Shopping Tips For Summer Produce

If you’ve been picking up ingredients for summertime meals, you’ve probably already noticed that the produce stands have doubled. During this season, farms and gardens begin to harvest – which gives up-and-coming chefs taking online cooking courses a lot of great stuff to work with.

However, with such a wide variety of options, there needs to be some direction when it comes to shopping. To make the most out of your produce shopping, read below for a comprehensive look at summer fruits and vegetables:

Tomatoes: In the summertime, you will find many types of tomatoes, large and small and in several different colors. When picking out single tomatoes, make sure that they are firm. For vine-ripened tomatoes (which are common in many Italian dishes), look for clusters of the fruit that are still connected on the vine. This will require you to touch and feel the tomatoes quite a bit, so make sure you have clean hands, and wash your tomatoes thoroughly to avoid cross-contamination.

Berries: When you’re perusing the farmers market or the aisles at the grocery store, you should keep an eye out for damaged or moldy berries, which is a common problem with strawberries, raspberries and blackberries when they are not stored properly. Many of these berries come in plastic containers, so when selecting your bunch, take a peek at the bottom of the container to see if there are any less-than-stellar berries lingering at the bottom of the stack. If the hulls are still attached, it’s best to pass on the berries, according to Real Simple, as this is an indicator of premature picking.

Bell peppers: All of your bell peppers, whether they be red, orange, yellow or green, need to be firm, shiny and without blemishes or wrinkles. Unless you are roasting the peppers whole (which is often the case with red bell peppers), you will need to remove the ribs and seeds, as these can make the peppers taste bitter. In all cases, wash peppers thoroughly, especially if you are preparing them raw.

Stone fruits: Nectarines, peaches and plums are juicy, delicious and make for a great snack in the summertime. They are also used in many desserts like cobblers and pies during the warmer seasons, but selecting the right ones is crucial. If you see any brown spots on your stone fruits, pass on them. Saveur magazine also recommends taking a sniff test – stone fruits are very aromatic, so if they smell a little moldy or funky, they will likely taste that way too.

Salad greens: Whether it’s kale, romaine, arugula or watercress, salad greens are some of the healthiest veggies you can find in the summertime. Crispness is the No .1 thing you’ll want to look for, which means that brown edges – or worse, moldy leaves – are a sign to keep shopping. Like stone fruits, a sniff test will usually indicate if salad greens are fresh, and the glossier or brighter the greens are, the better.

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