Look for the fruit-less-travelled when you want the best in season 

Fresh, local produce

The growing season has started and it is almost time for those wonderful fruits and vegetables to be in season. Grocery stores can provide us with seasonal produce year round, however sometimes that produce isn’t as ripe as you need it to be. 

Some produce that has traveled a great distance is picked while it is still green and will not be ripe when it reaches the store. For some fruits, you can speed up the ripening process at home.

Common fruits that can be ripened at home include bananas, cantaloupe, peaches, pears, pineapples and tomatoes. You can speed up their ripening by placing them in a single layer in a large paper bag with holes punched through it. Fold the opening of the bag over and leave it on the counter while the fruit ripens. The fruit releases a gas that is then trapped in the bag, which speeds up the ripening process. 

Check the fruit daily to see whether it’s ready to eat. Most fruit will ripen in a bag within a day or two. If you let cantaloupe or bananas get too ripe, use them in something else such as a smoothie or better yet, bake them in bread.

Some produce — including apples, blueberries, cherries, grapes, strawberries and blackberries — will not ripen any more after they have been picked. Refrigerate these fruits immediately after purchase to maintain the best quality. 

If you find yourself with fresh berries or fruit reaching its expiration date before you’ve had time to use it, freeze it or throw it in a smoothie. Freezing berries takes no time at all. 

Wash the berries under cold water and dry them with a paper towel. Spread them out in one layer on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes or until frozen solid. 

Store frozen berries in freezer safe containers or freezer bags for easy access to fresh berries year round. Blueberries are even easier to freeze since you don’t have to wash them before freezing. Just remember to rinse them under cold water before use.

One of the best ways to get the freshest produce possible is to shop at your local farmers market for locally grown varieties. Most markets across the state have opened or are preparing to open soon. Since the food travels a shorter distance to reach local consumers, farmers can pick their produce at its peak of ripeness, either the night before or on the day of the market.

The Boyle County Farmer’s Market is open 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays at Danville High School. They have an exciting selection of products to choose from including meats, pies and even homemade soap. We are fortunate to have multiple places to buy local products in Boyle County, so let’s take advantage of all our local resources.

For more information about local farmers markets and preparing fresh produce call the Boyle County Extension Office at 236-4484 or email me at a.price@uky.edu .