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Growing Season

What’s your favorite season? I mean, when it comes to food? Mango Season has to be among my favorites.

Sade Meeks, MS, RD


What’s your favorite season? I mean, when it comes to food? Mango Season has to be among my favorites. I love walking down the grocery aisles and seeing all the mango varieties. I would usually go to Nashville’s Farmer’s Market for my favorite produce, but Mangoes aren’t grown in the South. Mangoes thrive in tropical climates and plant hardiness zones 10b-11.

What is plant hardiness zones?

Plant hardiness zones are tools to help growers determine what fruits and veggies will thrive in their city and state. Zones are determined based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree Fahrenheit zones. It is common for many seeds to have a label with the hardiness zone on the back. For example, if you pick up a pack of cucumber seeds, you’ll most likely see zone 7 on the back, which is Nashville’s hardiness zone!

However, what if you’re not planting anything, you’re more so just shopping at your local farmers market enjoying the fruits of their labor? Well, it is still good to know what fruits are in season and equally important, how to pick them! So, I thought I’d share my top picks for Nashville’s summer season!

Top Picks:

#PeachSeason – When picking peaches, here’s one rule to live by, DON’T SQUEEZE! Squeezing the peach can actually cause it to bruise and ruin its flesh. A better indicator of if it’s ready to eat is its color and smell. I wouldn’t recommend smelling it unless you have already purchased, especially considering we’re amid a pandemic. But you don’t need your nose in this case because your eyes can tell you a lot! A peach free of bruises with good vibrant color is usually a good pick! It's noted, the more vibrant the color (on the red part of the peach), the sooner it’ll be soft.

#GrapeSeason – I heard through the grapevine that a good shake will help with the right pick! When picking grapes at your local market, give the bag a shake. If grapes stick together, that’s a good sign. You don’t want to pick grapes that easily fall off the stem. Also, don’t be afraid to pick grapes with that white residue. It's not dust, pesticides, dirt, or powder; it is a natural yeast, referred to as bloom. Bloom is an excellent indicator of freshness!

#PearSeason - Pears may be one of the most beautiful fruits. It has nothing to do with its shape or color, but the way it ripens. Pears are one of the few fruits that ripen from the inside out – isn’t that inside out beauty! And once it’s ripe, you can bite into sweet pear-fection! So how can you tell if it’s ripe from the outside? The neck of the pear is a good indicator. Press on its neck, and if it yields to pressure, it is time to enjoy! On the opposite end, if the pear's body is soft to touch, it is likely overripened!

#NectarineSeason – Nectarine is like the identical twin to the peach, minus the fuzz. Similar to peaches, you can tell a nectarine is ready to eat just by looking at it. And you can tell which one may have a better flavor by paying attention to its undertones. Nectarines with a gold undertone will have a better flavor than nectarines with a greenish undertone.

#ApricotSeason – Do you prefer sweet or tart? Don’t worry because you don’t have to choose between the two when you bite into ready to eat apricots. Apricots have a sweet flesh with a hint of tartness. It is like the perfect balance. You know you’ve picked a good apricot when it has a beautiful yellow-orange color and is slightly soft to the touch. All of this talk about fruit has got me in the mood for some local picks. No matter the season, you can always support your local farmers. For more information on picking fruits and vegetables locally, visit the Pick Tennessee website




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Sade Meeks, MS, RD
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