SOS Tips for Choosing Fruits and Vegetables
Everybody has their own criteria for choosing fruits and vegetables from the produce section. It’s not uncommon to see people pressing, touching, squeezing, smelling produce to try and suss out how ripe it might be. But what is the best method for choosing fruits and vegetables?
Choosing Different Varieties of Apples
Do you know which variety of apple to use for baking? Which is best for making apple sauce? We’ve matched apple varieties to their best preparation methods, whether it’s cooking, salads, or simply eating raw.
Best Apples for a Snack:
Characteristics: Firm, juicy and crunchy.
Varieties: Braeburn, Cortland, Delicious, Empire, Fuji, Granny Smith, Lobo, McIntosh, Meba, Paula Red, Spartan, Vista Bella
Best Apples for Salads
Characteristics: Don’t brown when sliced
Varieties: Cortland, Granny Smith
Characteristics: Apples that are not too juicy and keep their shape once cooked
Varieties: Braeburn, Cortland, Empire, Fuji, Gala, Lobo, Spartan
Apple sauce apples
Characteristics: Apples that keep their colour and go soft once cooked
Varieties: Cortland, Lobo, LcIntosh, Melda, Vista Bella
See our apple recipes.
Did you know that Canada imports apples?
How to select artichokes
Here are my own tips for choosing artichokes:
- Size: This is not a make or break criteria when selecting artichokes – it depends on the type.
- Weight: Good artichokes are dense – meaning heavy in relation to their volume.
- Petals/Leaves: They should be compact, free of blemishes and tears and can easily be snapped. Loose petals means the artichoke is too ripe; it will be too tough and fibrous to eat and will have too much choke.
- Colour: Deep green (unless it is a purple artichoke)
- Texture: Good artichokes should be nice and firm.
Go see our recipe for Sautéed Artichokes.
How to select asparagus
Here are my own tips for choosing asparagus:
- Size: Look for larger size, because the fibrous (woody) material is in a smaller percentage than in the thinner ones. If possible, choose asparagus of uniform thickness for more control in the cooking process.
- Tips: Good asparagus have tightly closed tips.
- Spears: Good asparagus have straight spears that are firm to the touch and not bendable. On bending the spear, it should be brittle and “crack”.
- Beware: Ridges in the stems, a dull color and/or a dry cut are indications of old age.
See our asparagus recipes.
How to select eggplants
Here are my own tips for choosing eggplants (also known as “aubergine”):
- Size: There are several varieties of eggplant – all with unique shapes and sizes. Most recipes will specify what size you should buy in order to get the best results for the dish you are making. On the other hand, if you do not like eggplant skin, select a bigger eggplant – you will be getting more flesh in relation to the amount of skin.
- Skin: Good eggplants will have shiny, smooth skin that is free of blemishes. Be sure to inspect the eggplant from all angles. Discard any that have bruises or marks.
- Weight: Good eggplants are dense – meaning heavy in relation to their volume.
- Stem: An eggplant should have a firm green stem. If the stem is wrinkled or feels dry, discard it and select another one.
- Texture: Take the eggplant in your hands. Slightly tighten your grip to test the firmness. If it is soft, discard it. Good eggplants should be nice and firm.
* It used to be common practice before cooking to cover eggplants with salt in order to remove some of the bitterness. The newer varieties are less bitter, so this is no longer necessary. However if you have time, you may do it to remove the excess water content
Go see all of our eggplant recipes.
How to select melons
Here are my own tips for choosing melons:
- Smell*: Take the melon in your hands and smell the area where the stem was. If you can’t smell anything or the smell is strong and “fermented”, move on to another melon. Good melons will have a delicately perfumed scent.
- Weight: Pick up two melons that are roughly the same size and hold them separately in each hand. Keep the heavier of the two. Pick up another melon and compare again. Repeat this process until you have found the heaviest melon. Good melons are dense – meaning heavy in relation to their volume.
- Skin: Carefully inspect the melon from all angles. Discard melons that have blemishes or bruises. Good melons have smooth skin.
- Texture: Take the melon in your hands. Slightly tighten your grip to test the firmness. If the melon is soft, discard it. Press lightly at the top of the melon, where the stem was. If you don’t feel any give when you press down with your fingers, discard it. Good melons are firm, but will give slightly to light pressure at the top.
*This is the most important criteria.
Don’t forget to wash your melon before eating it. See the Canadian Food Inspection Agency recommendations.
Go see all of our melon recipes.
How to select zucchinis
Here are my own tips for choosing zucchinis:
- Length/Weight: Small (not longer than 15cm) and dense
- Skin: Shiny, smooth, with no marks
- Colour: Consistent
- Flesh: Firm
Go see zucchini recipes.