The Ultimate Smoothie Book: 130 Delicious Recipes for Blender Drinks, Frozen Desserts, Shakes, and More!
By Cherie Calbom
Apple There are many varieties of apples, the most popular being Red and Golden Delicious; other well-known varieties include Winesap, McIntosh, Jonathan, Rome, Gravenstein, Stayman, Cortland, Granny Smith, and Newton Pippins.
Season: Apples are available all year long, since there are summer, fall, and winter varieties. In the spring they have probably been pulled from cold storage. Choose firm, crisp apples without soft spots, bruises, or wrinkles. Apples picked at maturity have high color and the best flavor and texture.
Preparation Simply wash an apple if it's organic. Peel it if it's not organic or if it is waxed; although the peel is rich in nutrients, remove it to eliminate waxes and pesticides. If juicing the apple, cut it into wedges that fit your juice extractor feed tube; you can juice the core. Seeds should not hurt an adult; avoid seeds for children under two. To freeze, remove the core, cut the apple into one-inch chunks, and place them in a freezer bag.
Apricot About five varieties are commercially available, including the Blenheim, Tilton, Early Montgamet, and Wenatchee.
Season: Apricots are available May through August, but their peak is June and July. Choose plump, juicy-looking apricots with a uniform golden-orange color. Ripe apricots will yield to gentle pressure when touched. Avoid soft, mushy, or hard apricots and pale yellow or greenish fruit-a sign they are underripe.
Preparation Wash apricots and cut them in half; remove the stone. To freeze, cut them in one-inch chunks and place them in a freezer bag.
Bell pepper In the United States, the leading varieties of bell peppers include Bellringer, Bell Boy, California Wonder, Merrimack Wonder, and Worldbeater.
Season: Bell peppers are available all year long, with peak season June through September. Choose firm, shiny bell peppers that are heavy for their size and preferably unwaxed. The skin should be smooth, without soft spots, and the color dark, whether green, red, or yellow.
Preparation Wash bell peppers, cut in half, and remove the seeds and stem. Cut into chunks. Freezing is not recommended.
Blackberry Several varieties of blackberries have been grown in the United States since the 1800s, including a thornless variety. Leading producers in the United States are Texas and Oregon.
Season: Blackberries are available May through August. Choose blackberries that are brightly colored; avoid berries that are partly green or off-color. Look for berries that are fresh, solid, and dry; check the bottom of the carton for wet or moldy berries.
Preparation Just before using blackberries, place them in a bowl of cool water and stir them gently by hand or with a wooden spoon. Drain the water and repeat; drain in a colander. Remove all stems and pick out any damaged or moldy berries. Blackberries freeze well; when they are dry, place them in a freezer bag and store in the freezer until ready to use. They can be stored three to four weeks.
Blueberry Blueberries have been cultivated since the early 1900s, but the wild variety, while smaller than the commercial types, is still superior in taste. The favorite cultivated types are high-bush and low-bush blueberries. States leading in production are Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington.
Season: Blueberries are available between May and September. Choose clean, plump, well rounded blueberries that are fairly uniform in size. Look for bright, deep blue, black, or purple berries that appear slightly frosted. The best berries are fresh, firm, and dry. Check the bottom of the container for wet or moldy berries.
Preparation To wash, place berries in a bowl of cool water and stir them gently by hand or with a wooden spoon. Drain the water and repeal; drain in a colander. Pick off the stems and remove any damaged or moldy berries. Blueberries freeze well; when they are dry, put them in a freezer bag and store in the freezer until ready to use. Freeze no more than three to four weeks.
Carrot Carrots are categorized according to color and size: red, yellow-orange, or white, and short, medium, or long. Carrots are an easy crop and are grown in nearly every state.
Season: Carrots are available all year. Choose large, firm, smooth, well-shaped carrots with good orange color. Avoid rough, cracked, or pale carrots. A green tinge at the top of a carrot indicates it was sunburned and could have a bitter taste. A mass of leafy stems indicates a large, woody core. Avoid flabby or shriveled carrots and trimmed carrots that are sprouting.
Preparation Simply scrub an organic carrot with a vegetable brush; peel the carrot if it's not organic. Always cut off the green tops; they contain toxic substances and are inedible. If juicing the carrots, cut them to fit the juice machine feed tube. Freezing carrots for smoothies is not recommended. However, you can freeze carrot juice in a covered container.
Cherry There are more than a thousand varieties of cherries, but Bing is the most popular. Cherries are grown in every stale, with Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho being the major growers of sweet cherries.
Season: Sweet cherries are available April through August. Choose dark-colored cherries that are shiny and full; they are the sweetest. They should be firm to the touch, but not hard. Avoid cherries with dark-colored stems.
Preparation Discard mushy or moldy cherries. Then rinse the cherries under cold running water, and dry them in a colander. Cut them in half and remove the pits and stems.