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How to pick and store perfect produce

July 15, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you don't pick or store produce properly, you could be throwing money down the drain. Most produce should be fragrant and blemish free, but there is a lot more to selecting the perfect produce than you may think. Here are some tips to help you while you shop.Berries, cherries and grapes are so sweet this time of year. The key for all three is to look for plump fruit. Berries should be dry, grapes should be large with attached stems with no mold and cherry stems should be supple, not easily broken.

Cherries and grapes do best refrigerated and unwashed, wrapped in a towel in a plastic bag. They can stay in the crisper for up to three weeks. Berries also do well unwashed and hold up best refrigerated in their porous container.

Summer is also a good time for peaches, pears and plums. Look for Peaches and nectarines with no redness around the stem. Like pears, peaches and nectarines should be slightly soft with a nice aroma.

Both nectarines and peaches do well refrigerated, but peaches release a gas and will ripen other fruits quickly, so isolate them. If the peaches are unripe, store them in a brown paper bag.

When it comes to melons, the method to choose varies. Watermelon should sound hollow when knocked and should have smooth, unblemished skin. Store a whole watermelon on a counter for up to five days after purchase.

Cantaloupe should have a sweet smell and give slightly when pressed.

Veggies like green beans, corn and bell peppers should have bright colors without wrinkles. All should be kept in the fridge unwashed. Beans should be stored in an airtight container, peppers in a plastic bag and corn in the husk.

Finally when it comes to tomatoes, don't put them in the refrigerator because they become mealy. Instead, place them flat on the counter away from fruit and sunlight until you are ready to use them.

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