It's summertime, and with these scorching temps, the idea of heavy, rich food is less than appetizing. Besides, who wants a bloated belly when donning that sexy new swimsuit? Instead, it's all about fruits and veggies for the next couple of months. (Mango Festival, anyone?)
And in our neck of the woods, summertime means tropical fruit season, so we should all be getting our fill of mango, Thai guava, coconuts and all those delicacies that people in the Northeast would kill for.
So, to make sure we're getting the choicest stock in the produce bins, we spoke to Gabriele Marewski, owner of Paradise Farms for some tips on picking the best of the herbivorous bunch.
For tropical fruit, says Marewski, it's often about the smell. So give those fruits a nose before you snag 'em.
"There are mangoes in season, jackfruit, mamey, passion fruit, longan, Thai guava - that's what's local," Marewski says.
"With jackfruit you do want it to have some give. You should be able to smell it, it has a strong odor and you like that strong odor because that lets you know it's ripe."
Ripe jackfruit, for those unfamiliar, tastes like a cross between a banana and a pineapple.
"With mangoes, when they have color break -- you can see that it's not all one color. It turns into other colors. You can smell a mango too when its ripe. A mango will have a little bit of give to it also," she says.
"Thai guava -- it's hard like an apple. Regular guava will be in season in August. You can smell it and it should have a little bit of give as well."
With sapodilla, "it should be very soft to the touch," Marewski adds. Sapodilla tastes similar to a pear, with a note of brown sugar.
And there are always coconuts. "Shake it and you can hear the milk in it. Drink the milk and scoop out the meat."
As far as veggies, locally, it's basically all about the okra right now. "It should look fresh, not wrinkled -- plump and fresh."
And where should you go to stock up on all this bountiful beauty? Homestead and the Redlands are your best bets, particularly to avoid supermarket rip offs.
"Locally, Robert Is Here fruit stand, and there are a lot of the little markets up and down Krome Ave. And then there's the market on U.S. 1 and SW 248th street, Redland Market Village. They have a very big farmers' market."
Above all else, Marewski says, EAT LOCAL. And, skip the tomatoes. They don't grow locally this time of year.
"Right now is when tropical fruits are in season and we really try to educate people and say tropical fruits, tropical fruits, tropical fruits!"
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.
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