Kitchen Basics: How to Pick & Prep Produce - Tropical Fruit Edition! ~ Diane's Vintage Zest!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Kitchen Basics: How to Pick & Prep Produce - Tropical Fruit Edition!

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Last week, I headed to the grand opening of the newest Walmart Neighborhood Market and I was really impressed with all of the amazing finds in the produce section!  The selection was fresh and surprisingly diverse, and since the prices were so low, I stocked up on a TON of fun items.  I have been wanting to start a series of posts introducing my readers to unusual produce, so I am delighted that I was able to find so many items in the store and buy them all up to share with you!

In this edition, I will talking about tropical fruit.  Yes, I will be sharing my tips on how to choose the produce, prep/cut it for use (including the correct knives & kitchen equipment needed), and then give you a couple of recipe ideas.  Also, there was so actually much to buy that this will be the first of two posts just for the tropical fruit!

Stay tuned because this will be an awesome series with lots of fruits and veggies that might stump you at the grocery store one day!


In this post (jump to):

Kitchen Basics - How to Pick and Prep Produce - Tropical Fruit Edition (Papaya, Jicama, Pineapple & Mango) on Diane's Vintage Zest! #shop #fruit #tips


Before I start, I have to mention that I was in the store picking out produce when I noticed the handy descriptions of each fruit and a few tips on how to pick them.  Awesome, right?  I took pictures of the tips in case you have a hard time spotting them on your next shopping trip, plus I added a few of my own.  :)

Also I told you in my last post that I spoke with a wonderful produce stocker who told me about the 100% Money Back Satisfaction Guarantee on Walmart Neighborhood Market's produce (and meat).  So even if you make a mistake with your picks, you can return it with the receipt and try again!


Kitchen Basics - How to Pick and Prep Produce - Tropical Fruit Edition (Papaya, Jicama, Pineapple & Mango) on Diane's Vintage Zest! #shop #fruit #tips
A peek at some of the upcoming produce posts: Bok Choy, Parsnips, Radishes, Tomatillo, Ginger, Rapini, Broccolini, Turnip Roots, Plantains, and Coconut!


Now, to the fruit!


Papaya

Things to look for:
  • 75% to 100% yellow;  Buy it with a bit of green if you plan on eating it later
  • Firm, with smooth skin
  • Heavy for its size


Avoid:
  • Fruit with bruises or soft spots

Kitchen Basics - How to Pick and Prep Produce - Tropical Fruit Edition (Papaya, Jicama, Pineapple & Mango) on Diane's Vintage Zest! #shop #fruit #tips
On the bottom right picture, the three papayas are (from L to R) unripe, nearly ripe, and ready to eat!


Prep (see picture below):
  1. With a large knife, cut off the bottom and top of the papaya.
  2. Split it in half lengthwise.
  3. Scoop out the seeds and the fibers and discard.
  4. Cut out the tough stem towards the bottom.
  5. Repeat for the second half.
  6. Cut into four equal sections for easier handling.
  7. Peel using a paring knife or peeler.
  8. Now that you are left with large sections, you can cut into strips, large chunks, or a smaller dice.

Kitchen Basics - How to Pick and Prep Produce - Tropical Fruit Edition (Papaya, Jicama, Pineapple & Mango) on Diane's Vintage Zest! #shop #fruit #tips
I just love eating it fresh, in cubes!


Jicama

Things to look for:
  • Firm texture
  • Smooth, "shiny," dry skin


Avoid:
  • Fruit with blemishes or dull skin

Kitchen Basics - How to Pick and Prep Produce - Tropical Fruit Edition (Papaya, Jicama, Pineapple & Mango) on Diane's Vintage Zest! #shop #fruit #tips
Practically every jicama was good, but I picked the one with the most even skin


Prep (see picture below):
  1. With a paring knife, cut off the bottom and top of the jicama.
  2. Peel using a paring knife or peeler.
  3. Now that you are left with the whole, unpeeled fruit, you can cut into sticks, cubes, or shred (like I did!).

Kitchen Basics - How to Pick and Prep Produce - Tropical Fruit Edition (Papaya, Jicama, Pineapple & Mango) on Diane's Vintage Zest! #shop #fruit #tips
I'm going to share this shredded carrot and jicama salad recipe soon.  :)  Yum!


Pineapple

Things to look for:
  • Heavy for its size
  • Dark green leaves 
  • Firm texture


Avoid:
  • Fruit with soft spots or yellow leaves


Prep (see picture below):
  1. With a large knife, cut off the bottom and top of the pineapple.
  2. Split it in half lengthwise.
  3. Cut each half into two wedges.
  4. Cut out the tough inner core and discard.
  5. Remove the skin by carefully holding each wedge perpendicular to the cutting board and cutting downward, as shown.  You will be left with small pieces of the outer rind.
  6. Using a paring knife, remove each rind leftover by cutting out "ditches" in a diagonal pattern.
  7. Now that you are left with large sections, you can cut into spears, large chunks, or a smaller dice.

Kitchen Basics - How to Pick and Prep Produce - Tropical Fruit Edition (Papaya, Jicama, Pineapple & Mango) on Diane's Vintage Zest! #shop #fruit #tips


I used the pineapple in a Pineapple Mango salsa, and you can find the recipe right here!  I obviously used the mango below in this recipe too.  :)


Kitchen Basics - How to Pick and Prep Produce - Tropical Fruit Edition (Papaya, Jicama, Pineapple & Mango) on Diane's Vintage Zest! #shop #fruit #tips




Mangoes

I used two kinds of mangoes for the prep tutorials below, and both have the same criteria below for picking them out at the store.


Things to look for:
  • Gives slightly with pressure
  • Smells fragrant

Avoid:
  • Fruit with bruises or dark blemishes
  • Not too firm, but no soft spots


Kitchen Basics - How to Pick and Prep Produce - Tropical Fruit Edition (Papaya, Jicama, Pineapple & Mango) on Diane's Vintage Zest! #shop #fruit #tips
Although skin color is not a good indicator, it happens to be that the unripe mango on the left was completely green and the ripe mango on the right had red skin.


There are a few ways to prep mango, so check them all out!


Prep #1 - Most even dice  (see picture below):
  1. With a large knife, cut off the bottom and top of the mango.
  2. Peel using a paring knife.
  3. Cut lengthwise down the middle of the mango, avoiding the pit in the middle, cutting just parallel to it.
  4. Now that you are left with large sections, you can cut into large chunks or a smaller dice.

Kitchen Basics - How to Pick and Prep Produce - Tropical Fruit Edition (Papaya, Jicama, Pineapple & Mango) on Diane's Vintage Zest! #shop #fruit #tips




Prep #2 - For a quick dice  (see picture below):
  1. With a small knife, cut down lengthwise until you hit the pit, then continue cutting just parallel to it.
  2. Repeat for the second side so you are left with the two sides and the middle pit.
  3. Cut a criss-cross grid pattern through the flesh, making sure not to pierce the skin. 
  4. Invert the skin so the flesh pops out.
  5. Using a spoon, remove the flesh by inserting it upside-down between the peel and the fruit.
  6. Repeat for the second half.   Note: Notice that the skin has no cuts in it from Step #3!
  7. For the pit section, make a small notch in the skin. 
  8. Separate the skin by carefully "unpeeling."  All you need to do is tug on it firmly.
  9. Remove the fleshy parts around the pit with a paring knife and dice.

Kitchen Basics - How to Pick and Prep Produce - Tropical Fruit Edition (Papaya, Jicama, Pineapple & Mango) on Diane's Vintage Zest! #shop #fruit #tips
You can sneak a taste or two by eating straight off the pit, but it can be a bit sour!


Prep #3 - For quick eating  (see picture below):
  1. With a small knife, cut down lengthwise until you hit the pit, then continue cutting just parallel to it.
  2. Repeat for the second side so you are left with the two sides and the middle pit.
  3. For the pit section, make a small notch in the skin. 
  4. Separate the skin by carefully "unpeeling."  All you need to do is tug on it firmly.
  5. Remove the fleshy parts around the pit with a paring knife.
  6. Scoop out each half with a spoon for easy eating!

Kitchen Basics - How to Pick and Prep Produce - Tropical Fruit Edition (Papaya, Jicama, Pineapple & Mango) on Diane's Vintage Zest! #shop #fruit #tips



And that's it for this edition of kitchen basics!  For some of you this might be second-nature, but I know that there are a lot of people who have never chosen a jicama or cut into a mango.  And lastly, thanks to my mom and my sister who did most of the peeling and cutting, with some of the photographing credits.  :)


Do you buy and prep tropical fruit to eat at home?


Kitchen Basics - How to Pick and Prep Produce - Tropical Fruit Edition (Papaya, Jicama, Pineapple & Mango) on Diane's Vintage Zest! #shop #fruit #tips




13 comments:

  1. This is great information. I live in Honolulu , HI (been here almost 4 yrs now) and have easy access to tons of tropical fruit. It easily grows in most people's yards (but I live downtown so no yard) and can always be found at any market. This is good information to reference when ever getting tropical fruit.

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  2. That would be so fun to be able to harvest fruit from your backyard. Maybe one day!

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  3. These are great tips, Diane! I'm not much of a fruit eater, but my boys love it so I ned to learn.

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  4. Thanks for this! I had no idea how to pick ripe fruit for all but the pineapple so glad you shared this!

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  5. These are great tips!

    Thanks for joining the Link Up this week!

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  6. What a great post with really good tips. Hope you are having a great week and thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Miz Helen

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  7. Thanks for these great tips. Pinned to my cooking tips board.

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  8. So informative and such great information! There's not a fruit we've tried that we haven't liked! My kids love Jimaca, but I've never bought it myself. Now I know :) Thanks for linkin to Sunday FUNday!

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  9. Thanks! Hope I made it a bit easier. :)

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  10. You're welcome! I hope you eat some delicious fruit this summer! :)

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  11. You're welcome! I'm hoping to do a few more exotic fruit & veggie posts soon!

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  12. Glad to be of help, and thanks for hosting!

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I love to hear your comments! And putting in your two cents is always free. :)

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