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Florida Fresh Fruits

The Peak of the Season: Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Living in Florida provides a unique opportunity to indulge in fresh fruits and vegetables, grown in-state, year round!  Since Florida has a tropical climate that extends through most of the state we are also one of the few places where tropical fruits, such as Passion Fruit, Longans, and Carambolas, flourish.

Eating foods that are in season is healthy for your body and is cheaper on your wallet when you go to the grocery store.  You can obtain these fresh fruits and vegetables from your local grocery store or a farmer’s market.  In fact Publix, one of the largest grocery retailers in Florida, offers an email that you can sign up for called, “At Season’s Peak. These monthly emails will let you know what is coming to your grocery store produce section and what is at the peak of the season. It helps you buy fresh and eat healthier.

You can also find fresh fruits and vegetables directly from farmers by attending local markets in your area to peruse and purchase locally grown produce.  Don’t think there is a farmer’s market near you?  Think again!  There are hundreds all across the state and probably one right in your home town or close by.  Here in St. Cloud/Kissimmee we have at least 3 different farmer’s markets and all on different days of the week!  A quick google search can help you locate the closest one to you.  Check out the links at the end of the article for resources on locating the best places to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

During the month of August, these are the current fruits and vegetables that are in season: Avocado, Carambola, Guava, Longan, Mango, Mushroom, Passion Fruit, and Peanuts.   Highlighted below are the more unusual members of this list.

 

Enter the Carambola!

This is really just a star fruit masquerading with a fancy name!  Native to Southeast Asia. Harvested in Florida June-March. Typical size is 2-7 inches long. Allow fruit to ripen at room temperature until yellow color develops on inside of ribs, about 2-5 days. Flesh is yellow to golden yellow, crisp and sweet. May be eaten fresh or refrigerated for 5-7 days in plastic bags. Good source of vitamins C and A, phosphorus and potassium. Use fresh and in fruit salads, desserts, sauces, and wine.

 

Longans

These small fruits look really weird, but taste delicious!  Native to southern China, Malay peninsula, Thailand. Harvested in Florida July-August. Typical size is 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. This fruit is picked ready to eat. Pulp is translucent, crisp, juicy and has a distinctive sweet flavor. Best eaten fresh or may be refrigerated up to 7 days in plastic bags or frozen for later use. Very good source of vitamin C. Use fresh and in fruit salads, marinades, sauces.

 

Passion Fruits

When I first cut open a passion fruit I always think it looks like a mess, but that is the sweetest mess I have ever tasted!  Native to the American tropics. Harvested in Florida June-December. Typical size is 1 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter. This fruit is picked ready to eat and may have a smooth or wrinkled peel. The jelly-like pulp is yellowish-orange to orange, very aromatic with a distinctive flavor; the seeds are edible. Best used fresh or may be refrigerated for 1-7 days in plastic bags. Good source of vitamins A, C and some B. Use in juice, sauces, jelly, and desserts.
Resources:

https://www.publix.com/featured/AtSeasonsPeak.do

http://www.farmersmarketonline.com/fm/Florida.htm

http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Marketing-and-Development/Consumer-Resources/Buy-Fresh-From-Florida/Crops-in-Season

http://localfoods.about.com/od/searchbyregion/a/floridaseasons.htm