A wicker basket with an assortment of green and black grapes. Text says, 'the great benefits of grapes'.

Grapes are a popular fruit in my household, as they’re easy for my kids to snack on. Thanks to many seedless varieties, they don’t require any peeling or slicing, they’re not messy, and they’re deliciously sweet. Illinois grapes are available July through October. Unlike many other fruits, grapes will not continue to ripen once picked so you should harvest them when plump and juicy. If you’re not consuming local grapes, chances are your grapes were grown in California, the top grape producing state in the U.S. 

Red apples on the left side, green apples on the right side, with text that says "it's apple season!"

Apple season is here! Make way for apple pie, apple cider, apple crisp, caramel apples and more. Apples are available year-round in supermarkets, but the experience of your own apple-picking at a local orchard brings a whole new level of excitement to this popular fruit.

A slice of a watermelon on a paper towel with a pink background

Melon is one the most sought-after fruit of the summer. Watermelon, muskmelon and honeydew all contain about 90 percent water, making them a popular sweet, juicy fruit for summer barbecues. If you’ve ever been confused about the difference between a muskmelon or a cantaloupe, you’re not alone. The terms are used interchangeably, but they are not technically the same thing. Truth be told, those cantaloupes you’ve been purchasing at the store are actually muskmelons, as a true cantaloupe is smaller and not grown in the U.S.

Text says "make the most of berry season" with a picture of a dozen blackberries in the background.

Berry season is arriving quickly, and it’s what gets me the most excited for those first few farmers markets near the end of May and early June where berries are likely available. When perfectly ripe, blackberries are one of my favorites.

A wicker basket on a table filled with a dozen starfruit.

Starfruit may not be the most well-known fruit, but I bet you can figure out what it looks like. Shaped like a star when sliced, it’s also called carambola and is native to Southeast Asia. Carambola trees produce yellow to lime green fruit with a waxy rind on the outside and a juicy pulp on the inside.

Various pieces of food creating a bunny face (pretzel sticks for whiskers, kiwi slices for ears) on a white plate.

Originally discovered in China, kiwifruit found it’s way to producers in New Zealand, Italy, Chile and in the United States, California. While today’s generation is growing up with kiwi available at the grocery stores all year round, many generations had never heard of this funny looking fruit. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that kiwifruit started becoming popular in the U.S.

persimmons

While a persimmon will probably never be as popular as an apple in the U.S., this lesser known fruit packs a punch of sweet flavor. If you’ve ever seen a persimmon, you may have mistaken it for an unripe tomato, as they look and feel somewhat similar. A ripe persimmon is dense with waxy skin and jelly-like flesh.

elderberry

Elderberries have been used in folk medicine for centuries as a remedy for influenza and colds, but only recently have they become popular in the United States. The common elderberry (Sambucus var. canadensis) is a beautiful native shrub with white flowers and dark purple berries. It can be planted as a tall hedge in a beautifully decorated lawn, but can also be found growing wild in Illinois along roadsides. Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is native to Europe and is generally the berry used in elderberry products found on store shelves.