Shopping Produce by the Season

The following is a short guide to the fruits and vegetalbes considered to be "in-season." This is the time when the frutis and vegetables are available at the best prices and at the best quality. Note, many of the items begin in one month and then remain available for the next several months.

Best buys for fruits and vegetables
Month Fruits and vegetables
January Avocados
February Rhubard
March Artichokes, asparagus, beets, lettuce, peas
April Beans, cucumbers, papayas, bell peppers, summer squash, turnips
May Basil, berries, mangoes, sorrell
June Apricots, arugula, cherries, melons, plums, watermelon
July Corn, peaches, tomatoes
August Dates, figs, grapes
September Cauliflower, pears, wild mushrooms
October Apples, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, fennel, kumquats, leeks, nuts, persimmons, pomegranates, spinach, sweet potatoes
November Green truffles
December Grapefruit, parsnips
All Year Long Bananas, carrots, celery, eggplant, kiwi fruit, lemons, limes, mushrooms, onions, pineapple, potatoes, radishes, and watercress.

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Purchasing fruits
Most fresh fruits remain at their best for only a short period of time, 3 to 5 days. Berries and ripe banaas are at their peak for only 1 or 2 days.

Most fruits should be stored in the refrigerator. Bananas should be stored at room temperature; the skins will turn brown if bananas are refrigerated.

Many fruits are picked and shipped green. To ripen fruits such as peaches, pears, nectarines, tomatoes, avocadoes, adn banans at home, place them in a brown paper bag and fold the top down to close it. Placing more than one piece of fruit in teh bag speeds up the ripening process. A plastic bag will not have the same effect; it traps moisture, which promotes decay rather than ripening. A brown paper bag "breathes" and allos moisture to escape.

Fruit Selection tips
Apples Good color usually indicates full flavor.
Bananas Should be firm, fresh in appearance, unscarred.
Berries Select plump,solid berries with good color. Refrigerate without washing. Let air circulate around fruit.
Grapes Should be plump, fresh in appearance, firmly attached to stems. Watch for good color.
Melons Ripe melons vary with type; they have a fruity aroma and a slight softening at the blossom nd. Keep at room temperature if underripe; refrigerate when ripe.

Cantalouope

Yellowish surface color with no stem.
Honeydew Creamy color, may have stem.
Crenshaw Golden-yellow mottled with green; may have stem.
Persian Dull gray-green color; may have stem.
Oranges, Grapefruit, Lemons Choose ones heavy for their size. Smooth, think skins usually indicate more juice. Greenish tinge does not affect quality. If help in refrigerator too long, skin may discolor and become pitted.
Peaches Best quality are slightly firm, not bruised, with yellow or red color over entire surface.
Pears Winter varieties marketed slightly underripe. When ripe and ready to eat, they yield slightly to pressure. Store at room temperature; refrigerate when ripe.
Pineapples Varieties vary in color. Ripe pineapples have fragrant fruity aroma. Usually the heavier the fruit, the better the quality.
Watermelons Have somewhat dull surface and creamy color underneath when ripe. Interior should be fully red, firm, with a few immature seeds.

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Purchasing vegetables
Shopping for vegetables can be frustrating if you don't know that you're looking for. All fresh vegetables are perishable and will deteriorate quickly.

Vegetables Selection tips
Asparagus Stalks should be tender and firm; tips closed and compact.

Cole Crops

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
Heads should be firm, have a good bright color, be free of yellowing spots and softness.
Corn, sweet Good quality has fresh and green husks. Ears are well-filled with plump, firm, milky kernels.
Green Onions Choose onions with small bulb ends with firm green tops.
Green beans, snap Choose slender beans with no large bumps (indicates large seeds). Avoid beans with dry-looking pods

Immature Fruits

Cucumbers, Eggplant Okra, Peppers, Summer squash (soft-skin types)

Select leaves that are green, fresh, crisp, and free from rust spots and bruises.
Limas, green Select pods that are well-filled buy not bulging. Avoid dried, spotted, yelloed or flabby pods.
Mushrooms Choose ones with firm, white, smooth skins. Avoid dark spots.
Onions, dry Size and color do not affect flavor or quality. Clean, hard, well-shaped with dry skins are usually of good quality. Moisture at the neck may be a sign of decay. Store at slightly cooler temperatures. High temperatures and humidity cause sprouting and decay. Store in loosely woven bag for good air circulation.
Peas Select pods that are well-filled but not bulging. Avoid dried, spotted, yellowed or flabby pods.
Potatoes Best quality are firm, smooth, well-shaped, free from cuts, blemishes and decay, and reasonably clean. Potatoes with green skins may be bitter; cut away before using. Store in dark, dry place with good ventilation at temperatures of 55-60°F. Light causes greening. High temperatures cause sprouting and shriveling. Do not refrigerate; too low temperatures cause someof the starch to change to sugar.

Root Crops

Beets, Carrots, Parsnips, Radishes, Rutabgas, Turnips

Choose smooth, firm vegetables. Oversized ones may have a wood ystem or pithy texture.
Squashes, (hard-rind) Sweet Potatoes Choose vegetables that are clean, smooth, well-shaped and firm. Damp or soft spots may indicate decay.
Tomatoes, for ripening Choose ones that are firm, free of scars and unripe. Ripen at room temperature away from direct sunlgith at 65-75°F.
Tomatoes, fully ripe Choose tomatoes that are plump, firm, and uniformly pink, red, or yellow. They should be free from growth cracks, scars, and bruises.

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