Eating fruits is one of the best ways to cool off during summer. Fruits can be eaten raw, mixed with other food or turned into a fruit shake. Kids absolutely love fruits, whatever the preparation is. Supermarkets have fruits in abundance, especially during summer. Buying them can be quite a task if you are unsure how to check for freshness.

Here are some things to remember when hitting the fruits aisle:

Buy local. Buying fruits that came from nearby farms ensures you get freshly picked fruits. When imported fruits arrive in your local supermarket, vitamins are depleted and sometimes the flesh is damaged from too much handling. There’s no reason to buy fruits from the other side of the country if it is available locally anyway.

Buy fruits in season. The best tasting fruits come from the ones harvested in season. If they don’t come from far away, fruits that are picked out of season either lack flavor or are not ripe enough. Summertime fruits include watermelons, blueberries, peaches, melons, mangoes and strawberries.

Check the date. When buying bundled fruits – cling wrapped or bagged – find out if it has a packing date. This gives you an idea of how long the fruits have been in the bin. Additionally, check the items in the bundle for any ‘bad apple’.

•  Buy whole. You might be tempted to buy pre-cut and packed fruits for convenience. Remind yourself to buy fruits in whole instead, to be sure of its quality inside and out.

Scrutinize with your senses. Fresh fruits like strawberries should be firm to the touch. Fleshy fruits like mangoes and watermelons should be heavy when picked up. Kiwi skin should be fuzzy, while a watermelon skin should be dull. Aside from good appearance, a fresh fruit also has good smell – sweet and ripe.

Check for signs of rot. Keep away from fruits are have signs of mold. Berry type fruits are prone to molds. Wrinkled fruit skin and dark spots are also signs of rotting. Sour or pungent smelling fruit should be put back into the bin.

Know what to look for. When selecting ripe fruits, find out what characteristics buyers seek. For example, the bottom of a garden-ripened watermelon will have a discolored – usually white to yellow – bottom; brown and slightly dried up grape stems indicate ripeness; and, green strawberry top leaves signify a recent harvest.

Make use of the summer bounty while the season lasts. These fresh fruit buying tips should guide you in selecting the best from the crop.