Image of shopping basket full of fruit - The Ultimate Guide on How to Buy Fruit

The Ultimate Guide on How to Buy Fruit

Let’s chat about how to buy fruit!  Can we all agree there is nothing tastier than a fresh peach, a juicy melon, or ripe berries on a hot summer’s day? Choosing the perfect fruit is an artform.

A few things to consider when shopping for your favorite fruits. 

  • Is it in season?
  • Is it available locally?
  • What should you look for when buying fruit to get the best quality? 

Peak Season for Your Fruit

Every summer we look forward to visiting the local fruit stands to take in the beautiful colors, tastes, and smells of the produce.  It is such a treat to eat fruits picked the same day.  Nothing beats the taste of fresh produce!

One way to know if you are getting the tastiest fruit is to know when it is in season.  The fruits below are listed by their peak season (1).

Spring

Spring offers some delicious options. Fruits hitting their peak season in spring include:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Kiwi
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Pineapples
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries
Spring Fruits
Spring Fruits – Apples, Apricots, Avocados, Bananas, Kiwi, Lemons, Limes, Pineapples, Rhubarb, Strawberries

Summer

Summer is best known for berries, melons, peaches, and plums. Hooray for these yummy fruit options!  Other summer peak season fruits include:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Mangos
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
Summer Fruits
A list of fruits in season in summer.

Fall

In the fall, the number of fruits available winds down, but pears hit their peak in this special season.  Other fruits hitting their stride in fall include:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Cranberries
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Mangos
  • Pears
  • Pineapples
  • Raspberries
Fall Fruits
A list of fruits in season in the fall.

Winter

It is surprising, but winter months offer more citrus fruits.  Check out these options available in the winter:

  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Oranges
  • Pears
  • Pineapples
Winter  fruits
A list of fruits in season in the winter.

How to Buy Fruit Locally

A big part of knowing how to buy fruit is knowing where to find them.  Depending on the type of food adventure you seek, the USDA Local Food Directories can help you find the perfect fit.

Agritourism

Interested in touring a local farm or ranch? Try this directory.

Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Consumer Support Agriculture or CSA is a great way to support your local farms.  This can be done by offering a pledge for a share of what is produced by the farmer.  As the produce is grown, the farmer shares their bounty with those who pledge money in support.

Interested in finding a CSA near you? Check out this directory.

Farmers Markets

Farmers Markets are a great way to support several different farms at once.  Local farmers bring their goods to one central location, and local community members can shop the bounty on these scheduled market dates and times.

This directory can help you find a Farmers Market in your area.

On-Farm Market

These local farms sell their products to community members and consumers directly. 

To find a local On-Farm Market, follow this link.

Farmers Market Image

How to Buy Fruit – A Guide

The following ‘How to Buy Fruit Guide’ will help you in your fruit buying experience. 

Apples

Apples should have a nice color for the apple variety.  They should be firm to touch. 

Avoid apples that are soft, bruised, or mealy.

Fruit Season: September through May

Apricots

Apricots are best when their color is golden yellow.  The fruit should be plump and firm.

Avoid pale or green colored apricots.  Also avoid very hard, soft, and wilted fruits.

Fruit Season: June to August

Avocados

Avocados should yield to gentle pressure.  Size and shape of avocado fruits will vary.  Color may range from green to black.  If there are brown markings on the skin of the avocados, the quality is not impacted.

Avoid avocados that are shriveled.

Fruit Season: July to March

Bananas

Bananas should be firm with no bruising.  Their color, yellow with a touch of green.  Bananas can be ripened at room temperature as needed.

Fruit Season: All year

Image of fruits at a market

Berries

Berries should be clean, bright, firm, and plump (not withered).  Their color should be bright and cover the entire fruit. 

Only strawberries should have hull (stem cap) attached when mature.

Fruit Season (berries):

  • Blueberries:  May to July
  • Cranberries:  September to December
  • Strawberries: June to August

Cherries

Cherries have a short peak season.  They should appear fresh, firm, and good size for type of cherry.

Fruit Season: May to June

Coconut

Coconuts should have liquid milk inside. 

Avoid coconuts with no milk inside.  They are spoiled.

Avoid coconuts with moldy or wet-looking eyes.

Fruit Season: All Year

Figs

Figs should be soft to the touch.  Please use figs immediately as they can spoil quickly.

Avoid if they have an odor or are sour to taste.  These figs are overripe.

Fruit Season: May to November

Grapefruit

A good grapefruit should be firm, round, and heavy for their size.  Their skin texture should be smooth.

Avoid if skin is coarse, puffy, or rough to touch.

Fruit Season: November to June

Grapes

Fresh grapes will be soft, plump, and tender. Their stems of the grape clusters should be green and flexible. 

Purple grapes should have no green coloring.

Fruit Season: August to October

Kiwi

Kiwi fruits are soft to the touch.  Like avocados, they yield when pressed. They have a fuzzy brown skin.

Avoid wilted or bruised.

Fruit Season: October to May

Lemons and limes

Lemons

Lemons should have a glossy/shiny skin.  They should be firm and smooth.  Lemons should feel heavy for their size.

Avoid withered, moldy lemons.

Fruit Season: All year

Limes

Limes should feel dense for their size.  They should have a green skin.

Avoid withered, moldy limes.

Fruit Season: May to October

Mangos

Mango fruits are not soft to the touch.  Their color can range from yellow to red. 

The size of mangos can range from a plum to an apple.

Skin should be smooth and may have some black speckles.

Fruit Season: May to September

Melons

There are several varieties of melons.  Each with their own unique peak freshness.

Cantaloupes

Cantaloupes should have a mild aroma.  They should appear to have a thick netting that stand out above the yellow/green skin below. 

Fruit Season: June through August

Honeydew

Honeydew melons will also have a pleasant aroma. They skin may appear milk/creamy in color. 

Fruit Season: August to October

Watermelon

Watermelons are generally symmetrical in shape.  Their skin will be dull with creamy colored undersides where it sat on the ground.

Fruit Season: May to September

Nectarines and Peaches

These fruits are generally white or yellowish with a tinted red blush.  They should be plump and firm.

Avoid bruised and moldy fruits.

Fruit Season: June to September

Oranges

Skin should be bumpy, but not too rough.  Fruit should be firm and heavy for size.

Fruit Season: November to June

Papayas

These fruits are green/yellow to full yellow in color.  Fruit should yield slightly when pressed with the palm of the hand.

Fruit Season: All year – peak early summer to fall

Pears

Pears

Pears can vary in color from a yellow to a russet/brown color. When ripe, pears will yield to gentle pressure near the stem.

If not yet ripe, allow pears to ripen on the counter.

Fruit Season: September to March

Persimmons

These fruits are plump, firm fruits. When ripe, they will have an orange-red color with their stem cap still attached.  Because of their color and stem cap, they can appear like a red tomato.

Handle gently.

Fruit Season: September to January

Pineapples

Pineapples are ripe when you can easily remove their top leaf.  Their color should be a golden yellow, with a piney, sweet aroma.

Over-ripe pineapple may have dark, soft, watery spots on the base and the sides of the fruit.

Fruit Season: All Year – Peak season March to July

Plums

When plums are soft at the ends, they are typically ripe.  Plums should also be plump, fully colored, and yield under slight pressure.

Avoid shriveled and hard plums.

Fruit Season: May to October

Pomegranates

These fruits are very thin skinned.  They will be bright purple/red when ripe. 

Fruit Season: September to November

Tangerines and Tangelos

Fruits will be glossy with a rich orange/yellowish color.

Avoid overripe fruit that is puffy or has dry skin.

Fruit Season: October to January (Tangerines) and December to March (Tangelo)

image of farmers market fruit stand

Final Thoughts on How to Buy Fruit

If you live in an area where fruit is not available through local farmers, this ‘How to Buy Fruit Guide’ can still help you find the best quality fruit at your local store. 

Also, keep in mind, you can find many delicious and nutritious fruits in frozen, canned, or dried versions throughout the year.

Interested in reading about How to Buy Vegetables? Check out this blog!

For more information about The Dietitian Resource, visit our site or check out the blog.  Thanks for visiting!

References

1. U.S Department of Agriculture SNAP Ed Connection. Seasonal Produce Guide. [Online] [Cited: Aug 26, 2022.] https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide.

2. Tennessee, University of. A Guide to Buying Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. [Online] [Cited: Aug 26, 2022.] https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/SP527.pdf.

2 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search

Most Popular:

More About Rochelle

Rochelle Inwood MS, RDN, ACSM EP-C

Hello there! I’m Rochelle Inwood, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Exercise Physiologist (ACSM EP-C). With over 14 years of experience, I have sharpened my expertise through diverse roles, including weight management program co-coordinator, patient/employee gym supervisor, outpatient dietitian, program manager, dietetic internship preceptor, and more. I am passionate about learning, creating, teaching, and supporting personal growth and development.