How to Select the best Fruits and Vegetables
Proper handling during harvest (bruised product decays faster than non-bruised)
Proper washing and sanitation of the product prior to packing
Cleanliness of packing facilities, storage facilities and transportation
Proper cooling prior to shipment
Ethylene gas is a natural compound emitted by many fresh produce items, it helps some fruit ripen but negatively impacts other fresh produce.
Proper temperature throughout the shipment
Proper temperature while the product is on display
Customer handling while the product is on display, bruising causes accelerated decay
Using your five senses to select fresh produce
If you follow only these tips when shopping for fruits and vegetables, you will be selecting product that is better than 80% of other consumers.
Use your sense of sight
- Is the product colored properly? As an example, if you are buying green bell peppers, are they uniformly green? If buying Oranges, are they uniformly orange?
- Color rarely tells you if the product is flavorful, but color does give you an indication of what to avoid. Avoid product that is wilted or shriveled.
Use your sense of touch
- Is the item firm?
- Avoid product that is shriveled or has "loose"skin
- Normally, fruit that is "soft" does not necessarily mean that it is "Ripe" or flavorful..only that it is soft
- The skin of ripe honeydew melons has a "waxy" feel
- Most produce items are greater than 80% water, melons are more than 90%. The produce item you are selecting should feel "heavy" for it's size. If it feels "light", there is less water, and probably less flavor in the item.
Use your sense of smell
- Many types of fruit, generate an aroma that becomes stonger as the fruit ripens. Peaches, Pears, Cantaloupe, Bananas, Mangoes, Oranges, Berries, Tomatoes, plums and Nectarines all smell fantastic as they ripen.
- Smell the stem end of the product before you buy it, with the items listed above, if there is no smell then there will most likely be no flavor. And if the product has a "sour" smell, DO NOT buy it.
Use your sense of sound
Yes, you can use your sense of hearing also. With melons (Watermelon, Honeydew and Cantaloupe), gently shake it. If you hear a rattle or "sloshing' around, the fruit is over-ripe and the seeds have separated from the interior of the meat. Avoid these melons
Use your sense of taste.
Many retail grocery stores and growers at farmers markets will let you taste a sample of the item. But keep your requests for sampling product reasonable, after all you are eating into their profit.
The selection and storage guides provided at the links listed below, can be printed and used on your next shopping trip.