Red fruits are not only delicious but are also rich in phytonutrients. Phytonutrients, or phytochemicals, are plant compounds that have health benefits and are responsible for the bright red color of these fruits.
Health benefits of red fruits
Red pigmented fruits are known to be rich in various phytonutrients and antioxidants, which offer numerous health benefits, such as:
- Improved heart health: The phytonutrients in red fruits may help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and improve blood flow, which can all contribute to better heart health.
- Reduced risk of chronic diseases: The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds found in red fruits have been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Enhanced immune function: The high levels of vitamin C and other antioxidants in red fruits can help boost immune function and protect against infections.
- Improved skin health: Many red fruits contain vitamins and antioxidants that promote healthy skin, including reducing the signs of aging, protecting against sun damage, and promoting collagen production.
- Improved digestion: Many red fruits are also rich in fiber, which can help improve digestion, prevent constipation, and promote a healthy gut microbiome.
Overall, incorporating a variety of red pigmented fruits into your diet can offer many health benefits and help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
What phytonutrients (phytochemicals) are commonly found in red fruits?
Phytonutrients and phytochemicals can be used interchangeably. Both mean bioactives within a food that provides non-nutrient health benefits. Which means they’ve been associated with reduced disease risk (but are not a vitamin or mineral, persay).
There are several phytonutrients that are commonly found in red fruits, such as;
- Anthocyanins: These are water-soluble pigments that give red fruits their distinctive color. They are also powerful antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
- Lycopene: This is a carotenoid known for its antioxidant properties and red pigment that accumulate in the skin. Found high in tomatoes and watermelon. It is known for its antioxidant properties and may help lower blood pressure.
- Ellagic acid: This is a polyphenol that is found in raspberries, strawberries, and pomegranates. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that may lower cancer and cardiovascular disease risk.
- Resveratrol: This is a polyphenol that is found in grapes and other red fruits. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and may help protect against heart disease and other chronic conditions.
- Flavanols: This a group of polyphenolic compounds found in cocoa, red wine, and some red fruits. They have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
- Quercetin: This is a flavonoid compound found in many red fruits, including apples, cherries, and grapes. It acts to help lower coagulation, hyperglycemia, hypertension and inflammation.
Overall, the phytonutrients and bioactives found in red fruits have a range of health benefits and may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Strawberries [inseason: spring/summer]
Strawberries are probably one of the first red fruits you think of.
They’re high in anthocyanins, flavonoids, and ellagic acid, which can help reduce inflammation, protect against oxidative stress, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Strawberries also contain dietary fiber, which can help improve digestive health.
How to pick strawberries
What do they taste like?
Most of you have eaten a strawberry, so you know they’re a sweet burst of sunshine. Much of their flavor comes from their aroma, so choose wisely. If they’re under ripe they can be a teeny bit tart too.
How to store strawberries
Remember that strawberries are delicate, so it’s best to use them as soon as possible. If you need to store them, keep them in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to three days. Wait to wash them until you’re ready to enjoy!
How to use strawberries in the kitchen
- Eat them fresh: Simply rinse them in cold water, remove the stem, and enjoy as a snack.
- Add them to smoothies: Strawberries add natural sweetness and a burst of flavor to smoothies. I prefer to use frozen strawberries to add additional chill and thickness.
- Make a fruit salad: Combine sliced strawberries with other fresh fruits, such as bananas, oranges, and kiwi, for a colorful and refreshing fruit salad.
- Make a green salad: My favorite summer salad is a mix of greens topped with fresh berries, goat cheese and pistachios, drizzled with oil and vinegar. Mmm!
- Bake them into desserts: Strawberries can be baked into cakes, muffins, tarts, and pies for a sweet treat. Stick with fresh berries for baking. They pair particularly well with almond, walnut, coriander, cocoa, honey, rhubarb and other berries.
- Make a strawberry sauce: Blend strawberries with a bit of sweetener of choice and lemon juice to make a sweet and tangy sauce that can be used as a topping for pancakes, waffles, yogurt or ice cream.
- Pair them with savory dishes: Pair strawberries with balsamic vinegar to top chicken or salmon, make a pasta salad with strawberries and almonds, or try these fish tacos with strawberry salsa.
Raspberries [inseason: June – August]
Raspberries contain ellagic acid, which is a phytonutrient that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Raspberries are also high in vitamin C and fiber, which can help boost the immune system and improve digestive health.
How to pick raspberries
What do raspberries taste like?
They’re little bursts of flavor in your mouth. They’re the perfect combination of sweet and tart. My personal favorite!
How to store raspberries
Raspberries are delicate little berries. Do not wash them until you’re ready to enjoy them. Until then, they store in the crisper for a couple days. When you’re ready to eat, rinse them gently in a colander, then transfer to a paper towel and eat immediately.
How to use raspberries in the kitchen
- Eat them fresh: Simply rinse them in cold water, remove any stems or leaves, and enjoy them as a snack.
- Add them to yogurt or hot/cold cereal: Raspberries are a great addition to plain yogurt and cereals. They add natural sweetness and a burst of flavor to your breakfast.
- Use them in smoothies: Raspberries can be added to smoothies for a sweet and tart boost. Use frozen raspberries to make a thicker, colder smoothie.
- Make a raspberry sauce: Blend raspberries with a bit of sweetener of choice and lemon juice to make a sweet and tangy sauce to top your favorite breads or desserts.
- Make a raspberry salsa: Pair raspberries with plums, vinegar, lemon and seasonings to top fish, shrimp or chicken.
- Bake them into desserts: Fresh raspberries can be baked into cakes, muffins, pies, and tarts for a sweet and fruity treat. They pair well with chocolate, lemon, almond, rhubarb, thyme, mint, citrus, vanilla, peach and plum flavors.
- Pair them with savory dishes: Raspberries can be used in savory dishes too! They pair well with goat cheese, arugula, and balsamic vinegar for a unique and delicious salad.
Cherries [inseason: April – July]
Cherries are a rich source of anthocyanins and quercetin, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties. Cherries also contain melatonin, which can help regulate sleep patterns and improve sleep quality.
How to pick cherries
What do cherries taste like?
Cherries are sweet and sour, with slightly woody and almond flavors.
How to store cherries
Remember that cherries are delicate and should be used as soon as possible after buying them. If you need to store them, keep them in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to three days.
How to use cherries in the kitchen
- Eat them fresh: Simply rinse them in cold water, remove any stems and pits, and enjoy them as a snack. Use this pitter to remove pits without the mess.
- Use them in baking: Cherries are a great addition to cakes, muffins, pies, and tarts for a sweet and fruity treat. They pair well with chocolate, almond, and vanilla flavors. Fresh sour cherries are best for baking.
- Make them savory: mix them with warm spices and balsamic vinegar to make a cherry chutney that pairs well with chicken.
- Add them to salads: Cherries can be a great addition to salads. They pair well with spinach, arugula, goat cheese, and nuts.
- Preserve them: Cherries can be preserved by making jams, jellies, or cherry compote. These can be used as toppings for toast, yogurt, or oatmeal.
- Use them in cocktails: Cherries can be used to make delicious cocktails. They pair well with bourbon, whiskey, and gin.
Plucking this red fruit off the stem and spitting out the seed is a favorite summertime memory! Anyone else?
Watermelon [inseason: May – September]
One of my all time favorite red fruits, watermelon, the G.O.A.T red fruit?! It’s a great source of lycopene, a phytonutrient that may reduce the risk of heart disease and citrulline which works as a vasodilator and may improve cardiovascular health.
Watermelon is also high in vitamin C and potassium, which can help regulate blood pressure and improve heart health. It’s also mostly water, so great for summer hydration.
How to pick watermelon
What does watermelon taste like?
It’s as sweet, juicy and refreshing as fruit comes. Some say there are undertones of sour and bitter, but the sweet juiciness is front and center.
How to store watermelon
Watermelon should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, until you are ready to use them. Once cut, they should be refrigerated and consumed within a few days.
Keep watermelon crispy even after cutting by putting cut pieces in a salad spinner. This way the fruit doesn’t sit in its juices and get soggy. Alternatively, nest a colander in a large bowl.
How to use watermelon in the kitchen
- Eat it fresh: My favorite way! Simply slice it into wedges, cubes or ball it with a melon baller and enjoy it as a snack or dessert.
- Make a watermelon salad: Watermelon can be used as a base for a salad with feta cheese, mint, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. It also pairs well with arugula, cucumber, and red onion.
- Blend it into a smoothie: Watermelon can be blended with other fruits and vegetables to make a refreshing smoothie. It pairs well with strawberries, bananas, and lime juice. It’s also a great way to use watermelon juice.
- Use it in a salsa: Watermelon can be diced and mixed with red onion, jalapeño, and lime juice to make a sweet and spicy salsa that pairs well with grilled meats or chips.
- Make a watermelon granita: Blend watermelon, lime juice, and sugar, then freeze and scrape with a fork to make a refreshing and icy dessert.
- Grill it: Watermelon can be cut into thick slices and grilled for a sweet and smoky flavor. It pairs well with feta cheese and a balsamic glaze.
Tomatoes [inseason: May – October]
Tomatoes are another great source of lycopene, as well as beta-carotene and vitamin C. These nutrients have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Did you know that a food is determined to be a fruit if it’s how the plant spreads its seeds? So tomatoes are indeed a red fruit.
How to pick tomatoes
How to store tomatoes
Remember to choose ripe and flavorful tomatoes and store them at room temperature. Never refrigerate a tomato, the cold damages enzymes that produce flavor compounds, and it ruins their texture. Even cut tomatoes should be kept on the counter, well sealed.
If detached from the vine, store upside down (on their stem). This prevents moisture from escaping and bacteria from entering, thus prolonging shelf life.
A great reminder on how to store this red fruit (and really most things) is to think about where you found them in the grocery store?
How to use tomatoes in the kitchen
- Make a Caprese salad: Combine sliced tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil leaves, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Yum!
- Make a tomato sauce: Use fresh tomatoes to make a flavorful tomato sauce for pasta dishes. Sauté garlic and onion in olive oil, then add diced tomatoes and herbs like basil and oregano. Simmer until the sauce has thickened, then season with salt and pepper.
- Use tomatoes in soups and stews: Add diced tomatoes to soups and stews for added flavor and texture. They work particularly well in chili, minestrone, and vegetable soup.
- Make salsa: Combine diced tomatoes with onion, jalapeño, lime juice, and cilantro to make a fresh and flavorful salsa. Serve with tortilla chips or use as a topping for grilled meats.
- Roast tomatoes: Roasting tomatoes can intensify their flavor and create a delicious caramelized texture. Cut tomatoes in half, drizzle with olive oil, and roast in the oven until tender and slightly charred.
- Use tomatoes as a topping: Add sliced tomatoes to sandwiches, burgers, and wraps for added flavor and freshness.
Pomegranate [inseason: September – November]
Pomegranate seeds are high in polyphenols, including punicalagins, which have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, perhaps on par with green tea and red wine.
Pomegranate has also been found to help reduce blood pressure and improve heart health.
How to pick pomegranate
What does pomegranate taste like?
Pomegranate arils taste similar to cranberries, only a bit less tart and more of a sweet undernote.
How to store
Uncut, you can store it in a cool, dry place for up to a month. Once you’ve cut a pomegranate, drain and dry the arils and store them in an air-tight container in your refrigerator for about 1 week.
How to use pomegranate in the kitchen
- Use pomegranate seeds as a topping: The juicy and flavorful seeds of the pomegranate can be used as a topping for yogurt, oatmeal, salads, or roasted vegetables.
- Make pomegranate juice: Pomegranate juice can be used as a base for cocktails, smoothies, or mixed with sparkling water for a refreshing drink.
- Add pomegranate to sauces and marinades: Pomegranate juice and seeds can be used to add flavor to sauces and marinades for meats, poultry, and fish.
- Use pomegranate molasses: Pomegranate molasses is a thick, syrupy liquid made from reduced pomegranate juice. It can be used as a glaze for roasted vegetables or meats, or as a flavoring for sauces and dressings.
- Make a pomegranate salsa: Combine pomegranate seeds with chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, and cilantro for a flavorful and colorful salsa that pairs well with grilled meats and fish.
- Make a pomegranate salad dressing: Whisk pomegranate juice with olive oil, honey, mustard, and vinegar to make a tangy and sweet salad dressing.
Best way to cut a pomegranate
There are a couple ways to carefully remove the seeds from the pomegranate.
- One method is to slice off the top of the fruit, score the skin in sections, and gently pry apart the fruit to release the seeds.
- Another method is to fill a large bowl with water, cut the fruit in half, and gently release the seeds while underwater to prevent staining.
Keep in mind that pomegranate seeds can stain clothing and surfaces, so it’s best to handle them carefully and wear an apron when working with them. It’s one messy red fruit!
Cranberries [inseason: September – November]
Cranberries are high in proanthocyanidins, which are powerful antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections and may also have anti-cancer properties.
Cranberries also contain vitamin C and fiber, which can help boost the immune system and improve digestive health.
How to pick cranberries
What do cranberries taste like?
Cranberries have a tart and slightly bitter taste, which is why they are often sweetened with sugar or other sweeteners before being used in recipes.
The flavor of cranberries is also somewhat earthy and astringent, with some people describing it as slightly sour or tangy.
How to store cranberries
Cranberries are a great long shelf life red fruit. Cranberries can be kept in their original packaging for up to a month in the fridge. You can also freeze them in a sealed container for up to a year.
How to use cranberries in the kitchen
- Cranberry sauce: The classic use for cranberries is in a tangy and sweet cranberry sauce. Combine fresh cranberries with sugar, orange juice, and spices for a delicious sauce that pairs well with turkey, chicken, or pork.
- Baked goods: Add dried cranberries to muffins, bread, or scones for a burst of flavor and texture. You can also use fresh or frozen cranberries to make a cranberry pie or tart.
- Salads: Toss fresh or dried cranberries with greens, nuts, and cheese for a tasty and healthy salad. You can also use a cranberry vinaigrette or dressing for a tangy and sweet flavor.
- Smoothies: Add frozen cranberries to your favorite smoothie recipe for a boost of flavor and antioxidants.
- Meat dishes: Use fresh or dried cranberries in stuffing or meatballs for a sweet and tart flavor. You can also use cranberries in marinades or glazes for chicken, pork, or beef.
- Trail mix: Combine dried cranberries with nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate chips for a healthy and tasty snack.
Remember that fresh cranberries can be quite tart, so they are often paired with sweeteners like sugar or honey. Dried cranberries are usually sweetened, so they can be used in a wider variety of recipes.
Red grapes [inseason: August – October]
Red grapes contain resveratrol, which is a phytonutrient that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Resveratrol may also help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
How to pick grapes
What do grapes taste like?
Red grapes have a sweet and slightly tangy flavor, with a juicy and refreshing texture. They are less tart than green grapes, and have a deeper, more complex flavor.
The taste of red grapes can vary depending on the variety, but generally they have a fruity flavor with notes of berry and grape. Some varieties of red grapes can also have a slightly nutty or musky taste.
How to store grapes
The refrigerator is the best place for grapes, they love the cold! They are not prone to chilling injury, so you can push them in the back, the coldest part of your fridge. In fact, I love to just eat this red fruit frozen, which increases its sweetness!
How to use red grapes in the kitchen
- Snack: Red grapes make a delicious and healthy snack on their own. Simply wash them and eat them as is.
- Salads: Toss red grapes into green salads or grain salads for a burst of sweetness and texture. They pair particularly well with bitter greens like arugula or endive.
- Cheese plates: Red grapes are a classic addition to cheese plates. They pair well with a variety of cheeses, from sharp cheddar to creamy brie.
- Roasted with vegetables: Roasting red grapes with root vegetables like carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes can add a touch of sweetness and complexity to your roasted vegetable dishes.
- Jam or chutney: Use red grapes to make a sweet and tangy jam or chutney that pairs well with cheese, crackers, or grilled meat.
- Desserts: Red grapes can be used in a variety of desserts, from fruit tarts to sorbets to grape focaccia. They also make a great addition to fruit salads or compotes.
Remember that red grapes are high in natural sugars, so they can be a good substitute for refined sugar in some recipes. With their juicy sweetness and vibrant color, red grapes are a delicious and healthy addition to your meals and snacks.
Apples [inseason: August – November]
Red apples, such as the Red Delicious variety, are high in anthocyanins, which are responsible for their red color. Apples are also a good source of fiber and vitamin C, which can help boost the immune system and improve digestive health.
How to pick apples
How to store apples
Whole apples can be kept in a cool dry place for a month, or longer depending on the variety.
Once cut you expose the fruit to oxygen which will brown it. To avoid this, store in an airtight container topped with lemon or lime juice, simple syrup or cinnamon.
What do apples taste like?
Red apples are probably one of the better known red fruits, they typically have a sweet and slightly tart flavor. They can be crisp and juicy, with a refreshing taste.
Some popular red apple varieties include Red Delicious, Gala, Fuji, and Honeycrisp, each with its own unique taste profile. The level of sweetness and tartness can vary depending on the variety of red apple you are eating.
How to use apples in the kitchen
- Snack: Red apples are delicious on their own, or sliced and dipped in nut butter with a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips. Yum!
- Salads: Add sliced or chopped red apples to green salads or grain salads for a crisp and juicy texture. They pair particularly well with bitter greens like arugula or radicchio.
- Sauces: Cook down red apples with cinnamon, sweetener, and a splash of lemon juice to make a delicious and versatile apple sauce. You can also use it as a topping for pancakes or waffles, or as a base for other fruit sauces.
- Baked goods: Red apples are a classic ingredient in many baked goods, from apple pies and tarts to muffins and breads. They add a natural sweetness and moistness to baked goods, and pair well with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Meat dishes: Use red apples as a natural sweetener in meat dishes like roasted pork loin or chicken. Sliced apples can also be added to a grilled cheese sandwich for a sweet and savory twist.
- Smoothies: Add sliced or chopped red apples to smoothies for a natural sweetness and fiber boost. They pair particularly well with ingredients like spinach, kale and almonds.
Remember that red apples are high in natural sugars, so they can be a good substitute for refined sugar in some recipes. With their crisp texture and sweet flavor, red apples are a delicious and healthy addition to your meals and snacks.
Rambutan [inseason: December – January]
Rambutan is a tropical fruit that is high in flavonoids, including quercetin and kaempferol, which have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Rambutan is also a good source of vitamin C and iron.
How to pick rambutan
How to cut rambutan
Remember to remove the seed before eating rambutan, as it is not edible. To peel rambutan, simply make a small cut in the skin and then gently pry it open with your fingers. The fruit should come out easily, leaving the seed behind.
How to store rambutan
Rambutan is a delicate fruit that bruises easily, so be careful when handling it. Store it in a cool, dry place for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.
How to use rambutan in the kitchen
- Snack: Simply peel the fruit and eat the juicy flesh fresh as a snack. It’s a great way to enjoy the sweet and tangy flavor of rambutan.
- Salads: Add sliced rambutan to fruit salads or green salads for a burst of sweetness and color.
- Smoothies: Blend rambutan with other tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, and coconut for a refreshing and healthy smoothie.
- Cocktails: Use rambutan as a garnish for cocktails or infuse it into simple syrups for a sweet and exotic flavor.
- Desserts: Use rambutan in desserts like fruit tarts, sorbets, or ice creams for a tropical twist.
- Savory dishes: Rambutan can be used in savory dishes like curries, stir-fries, or rice dishes. It pairs well with chicken, pork, or shrimp.
Rambutan is a delicious way to add a tropical twist to your meals.
Blood oranges [inseason: December – April]
Blood oranges are high in anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and protect against oxidative stress. They also contain vitamin C and folate, which can help support the immune system and promote healthy cell growth.
How to pick
What does a blood orange taste like?
Blood oranges have a distinct and unique flavor compared to regular oranges. They are named “blood oranges” because of their deep red or crimson-colored flesh, which sets them apart visually as well.
The taste of blood oranges is often described as a delightful combination of sweetness and tartness, with a hint of berry-like undertones. Some people also detect subtle floral notes or hints of raspberry or grapefruit in their taste.
The crimson-colored flesh of blood oranges is often juicier than regular oranges, adding to their refreshing and vibrant taste.
How to store blood oranges
You can store them in a cool, dry place for up to a week or in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
How to use blood oranges in the kitchen
- Eat them fresh: Blood oranges can be enjoyed simply by peeling and eating the juicy segments. They are a delicious and refreshing snack on their own.
- Use them in salads: Blood oranges add a pop of color and a sweet, tangy flavor to salads. Try them in a mixed green salad with goat cheese and walnuts, or in a citrus salad with other varieties of oranges and grapefruit.
- Make juice: Blood oranges make a delicious and nutritious juice. Simply juice them with a citrus juicer and enjoy fresh, or mix with other fruits and vegetables for a healthy and refreshing juice blend.
- Use them in cocktails: Blood oranges add a beautiful color and a sweet, citrusy flavor to cocktails. Use the juice or slices as a garnish for a unique and flavorful drink.
- Bake with them: Blood oranges can be used in baking to add a unique flavor to cakes, tarts, and other desserts. Try using blood orange zest in a citrus cake or adding blood orange juice to a glaze for a tart.
- Make marmalade: Blood orange marmalade is a delicious and unique spread for toast, scones, and other baked goods. Make your own by simmering blood orange slices with sugar and water until it thickens into a spreadable consistency.
I simply love the beauty and texture of a blood orange, the perfect red fruit of the winter season.
Goji berries [inseason: July – October]
Goji berries are a superfood that are rich Vitamin C, Vitamin A, fiber, iron & antioxidants. They’re often used to improve immune function and aid in athletic performance.
They also contain zeaxanthin and lutein, which can help protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration.
How to pick goji berries
You don’t often find this red fruit fresh in stores, instead look for goji berries in natural food stores, health food stores, or online, typically in a dried or frozen form.
What do goji berries taste like?
Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, have a unique flavor that is often described as a combination of sweet and tangy with a slight bitterness. The taste can vary depending on the ripeness and quality of the berries.
When eaten fresh, goji berries have a tartness similar to cranberries or sour cherries, but they also possess a natural sweetness. Some people also compare the flavor of goji berries to a mix of raisins, strawberries, and tomatoes.
Dried goji berries, which are more commonly available, have a chewy texture and can have a slightly sweeter taste due to the concentration of sugars.
How to use goji berries in the kitchen.
- Eat them as a snack: Goji berries can be eaten on their own as a snack, just like raisins or other dried fruits.
- Add them to cereal or oatmeal: Sprinkle goji berries on top of your cereal or oatmeal for a boost of flavor and nutrition.
- Use them in smoothies: Add goji berries to your favorite smoothie recipe for a fruity twist.
- Mix them into trail mix: Combine goji berries with other nuts and dried fruits to make a delicious and nutritious trail mix.
- Use them in baked goods: Add goji berries to muffins, cookies, or bread for a sweet and healthy addition.
- Brew them as tea: Steep goji berries in hot water for a few minutes to make a delicious and nutritious tea. They’re often used in Chinese herbal teas and tonics.
- Use them in savory dishes: Goji berries can also be used in savory dishes, such as stir-fries or rice dishes, to add a sweet and tangy flavor.
Remember to soak the goji berries in water for a few minutes before using them in recipes to rehydrate them.
Dragon fruit [inseason: June – November]
Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is high in vitamin C and polyphenols, which can help protect against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. It also contains prebiotic fiber, which can help support healthy gut bacteria.
How to pick dragon fruit
What does dragon fruit taste like?
The taste is often described as a cross between a kiwi and a pear. However, it’s important to note that the taste can vary slightly depending on the variety of dragon fruit.
The flesh of dragon fruit has a delicate texture (like a kiwi) and is typically white or pale pink, speckled with small black seeds. The taste is refreshing and mildly sweet, with a hint of tartness. Some people also detect subtle floral undertones.
How to use dragon fruit in the kitchen
- Eat it on its own: Simply cut the dragon fruit in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. The flesh can be eaten raw and is a great snack on its own.
- Add it to smoothies: Dragon fruit adds a beautiful pink hue and a touch of sweetness to smoothies. Simply blend the flesh of the dragon fruit with your favorite fruits, yogurt, and ice for a delicious and refreshing drink.
- Use it in salads: The mild flavor and juicy texture of dragon fruit make it a great addition to salads. Cut the flesh into cubes or slices and toss it with your favorite greens, nuts, and dressing.
- Make dragon fruit sorbet: Blend the flesh of the dragon fruit with sugar and lemon juice, then freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker for a refreshing and healthy dessert.
- Grill it: Dragon fruit can also be grilled for a unique and flavorful twist. Cut the flesh into thick slices and grill for a few minutes on each side until caramelized and tender. Serve as a side dish or dessert.
- Use it in salsa: Combine diced dragon fruit with chopped onion, cilantro, lime juice, and salt for a sweet and tangy salsa that pairs well with fish, chicken, or pork.
How to store dragon fruit
If you plan to eat within a day or so, storing in a cool, dry place is fine. To extend its shelf life, store it in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer or a low-humidity setting. It can stay fresh for up to a week when refrigerated.
Once dragon fruit is sliced it’s best to store the remaining pieces in an airtight container or wrap them tightly with plastic wrap. Place the container in the refrigerator and consume the fruit within a couple of days.
Red currants [inseason: mid-June – mid-July]
Red currants are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and anthocyanins, which can help reduce inflammation and protect against oxidative stress. They also contain rutin, a flavonoid that can help improve blood circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots.
How to pick red currants
What do red currants taste like?
A sweet and sour berry flavor.
How to use red currants in the kitchen
- Make jam or jelly: Red currants are high in pectin, which makes them perfect for making jam or jelly. Simply cook the berries with sugar and water, then strain and can the resulting jam or jelly.
- Use in baked goods: Red currants can be used in a variety of baked goods, such as muffins, cakes, and pies. Simply mix the berries into the batter or filling, along with sugar and other desired ingredients.
- Add to salads: The tartness of red currants makes them a great addition to salads. Toss the berries with your favorite greens, nuts, and dressing for a refreshing and flavorful salad.
- Make a sauce: Red currants can be cooked down with sugar and water to make a delicious sauce that can be served over ice cream or other desserts.
- Use as a garnish: The bright red color of red currants makes them a great garnish for cocktails, desserts, and other dishes. Simply sprinkle the berries on top for a pop of color and flavor.
How to store red currants
Red currants are a fickle fruit with a relatively short shelf life; it’s important to store them properly to ensure they are at their peak flavor and freshness.
Start by sorting and removing any damaged or spoiled berries. This helps prevent them from affecting the quality of the rest of the fruit.
They’re best stored in the refrigerator. Place the unwashed and dry red currants in a container with air vents to allow for some airflow and prevent moisture buildup.
Red currants are sensitive to humidity, so store them in a low-humidity setting, such as the crisper drawer. High humidity can cause the berries to become mushy and spoil more quickly.
Acerola cherry [inseason: March – August]
Acerola cherry is one of the richest sources of vitamin C, with just one cherry containing up to 100% of the recommended daily intake. It also contains anthocyanins and carotenoids, which can help protect against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
How to pick acerola cherries
What do acerola cherries taste like?
Acerola cherries, also known as Barbados cherries or West Indian cherries, have a unique flavor profile.
The flavor is often tangy and acidic, similar to sour cherries or cranberries, but with a touch of sweetness. Some also note a slightly tropical flavor in acerola cherries, with hints of citrus or tropical fruits like mango or pineapple.
The tartness is more pronounced when the cherries are not fully ripe. As they ripen, they become sweeter, offering a balance between acidity and sweetness.
How to store acerola cherries
Start by sorting and removing any damaged or spoiled cherries.
They’re best stored in the refrigerator. Place the unwashed and dry berries in a container with air vents to allow for some airflow and prevent moisture buildup.
Red currants are sensitive to humidity, so store them in a low-humidity setting, such as the crisper drawer.
Wash them just before consuming. Enjoy within a few days.
How to use acerola cherries in the kitchen
- Fresh: Enjoy acerola cherries as a healthy snack, or add them to salads, smoothies, or yogurt bowls for a burst of flavor and nutrition.
- Juice: Acerola cherries are a popular ingredient in juices and smoothies due to their high vitamin C content. You can juice the fresh cherries at home, or look for pre-made acerola juice at health food stores or online.
- Powder: Acerola cherry powder is a convenient way to enjoy the benefits of this superfruit in a concentrated form. You can add the powder to smoothies, juices, or other recipes to boost their nutritional content.
- Supplements: Acerola cherry supplements are also available in the form of capsules or tablets. These supplements are a convenient way to get a high dose of vitamin C and other antioxidants.
- Jams and jellies: Acerola cherries can also be used to make jams, jellies, and other sweet spreads. Look for recipes online or in cookbooks that use acerola cherries as an ingredient.
Guava [inseason: November – March]
Guava is a tropical fruit that is high in vitamin C, carotenoids, and polyphenols, which can help protect against oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. Guava also contains dietary fiber, which can help improve digestive health.
How to pick guava
What do guava taste like?
The taste of guava is hard to describe. They’re like a pear, but also a little like strawberry and mango too. The texture is a little grainy and crunchy. The level of sweetness varies between fruits and they’re more sweet as they ripen.
How to store guava
Guava are delicate fruit and can bruise easily, so handle them carefully when selecting them.
If you are not planning to eat the guavas right away, store them at room temperature until they are fully ripe, and then refrigerate them for a few days to extend their shelf life.
How to use guava in the kitchen
- Eat it raw: Guavas can be eaten as a healthy snack on their own. Simply cut them in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
- Make juice: Guava juice is a popular beverage in many parts of the world. Blend guava flesh with water, strain out the seeds and pulp, and sweeten with honey or sugar if desired.
- Add to fruit salads: Guava pairs well with other tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, and papaya in a refreshing fruit salad.
- Make jam or jelly: Guava makes a delicious spread for toast or sandwiches. Simmer guava flesh with sugar and lemon juice until thickened, then pour into sterilized jars and store in the fridge.
- Bake in desserts: Guava can be used in a variety of baked goods, from pies to cakes to tarts. Try adding guava to a custard tart or mixing it into a fruit crumble.
- Make savory dishes: Guava can be used in savory dishes as well, such as in a salsa or chutney to serve with grilled meats.
Remember to wash the guava thoroughly before using it and remove any seeds and skin that are tough or bitter.
Mulberries [inseason: mid-June – August]
Mulberries are high in antioxidants, including anthocyanins, quercetin, and resveratrol, which can help reduce inflammation and protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
This red fruit also contains dietary fiber, which can help support healthy digestion.
How to pick the best mulberries
What do mulberries taste like?
Mulberries are similar tasting to other berries; they’re both sweet and tart but with another flavor profile. Some call this a cedar woodsy, I can’t put my finger on it.
How to store mulberries
Mulberries are highly perishable and should be eaten within a few days of purchase. Store them in the refrigerator in a paper or cloth bag to help them retain their moisture. Rinse them gently just before using and remove any stems that are still attached.
How to use mulberries in the kitchen
- Eat them fresh: Simply wash the mulberries and enjoy them as a snack.
- Add them to salads: Mulberries can be a great addition to a salad, adding a sweet and tangy flavor.
- Make jams or preserves: Mulberries make great jams or preserves, as they are naturally high in pectin. Combine them with sugar and lemon juice and simmer until thickened.
- Use them in baking: Mulberries can be used in baking, just like other berries. Try adding them to muffins, cakes, or breads.
- Make smoothies or juices: Mulberries can be blended into a smoothie or juiced for a refreshing drink.
- Use them in savory dishes: Mulberries can also be used in savory dishes, such as sauces for meats or as a topping for grilled vegetables.
Note: Mulberries can stain clothing and hands, so be careful when handling them.
Plums [inseason: July – October]
Plums are high in antioxidants, including anthocyanins, quercetin, and catechins, which can help protect against oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. They also contain dietary fiber, which can help improve digestive health.
How to pick a plum
What do plums taste like?
Plums are juicy, sweet and a tinge tart. They’re very similar in texture to an apricot and oh so tasty!
How to store plums
Store unripe plums at room temperature, once ripened they last about 3 days and are best kept in the refrigerator in the crisper.
Don’t wash your plums until you’re ready to eat them as water will hasten spoilage.
How to use plums in the kitchen
- Fresh: Plums are delicious eaten fresh as a healthy snack or added to fruit salads.
- Baked: Plums can be baked into pies, cobblers, and crumbles for a sweet and juicy dessert.
- Grilled: Grilling plums brings out their natural sweetness and adds a slightly smoky flavor. Simply brush with a little olive oil and grill until caramelized.
- Jams and preserves: Plums can be made into jams and preserves, which can be spread on toast, added to yogurt, or used as a filling for pastries.
- Smoothies: Plums can be added to smoothies for a delicious and nutritious boost.
- Savory dishes: Plums can also be used in savory dishes, such as salads and roasted meats, for a touch of sweetness and acidity.
Remember to remove the pits before using plums in recipes.
Rosehips [inseason: fall]
Rosehips are the fruit of the rose plant and are high in vitamin C and flavonoids, which can help protect against oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. Rosehips have been used traditionally to help support the immune system and improve digestive health.
How to pick rosehips
What do rosehips taste like?
Rose hips have a unique flavor that can be described as tart, tangy, and slightly sweet. The taste can vary depending on the variety and ripeness of the rose hip. When fully ripe, they develop a sweeter taste, while unripe ones tend to be more tart.
The flavor profile of rose hips is often compared to a combination of citrus fruits and cranberries.
How to store rosehips
Ideally rosehips are eaten or used immediately after deseeding. If that is not an option you can freeze them or dry them; the latter option will cause vitamin C degradation however.
How to use rosehips in the kitchen
Once you have selected your rosehips, they can be used in a variety of ways, such as making tea, jam, jelly, syrup, or even skin care products. Be sure to remove the seeds and any prickly hairs before using.
- Make tea: To make rosehip tea, add 1-2 tablespoons of dried rosehips to a teapot or infuser, and pour boiling water over them. Let steep for 10-15 minutes, this releases the seeds, strain and enjoy. You can drink it hot or cold, and it’s often sweetened with honey or sugar.
- Make jam or jelly: Rosehips are high in pectin, which makes them ideal for making jams and jellies. To make rosehip jam, cook 2 cups of chopped rosehips with 2 cups of sugar and 1/2 cup of water over low heat until the fruit has softened and the mixture has thickened. Pour into jars and seal.
- Make syrup: Rosehip syrup is a popular way to use these fruits. To make it, simmer 1 cup of rosehips in 4 cups of water for 30-40 minutes, then strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve. Add sugar and lemon juice to taste, then simmer again until the syrup has thickened. Store in a sterilized bottle and use as a sweetener or drizzle over pancakes or ice cream.
- Make skincare products: Rosehip oil is a popular ingredient in skincare products, thanks to its high content of vitamin C and antioxidants. To make your own rosehip oil, steep dried rosehips in carrier oil (such as jojoba or almond oil) for several weeks, then strain and use as a moisturizer.
- Use in baked goods: You can also use rosehips in baking, such as adding them to muffins or scones. Simply chop them finely and add them to your batter before baking.
Acai berries [inseason: April – November]
Acai berries are high in antioxidants, including anthocyanins and flavonoids, which can help protect against oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. Acai berries are also a good source of fiber and heart-healthy fats.
How to pick acai berries
What do acai berries taste like?
They’re mildly sweet, but also a little tart and bitter. They have some cocoa undertones and pair well with sweeter flavors that balance them.
How to store acai berries
Most often acai berries are found as pulp or powder and stored in the freezer or in a cool dark location, respectively. If you happen to find fresh acai berries they should be eaten within a day.
How to use acai berries in the kitchen
- Açaí bowls: Blend frozen açaí pulp with other frozen fruits and a liquid to make a thick, smoothie-like mixture. Pour the mixture into a bowl and top with fresh fruit, granola, cacao nibs and other toppings of your choice.
- Smoothies: Add frozen açaí pulp to your favorite smoothie recipe for a boost of antioxidants and a fruity flavor. Great combos are other deep red berries and cocoa.
- Açaí juice: Blend frozen açaí pulp with water and a sweetener such as honey to make a refreshing juice.
- Desserts: Açaí can be used in desserts such as sorbets, ice cream, and pudding for a fruity twist.
Caribbean red papaya [inseason: February – November]
Red papaya is high in vitamin C and carotenoids, which can help protect against oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. Papaya is also a good source of fiber, which can help support digestive health.
How to pick red papaya
How to store red papaya
Red papaya are picked pre ripened, still slightly green. At this time they can be stored at room temperature until they turn more yellow-orange. When they turn yellow-orange either enjoy, or place in the fridge two or three more days to elongate their shelf life.
What do red papaya taste like?
This orangish-red fruit has a flavor and texture similar to a mango or cantaloupe.
How to use red papaya in the kitchen
- Eat it fresh: Caribbean red papaya is delicious eaten fresh, cut into cubes or slices.
- Add it to smoothies: Blend papaya with other fruits and vegetables to make a nutritious smoothie.
- Use it in salads: Add a sweet and refreshing flavor to a green, seed and cheese salad.
- Grill it: Cut papaya into wedges and grill until lightly caramelized for a unique and tasty side dish.
- Make salsa: Combine diced papaya with other ingredients like jalapeño, lime juice, and cilantro for a sweet and spicy salsa.
- Use it in desserts: Caribbean red papaya can be used in desserts like sorbets, ice creams, and cakes.
There you have it, twenty-one red fruits to get a variety of health promoting phytonutrients!