How to pick and store produce

August 22, 2011 9:46:55 AM PDT
As you make your trip to the grocery store to shop for food, sometimes it is hard to tell whether the produce you are about to buy is ripe. There are some general rules you should follow when it comes to buying fruits and vegetables and what to do with them once you get home.

Meijer Healthy Living Advisor, Maribel Alchin has some advice that could help your family save money by not wasting it on produce that will go bad before you eat it.

    Maribel's How to Pick Produce Tips:
  • Produce that should be consumed early in the week: corn, raspberries, broccoli.
  • Produce that will last until mid-week: grapes, lettuce, eggplant.
  • Produce that will last until the end of the week: cauliflower, bell peppers.
  • Color is a good indicator for a sweet cantaloupe. Look for a gold-colored, full-netted cantaloupe with a little "giveability" on the ends, rather than a green-tinted cantaloupe. The heavier the cantaloupe the better. This means that it is full of juice.
  • A watermelon with a yellow-to-white bottom is ready to eat. A watermelon that is still showing green stripes will not be as ripe.
  • When picking out broccoli crowns, look at the top. The crown should be consistently green in color with no brown or yellow spots. Check that the base of the broccoli is white and fresh.
  • Similar to broccoli, the base of the asparagus should be white and fresh. The heads of the asparagus should be tight and contain sporadic purple coloring. Once the asparagus tips start to open or blossom, then you know they are older and will not last as long.
  • When picking out tomatoes, look for a plump, green stem, not ones that may be brown and wilting. Tomatoes will last longer if they are stored in room temperature.
  • By "knocking" on the surface of a watermelon, consumers can determine how juicy it is. A hollow-sound tells you that the watermelon is dry. A yellow "belly" of the watermelon, or where it sits on the ground, ensures a juicy, ripe watermelon.
  • If you are not going to cook corn the same day it is purchased, then keep refrigerated and leave the husk on to lock moisture in.
  • Apples will last longer if they are kept refrigerated.
  • Most fruits are sensitive to moisture. It is best to wash your fruits (ie. strawberries, blueberries, peaches, etc.) until right before you eat them.
  • When choosing berries and tomatoes that come in clear, plastic containers, remember to check that the bottom of the containers are dirt- and mold-free.
  • Hass avocados turn black when they are ripe and ready to use.
  • With green grapes, the greener in color does not necessarily mean the better. The greener coloring is a sign of sugar build-up, so look for a more gold-colored bunch of grapes.
  • With red grapes, the redder in color, the better.
  • When choosing eggplant, look for tight skin, not shriveled or loose skin.
  • When picking hard squash, look for tight skin, rich color and a heavy feel. Avoid loose skin and dull coloring.
  • Fruits with higher sugar content will respire quicker. When it comes to storage, take a look at where produce is displayed in the store. Items such as tomatoes and bell peppers should not be stored in refrigeration.

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