When summer produce is abundant, you want to each as much as possible, and these kitchen hacks for prepping fruit and veggies help you feast faster (and save you mess and hassle too). Plus, some are just plain fun.
The farmers’ market is overflowing with the best of summer fruit and vegetables: cherries, blueberries, peaches, tomatoes, zucchini and other summer squash, and so much more. You can eat it all day long, from breakfast (in pancakes and on French toast) to lunch (hello, flatbread) to dinner (put in on the grill or wrap it up in summer rolls). Oh, and of course, fruit is ripe for turning into dessert; may as well put it in your cocktails too.
Once you decide what exactly to make with it all, use these quick and clever techniques to peel, slice, and pit your produce faster and more efficiently, so you can get to the fun part—eating it—even sooner. And preserve some for later too.
1. Hull Strawberries with a Straw
Forget endless slicing and paring. Instead, remove the hulls of your strawberries by poking vertically through the center of the fruit (from the bottom up) with a drinking straw. Bonus if it’s a reusable straw!
2. Pit Cherries with a Paper Clip
We’d happily eat cherry pie all day long, but we’re not that into pitting dozens of cherries. If you don’t have a cherry pitter (who has the space?), use a paper clip instead to quickly and easily remove the pits.
3. Prep Corn on a Bundt Pan
Slicing corn off the cob is a messy but necessary summer task. Make it neater by anchoring the cob on a center of a bundt pan or tube pan, then slice. The pan catches the kernels and keeps the cob sturdy as you cut. Perfect for corn salads and salsa, among other things.
4. Slice Cherry Tomatoes on a Lid
Cut your prep time down. Place your cherry tomatoes between two plastic lids (like the ones on a large yogurt container) and run your knife through them all at the same time.
5. Squeeze Lemons, Limes, and Other Citrus with Tongs
Squeezing lemons (and limes) with your hands is tedious and messy. Use a pair of kitchen tongs instead: You’ll get more juice out faster and you’ll skip the stinging, messy hands.
6. Do This Quick Trick to Keep Berries Fresh
Don’t let your berries go to waste. Once you bring them home, rinse them in a 3-1 water to white vinegar solution. Then store them in the fridge to extend their freshness.
7. Save Overripe Fruit by Making a Shrub
Did that last tip come too late? You can rescue overripe fruit from the compost bin by making it into a shrub, a fruit-infused drinking vinegar that’s great for mocktails (or cocktails too).
8. Or, Make Oven-Dried Fruit
Sometimes after an overzealous trip to the market or strawberry picking, we end up with too much fruit to eat. Don’t let it go to waste! Dry it in your oven to use in granola or just for snacking. Just spread it on a baking sheet and dehydrate it for several hours (usually around 6) at the lowest temperature possible (200°F for most ovens).
9. Make Fruit Ice Cubes
Another way to make your fruit last and last—and give your summer drinks some pizzazz—is to freeze fresh fruit (and herbs) with water in ice cube trays. Pop them out and use them for lemonade, cocktails, and more. It’s an elegant and flavorful way to chill your drinks.
10. Use Melon Rinds as Fruit Bowls
The ultimate way to reuse your fruit (at least once before consigning it to the compost)! Once you cube your melon, add the fruit back into the rind with an assortment of other berries and summer fruit. You’ll have a prettier, more seasonal table display without needing to wash an extra bowl for fruit salad: win-win.
11. Serve Sorbet in Citrus Rinds
Along the same lines, these sorbet cups are some of the smartest (and cutest) ideas we’ve come across. Scoop out grapefruit, lemon, or orange rinds and fill them with homemade or store-bought sorbet in bright colors. It’s fun to eat and will have your friends wildly impressed with your kitchen chops. (If your crowd is more into Jell-O shots, you can pull out the same trick to class things up. And if you’re bringing them along to a beach party, no worries about leaving non-biodegradable trash behind—at least not the usual mini plastic shot cups, anyway.)