Fresh Vegetables: How To Pick The Ripe One

We’ve all been there, in the middle of the vegetable section of the grocery store or farmer’s market just staring in utter confusion at all of the options. Unfortunately, I bet, if you’re anything like me, you’ve also left with some less than fresh vegetables and had to throw away your hard earned money because you didn’t know what to look for when picking them out. Have no fear though because with this handy guide to fresh vegetables you’ll be able to distinguish between the best possible options, and the ones you should just leave behind.


Vegetable Color Look & Feel Extra Tips
Artichoke Deep green exterior with a lighter green within the petals Globes should be heavy and firm with a tight leaf formation Squeaking sound should occur when leaves are pressed against each other
Asparagus Bright green Tips should be closed, compact and firm Avoid bundled stalks that have uneven thickness
Beets Rich purple stems with bright green leaves Surface should be firm, round, and smooth For the best flavor insure the tap root is slender
Broccoli Dark green florets Stalks should be tight and firm Avoid if the florets are tinged with a yellow discoloration
Brussels Sprouts Bright green Body should be firm and free of blemishes Make sure the outer leaves are tightly woven around the bulb
Cabbage Color will vary based on the variety that you’re purchasing Leaves should be compact and firm. Avoid buying pre-cut or shredded cabbage, to maximize Vitamin C intake
Carrots Bright orange Firm and plump without cracks Buy carrots that still have their leafy green tops attached
Cauliflower Clean and creamy white Compact with cluster buds that are not separated More thick green leaves means better protection and therefore more fresh
Celery Light green Firm and compact with a solid rigid feel. Glossy surfaces with green leaflets are best
Celery Root / Celeriac Green stems and leaves Baseball sized roots that are firm, hard, and heavy Sizes can range but avoid larger ones as they many have voids or fibrous cores
Corn Bright green husk Stiff silk what is dark and moist. Kernels should be tangible by pressing lightly on husk Corn loses 25% of its sugar within 24 hours of harvesting.
Eggplant Reddish purple Smooth skinned and firm to the touch that is heavy for its size. Flesh should give but not leave indentation Small is better. Large puffy ones can be bitter.
Garlic Bulbs are covered with rough brown outer layer. Cloves are covered with fine pinkish/purple skin. Big, plump and firm with tight silky skins Avoid spongy, soft or shriveled bulbs.
Green / String Beans Bright green Crisp and free of blemishes Be sure to break off the ends as you wash them
Kale Rich green Crisp and leafy High in calcium, iron, and fiber
Mushrooms Color will vary based on the variety that you’re purchasing Firm, delicate and highly perishable Sensitive to high temperatures
Onions Color will vary based on the variety that you’re purchasing Dry, papery skins that are heavy for their size Onions should have no smell at all
Peas Medium Green Pods should be firm, velvety and smooth Avoid pods that are puffy or water soaked
Peppers (Bell & Chile) Color will vary based on the variety that you’re purchasing The skin should be smooth Bell peppers are sweet while chili peppers are hot
Potatoes Color will vary based on the variety that you’re purchasing Smooth, firm, and well shaped Choose new potatoes with thinner skins for boiling
Radicchio White base with purple leaves Firm without holes, blemishes or browning Choose a smaller head than you would for lettuce
Spinach Dark green Crisp leaves with nice fragrance Avoid if leaves are limp, damaged or spotted
Squash (Summer) Color will vary based on the variety that you’re purchasing Tender and well developed with glossy skin Avoid dull hard and rough squash which are over mature
Squash (Winter) Color will vary based on the variety that you’re purchasing Hard rough rind that is heavy for its size Avoid squash with tender rinds, cuts or punctures
Sweet Potato Light tan colored Firm, smooth and bright Avoid potato if it has cuts, holes, grub entry, or other defect
Tomatoes Red Stem end should smell of garden Fragrance is a better indicator than color
Tomatillos Pale green to light “grocery-bag” brown Small, firm and free of defects Smaller will be sweeter

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