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While we're not quite there yet, and in fact, we have some ways to go, I found that looking forward to some of my favorite things come from summer helps. Summer Shandy lemonade beer, corn salad made with fresh sweet corn, and garden variety fruits and vegetables. I was doing some research and development the other day on Mexican food. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make but it was hot out and I wanted to have something cool and refreshing to drink but I also wanted to have something spicy. You know where I’m going with this right? You guessed it, margaritas and salsa.
Fresh garden producePhoto by Iñigo De la Maza on Unsplash
I ended up making carne asada tacos. While the steak was marinating, I prepared watermelon margaritas and a pineapple pico de gallo salsa. It’s important to pick the best produce so you are working with fresh and delicious ingredients that are at their peak of ripeness.
How To Pick the Best Watermelon
Fresh from the garden Watermelon and vegetablesPhoto by Christina Schwab on Unsplash
You never know what your watermelon is going to look like or taste like until you get it home and cut it open. A sure-fire way to always get the sweetest, juiciest watermelon is to choose it based on color.
There are two different types of watermelon: Seedless and one with seeds. For this recipe, I went with seedless because I didn’t want to pick through all the seeds and create more work. No matter what type you go with, the best way to choose your watermelon is by color.
Look for a watermelon that has a yellowish color on one side. This yellow marking looks like it would be bad but trust me it’s not. The yellow markings indicate that the watermelon sat on the vine and in the field ripening, getting juicy and sweet with each passing day. If a watermelon is all green, that means it was picked at the right harvest time but it could have been picked prematurely before it had a chance to ripen.
How To Pick the Best Tomatoes
Vine ripened tomatoesPhoto by engin akyurt on Unsplash
The best way to choose your tomato is by its color. See a pattern here? This time though you want a tomato that is firm with a slight bounce back when pressed. The color should be a deep color. Notice I didn’t say red? That’s because some tomatoes such as Heirloom tomatoes are different colors.
The tomatoes should feel heavy with a darker color and a firmness that gives just a bit when touched. Don’t grab the pale ones, don’t grab the soft squishy ones. Vine-ripened tomatoes are similar to the watermelon we discussed earlier. They are riper because they sat on the vine in the field longer than the others.
The vine-ripened tomatoes are the ones I go for because they don’t have a long shelf life, they have a better flavor, and they look better. Just make sure they are not too soft which can often be the case.
How To Pick the Best Pineappleperson standing on gray pavement carrying pineapple fruit Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash
When you are picking a fresh pineapple, you want to give it a squeeze. If it is firm but a little soft when squeezing it, then it is ripe.
If the pineapple is hard, then it is not ripe and you will need to wait a while for it to get ripe. If the pineapple is too soft, then it is overripe and could have brown discoloration on the inside. If the pineapple is giving off a strong sweet pineapple scent or is looking really yellow, then it is overripe. You should choose the pineapple that bounces back from a good squeeze.
How To Pick the Best Jalapeño
Fresh jalapeño peppersPhoto by Phillip Larking on Unsplash
Jalapeños are sold green but did you know that those are just not ripe? Ripe jalapeños are red which means they were left on the vine to ripen more. Green jalapeños are fine to eat and use. Essentially we eat unripened jalapeños when we eat any type of salsa.
Make sure the peppers are a nice green color and are firm to the touch. If they are soft or have a black coloring, that is an indicator they are overripe and close to spoiling. Just remember to remove the seeds and the pith to control the spiciness. I like to do half and half so I can make sure there is a good amount of spice.
Well, there you have it. How to pick the best produce. Next time you are in the store, give it a try. You won’t be disappointed. Now, check out the recipes.
Note: Tajin is a Mexican salt with all sorts of seasonings in it. We sprinkle it on fruits and vegetables and sometimes put it in beer. Enjoy!
Watermelon Margarita Recipe
- 4 cups Seedless Watermelon, cubed
- 2 Limes, juiced
- Tequila (your choice)
- Tajin seasoning salt
- Place watermelon in a blender and blend until smooth or all of the chunks have been liquified. You may need to do this in batches.
- Place cheesecloth over a strainer and place strainer over a bowl. Slowly pour the liquid into the strainer. Toss out the pulp.
- Place the watermelon juice, 2 ounces of tequila, and the juice of half a lime to the shaker.
- Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
- Place the Tajin on a plate. Rub lime on the rim of your glass. Place your glass rim-side down on the Tajin to coat the rim.
- Place 2-3 ice cubes in the glass and fill with the liquid from the shaker.
- To make a full batch in a pitcher substitute the 2 ounces of tequila with about ½ cup tequila, depending on your taste level.
- If you don’t have a cheesecloth, you can use a double strainer.
- The watermelon should be sweet enough; if not you can add simple syrup to the shaker or pitcher.
- Use your choice of tequila but I recommend a medium to top-shelf silver or blanco tequila.
Pineapple Pico de Gallo Recipevegetable salad on white ceramic plate Photo by Quin Engle on Unsplash
- 4 ripe Tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1 cup Fresh Pineapple, diced
- ½ cup English Cucumber, diced
- ½ cup White Onion, diced
- 2 Jalapeños, seeded and diced
- ¼ cup Cilantro Leaves, chopped
- 1 Lime, juiced
- Salt to taste
- In a bowl, mix together tomatoes, pineapple, cucumber, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro.
- Add lime juice and salt. Stir and taste. Adjust salt if necessary.
- De-seeding the tomatoes is necessary to avoid excess liquid.
- It is important to use English Cucumber since they are burpless, have more crispness, and are seedless (for the most part). You can omit cucumber.
- De-seeding the jalapeño and removing the pith will lower the heat from the peppers. Adjust the heat according to your taste.