There is nothing tastier than fresh produce. Learning to cook with fresh ingredients will help ensure that you will enjoy healthy and tasty meals. Whether you are buying produce from a grocery store or from a local farmers market, here are some tips on what to look for when buying fresh fruits and vegetables.
Purchase fruit and vegetables that look and smell fresh. Look for produce that is not bruised or damaged. Over-handling the produce can cause damage and spoilage.
Refrigeration keeps most fruits and vegetables from ripening. If you purchase unripe fruits or vegetables, place the fruit in a paper bag and close tightly. As for certain vegetables and fruits such as avocados, it is best to just lay them on the counter until they are ripe.
Fresh Vegetables Peas: Quality is indicated by the color and condition of the pod, which should be bright green. Select pods that are well-sized, but not bulging. Dried, spotted and yellow pods indicate over matured peas.
Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower: Flower clusters on the cauliflower and broccoli should be tightly together. Brussel sprouts should be firm and compact.
Asparagus: stalks should be firm and tender; tips should be close and compact.
Beans: Beans with small seeds inside the pods work best. Avoid dry looking pods.
Lettuce, Spinach and Cabbage: Lettuce and spinach should be well developed and stocky. They should have fresh, crisp and cleans leaves. Avoid lettuce with discoloration or stem rot and cabbage with worm holes. Heads should be firm or heavy for their size.
Cucumbers: Skin may be dark or light to medium green. Yellow ones are not ripe.
Potatoes: Potatoes should be firm, clean, reasonably shaped and relatively smooth. They should not be wilted or show sprouts.
Bananas: Peel should be free of black or brown spots as well as bruising.
Berries: Look for plumb, solid berries with vibrant coloring. Avoid wet or leaky containers as this may be an indication of mold or spoiling fruit. A strong berry smell may also indicate they are ripe and ready to eat.
Citrus: Choose citrus that has a smoother, thinner skin. Skin markings do not affect the quality. Avoid those that show withered sunken or soft areas.
Melons: In cantaloupes, thick close netting on the rind indicates the best quality. Cantaloupes are ripe when the stem scar is smooth and the space between the netting is yellow or yellow-green. The fresh fruity smell may also indicate ripeness.
Ripe watermelons have some yellow color on one side. If the melon has a white or pale green color on one side, they are probably not ripe.
Conclusion Learning to cook with fresh fruits and vegetables is not only ensuring a healthy diet, it can also satisfy the pickiest taste buds.
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