One of the delights of summer is the availability of fresh produce. Heading to a local market or even the chain supermarkets is a treat when you see all of the brightly colored fruits and vegetables but do you know how to pick the best produce?
Choose produce by how it looks feels and smells. Look for produce that is free of cuts and bruises and at various stages of ripeness to allow for consumption over a period of time. Store produce as soon as possible and clean before using to preserve nutrition.
When it comes to selecting the best produce follow these tips from “The American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide”, 3rd edition, 2006.
Blueberries – plump, firm berries with a light-grayish bloom.
Cantaloupe – Slightly oval fruit, 5 inches or more in diameter, with yellow or golden background color. Signs of sweetness include pronounced netting on the rind and a few tiny cracks near the stem end. Smell the melon; it should be noticeably strong and sweet.
Cherries – plump, bright-colored sweet or sour cherries. Sweet cherries have a reddish-brown skim and are not overly soft or shriveled.
Honeydew melons – look for heavy melons with waxy white rind. The blossom end should give to pressure.
Asparagus – firm, brittle spears that are bright green almost their entire length, with tightly closed tips.
Beets – firm, smooth skinned, small to medium in size with deep green and fresh looking leaves.
Eggplant – firm, heavy for their size, with taut, glassy, deeply colored skin.
Peppers – bright, glossy, firm and well shaped.
Salad greens – crisp, deeply colored leaves.
Summer squash – yellow squash and zucchini are medium size with firm, smooth, glossy, tender skin.
Tomatoes – smooth, well formed, firm but not hard. Smell the tomatoes.
If you’re just starting to expand your produce intake consider adding one new choice a week and experiment with usage until you are consuming the recommended daily amount.