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How to Select the Freshest Summer and Fall Produce

by
Aug 19th, 2016

There’s no substitute for a perfectly ripened peach or a salad prepared with tomatoes and greens you’ve just brought home from the farmers market. Armed with the right knowledge when selecting your next batch of produce, you can maximize the enjoyment and nutrition you get from your fruits and veggies. Here are tips for honing in on the best of ten popular summer and fall produce items.

Apples

Apple picking is a fun fall past time in many parts of the country. Whether you’re plucking them straight from a tree or choosing from a bin at the grocery store, you can enjoy crisp, flavorful apples by focusing on deeply colored, firm, naturally shiny fruits that are heavy for their size.

Beets

When selecting beets, avoid those with wilted leaves, scaly tops, and large taproots. Firm beets with fresh stems and slender taproots tend to be the most satisfying.

Bell Peppers

Regardless of the color you want, keep an eye out for firm, naturally shiny peppers that feel heavy for their size. Keep peppers crisp by storing them in a dry drawer in your fridge until you’re ready to eat them.

Corn

Whenever you buy corn on the cob, peel back husks and check kernels to make sure they’re not dry. For the freshest, best-tasting sweet corn, choose cobs with bright husks that are moist but not slimy.

Eggplant

The first secret to a great eggplant parmesan or ratatouille is choosing the right eggplant to work with. Smooth, shiny skin and density are the most important factors. Ideally, you want an eggplant with that gives a little but not too much when you press against its flesh.

Kiwi

October and November are usually the best months for kiwi lovers. If you’re looking for ready-to-eat kiwis, pick a few that are more soft than firm. Avoid overly mushy kiwis, and try to buy fruits that give a little when pressed.

Pears

Pears without bruises or other blemishes are generally the safest bet, especially if you’re not planning to eat them right away. Some softness just below the stem is a sign that a pear is ripe for consumption.

Pineapple

Picking a pineapple with sweet, tender flesh is simple, but requires you to use your sense of smell. The best pineapples smell delightfully sweet at the stem ends, and have green, fresh-looking leaves. A pro tip with pineapples is to store them upside down until you’re ready to eat them. This practice distributes sweetness throughout the fruit.

Pomegranate

As with most produce, heaviness for its size is a sign of a ripe pomegranate. Unlike with most other fruits though, cracks are usually a good sign. Cracked pomegranates tend to be filled with plump, juicy seeds. Just inspect cracks for mold before you buy.

Potatoes

The best method for selecting potatoes depends on the type of potato you’re buying, but a few general rules apply. Always avoid bruises, green spots, and sprouts. The smoother and firmer a potato is, the more satisfying it is likely to be.

The difference between great and adequate produce is not as pronounced with some fruits and veggies as with peaches. Still, you can maximize the nutrition and pleasure you derive from your produce by paying closer attention to how you select and store it.

Do you have any pro tips for choosing prime produce? If you’re feeling generous, share them in the comments!

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