There’s nothing worse than spending your money on produce only to find out it is unripe, overripe, bruised, or lacking in flavor. To ensure your zucchini are crisp and your peaches juicy, here are several ways to ensure you have picked the best tasting produce in the grocery store!
Apples should be firm when gently pressed. Avoid those with soft spots or bruises. The flavor and texture will differ among varieties. Gala and fuji apples are on the sweeter side while granny smith and pink lady apples are more tart. Apples are in season during the fall.
Avocados will depend on the variety. Hass avocados turn dark purple when ripe while others varieties stay light green. The best way to determine ripeness is through touch. This fruit should give into gentle pressure when ripe. If bought firm, store at room temperature until it softens before cutting open.
Bananas should not be too firm or soft. When perfectly ripe, they will be yellow all over with no green, browning, or spots. If storing, purchase green bananas and store in room temperature until fully yellow.
Blueberries will appear to have a bright blue color and be firm when gently pressed. There will be no green or red colors.
Raspberries should be firm with no oozing juice.
Strawberries should be a bright shiny red and not too firm with bright green stem leaves.
Grapefruit & Oranges will be heavy for their size. When gently squeezed, it will not puncture the fruit or feel too hard.
Peaches will turn a red and yellow color when ripe. You want to make sure there is no green tint around the stems. This fruit will give in slight pressure when touched. If you take a quick whiff, it should smell how you want it to taste.
Pineapple is determined by color. When ripe, it will be golden brown without much green left at the base. A sweet smell also indicates ripeness. If it smells a tad vinegary, it’s overripe.
Watermelon should be heavy when ripe, indicating it is full of water. If you gently tap the watermelon and it sounds hollow, it is ripe. Another simple way to ensure ripeness is to check for a yellow or light spot on the bottom, meaning it is ready to eat.
Broccoli should have firm stalks, tight florets, and crisp green leaves. They should not have any yellowing or flowering florets.
Cauliflower will have tightly packed heads and appear a creamy white. Similar to broccoli, avoid yellow, spotted, or flowering florets.
Eggplant should have naturally smooth and shiny skin. It should be heavy for its size. When pressed gently, the flesh will give into the pressure and bounce back, indicating ripeness. When unripe, it will not give into pressure. Overripe eggplant will remain indented.
Green Beans look slender and snap rather than bend. Avoid any bulging or dried pods.
Onions and Shallots will be firm and heavy for its size. Avoid any with green sprouts or soft spots.
Peppers will be firm, naturally shiny, and be heavy for their size. Avoid any peppers that have wrinkly skin.
Spinach, Lettuce, Kale and other Leafy Greens should have fresh, crisp looking leaves. Avoid any that are yellow, wilted or slimy.
Sweet Potatoes and Yams will be firm with no wrinkled skins or green spots. These are highly perishable and can be kept in room temperature for 5-7 days after purchase.
Zucchini and Squash have naturally shiny skin without any major cuts or bruises. When ripe, it will be firm to touch without any soft spots.
These are all general tips to determine the perfect ripeness if you decide to eat then within a day of purchase. If you decide to store some produce for several days, choose products that are unripe and will last on your counter. Using your senses of touch, smell, and sight are the biggest indicators in picking the best produce. After a while, you will be a natural at spotting and buying the best tasting fruits and vegetables in season!