Since moving to Florida a few years ago, this Midwesterner has come to appreciate the fruit seasons a lot more. Being closer to the crop has its perks. And as much as I adore fruit on its own, I've found a new way to enjoy its sweetness — by adding a little savory. • Fruit salsa makes for a refreshing and healthy summer snack. So as it gets hotter outside, use these easy recipes as each fruit comes into its peak season. (With help from Publix and Fresh from Florida, the months listed are approximate.) • The best part about salsa is how customizable it is. Play around by adding more spice; swap corn for edamame; add black beans for some protein. It's all up to your taste buds. I prefer chunkier salsa, so I like to mince and dice the ingredients by hand. But if you prefer a soupier salsa, use a food processor if the recipe says to. I also recommend making each salsa a day before you plan to serve it. The flavors are enhanced the longer it sits. The salsa will keep for about four days in the fridge. Serve each one with your favorite salty chip or cracker, and a cocktail.
Pineapple season: available year-round, but peak is March through July
I'm one of those people who loves pineapple on my pizza. And this salsa also plays off that savory-sweetness that I oh so love. To make, finely chop 2 cups pineapple chunks into tiny cubes and add to a bowl. Chop 1 red bell pepper, 4 green onions, 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and 2 cloves garlic and add to pineapple. Mix in ¼ teaspoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon cumin (or more to taste) and a pinch of salt. Garnish with more cilantro and serve. Makes about 3 cups. Recipe from thekitchn.com.
Mojito Melon Salsa
Melon season: April through July
This salsa is a fun take on the refreshing cocktail. Start by dicing some watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. You should have 1 cup of each. (Here's a cook hack that's useful with this recipe: When you cut the melons, put your cutting board inside a cookie sheet to keep the juice from getting all over the counter.) Add melon to a large bowl with ½ cup diced cucumbers and ½ cup diced grapes. Slice a couple of green onions and add to the bowl with the zest of 1 lime and a handful of shredded fresh mint leaves to taste. In a smaller bowl, combine the juice of 1 lime and 1 tablespoon of sugar until sugar is dissolved. If you need to, add the juice from the bowl of fruit to the lime juice to help dissolve the sugar. Pour the lime dressing over the fruit and toss to coat. Garnish with more fresh mint leaves. Makes about 4 cups. Recipe from premeditatedleftovers.com.
Citrus Mango Ginger Salsa
Mango season: May through August
If you're lucky enough to have a mango tree (I really need to introduce myself to the neighbors), this salsa is a great way to use them up. Start by chopping 2 cups peeled mango. Add to a large bowl with 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice, 1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice, fresh orange zest from half an orange, 3 tablespoons finely minced red onion, up to 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger (the ginger can overpower the salsa, so use your taste buds to get the right amount), 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil. Stir in some salt and pepper to taste. For a little kick, add red pepper flakes. Makes about 2 cups. Recipe from themom100.com.
Sweet and Spicy Cherry Salsa
Cherry season: July
This salsa is best served after the flavors have married overnight, but it's also very hard to wait for. Wash and pit 1 ½ cups stemmed semisweet cherries. To pit them, you can just tear them in half. We're going to chop them up anyway, so don't worry about keeping them pretty. Add the cherries to a food processor and chop roughly. Next, chop ½ yellow onion, 1 green pepper and 2 large Roma tomatoes. Add them to the food processor and pulse a few times. Add 1 teaspoon salt, a pinch of cayenne pepper and a few basil leaves, and pulse a little more. For additional sweetness, add 5 drops almond extract. Dump it all out in a large bowl, give it a little mix and serve. Makes about 2 cups. Recipe from livingfree.aubreecherie.com.
Peach Mango Salsa
Peach season: July and August
Juicy peaches and mangoes are the perfect easy treat in the summer. Dice 2 ripe peaches, 1 ripe peeled mango and 1 de-seeded jalapeno pepper. Here's a flavor tip: After peeling and trimming the flesh of the mango away from the seed, squeeze the peel tightly over the mixing bowl to get some extra mango juice. Add fruit and pepper to a bowl with 1 cup frozen corn, 2 tablespoons Thai sweet red chili sauce, juice of 1 lime (3 to 4 tablespoons) and a handful of cilantro leaves. Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Optional: Garnish with sliced avocado. Makes about 3 ½ cups. Recipe from averiecooks.com.