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Fresh Vegetable Buying Guide

January 12th, 2008

fresh-vegetables.jpgWhen selecting fresh vegetables for your favorite recipes, this brief article by Katina Mooneyham provides a few common sense tips that you can use to make sure that purchased produce is not spoiled, damaged, or otherwise unusable for cooking. While most of these things will seem pretty obvious to those of us who have fully developed brains, after watching videos like these, I have learned that one should not always assume that common sense is in ample supply.

Next time you go produce shopping, watch as people start thumping melons and smelling tomatoes. Why do they start this seemingly odd behavior? It’s because they’ve learned to look and test before they buy. It’s always pleasant to get a tomato that may last a little longer than others. Here are some tips for buying fresh vegetables at a store or farmer’s market.

1. Check for obvious problems, marks or otherwise unhealthy looking vegetables. Avoid fresh produce that has scratch marks or obvious bad marks on it.

2. Give produce the smell test. Over ripe fruits and vegetables have a very strong smell to them. They are sometimes overbearing. You want the produce to smell. But you don’t want it so powerful that you can smell it from three aisles away.

3. Give melons a light thump. It’s been rumored that it isn’t a surefire way to tell if a melon is ripe but it works for many people most of the time. If the melon is ripe, it will have an echo. If it is a dull sound, then it might not be ripe. But you don’t want the melon over ripe either. Do the smell test on melons.

4. Don’t buy things that are wilting. You most likely can’t save them even by putting them in cold water.

5. Make sure the fruit you buy doesn’t have any mold. Even if one or two have some mold, you may be tempted to just discard them once you get home. But if you forget to discard the bad ones right away, the whole package will spoil within days.

Teach the kids to be watchful for bad produce too. Tell them not to pick up produce that has been on the floor and put it back with the clean food items. Just remember that if you think it’s bad, then skip over it. Trust your nose and eyes.

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