I freely admit it, I'm a lousy gardener. Actually, I'm more lazy than lousy, but you get the idea. Our yard has that well-mown yet trackless jungle motif going on because research is lots more fun than sweating your brains out in the Kansas summer yuck.
Lucky me, I have many friends who have no problem sharing the bountiful rewards of their labor. Case in point, the gift of a fresh nectarine from a thoughtful guest. Chin-dribbling bliss!
When you're picking your own fruit off the tree, it's usually easy to tell when something is ripe. "Hey, it fell off when I touched it!" is the number one indicator of ripeness. Unfortunately, we don't get to do this in the grocery store. Not to fear! With a little care, you can choose juicy, flavorful fruit instead of attractive yet tasteless baseballs.
When purchasing nectarines, put your eyes to work first. Avoid choosing fruit with shriveled skin or obvious bruising. Colorwise, a tinge of green is perfectly fine. An all-over emerald hue will mean wasted money, as nectarines aren't noted for their off-tree ripening qualities.
The sense of touch comes into play next. The nectarine should feel slightly firm, but yield to gentle pressure. Not too much pressure, though, or you'll bruise it. Bruises lead to rot, and rot leads to really nasty fruit salad. Easy does it.
As a final indicator, give it a sniff. A ripe nectarine smells like a ripe nectarine. There is no mistaking that "sunshine and songbirds" scent for anything other than an invitation to dine.
Speaking of dine, I think it's time for a snack break. What's in your fruit basket today?