9 Smart Tools for Cooking With Summer Fruit
Don’t let an ounce of watermelon or a morsel of strawberry go to waste.
We love seasonal fruits of all types, but summer fruit truly takes the cake. The sweetest strawberries, tangiest sour cherries, freshest mango, and juiciest watermelon have arrived at our local markets and grocery stores, and it’s prime time to take advantage of the ripest of the bunch. There are plenty of ways to incorporate summer fruits into breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but we know where they truly shine is in desserts.
Before you can dig into those turnovers, shortcakes, and pies (and those salads, cocktails, and sides), you’ll need to prep that fruit. These helpful tools will make it easy to work with all those delicate, slippery, spiky, and juicy summer fruits without breaking a sweat. Read on for the essential gadgets to make the best warm-weather treats yet.
Sure, the stores might have those large, mealy versions on offer year-round, but now is the time to find the cream of the crop for strawberries. If you’d rather not fuss with a knife or want to give the kids a job to do in the kitchen, a strawberry huller is a perfect tool. Never waste a bit of those precious berries and use them to make strawberry shortcake, a summer pavlova, or even strawberry tamales.
Chef’n Strawberry Huller, at crateandbarrel.com
Peaches, Nectarines, and Plums
Beautiful peaches and nectarines, ripe plums, and tangy apricots are all in-season for your dessert pleasure. The tricky part? Navigating that hallmark stone-fruit core. This peach pitter will make the job easy and brings you one step closer to grilled peaches and plums, no-bake peaches and cream cheesecake, nectarine buttermilk popsicles, or peach Melba sundaes.
Peach Pitter, $8 at amazon.com
Blueberries are the shining star of summer, and with such a short window for their best harvest (June and July), it’s crucial to make the most of them while they’re affordable and in abundance. Nothing beats a blueberry compote and all the jammy, saucy reductions that those little berries can make. All you need is the right small saucepan, and you’re set for berry ice cream pie, brown sugar cake with ricotta and blueberries, and a St. Louis-style cheesecake cith blueberries.
Farberware Stainless Steel Straining Saucepan, $20 at amazon.com
Cantaloupe and Honeydew Melon
For fruit salad staples like cantaloupe and honeydew, ripeness is key. Nothing is sweeter for a hot summer day than ice-cold melon balls (when frozen, a few melon balls are also a smart way to keep a glass of white wine chilled). This set of scoops will ensure you’re getting the best of whole melons. Bonus: You can also use them to whip up cocktails like a summer wine punch with melon ice "cubes", or especially pretty salads of melon and prosciutto.
Scoop Troop Melon Tool, $13 at surlatable.com
July doesn’t feel like July without a bounty of freshly picked cherries. Sour cherries, in particular, are ideal to use in the summertime. Cherries can be even more tedious than stone fruit to prep for dessert and cocktail purposes, so a cherry pitter is crucial. Try out a sour cherry lambic sorbet, a cherry vanilla clafoutis, or some perfectly portable sour cherry turnovers for summer picnics.
OXO Cherry Pitter, $13 at amazon.com
A perfectly ripened mango is as delightful as it is difficult to cut. Cut around the slippery pit with a mango-specific slicer, so you can get right to eating or baking without the mess (or the bandages). Treat yourself to mango peach sangria, mango-cashew kulfi pops, or a mango hibiscus cooler.
OXO Good Grips Mango Slicer, $11 at amazon.com
While we all pretend to be on a tropical beach someplace, a little fresh pineapple gets us halfway there in spirit. This pineapple corer has thousands of good ratings on Amazon and makes dealing with whole pineapples a breeze. Get grilling with honey-roasted pineapple, bake pineapple upside-down cake, or whip up a pineapple coconut soft serve (even add a rum floater, because why not).
Stainless Steel Pineapple Corer, $19 at amazon.com
Raspberries and Blackberries
Lovely summer blackberries and raspberries always need a good rinse before working with them, and this collapsible colander is easy to wash and won’t take up much counter space. Make raspberry pâtes de fruit, a cast-iron blackberry galette, or combine all the best berries for a double-decker meringue cake.
Folding Drain Basket, $30 at amazon.com
Last but certainly not least, the classic fruit treat that reaches peak sweetness during the summer months. Watermelon is the thirst-quenching fruit we all need, and a watermelon slicer will come in handy more times than you realize. Make a classic watermelon tomato salad, spice things up with a chile-coconut watermelon crudo, and find a sweet finish with salted watermelon ice cream.
6 in 1 Melon Tool, $12 at surlatable.com