Choosing the Best Produce
It’s harder than it should be to find the “perfect” one. Look for a firm apple that is heavy for its size. No soft spots or shriveled skin. If possible, ask the produce person to cut one open and let you taste before you buy. Right now, my favorite is Jazz or Fuji. These varieties seem to be pretty consistent in quality. Tarter apples, like Braeburn, Winesap or Granny Smith, are great in pies and for baking. One and a half pounds of whole apples equals four cups of sliced apples.
Avoid broken skin or moldy stems. Ripen at room temperature. When bananas are ripe, but aren’t being used right away, peel and wrap them (sliced or whole) in wax paper, then foil and freeze. Three bananas equals one pound or two cups of sliced or one and a quarter cup of mashed.
Mainly blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Choose brightly colored berries without soft spots, discoloration or mold. If buying in a plastic container, make sure berries move around freely and do not stick together, which is a sign they could be moldy.
Choose cantaloupes that are heavy for their size, free of bruises or cracks. Sniff where the stem has been removed. A good cantaloupe should have an identifiable fruity aroma at the stem end.
All citrus should be heavy for its size and fragrant at the stem, without soft spots, bruising, or mold. Ripe grapefruit, limes, lemons, and nectarines should be plump and give slightly with pressure; they should not be rock hard. All should have a sweet fragrance. Avoid citrus that appear shriveled or dry.
Ripe grapes should be plump, fragrant and firm. Make sure stems are mold free and the grapes do not have soft spots.
Look for fruit that will give to light pressure. Avoid loose or shriveled skin.
Look for firm fruit that gives slightly with pressure. Papaya has a sweet flavor with a slightly musky aroma. It is good simply served with a slice of lime.
Avoid bruises, tinges of green or shriveling. Look for nectarines that are plump and will give slightly with pressure, firm but not rock hard. They should have a sweet fragrance.
Look for peaches that are plump and will give slightly with pressure, without being mushy. They should be fragrant with a peachy smell. Avoid any with bruises, tinges of green or shriveling. Three to four medium peaches equals one pound.
Choose fruit that is firm and fragrant. Pears are ripe when they give to gentle pressure. Ripen in a paper bag a day or two before serving if too hard. Avoid bruising and mushy, soft spots.
Whole watermelons should feel heavy for their size. Avoid cracks or soft spots. If the area where the melon sat on the ground is creamy yellow in color that indicates it was ripe when picked. If you are buying a slice of watermelon, the flesh should look dense and have a sweet fragrance. Avoid overripe melons where the flesh has pulled away from the seeds.
Buy heads that are firm, not shriveled or soft. Store in a dark, dry place.
Ginger should be smooth and wrinkle free. Can be kept frozen for up to 3 months.
Beans should be bright green in color, flexible when bent and should snap crisply when broken. One pound of trimmed green beans is equal to three cups of raw beans or two cups of cooked.
Collard, Kale, Turnip, Chard, Mustard, Spinach Choose brightly colored leaves with fairly stiff stems that free of brown spots or wilt. Approximately one pound of greens equals six cups of leaves.
Romaine, Red Leaf, Boston, Iceberg, Endive, Arugula, Frisee, Escarole
Look for brightly colored leaves with fairly stiff stems; avoid brown spots or wilting. Romaine or iceberg lettuce is a good choice for when you are using a thick, heavy dressing that might be too heavy for a lighter lettuce.
Tops should feel crisp, not yellow or withered.