How to Select Fresh Vegetables

How to Select Fresh Vegetables

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  • Prep Time


  • Total Time


  • Servings



  • Asparagus

  • Corn

  • Cucumbers

  • Eggplant

  • Garlic

  • Mushrooms

  • Okra

  • Potatoes

  • Summer Squash


ASPARAGUS Choose stalks of equal size for uniform cooking. Look for a bright green color with closed, tight tips. Dull coloration is a sign of age. CORN is best when the husks are not open until just before cooking, so choose cobs with unopened husks. Squeeze them lightly to feel for tightly packed kernels without bare spots. Look for silks that are glossy and pale yellow. The husks themselves should be grassy green. The stem should be moist. CUCUMBERS should be dark green, free of wrinkles and spongy spots. Smaller cucumbers, regardless of variety, will have fewer seeds. EGGPLANT should always feel heavy for its size, and the ones weighing 1-1/2 pounds or less will be the best tasting. Look for a smooth and shiny dark purple skin (dull skins indicate over-ripeness), a green stem, with leaves sticking to the top. Don't store for more than five days; they will become bitter. GARLIC Look for bulbs that are large, plump, and firm, with the paper-like covering in tact. Garlic is freshest from March through August. Squeeze the bulb lightly to be sure it feels firm and dry. MUSHROOMS Look for those that are unbruised, with tightly closed caps. If the caps have opened, look for gills that look dry and tissue-like. Stems should be a uniform color; as mushrooms get old, the stems begin to look like rotted wood. Avoid any mushroom that is slimy. OKRA Choose small pods, no more than 4-inches long, since longer pods will be tough and stringy. Look for bright colored pods that are firm and unblemished. POTATOES For baking, mashing, or french frying, choose a high-starch variety such as Russets. The high starch content will make them fluffier. Use medium-starch varieties (Yellow Finns, Purple, White) for roasting or gratins. Low starch types (Red, Yukon Gold, fingerlings) are best for salads and for boiling since they hold their shape better than any other kind. All varieties should feel firm to the touch, and have NO green spots (an indication of having been light struck, producing a mild toxin that is both bitter and may irritate the stomach). SUMMER SQUASH both yellow squash and zucchini are best tasting when no longer than 8 inches (longer ones tend to be bitter). Look for bright coloration, and a firmness to the touch, especially toward the stem.


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