Few things say "summertime" more than biting into a delicious piece of fresh fruit. Blueberries, strawberries, apricots, peaches and raspberries all come into season during the summer months and it is tempting to stock up on these natural sweet treats. If you do, be aware of the shelf life of fruit, what signs to look for with ripeness and where to store fruit in order to avoid waste. Fruit goes bad as it naturally decays and bacteria and enzymes are produced.
Purchase only the freshest, best quality fruit at your local farmers market or grocery store. Look for bruising, soft spots and mold and avoid any fruits that seem overripe. Smell the fruit before you buy it -- the riper the fruit, the sweeter it will smell. Know what signs to look for in different fruit that indicate freshness. For example, deep red coloring is a good sign for strawberries and cherries; apricots should be golden yellow and slightly soft; and blackberries should be fully black and plump.
Get to know the growing seasons and spoilage rate of the fruit you purchase. Plan ahead so that if you purchase blueberries (which commonly stay fresh for four to six days) you don't purchase more than you can eat in that time period. Purchase fruit during its growing season to ensure that it's at its peak of freshness.
Know where to store your fruit. Store most fruit in the refrigerator, with the exception of some tropical fruits and apples. Never store fruit and vegetables together, as the ethylene produced by vegetables will make fruit rot faster. Store fruit in perforated plastic bags to allow air flow, or place it in a bowl and cover it with perforated plastic wrap.
Store bananas, apples, melons and pineapples outside of the refrigerator in a cool, dry location. Tropical fruits should be kept at room temperature, as they can be damaged from excessive cold. Fruit stored on the counter does not need to be covered. Do not store fruit in full sunlight, as it is likely to spoil more quickly.
Wash fruit only before you eat it, never before you store it. Fruit will spoil faster if it's stored wet. Pat fruit dry before storing if it is damp when you get home from shopping.
Throw away pieces of fruit as they begin to spoil. Fruit produces an odorless, colorless gas known as ethylene as it becomes ripe and then decays. If one fruit is rotting and producing ethylene, the other fruit around it will also begin producing more ethylene and will spoil faster.
Buy local whenever possible. Farmers markets will have the freshest fruit available, picked at its peak ripeness. Be careful, however, as fruit purchased fully ripe should be consumed quickly to avoid spoiling. Locally picked fruit is generally not treated with the preservatives that often keep grocery produce fresher longer. If necessary, purchase slightly underripe fruit if you don't intend to eat it within the freshness period.