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Buying 101: Fruits and Vegetables

May 18, 2018

This season is bountiful with produce options. Use this A-to-Z guide to buying popular produce to make sure you get the best flavor and greatest value..

Apricots don’t travel well and tend to bruise easily so look for them at farmers markets.

Berries should be shiny and plump (except for blueberries that have a dull, matte finish). Avoid any packages with mushy or moldy berries since these damages spread fast and rot the bunch faster. Rinse berries only just before eating or using them, never in advance, since they will become soggy and rot faster.

Cherry stems can tell you how fresh the cherries are. An intact green stem is a good sign. If there isn't a stem, look at the fruit. It should look shiny and feel firm and plump, not wrinkly or bruised.

Corn husks should be green, tight, and moist. The brown ends that poke out should feel silky. The husk should feel solid and firm. Also, check the husks for little holes and put back the husk if you find any — these are worm holes.

Eggplants should have smooth, shiny skin whose color is uniform.Their weight should be heavy for their size. For a sweeter, less bitter eggplant, choose smaller eggplants with thin skin. Ripe eggplants will not give when pushed with your finger — it should be firm but not hard.

Figs with skin that is smooth and unbroken, and feel soft deserve a place in your grocery basket. Avoid figs that are mushy, wet, or broken.

Melons should always feel heavy for their size; most should have a bit of a sweet melon smell, too.

Nectarines are, essentially, fuzz-less peaches. They should have a bold color, feel heavy for their size, and give just a bit when held firmly.

Okra should be firm and plump. Look for smooth, tender, blemish-free, bright green pods. Avoid pods with brown spots or dry ends.

Peaches should feel heavy for their size and give a little when pushed. Avoid fruits that have green near the stem.

Watermelons should feel heavy for their size. Unlike other melons, watermelons don't tend to emit a smell even when they're ripe and ready to eat.