Choosing the Best Produce
There are thousands of varieties. Look for mushrooms free of soft spots or mold. Most varieties should be firm. Exceptions would be enoki, oyster and wood ear. To store, remove from plastic and place unwashed in a single layer on a sheet pan with a damp paper towel over the top and place in the refrigerator for up to a week. A few of the more popular ones are as follows:
They look like button mushrooms only they are dark brown in color. They have a woodsy, earthy, meaty flavor. Choose firm ones without soft spots. Wipe clean with a damp cloth not in water because it toughens the flesh.
Morels are hollow-like mushrooms with a rich flavor. They should be washed in water to make sure all the sand is washed away.
They are golden in color and smooth. They have a rich, earthy flavor with a hint of pepper.
They have a mild great flavor with a velvety texture. Wipe with a damp cloth to clean.
Firm flesh with a meaty flavor. Discard stems and wipe with damp cloth to clean.
Look for small pods about 3 inches long which are more tender and flavorful than larger ones. Avoid pods that look dull or stale or have brown spots. They should snap when broken in half. Okra has a short shelf life, they should be used sooner rather than later.
Green or Spring
They should have bright green stalks. Not dried out or shriveled.
Sweet Onions should be firm without soft spots. Their necks should be tightly closed with no green sprouts. Four to five medium size onions equal one pound.
Tend to be sweet and crisp with a subtle aftertaste. Flat stem end and round at root with yellow skin.
Sweet—Softball size with yellow skin.
Large with yellow skin. Maui—Grown in Hawaii and is large with white skin. They tend to be juicy and sweet.
Red Spanish Onions
Purplish-red skin with a mild, sweet taste. They are great to use raw.
Look for medium size firm onions. These tend to be juicy with a crisp texture and a sharp flavor. These are a great choice for a cooking onion.
Look for dry, firm bulbs free of sprouts, soft spots or mold. Milder than an onion in taste. Great for cooking.
Look for the bright green, glossy pods. They should be heavy for their size and the medium pods tend to be sweeter than the larger ones. Do not purchase pods that rattle when shaken. Refrigerate immediately since their sugar content turns to starch after picking. Can be eaten raw.
Sugar Snap or Snow Peas
Look for crisp peas that are not limp or discolored. Remove strings before eating. Can be eaten raw.
Commonly, black-eyed peas are found in a package of shelled, presoaked and partially cooked peas. Look for evenly colored peas without soft spots, discoloration or that feel slimy.
Crowder or Cream Peas
These are mostly often sold already shelled. Look for evenly colored peas without discoloration, soft spots or that feel slimy.
Choose potatoes that are wrinkle free, without cracks, soft spots or sprouts. Organically grown Russets are a little sweeter. Three to four medium potatoes equal one pound.
Choose firm potatoes that are without cracks or sprouts. Red potatoes are low in starch, with firm flesh and hold together well in cooking.
Yukon Gold Potatoes
Choose firm potatoes without soft spots. Yukon potatoes tend to have a sweet flavor with a buttery, flaky texture. Do not need to be peeled.
Choose those that are firm and heavy for their size. Free of cracks and soft spots. There are many varieties of sweet potatoes with white or orange colored flesh.
Garnet or Jewel are orange flesh varieties. Garnets are often called “yams” and are best used when mashed or in baking. They have dark red-to-purple skin with deep orange flesh and a sweet, almost caramelized flavor. Jewels have copper-colored skin with yellow-orange flesh. They tend to be sweet and moist.
Look for bright green leaves with smooth skin that are small for their size.
Tomatillos are not green tomatoes, but they are a member of the nightshade family. Look for dry, tight husks. They should be crisp and free from mold.
Look for plump tomatoes that feel heavy for their size. Avoid bruises or discoloration. When fully ripe, tomatoes will yield to gentle pressure. Do not refrigerate until after they have been cut; tomatoes lose their texture and freshness a couple of hours after slicing, even in the refrigerator. A tomato should smell very much like a tomato, especially at the stem end. Some varieties you will easily find at the market are:
Large,red, sweet, with rich tomato flavor. Great for slicing.
Tend to be sweet with a rich, juicy flavor. You can find them in red or yellow.
They come in different colors, shapes and sizes and should be juicy, rich and sweet. Be picky and don’t buy soft or bruised tomatoes. Heirlooms tend to be expensive and many times are not worth the extra money.
Usually attached to the vine, medium size with sweet tomato flavor.
Plum-shaped and less sweet than other tomatoes but useful for making sauces. Five to six Roma tomatoes equals one pound.
Look for young squash with firm skin without soft spots or shriveling. Choose smaller squash—they have a more delicate flavor than the larger ones. Edible skins. Do not overcook
Acorn, Butternut, Many VarietiesVegan Vingars & Sauces
Look for firm rinds with no soft spots. The heavier the squash, the thicker the edible flesh it has inside. Squash should be peeled and deseeded before eating. Can be baked, boiled or steamed until tender.