Healthy Food Guide
Fear the produce aisle no more! Here are my secrets–and they won’t let you down.
You want to pick asparagus that is very vibrant in color, with smooth bright green stems and closed tips. Don’t pass up the thin ones–that is not an indicator of freshness. Thicker asparagus is just more mature.
When selecting avocados, you want to look at both color and firmness in order to select the freshest. If you pick a ripe avocado, remember that they go bad really quickly!
How to ripen avocados quickly:
My father-in-law taught me two ways to ripen avocados. You can either put them in the fruit basket with bananas or you can put them in a brown paper bag and hide them from any sunlight. Just make sure you don’t forget about them!
The very best, and sweetest, bananas are solid bright yellow with maybe a few speckles of brown. Because bananas ripen so quickly, I suggest buying bananas with some green in them. They should ripen in 1-2 days.
You want to really focus on color. You are looking for deep-blue even color with a “bloom” or harmless dusty looking natural protectant, indicating their freshness and lack of being tampered with. You don’t want any red on the berries, as they will not ripen anymore once they are harvested.
Use your nose–it’s the best indicator! The sweetest smelling cantaloupes are the best, sweetest cantaloupes. The cantaloupe should be dense, seeming heavier than it looks, and it should be rough (like netting) to the touch. You can also press your thumb in the stem-area and it should yield slightly if it’s ready to eat.
You will want to pick cucumbers that are firm, and dark green. You don’t want them to have any wrinkles. You should also look for cucumbers that are not shiny, as they have not been waxed and have more nutrients to offer.
Eggplants are fruits and their age determines their bitterness. Young is good, so finding the smallest eggplant is your best bet. You want to look for a shiny eggplant (shiny is freshest) with a smooth skin, and a very deep purple-blackish color.
Make sure you do the pressure test on this fruit. You will place your thumb firmly into the fruit, and it should give some, but once you release the pressure, it should return to it’s shape, without a dip in the skin. Also look for green leaves and a green stem. The greener, the fresher!
To choose the freshest garlic, you will want to check the firmness of the bulb, and make sure the skin is dry but unbroken. The firmer and more compact, the better.
Side note: Do not store garlic in the fridge! It lasts longer when stored in dry places.
Grapefruits are tricky. You want to pick a large, firm, dense grapefruit (that feels heavier than the size indicates) with little grey patches throughout the outside skin… I know, I know. This is why it’s tricky. Grapefruit takes a very long time to ripen, but these spots on the skin remind us that they’re ready to be eaten, and be eaten well!
Here is a visual I found showing those sweet spots I am referring to.
When you’re picking out a kiwi, you want to make sure that it is firm and fragrant. You also want to make sure that it yields to light pressure–this is how you determine when it is ready to be eaten.
You want to look for juicy lemons and limes, so when you pick it up, it should be firm but have a little give. You don’t want to pick the rock-hard lemons and limes because these are not ripe. Don’t pick lemons or limes with soft spots because they are overripe.The color should be vibrant and uniform.
Don’t judge a mango by it’s color because color does not indicate ripeness. You want to base your mango-picking off of the firmness and smell of the mango. When you squeeze the mango, you want it to be firm with a little bit of give. When they are ripe, they have a fruity aroma at the stem, so pick it up and smell it.
Pineapples are my kids favorite fruit, so it is important for this Mama to pick out a sweet one! The biggest indicator of a pineapples sweetness is the aroma. Smell the butt of the pineapple, really! The sweeter smelling it is, the sweeter tasting it will be. When you squeeze the pineapple, it should give a little–not soft, but yield to pressure.
When you’re picking a squash, you want to check the firmness, and it should be dense. The skins should be very bright and vibrant in color, and less than 8 inches in length (otherwise, they are more bitter).
Look for bright and firm strawberries. Make sure you avoid containers with “patchy” strawberries, or strawberries without much color. The best way to buy them is with the stem still attached.
Tomatoes should be and should be firm with just a little bit of give. They should also be a deep red color, which should be uniform.
Picking a bad watermelon leaves you with 15 pounds of bitter disappointment, right? My love for watermelon has made me quite the watermelon-picking master so I will offer several tips for this one so you can be sure to never pick a bad, bitter or overripe watermelon again!
To pick a sweet and ripe watermelon, you want to check watermelons for 5 things:
1. Don’t Pick Shiny Ones! I know, I know, shiny is pretty, but for watermelons this indicates that it was underripe when it was picked. Pick dull-colored watermelons.
2. Find the yellowish circular area. This is where the watermelon was resting in the field. You want this yellowish color to be darker, because the darker it is, the longer it rested, which means the sweeter it is!
3. Give it a good thump. When you thump the watermelon, it should be firm-sounding. This is a good video for performing the thump test so you know what you’re listening for.
4. Is it dense? The denser the better, meaning watermelon should be heavy for its size. Be sure you pick a heavy watermelon, and while you’re holding it, you’ll want to check for a uniform shape.
You want to check the firmness, and it should be dense. The skins should be very bright and vibrant in color, and less than 8 inches in length (otherwise, they are more bitter).