Sure, everyone has tips and tricks for picking the right melon or apple, but there are few general guidelines to follow to ensure you get the freshest produce possible.
- Summer – apricots, blueberries, cherries, eggplant, fresh herbs, green beans, hot peppers, melon, okra, peaches, plums, sweet corn, sweet peppers, tomatoes, zucchini
- Fall – apples, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, grapes, kale, pears, persimmons, pumpkins, winter squash, yams
- Winter – beets, cabbage, carrots, citrus fruits, daikon radishes, onions, rutabagas, turnips, winter squash
- Spring – asparagus, blackberries, green onions, leeks, lettuces, new potatoes, peas, red radishes, rhubarb, spinach, strawberries, watercress
KNOW YOUR VENDOR
With modern farming, processing and delivery, many vendors can put produce out for sale within a day or two after it’s picked. Ask the produce manager or vendor for delivery days or when the food was harvested so you can get to your favorite produce before quality declines. We all have our favorite trusted stores, so there’s nothing wrong with getting to know the people who work there. Ask them produce questions after all they are trained to help!
BE A PRODUCE SNOB
If it doesn’t look and smell great, don’t buy it. Use your senses. Contrary to some consumer practices, thumping or shaking a melon does not indicate ripeness. Instead, feel or touch a product. In general, produce that’s too soft is too ripe; if it’s too hard, it’s not ripe enough. Try the sniff test, too. With certain fruits, like peaches and melons, a strong scent means they’re ripening nicely. Don’t just take produce because it’s there. Take the time to find the BEST available produce.
BUY ONLY WHAT YOU NEED
This one is simple. When we cook, we generally prepare more than we need. The best guideline we can provide is to buy in smaller amounts. You’ll have less to cook with, but also less waste. Avoid sales for the sake of the sale. This way you’re not cooking with tired produce, or tossing out the expired.
USE IT UP
After you’ve become close acquaintances with your produce manager or vendor, you’ve touched and sniffed all the produce at the supermarket, don’t forget to cook what you bought. Eat the fresh produce when it’s fresh!
WASHING & DRYING
Okay, it’s time to eat, finally. Even if the produce seems clean, always wash under it cool running water and shake dry – especially the herbs! Always spin – rinse lettuces. Even if the package claims to be tripled rinsed, it can’t hurt to rinse again.
- Protect produce from the cold – use paper towels to line the plastic disposable food containers after rinsing and wrap loosely to protect foods from the refrigerator temperature. Use the produce drawers, they sometimes have humidity controls
- Fruits & Vegetables don’t play well together and should be stored in different locations
- Don’t clean produce until you’re ready to use it. Washing fruits or vegetables before storing them make them more likely to spoil
COLLETON RIVER PRODUCE