How to Pick the Best Fruits and Veggies This Summer
When it comes to choosing fruits and veggies, some things are obvious: don’t buy wilted lettuce, shriveled citrus or moldy berries.
Other things aren’t as readily apparent, especially when it comes to determining if certain fruits and vegetables are at their best. Just one wrong move and you could find you’ve come home with asparagus that’s stringier than your shoelaces and avocados that don’t have an ounce of green inside of them.
Here are a few tips that might just make you the most knowledgeable person in the produce department.
Easy Tricks to Know When Fruits are at Their Best
Choose pineapples that are perfectly ripened are a golden-yellow color with a firm shell and healthy, green leaves. When you hold the stem end to your nose, you should catch a whiff of fragrance. If it smells sweet, you’re good to go. If it has a vinegar-like smell, it’s overripe.
At their best, oranges should be firm, smooth, thin-skinned and feel heavy for their size. And while it’s easy to want to choose the one that is the brightest orange, don’t count on color to guide you. A perfectly orange-colored fruit may have been dyed to make it that color. On the other hand some oranges, like Valencias, develop green colors as they ripen.
One of the hardest fruits to select at the store can be avocados. Giving them a gentle squeeze can often tell you that they’ve ripened, but often won’t tell you if they’re overripe. So here’s a neat trick: simply pull back the stem at the top of the avocado. If it’s brown underneath, put it back. If it won’t lift off, put it back. If it’s green underneath, take it home.
This fruit has a very dark, even color without any bumps or wrinkles. Like other fruits, a ripe plum will feel heavy for its size and have a light give when squeezed. You can also give it a sniff test. It should give off a sweet, fruity smell if it’s ripe.
While we all tend to focus on the red color of a peach, that’s not what you should be looking for. It’s the yellow background that’s important. It shouldn’t have any green mixed in with it. And the yellow shouldn’t be too pale. If the color is right, give it a gentle squeeze. A slight give means it’s ripe.
At peak freshness kiwis have brown, fuzzy skin that has a little give to it when squeezed. Like other fruits, it should give off a light citrus fragrance when holding it near your nose. If it has too much give and has a sweet, pungent smell, it’s overripe.
Look for a bright red color, free from mold or dark spots. If there is white at the stem, they weren’t picked at peak ripeness. The caps should be green and fresh looking. Keep in mind that commercial strawberries are the most pesticide-laden forms of produce at the market. This makes buying organic a strong priority.
These can mostly be selected based on appearance. They should be plump, firm and uniform in color without noticeable wrinkling, mold or “mushiness”.
Select the Finest Veggies for Your Dinner Table
You can tell broccoli is well past its best-by date if it shows any signs of yellowing. The florets should be a deep green throughout and clustered tightly together.
Yellow Squash and Zucchini
Medium-sized squash and zucchini — say six to eight inches long — are ideal. Make sure they’re fairly firm with bright, uniformly colored skins.
Look for leafy greens that are firm, crisp and evenly colored. When buying kale or other greens, select ones that are young and tender. Large, leathery leaves indicate they are old and will be tough and stringy.
Corn is one of those veggies where everyone wants a sneak peak. But you don’t actually have to pull back the husk to find a good ear of corn. The hair coming out of the top should be brown and sticky (not dry and black). The husk on a fresh ear of corn will appear bright green and firmly encase the corn. And when you press against the husk, you can feel the plump, evenly-spaced kernels.
Quickly after harvest, asparagus tends to turn woody and flavorless. To avoid this, look for asparagus that’s bright green with firm, plump stalks. (Ones that are dull green and wrinkled will be tough and tasteless.) The tips should be dense and tightly closed, while the bottoms should show only small amounts of white.
Ideally, the eggplant should feel heavy for its size with smooth, shiny, vividly colored skin. Just as importantly, look for a green stem. (If the stem is brown and dried out, you won’t be happy with it.) When you press your fingers against the skin, a ripe eggplant will have a little give — but not as much as a ripe fruit would have. If it’s too soft, it means it’s overripe. Smaller sizes will be less bitter than those that are larger.
Dana Nicholas is a freelance writer and researcher in the field of natural and alternative healing. She has over 20 years of experience working with many noted health authors and anti-aging professionals, including James Balch, M.D., Dr. Linda Page, “Amazon” John Easterling and Al Sears M.D. Dana’s goal is to keep you up-to-date on information, news and breakthroughs that can have a direct impact on your health, your quality of life… and your lifespan. “I’m absolutely convinced that America’s misguided trust in mainstream medicine – including reliance on the government to regulate our food and medicine supply – is killing us, slowly but surely,” she cautions. “By sharing what I’ve learned throughout the years I hope I can empower others to take control over their own health.”