Back in the good ol’ days, my mum used to provide us with all the fruits and veggies we needed. Broccoli and carrots for dinner, an orange or grapefruit for breakfast, and a couple fruits packed in our lunch boxes.
But when I moved out and started buying my own groceries, it was a different story. I would buy an entire case of blueberries only for them to go shriveled and yucky a couple days later. That bunch of lovely bananas would go ripe all at the same time and I would be stuck with eating too many bananas in too short a period! If only I’d known how to pick the right fruits and veggies, I would have saved a lot of money, and a lot of produce!
Not to worry though! I’ve researched, and experimented, and have a helpful list for produce shopping!
First, as a couple guidelines, keep in mind that if you buy fruits and vegetables when they’re already ripe, you will have to consume them immediately. While this is good if you’re having a dinner party, or making fruit salad, it’s not so good if you’re living on your own and suddenly need to eat 4 peaches and 3 pears in the next two days, not to mention those strawberries that look oh so yummy, and now are starting to mush together. Buy your fruit and veggies in stages so you can eat a little every day.
Know where to store your fruits and veggies by where they’re stored in the grocery store. If it’s in the refrigerated section, pop it in the fridge. If it’s not kept cold in the grocery store, leave it on the counter! Keep in mind that this changes once you cut open the fruits and veggies.
Now on to the picking!
For the most part, base your judgements off the smell and feel of the produce.
For fruit: if the smell is strong, and it’s slightly soft to the touch, it’s generally ready! If you’re picking citrus fruits, the heavier they are, the juicier they tend to be.
Check the stem of the fruit: Green stem with a ripe fruit: best choice! Green stem with hard fruit: picked early but can be tasty. Shriveled and dry stem: picked long ago, probably not going to be very yummy.
For vegetables: Generally you want your vegetables to be firmer, and their appearance matters! Avoid bruised skins and cuts or scratches.
And if you end up buying fruit or vegetables that ripen before you can eat them all, pop them in a Ziploc baggy and store them in the freezer. Leftover berries are great in smoothies, and those frozen veggies make a great stir fry. Happy picking!