Choose the tastiest and highest quality fruit at Central Texas’ pick-your-own farms.
By Kaiti Neuman
Fruit is an integral part of summer. Many Central Texans have memories of digging into juicy watermelon on the Fourth of July or cooling off with freshly picked Fredericksburg peaches. Are you curious to try your hand at picking your own fruit this summer? Check out our go-to guide here.
Picking 101: Tart, fresh and vibrant berries are a staple of summer cuisine. Most berries are available May to September, but the best time to add them to your shopping list is in June and July. When hunting for ripe berries, look for plumpness. Blackberries will be shiny, while blueberries and raspberries will have more of a matte finish.
Storage: Once purchased or picked, berries should be stored in the refrigerator and shouldn’t be washed until just before eating, as premature rinsing could lead to rotting. But if you’d prefer to wash your fruit in advance, momables.com suggests washing berries in a vinegar bath, made from one part vinegar and eight parts water.
Picking 101: Watermelon might be the most quintessential summer fruit of them all, but picking out a good one can be tricky. If a melon seems on the heavy side for its size, you’ve got a winner. Unlike other melons, watermelon will not emit a fragrant smell when ripe and doesn’t continue to ripen off the vine.
Storage: Melons, both cut and whole, should be stored in the refrigerator to maintain freshness. Because cantaloupe will continue to ripen, keep it away from other fruits.
Pick your own: Head to Bastrop Gardens in Cedar Park, Texas, to pick your own melons.
Picking 101: Sour cherries are only in season for a couple of weeks, however, sweet cherries, including the Bing and Rainier varieties, are in season from May until August. When picking cherries, look out for those with a deep, rich color and a firm texture. Bright-green stems indicate freshness.
Storage: All cherries are best stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or frozen and should be washed just before eating.
Pick your own: Head to Jollisant Farms in Plantersville, Texas, to pick your own sweet cherries.
Peaches and Nectarines
Picking 101: Nothing makes a mouth water more than the idea of juice from a perfectly ripe peach or nectarine dribbling down your chin. To find the sweetest, most flavorful of these fruits, look at the color of the fruit. If a peach or nectarine has a green hue around the stem, it isn’t quite ready to pick, but if the fruit has an orange color to it, it’s fully ripened and ready to enjoy. The fruit should give slightly when pressed and emit a fragrant aroma.
Storage: Both fruits will continue to ripen if stored at room temperature and should never be refrigerated until fully ripe.
Pick your own: Enjoy a drive down to Fredericksburg, Texas, to indulge in Texas’ best peaches.
Picking 101: A favorite fruit for many Austinites, the avocado is creamy, healthy and tasty alongside just about everything. Avocado season varies, but summer is usually the best time for avocados in Texas. While a darker skin color can sometimes mean a riper fruit beneath, it’s not the best indicator, as color and ripeness can develop at completely different speeds. Texture is a better clue. When squeezed gently, an avocado should be slightly soft to the touch.
Storage: Avocados that are not yet ripe can be stored at room temperature. Once ripe, they should be refrigerated to slow down the ripening process.
Pick your own: Avocado farms in Austin are hard to come by, so plant your own avocado tree and reap the rewards. Head to The Great Outdoors Nursery on South Congress Avenue.
Picking 101: Whether you’re creating the perfect summer salad or topping off a freshly grilled burger, tomatoes are a classic choice for a savory summer fruit. Whether picking your own or going the grocery-store route, look for tomatoes that have been stored at room temperature, as refrigeration can damage the fruit. Tomatoes should appear plump and heavy and have smooth skins without bruises, blemishes or deep cracks. When fully ripe, tomatoes should be soft to the touch and fragrant.
Storage: Store tomatoes at room temperature until they’re ready to use. But if they get too ripe, don’t despair. Overly ripe tomatoes are great for soups, sauces and stews.
Pick your own: Pick tomatoes straight from the vine at Ahimsa Farm in Boerne, Texas.