefruitGrapefruit is available all year, with most abundant supplies from January through May. While Florida is the major source of fresh grapefruit, there also is substantial production in Texas, California, and Arizona. Several varieties are marketed, but the principal distinction in your grocery store is between those which are “seedless” (having few or no seeds) and the “seeded” type. Another distinction is color of flesh. Pink- or red-fleshed fruit is most common, but white-fleshed varieties are also available.

Grapefruit is picked “tree ripe” and is ready to eat when you buy it in the store.

For best eating look for firm fruits, that are heavy for their size.. Thin-skinned fruits have more juice than coarse-skinned ones. If a grapefruit is pointed at the stem end, it is likely to be thick-skinned. Rough, ridged, or wrinkled skin can also be an indication of thick skin, pulpiness, and lack of juice. Grapefruit often have skin defects such as scale, scars, thorn scratches, or discoloration. This usually does not affect how the fruit tastes.

Soft, water-soaked areas, lack of bright color, and soft, tender peel that breaks easily with finger pressure are symptoms of decay.

Grapefruit – Serving – 1/2 
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 112.397 Calcium mg 13.530 Vitamin C mg 46.863
Energy kcal 36.900 Iron mg 0.148 Thiamin mg 0.042
Energy kj 154.980 Magnesium mg 9.840 Riboflavin mg 0.025
Protein g 0.677 Phosphorus mg 11.070 Niacin mg 0.235
Fat g 0.123 Potassium mg 158.670 Pantothenic acid mg 0.348
Carbohydrate g 9.446 Sodium mg 0.000 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.052
Zinc mg 0.086 Folate mcg 15.006
Copper mg 0.054 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.012 Vitamin A IU 318.570
Vitamin A, RE mcg 31.980

grapesMost table grapes available in grocery stores are of the European type, grown principally in California and Arizona. Only small quantities of Eastern-grown American-type grapes are sold for table use.

European types are firm-fleshed and generally have high sugar content. Common varieties are Thompson seedless (an early, green grape), Red seedless (an early, red grape), Tokay and Cardinal (early, bright-red, seeded grapes), and Emperor (late, deep-red, seeded grapes). These all have excellent flavor when well matured.

American-type grapes have softer flesh and are juicier than European types. The outstanding variety for flavor is the Concord, which is blue-black when fully matured. Delaware and Catawba are also popular.

Look for well-colored, plump grapes that are firmly attached to the stem. White or green grapes are sweetest when the color has a yellowish cast or straw color, with a tinge of amber. Red varieties are better when red is visible on all or most of the grapes. Bunches are more likely to hold together if the stems are predominantly green and pliable.

Avoid soft or wrinkled grapes, or bunches of grapes with stems that are brown and brittle; these are the effects of freezing or drying. Also avoid grapes with bleached areas around the stem ends (indicating injury and poor quality), and leaking berries (a sign of decay).

Grapes -Serving – 1 Cup
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 74.796 Calcium mg 12.880 Vitamin C mg 3.680
Energy kcal 61.640 Iron mg 0.267 Thiamin mg 0.085
Energy kj 257.600 Magnesium mg 4.600 Riboflavin mg 0.052
Protein g 0.580 Phosphorus mg 9.200 Niacin mg 0.276
Fat g 0.322 Potassium mg 175.720 Pantothenic acid mg 0.022
Carbohydrate g 15.778 Sodium mg 1.840 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.101
Fiber g 0.920 Zinc mg 0.037 Folate mcg 3.588
Copper mg 0.037 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.661 Vitamin A IU 92.000
Selenium mcg 0.184 Vitamin A, RE mcg 9.200
Vitamin E mg 0.313

kiwiThe kiwifruit is a relatively small, ellipsoid-shaped fruit with a bright green, slightly acidic-tasting pulp surrounding many small, black, edible seeds, which in turn surround a pale heart. The exterior of the kiwifruit is unappealing to some, being somewhat “furry” and light to medium brown in color. (While the furry skin is edible, some prefer to peel the fruit before eating.) Domestic kiwifruit is produced primarily in California, but imported kiwifruit is also commonly marketed.

Look for plump, unwrinkled fruit, either firm or slightly yielding. Kiwifruit is fully ripe when it is yielding to the touch but not soft. Firm kiwifruit can be ripened at home in a few days by leaving it at room temperature. Use of a ripening bag or bowl will speed the process.

Avoid kiwi that show signs of shriveling, mold, or excessive softening, all of which indicate spoilage. Some kiwifruit may appear to have a “water-stained” exterior. This is perfectly normal for the fruit and does not affect interior quality in any way.

Kiwifruit contains an enzyme, actinidin, similar to papain in papayas that reacts chemically to break down proteins. (It has been used as a “secret ingredient” to tenderize meat.) Actinidin prevents gelatin from setting, so if you are going to serve kiwifruit in a gelatin dish, cook the fruit for a few minutes before adding it to the gelatin.

Kiwifruit – Serving – 1 Cup
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 146.999 Calcium mg 46.020 Vitamin C mg 173.460
Energy kcal 107.970 Iron mg 0.726 Thiamin mg 0.035
Energy kj 451.350 Magnesium mg 53.100 Riboflavin mg 0.088
Protein g 1.752 Phosphorus mg 70.800 Niacin mg 0.885
Fat g 0.779 Potassium mg 587.640 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.159
Carbohydrate g 26.338 Sodium mg 8.850 Folate mcg 67.260
Fiber g 6.018 Zinc mg 0.301 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Copper mg 0.278 Vitamin A IU 309.750
Selenium mcg 1.062 Vitamin A, RE mcg 31.860
Vitamin E mg 1.982

lemonsMost of the commercial lemon supply comes from California and Arizona, and is available year-round.

Look for lemons with a rich yellow color, reasonably smooth-textured skin with a slight gloss, and those, which are firm and heavy. A pale or greenish-yellow color indicates very fresh fruit with slightly higher acidity. Coarse or rough skin texture is a sign of thick skin and not much flesh.

Avoid lemons with a darker yellow or dull color, or with hardened or shriveled skin (signs of age), and those with soft spots, mold on the surface, and punctures of the skin (signs of decay).

Lemons – Serving – 1 wedge or slice (1/8 of one 2-1/8 dia lemon)
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 6.229 Calcium mg 1.820 Vitamin C mg 3.710
Energy kcal 2.030 Iron mg 0.042 Thiamin mg 0.003
Energy kj 8.470 Magnesium mg 0.560 Riboflavin mg 0.001
Protein g 0.077 Phosphorus mg 1.120 Niacin mg 0.007
Fat g 0.021 Potassium mg 9.660 Pantothenic acid mg 0.013
Carbohydrate g 0.652 Sodium mg 0.140 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.006
Fiber g 0.196 Zinc mg 0.004 Folate mcg 0.742
Copper mg 0.003 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.002 Vitamin A IU 2.030
Selenium mcg 0.028 Vitamin A, RE mcg 0.210
Vitamin E mg 0.017

limesMost limes sold at retail are produced in Florida or imported from Mexico, and are marketed when mature. Imported limes are mostly the smaller “seeded” lime.

Look for limes with glossy skin and heavy weight for the size.

Avoid limes with dull, dry skin (a sign of aging and loss of acid flavor), and those showing evidence of decay (soft spots, mold, and skin punctures.)
Selection of melons for quality and flavor is difficult, challenging the skill of even the most experienced buyer. Although no absolute formula exists, considering several factors when judging a melon will increase the likelihood of success.

Limes Serving – 1 Lime (2″ Dia)
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 59.134 Calcium mg 22.110 Vitamin C mg 19.497
Energy kcal 20.100 Iron mg 0.402 Thiamin mg 0.020
Energy kj 84.420 Magnesium mg 4.020 Riboflavin mg 0.013
Protein g 0.469 Phosphorus mg 13.060 Niacin mg 0.134
Fat g 0.134 Potassium mg 68.340 Pantothenic acid mg 0.145
Carbohydrate g 7.062 Sodium mg 1.340 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.029
Fiber g 1.876 Zinc mg 0.074 Folate mcg 5.494
Copper mg 0.044 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.005 Vitamin A IU 6.700
Selenium mcg 0.268 Vitamin A, RE mcg 0.670
Vitamin E mg 0.161

THE MELONS (Cantaloupe, Honey Dew and Watermelon)

cantaCantaloupes, generally available from May through September, are produced principally in California, Arizona, and Texas. Some are also imported early in the season.

There are three major signs of full maturity. First, the stem should be gone, leaving a smooth symmetrical, shallow base called a “full slip.” If all or part of the stem base remains, or if the stem scar is jagged or torn, the melon is probably not fully matured. Second, the netting, or veining, should be thick, coarse, and corky, and should stand out in bold relief over some part of the surface. Third, the skin color (ground color) between the netting should have changed from green to yellowish-buff, yellowish-gray, or pale yellow.

A cantaloupe might be mature, but not ripe. A ripe cantaloupe will have a yellowish cast to the rind, a pleasant aroma, and yield slightly to light thumb pressure on the blossom end of the melon. Most cantaloupe are quite firm when freshly displayed in retail stores. While some may be ripe, most have not yet reached their best eating stage. Hold them for 2 to 4 days at room temperature to allow completion of ripening. After conditioning the melons, some people like to place them in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

Over ripeness is indicated by a pronounced yellow rind color, a softening over the entire rind, and soft, watery, and insipid flesh. Small bruises normally will not hurt the fruit, but large bruised areas should be avoided, since they generally cause soft, water-soaked areas underneath the rind. Mold growth on the cantaloupe (particularly in the stem scar, or if the tissue under the mold is soft and wet) is a sign of decay.

Cantaloupe – Serving – 1 Medium Wedge (1/8 of medium melon)
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 61.948 Calcium mg 7.590 Vitamin C mg 29.118
Energy kcal 24.150 Iron mg 0.145 Thiamin mg 0.025
Energy kj 100.740 Magnesium mg 7.590 Riboflavin mg 0.014
Protein g 0.607 Phosphorus mg 11.730 Niacin mg 0.396
Fat g 0.193 Potassium mg 213.210 Pantothenic acid mg 0.088
Carbohydrate g 5.768 Sodium mg 6.210 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.079
Fiber g 0.552 Zinc mg 0.110 Folate mcg 11.730
Copper mg 0.029 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.032 Vitamin A IU 2224.560
Selenium mcg 0.276 Vitamin A, RE mcg 222.180
Vitamin E mg 0.103

Honey Dew

honeyThe outstanding flavor characteristics of honeydews make them highly prized as a dessert fruit. The melon is large (4 to 8 lb.), bluntly oval in shape, and generally very smooth with only occasional traces of surface netting. The rind is firm and ranges from creamy white to creamy yellow, depending on the stage of ripeness. The stem does not separate from the fruit, and must be cut for harvesting.
Honey dew are available to some extent almost all year round, due in part to imports during the winter and spring. Chief sources, however, are California, Arizona, and Texas. The most abundant supplies are available from July through October.

A soft, velvety texture indicates maturity. Slight softening at the blossom end, a faint pleasant fruit aroma, and yellowish-white to creamy rind color indicate ripeness.

Dead-white or greenish-white color and a hard, smooth feel are signs of immaturity. Large, water-soaked, bruised areas are signs of injury; and cuts or punctures through the rind usually lead to decay. Small, superficial, sunken spots do not damage the melon for immediate use, but large decayed spots will.

Honeydew Melon – Serving – 1 Wedge (1/8 of 5-1/4 dia melon)
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 112.075 Calcium mg 7.500 Vitamin C mg 31.000
Energy kcal 43.750 Iron mg 0.087 Thiamin mg 0.096
Energy kj 182.500 Magnesium mg 8.750 Riboflavin mg 0.022
Protein g 0.575 Phosphorus mg 12.500 Niacin mg 0.750
Fat g 0.125 Potassium mg 338.750 Pantothenic acid mg 0.259
Carbohydrate g 11.475 Sodium mg 12.500 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.074
Fiber g 0.750 Zinc mg 0.087 Folate mcg 7.500
Copper mg 0.051 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.022 Vitamin A IU 50.000
Selenium mcg 0.500 Vitamin A, RE mcg 5.000
Vitamin E mg 0.188

watermelonWatermelons are available to some degree from early May through September, but peak supplies come in June, July, and August. Judging the quality of a watermelon is very difficult unless it is cut in half or quartered.

Look for firm, juicy flesh with good red color that is free from white streaks; and seeds that are dark brown or black. Seedless watermelons often contain small white, immature seeds, which are normal for this type.

Avoid melons with pale-colored flesh, white streaks (or “white heart”), and whitish seeds (indicating immaturity). Dry, mealy flesh, or watery stringy flesh is a sign of over maturity or aging after harvest.

If you want to buy an uncut watermelon, here are a few appearance factors, which may be helpful (though not totally reliable) in guiding you to a satisfactory selection. The watermelon surface should be relatively smooth; the rind should have a slight dullness (neither shiny nor dull); the ends of the melon should be filled out and rounded; and the underside, or “belly” of the melon should have a creamy color.

Watermelon – Serving – 1 Wedge (1/16 of Melon)
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 261.719 Calcium mg 22.880 Vitamin C mg 27.456
Energy kcal 91.520 Iron mg 0.486 Thiamin mg 0.229
Energy kj 383.240 Magnesium mg 31.460 Riboflavin mg 0.057
Protein g 1.773 Phosphorus mg 25.740 Niacin mg 0.572
Fat g 1.230 Potassium mg 331.760 Pantothenic acid mg 0.606
Carbohydrate g 20.535 Sodium mg 5.720 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.412
Fiber g 1.430 Zinc mg 0.200 Folate mcg 6.292
Copper mg 0.092 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.106 Vitamin A IU 1046.760
Selenium mcg 0.286 Vitamin A, RE mcg 105.820
Vitamin E mg 0.429

nextarinesNectarines, which are available from June through September from California, combines characteristics of both the peach and the plum.

Look for rich color and plumpness, and a slight softening along the “seam” of the fruit. Most varieties have an orange-yellow background color between the red areas, but some varieties have a greenish background color. Bright-looking fruits, which are firm to moderately hard, will probably ripen within 2 or 3 days at room temperature.

Avoid hard, dull fruits or slightly shriveled fruits (which may be immature — picked too soon — and of poor eating quality) and soft or overripe fruits or those with cracked or punctured skin or other signs of decay. Russeting or staining of the skin may affect the appearance but not detract from the internal quality of the nectarine.

Nectarines – Serving – 1 Nectarine (2-1/2 Dia)
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 117.341 Calcium mg 6.800 Vitamin C mg 7.344
Energy kcal 66.640 Iron mg 0.204 Thiamin mg 0.023
Energy kj 278.800 Magnesium mg 10.880 Riboflavin mg 0.056
Protein g 1.278 Phosphorus mg 21.760 Niacin mg 1.346
Fat g 0.626 Potassium mg 288.320 Pantothenic acid mg 0.215
Carbohydrate g 16.021 Sodium mg 0.000 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.034
Fiber g 2.176 Zinc mg 0.122 Folate mcg 5.032
Copper mg 0.099 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.060 Vitamin A IU 1000.960
Selenium mcg 0.544 Vitamin A, RE mcg 100.640
Vitamin E mg 1.210

orangesCalifornia, Florida, Texas, and Arizona produce our year-round supply of oranges. Leading varieties from California and Arizona are the Washington Navel and the Valencia, both characterized by a rich orange skin color. The Navel orange, available from November until early May, has a thicker, somewhat more pebbled skin than the Valencia; the skin is more easily removed by hand, and the segments separate more readily. It is ideally suited for eating as a whole fruit or in segments in salads. The western Valencia orange, available from late April through October, is excellent either for juicing or for slicing in salads.

Florida and Texas orange crops are marketed from early October until late June. Parson Brown and Hamlin are early varieties, while the Pineapple orange — an important, high-quality orange for eating — is available from late November through March. Florida and Texas Valencia’s are marketed from late March through June. The Florida Temple orange is available from early December until early March. Somewhat like the California Navel, it peels easily, separates into segments readily, and has excellent flavor.

Oranges are required by strict State regulations to be mature before being harvested and shipped out of the producing State. Thus, skin color is not a reliable index of quality, and a greenish cast or green spots do not mean that the orange is immature. Often fully matured oranges will turn greenish (called “regreening”) late in the marketing season. Some oranges are artificially colored to improve their appearance. This practice has no effect on eating quality, but artificially colored fruits must be labeled “color added.”

“Discoloration” is often found on Florida and Texas oranges, but not on California oranges. This is a tan, brown, or blackish mottling or specking over the skin. It has no effect on eating quality, and in fact often occurs on oranges with thin skin and superior eating quality.

Look for firm and heavy oranges with fresh, bright-looking skin, which is reasonably smooth for the variety.

Avoid lightweight oranges, which are likely to lack flesh content and juice. Very rough skin texture indicates abnormally thick skin and less flesh. Dull, dry skin and spongy texture indicate aging and deteriorated eating quality. Also avoid decay — shown by cuts or skin punctures, soft spots on the surface, and discolored, weakened areas of skin around the stem end or button.

Oranges – Serving – 1 Orange ( 2-5/8″ dia)
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 113.642 Calcium mg 52.400 Vitamin C mg 69.692
Energy kcal 61.570 Iron mg 0.131 Thiamin mg 0.114
Energy kj 258.070 Magnesium mg 13.100 Riboflavin mg 0.052
Protein g 1.231 Phosphorus mg 18.340 Niacin mg 0.369
Fat g 0.157 Potassium mg 237.110 Pantothenic acid mg 0.328
Carbohydrate g 15.393 Sodium mg 0.000 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.079
Fiber g 3.144 Zinc mg 0.092 Folate mcg 39.693
Copper mg 0.059 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.033 Vitamin A IU 268.550
Selenium mcg 0.655 Vitamin A, RE mcg 27.510
Vitamin E mg 0.314

peachesA great many varieties of peaches are grown, but only an expert can distinguish one from another. These varieties, available May to November, fall into two general types: freestone (flesh readily separates from the pit) and clingstone (flesh clings tightly to the pit). Freestones are usually preferred for eating fresh or for freezing, while clingstones are used primarily for canning, although they are sometimes sold fresh.

Look for peaches, which are fairly firm, or becoming a trifle soft. The skin color between the red areas (ground color) should be yellow or at least creamy.

Avoid very firm or hard peaches with a distinctly green ground color, which are probably immature and won’t ripen properly. Also avoid very soft fruits, which are overripe. Don’t buy peaches with large flattened bruises (they’ll have large areas of discolored flesh underneath) or peaches with any sign of decay. Decay starts as a pale tan spot, which expands in a circle and gradually turns darker in color.

Peaches – Serving – 1 Medium
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 85.907 Calcium mg 4.900 Vitamin C mg 6.468
Energy kcal 42.140 Iron mg 0.108 Thiamin mg 0.017
Energy kj 176.400 Magnesium mg 6.860 Riboflavin mg 0.040
Protein g 0.686 Phosphorus mg 11.760 Niacin mg 0.970
Fat g 0.088 Potassium mg 193.060 Pantothenic acid mg 0.167
Carbohydrate g 10.878 Sodium mg 0.000 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.018
Fiber g 1.960 Zinc mg 0.137 Folate mcg 3.332
Copper mg 0.067 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.046 Vitamin A IU 524.300
Selenium mcg 0.392 Vitamin A, RE mcg 52.920
Vitamin E mg 0.686

pearsThe most popular variety of pear is the Bartlett, which are produced in great quantities (in California, Washington, and Oregon) both for canning and for sale as a fresh fruit. With the aid of cold storage, Bartlett pears are available from early August through November.

Several fall and winter varieties of pears are grown in Washington, Oregon, and California, and shipped to fresh fruit markets. These varieties — Anjou, Bosc, Winter Nellis, and Comice — keep well in cold storage and are available over a long period, from November until May.

Look for firm pears of all varieties. The color depends on variety. For Bartletts, look for a pale yellow to rich yellow color; Anjou or Comice — light green to yellowish-green; Bosc — greenish-yellow to brownish-yellow (the brown cast is caused by skin russeting, a characteristic of the Bosc pear); Winter Nellis — medium to light green.
Pears, which are hard when you find them in the grocery store, will probably ripen if kept at room temperature, but it is wise to select pears that have already begun to soften — to be reasonably sure that they will ripen satisfactorily.

Avoid wilted or shriveled pears with dull-appearing skin and slight weakening of the flesh near the stem, which indicates immaturity. These pears will not ripen. Also avoid spots on the sides or blossom ends of the pear, which means that corky tissue may be underneath.

Pears – Serving – 1 Medium
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 139.125 Calcium mg 18.260 Vitamin C mg 6.640
Energy kcal 97.940 Iron mg 0.415 Thiamin mg 0.033
Energy kj 410.020 Magnesium mg 9.960 Riboflavin mg 0.066
Protein g 0.647 Phosphorus mg 18.260 Niacin mg 0.166
Fat g 0.644 Potassium mg 207.500 Pantothenic acid mg 0.116
Carbohydrate g 25.083 Sodium mg 0.000 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.030
Fiber g 3.984 Zinc mg 0.199 Folate mcg 12.118
Copper mg 0.188 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.126 Vitamin A IU 33.200
Selenium mcg 1.660 Vitamin A, RE mcg 3.320
Vitamin E mg 0.830

pineapplesPineapples are available all year, but are most abundant from March through June. Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Mexico are principal suppliers. Present marketing practices, including air shipments, allow pineapples to be harvested as nearly ripe as possible. They are delivered to market near the peak of sweetness, with color ranging from green to orange and yellow. A mature green pineapple will normally turn yellow to orange within a few days at room temperature, but many are already fully colored when you find them in the grocery store.

Look for bright color, fragrant pineapple aroma, and a very slight separation of the eyes or pips — the berry-like fruitlets patterned in a spiral on the fruit core. At their mature stage, pineapples are usually dark green, firm, plump, and heavy for their size. The larger the fruit, the greater the proportion of edible flesh.

As the popular varieties ripen, the green color turns to orange and yellow. When fully colored, pineapples are golden yellow, orange-yellow, or reddish brown, depending on the variety.

Avoid pineapples with sunken or slightly pointed pips, dull yellowish-green color, and a dried appearance — all signs of immaturity. Also avoid bruised fruit, shown by discolored or soft spots, which are susceptible to decay. Other signs of decay are traces of mold, unpleasant odor, and eyes, which are dark and watery.

Pineapple – Serving – 1 Cup Diced
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 134.075 Calcium mg 10.850 Vitamin C mg 23.870
Energy kcal 75.950 Iron mg 0.574 Thiamin mg 0.143
Energy kj 317.750 Magnesium mg 21.700 Riboflavin mg 0.056
Protein g 0.605 Phosphorus mg 10.850 Niacin mg 0.651
Fat g 0.667 Potassium mg 175.150 Pantothenic acid mg 0.248
Carbohydrate g 19.204 Sodium mg 1.550 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.135
Fiber g 1.860 Zinc mg 0.124 Folate mcg 16.430
Copper mg 0.171 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 2.556 Vitamin A IU 35.650
Selenium mcg 0.930 Vitamin A, RE mcg 3.100
Vitamin E mg 0.155

Plums and Prunes

plumsQuality characteristics for both are very similar, and the same buying tips apply to both.  Plums — A number of varieties of plums are produced in California and are available from June to September. Varieties differ slightly in appearance and flavor, so you should buy and taste one to see if that variety appeals to you.
Prunes — Only a few varieties of prunes are commonly marketed, and they are all very similar. Prunes are purplish-black or bluish-black, with a moderately firm flesh, which separates freely from the pit. Most commercial production is in the Northwestern States. Fresh prunes are available in grocery stores from August through October.

Look for plums and prunes with a good color for the variety, that are in a fairly firm to slightly soft stage of ripeness.

Avoid fruits with skin breaks, punctures, or brownish discoloration. Also avoid immature fruits (relatively hard, poorly colored, very tart, sometimes shriveled) and over mature fruits (excessively soft, possibly leaking or decaying).

Plums – Serving – 1 Plum (2-1/8″ dia)
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 56.232 Calcium mg 2.640 Vitamin C mg 6.270
Energy kcal 36.300 Iron mg 0.066 Thiamin mg 0.028
Energy kj 151.800 Magnesium mg 4.620 Riboflavin mg 0.063
Protein g 0.521 Phosphorus mg 6.600 Niacin mg 0.330
Fat g 0.409 Potassium mg 113.520 Pantothenic acid mg 0.120
Carbohydrate g 8.587 Sodium mg 0.000 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.053
Fiber g 0.990 Zinc mg 0.066 Folate mcg 1.320
Copper mg 0.028 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.032 Vitamin A IU 213.180
Selenium mcg 0.330 Vitamin A, RE mcg 21.120
Vitamin E mg 0.396

Raspberries, Boysenberries, etc.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlackberries, raspberries, dewberries, loganberries, and youngberries are similar in general structure. They differ from one another in shape or color, but quality factors are about the same for all.

Look for a bright, clean appearance and a uniform good color for the species. The individual small cells making up the berry should be plump and tender but not mushy. Look for berries that are fully ripened, with no attached stem caps.

Avoid leaky and moldy berries. You can usually spot them through the openings in the ventilated plastic containers. Also look for wet or stained spots on wood or fiber containers, as possible signs of poor quality or spoiled berries.

Raspberries – Serving – 1 cup
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 103.481 Calcium mg 27.060 Vitamin C mg 30.750
Energy kcal 60.270 Iron mg 0.701 Thiamin mg 0.037
Energy kj 252.150 Magnesium mg 22.140 Riboflavin mg 0.111
Protein g 1.119 Phosphorus mg 14.760 Niacin mg 1.107
Fat g 0.677 Potassium mg 186.960 Pantothenic acid mg 0.295
Carbohydrate g 14.231 Sodium mg 0.000 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.070
Fiber g 8.364 Zinc mg 0.566 Folate mcg 31.980
Copper mg 0.091 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 1.246 Vitamin A IU 159.900
Selenium mcg 0.738 Vitamin A, RE mcg 15.990
Vitamin E mg 0.553

strawFirst shipments of strawberries come from southern Florida in January, and then production increases, gradually spreading north and west into many parts of the country before tapering off in the fall. Strawberries are in best supply in May and June.

Look for berries with a full red color and a bright luster, firm flesh, and the cap stem still attached. The berries should be dry and clean, and usually medium to small strawberries have better eating quality then large ones.

Avoid berries with large uncolored areas or with large seedy areas (poor in flavor and texture), a full shrunken appearance or softness (signs of over ripeness or decay), or those with mold, which can spread rapidly from one berry to another.

In most containers of strawberries you will likely find a few that are less desirable than others. Try to look at some of berries lower in the container to be sure that they are reasonably free from defects or decay.

Strawberries – Serving – 1 Cup
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 131.861 Calcium mg 20.160 Vitamin C mg 81.648
Energy kcal 43.200 Iron mg 0.547 Thiamin mg 0.029
Energy kj 181.440 Magnesium mg 14.400 Riboflavin mg 0.095
Protein g 0.878 Phosphorus mg 27.360 Niacin mg 0.331
Fat g 0.533 Potassium mg 239.040 Pantothenic acid mg 0.490
Carbohydrate g 10.109 Sodium mg 1.440 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.085
Fiber g 3.312 Zinc mg 0.187 Folate mcg 25.488
Copper mg 0.071 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.418 Vitamin A IU 38.880
Selenium mcg 1.008 Vitamin A, RE mcg 4.320
Vitamin E mg 0.202

tangFlorida is the chief source of tangerines. Considerable quantities of tangerines and similar types of oranges are produced in California and Arizona, some in Texas, and few are imported. Tangerines are available from late November until early March, with peak supplies in December and January. The Murcott, a large, excellent variety of orange resembling the tangerine, is available from late February through April.

A deep yellow or orange color and a bright luster are your best sign of fresh, mature, good-flavored tangerines. Because of the typically loose nature of tangerine skins, they will frequently not feel firm to the touch.

Avoid very pale yellow or greenish fruits, which are likely to be lacking in flavor (although small green areas on otherwise high-colored fruit are not bad), and tangerines with cut or punctured skins or very soft spots (all signs of decay, which spreads rapidly).

Tangerines, Mandarin Oranges – Serving – 1 Medium (2-3/8″ dia)
 Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams  Nutrient Units Grams
Water g 73.584 Calcium mg 11.760 Vitamin C mg 25.872
Energy kcal 36.960 Iron mg 0.084 Thiamin mg 0.088
Energy kj 154.560 Magnesium mg 10.080 Riboflavin mg 0.018
Protein g 0.529 Phosphorus mg 8.400 Niacin mg 0.134
Fat g 0.160 Potassium mg 131.880 Pantothenic acid mg 0.168
Carbohydrate g 9.400 Sodium mg 0.840 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.056
Fiber g 1.932 Zinc mg 0.202 Folate mcg 17.136
Copper mg 0.024 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000
Manganese mg 0.027 Vitamin A IU 772.800
Selenium mcg 0.420 Vitamin A, RE mcg 77.280
Vitamin E mg 0.202