Tips for Choosing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

This is the third part of a series on shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables.
When you buy produce, you want the most for your money. But fruits and vegetables don’t come with an expiration date. I’ve collected these tips for helping you choose the freshest fruits and vegetables. Please share your tips in the comments.

Fruits and vegetables have seasons and you can’t always find the quality you want. Be flexible.

Always examine fruits and vegetables for blemishes, especially holes where insects may have entered. Many surface blemishes don’t affect the produce. But a soft spot will spread quickly to the rest of the fruit.

Produce, unless it is not ripe yet, should give off a fresh smell.

I’ve divided the produce into two categories: 1) Produce that starts going downhill from the moment it’s picked and 2) Fruits (mainly) and vegetables that can ripen or improve after you buy them.

Ripening Sourdough: Images at Various Stages

To make sourdough starter, all you need is equal measures of flour and water. Stir it every day for a few days. At some point, usually after two to four days, the starter will be ready for feeding.

For more detailed instructions, see Make Your Own Sourdough Starter at Home.

When Do I Start “Feeding” My Starter?

  • When you see tiny bubbles throughout the batter, it’s time to start feeding. You may have to enlarge this picture to see the bubbles. When you see plenty of bubbles throughout the batter, even after you stir it, discard about half of your starter. Add a cup each of flour and water. Do this every day until the starter is ripe.

Is That Avocado Ripe Enough to Eat?

Reader Ilana sent me an interesting question: How do you tell if an avocado is ripe? Well, sometimes it’s difficult because avocados ripen unevenly. The lower part, surrounding the seed, ripens faster than the thickest part of the avocado’s neck.

I’ve had some avocados get brown and spoil before ripening. I presume it has something to do with the way they had been grown or stored. Usually an avocado ripens within a week. To make it ripen faster, put it in a paper bag in a drawer and don’t forget about it.

The avocado on the left is ready to eat. You can tell because the skin is starting to get brown and wrinkled. The unripe one is textured, like all avocados to varying degrees, but not wrinkled or shrunken.