Ever get to the grocery store, pick up the prettiest looking peach, only to come home to bite into a rock-hard fruit that tastes bland or bitter? There’s a method to the madness when it comes to picking produce, and knowing what makes something fresh and ripe is the key to having the most delicious-tasting fruits and vegetables. Pick a piece of lettuce that isn’t fresh, and you’ll also be missing out on some key nutrients that have been lost over time.
So how can you tell if your batch of groceries is up to par? “Overall, bright colors are the way to go with vegetables, which for the most part should be firm,” says health expert Roni Noone. “Many fruits will ripen nicely on the counter. Buying them more firm is always a better way to go, giving you more time to consume as they reach perfect ripeness at home.”
Next time you’re wondering how to pick the perfect piece of produce, try following the nine suggestions for various fruits and vegetables, so your meals will not only taste perfect, but have a maximum nutritional value as well.
“Bananas should be purchased with the slightest green so they can ripen for you at home,” says Noone. Like most fruit, bananas should be scanned for signs of bruising and dark spots.
Mangoes and avocado
Both mangoes and avocado should be slightly soft to the touch, but not too soft that they feel mushy.
Look for strawberries that are completely red, and avoid those that are too green or have white tips. Your berries should also smell sweet, says Noone. “I never buy strawberries unless they smell like strawberries,” she says.
White potatoes should be firm, oval shaped, and free of bruises or green tinges.
To find a sweet-tasting watermelon, look for one that is dull, has hard skin, and is uniformly shaped. “Watermelons should be heavy and have a large yellow area from ripening on the vine,” says Noone.
Tomatoes should be a deep-red color and firm, free of blemishes and bruises. They should also have a fragrant smell, which means the tomato is more flavorful.
Much of cantaloupe’s ripeness can be determined by its smell. It should have a sweet scent and be a light beige color.
“Mushrooms should be firm with no soft spots,” says Noone. Try to pick mushrooms that feel light with firm stems.
When it comes to squash, look for skin that’s shiny and unblemished. Opt for smaller sized-options, which are easier to cook.