Before you head to the store or farmer’s market, read these tips for picking perfect produce. Eating more fruits and vegetables is one of the easiest ways to improve your health, ease some illness symptoms, and reduce the risk of many leading causes of death.
Despite powerful reasons to pack your plate with produce, 9 out of 10 adults fall short of the daily recommended number of servings a day. The recommended amount of produce for adults are:
- 3 ½ to 4 ½ cups for women
- 5 to 6 ½ cups for men
If you’re going to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, you may be wondering how to pick produce. We all want produce that's ripe enough to taste good but not so ripe that you’ll quickly have to throw it in the trash. After all, you don’t want to waste your hard-earned money on food you can’t eat.
Hand Pick Perfect Produce
Here are tips to help you pick produce with confidence at your local farm stand or supermarket.
- How they look: Dark, firm skin with no dents or soft spots. An avocado with a greenish hue may need to ripen further.
- How they feel/smell: Gives to gentle pressure.
- How to store: At room temperature. Eat within a day or two or refrigerate ripe avocados for several days to preserve ripeness and prevent spoilage.
- How they look: Bright, shiny skin without spots or bruising.
- How they feel: Gives slightly to gentle pressure and heavy for their size. The stem end will smell sweet and earthy.
- How to store: At room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Do not refrigerate unless necessary to prevent spoilage.
- How they look: Smooth and shiny skin with a fresh green stem and leaves.
- How they feel/smell: Heavy for their size. Gives slightly when gently pressed.
- How to store: In the refrigerator crisper drawer for a perfect produce. Eat within five to seven days.
- How they look: Bright color to the stem end with no signs of bruising or mold. Berries don’t ripen further once picked.
- How they feel/smell: Plump and firm, with a sweet and fruity aroma.
- How to store: Refrigerate and wash just before eating to prevent them from getting moldy. Eat within a few days.
It's All About Balance
If you're struggling to eat a well-balanced diet, talk with one of our nutrition counselors.
- How they look: The sun-kissed color of the skin is not a good indicator of ripeness. Go by how they feel and smell.
- How they feel/smell: Gives to gentle pressure. Have a slightly fruit flavor at the stem end.
- How to store: At room temperature for about one to two days. Refrigerate peeled, cut mangos for up to five days.
- How they look: Fresh dark green leaves. Avoid those with soft or dark spots and dry looking leaves.
- How they feel/smell: Heavy for their size with a sweet aroma at the stem end.
- How to store: At room temperature, but cut and eat as soon as possible. Refrigerate cubed pineapple and eat within three days.
- How they look: Smooth surface with no cuts or bruises and a yellowish spot from where they sat on the ground during ripening.
- How they feel/smell: Firm and heavy for size.
- How to store: Keep the whole watermelon at room temperature and cubed watermelon in the refrigerator for up to five days.
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Checking for ripe cantaloupe is always difficult- any tips on how to pick good ones?
Some quick tips for cantaloupe are the look should be golden yellow, you should be able to feel the edges of the outer skin and soft, and the “button” of a cantaloupe should have a strong sweet aroma.