How to Pick Your Produce

Fruits

  • Apples: Choose fruits that are deeply colored, firm, naturally shiny, and heavy for their size.

  • Avocados: Choose avocados that feel slightly soft to the touch. Firmer avocados may be ripened at home, but avoid rock hard ones. Also avoid avocados with cracks or dents.

  • Blueberries: Choose berries that are firm, dry, and blue (not red or green). A white sheen is natural. Also check the bottom of the basket to make sure there aren’t any crushed or spoiled berries.

  • Cantaloupes: Choose fruits that are fragrant and cream or golden in color (not green). Avoid fruits with soft spots, although the end opposite the stem should be slightly soft.

  • Cherries: Choose berries that are plump, shiny, and darker in color. Cherries with intact stems have a longer shelf life.

  • Figs: Choose soft, plump fruits with intact, bent stems. Minor bruises or tears are usually harmless, but avoid buying dry, cracked figs.

  • Peaches: Choose fragrant, deeply colored (not green) fruits that are firm but slightly soft to the touch.

  • Pears: Pears are usually picked before they are fully ripe, but choose fruits that are free of bruises and look for any that are getting soft just below the stem. Ripen them at room temperature; placing them in a paper bag speeds up the process.

  • Plums: Choose fruits that are deeply colored, shiny, and firm but not rock hard. A white or gray sheen is natural.

  • Strawberries: Choose berries that are fragrant, uniformly red (not yellow or green), and shiny with fresh green tops. Also check the bottom of the basket to make sure there aren’t any crushed or spoiled berries.

  • Watermelons: Choose fruits that are firm and heavy and sound hollow when thumped. A properly ripened watermelon should have a yellow spot on one side where it sat on the ground.​​​

Roots and Tubers

  • Beets: Choose firm beets with fresh stems and slender taproots. Avoid beets with wilted leaves, scaly tops, or large, hairy taproots as they may be older and more woody.

  • Carrots: Choose firm, smooth carrots without rootlets.

  • Celery Root: Choose firm, hard roots that feel heavy for their size. Any attached leaves should be fresh and green.

  • Parsnips: Choose firm, ivory-colored roots. Large roots may be fibrous, so choose small and medium ones for better texture and flavor.

  • Potatoes: Choose firm, smooth potatoes. Avoid those with bruises, green spots, or sprouts.

  • Radishes: Choose radishes with fresh, green tops and firm, unblemished roots.

  • Rutabagas: Choose rutabagas that feel firm and heavy for their size. Avoid any with holes or bruises.

  • Sweet Potatoes and Yams: Choose potatoes with firm, unwrinkled skins and no bruises or cuts, as they are highly perishable.

  • Turnips: Choose turnips that feel firm and heavy for their size. Smaller turnips tend to be sweeter and more tender than larger ones, which may be woody.

Vegetables

  • Artichokes: Choose globes that have tight leaves and feel heavy for their size. The leaves should squeak when pressed against each other.

  • Asparagus: Choose firm, smooth, and brightly-colored stalks with compact tips. Avoid limp stalks. Choose stalks of equal thickness to ensure even cooking times.

  •  Broccoli: Choose broccoli with firm stalks, tight florets, and crisp green leaves. Avoid yellowed or flowering florets.

  • Brussels Sprouts: Choose firm, compact, bright green heads. Avoid sprouts with wilted or loose outer leaves.

  • Cauliflower: Choose heads with tightly packed, creamy white florets. Avoid yellowed, spotted, or flowering florets.

  • Corn: Choose corn with bright green husks and moist but not slimy silk. Peel back the husk to ensure the kernels are plump and not dry.

  • Cucumbers: Choose cucumbers that are uniformly green (not yellow).

  • Eggplants: Choose eggplants that have smooth, naturally shiny skin and feel heavy for their size. When gently pressed, flesh that gives slightly and then bounces back indicates ripeness. Unripe flesh will not give, while overripe flesh will remain indented. Also, smaller eggplants tend to have fewer seeds and be less bitter.

  • Fennel: Choose fennel with white, firm, unblemished bulbs as well as firm stems and fresh leaves.

  • Garlic: Choose firm, plump heads. Avoid heads with soft spots or green sprouts.

  • Green Beans: Choose slender beans that snap rather than bend. Avoid bulging or dried pods.

  • Jerusalem Artichokes: Choose smooth, firm tubers. Avoid those with green spots or sprouts.

  • Onions and Shallots: Choose dry, firm bulbs that feel heavy for their size. Avoid any with soft spots or green sprouts.

  •  Peas: Choose crisp, green pods. Avoid bulging, dried, yellow, or white pods.

  • Peppers: Choose firm, naturally shiny peppers that feel heavy for their size.

  • Rhubarb: Choose firm pink or red stalks. Green stalks tend to be stringy and sour.

  • Scallions: Choose scallions with crisp, green tops and firm, white bulbs. Avoid wilted or browned scallions.

  • Summer Squash: Choose squash with naturally shiny, taught, unblemished skin. Avoid squash that appear dull or have soft spots.

  • Tomatillos: Choose green tomatillos with green husks. Avoid yellow fruits with brown husks.

  • Tomatoes: Choose tomatoes that are fragrant, smell earthy at the stem end, and feel heavy for their size. Avoid tomatoes with wrinkled skins.

  • Winter Squash: Choose squash that have stems intact and feel heavy for their size. Avoid squash with cuts or soft spots.

Greens

  • Bok Choy: For mature bok choy, look for dark green leaves and bright white stalks. Baby bok choy should be light green in color.

  • Cabbages: Choose firm, compact heads that feel heavy for their size. Check that the stems are also fresh and compact.

  • Celery: Choose firm, unblemished stalks. The stalks and leaves should be green, not yellow.

  • Kale: Choose crisp, deeply-colored leaves. Avoid yellowed leaves. Smaller leaves tend to be more tender.

  • Leeks: Choose firm leeks with tightly-rolled tops. Slender leeks tend to be younger and more tender, while larger ones with rounded bulbs tend to be older and more woody.

  • Lettuce, Spinach, and Other Leafy Greens: Choose greens with fresh, crisp leaves. Avoid any that are wilted or slimy.

  • Swiss Chard: Choose chard with crisp stalks and shiny, bright, unwilted leaves.