Blueberries, mangoes, peaches, strawberries and watermelons are some of the summer's best offerings. Whether you're grabbing one as a snack, tossing some into your breakfast cereal, or slapping them on a grill, these fruits are a fresh way to brighten up a summertime meal. But how do you know which ones are best? And how will you use them all up while they're still perfectly ripe? Here are a few tried and true tips to picking the best fruits!

Generally, in the world of fruit: size doesn't matter! In fact, it's likely that the mammoth, hulking fruit you see slowly crushing its peers into submission is vastly overcompensating for its watered-down taste. To maximize freshness, sweetness, and longevity, what you want are fruits that are heavy for their size, regardless of their size, have clean, firm cut ends which are not soft, slimy, or overly dirty, and are unblemished.

Traditional tactics like squeezing a fruit lightly to see if it has any give does work, but you have to take into account the fact that other people are likely to have done the same thing.

1. Blueberries: Look for firm, dry berries.  Wateriness and wrinkles are signs that a berry is overripe.  Store covered in the refrigerator.

Blueberry Brownies (by Eat My Cake Now)

Blueberry and Ginger Cheesecake (from Spicy Ice Cream)

  2. Mangoes: Look for a greenish color with orange and red hues that gives a slight yield to pressure (but not mushy). Mangoes continue ripening at room temperature after being picked.

Spicy Thai Chili Mango Sauce (from Food Wishes)

Mango Gazpacho (from Delishhh)

  3. Peaches: Look for ones that are smooth, unblemished, and give a slight yield to the touch.  Peaches continue ripening after they are picked, and will give off a light aroma when fully ripe.

Peach Caprese Salad (from Blue Kitchen)

Peach Bars (from Branny Boils Over)

  4. Strawberries: Look for bright red coloration. Top leaves should be attached and healthy looking.  Store strawberries loosely covered in the fridge and discard spoiled berries (as this can accelerate decomposition for the whole bunch).

Strawberry Rhubarb Mojitos (from What She's Having)

Strawberry and Goat Cheese Bruschetta (from The Corner Kitchen)

  5. Watermelons: Whole watermelon should be firm without bruises, cuts, or dents.  Sliced watermelon should be brightly pink or red with few striations (a sign of age).  Watermelon do not ripen after picking, so it is important to pick a ripe one when you purchase it. Also, the temperature of the watermelon should be maintained; if you bought it at room temperature, keep it at room temperature. If you bought it refrigerated, store it in the fridge.

Seared Watermelon (from Herbivoracious)

Fresh Mint and Watermelon Soda Floats (from How Sweet Eats)

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