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Picking the perfect produce

Struggling to find the freshest produce? Following a few basic tips can help with picking out the freshest produce and save you from buying spoiled or under-ripe fruits and vegetables.

Use your senses

How does the produce smell, feel and does it look appealing?

Pick up the fruit and make sure the surface is smooth and even, with a firm-but not hard-surface. If you feel or see bruises, dents or pits, the fruit may possibly have been damaged and may be rotting. The flesh should be firm, but give a little. Fruits that are rock hard are not usually ripe. Citrus fruits that are too firm are usually dry. A fruit that smells sour or strong can mean it is over-ripe. A light, sweet smell usually means the fruit is fresh and ripe. When smelling melons and pineapple, a lighter, sweeter smell is better.

Make sure vegetables are evenly colored and firm. Softness can indicate rotting or bruising. Leafy greens should be firm, crisp and green. Cracks in the base of root vegetables may mean they are too dry. Vegetables with a stinky smell could be over-ripe or already rotting.

Shop seasonally

Shopping for what is currently being grown will most likely lead to improved quality in the produce. Here's a list of the freshest produce in each season:

Spring: Asparagus, Blackberries, Green Onions, Leeks, Lettuces, New Potatoes, Peas, Radishes, Rhubarb, Spinach, Strawberries.
Summer: Apricots, Blueberries, Cherries, Eggplant, Herbs, Green Beans, Hot Peppers, Melon, Okra, Peaches, Plums, Corn, Peppers, Tomatoes, Zucchini.
Fall: Apples, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cauliflower, Collard Greens, Grapes, Kale, Pears, Pumpkins, Squash, Yams.
Winter: Beets, Cabbage, Carrots, Citrus, Onions, Rutabagas, Turnips.

Check with your local grocery store to see what days they have produce delivered. This will insure you get the best quality produce. Farmers markets are a great way to get produce that's fresh and in season.

No matter where you get your fruits and vegetables, just remember how important it is to get them into your diet. Happy eating!

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