• Thank you for all these wonderful and necessary advise Jen.
    Now back in Panama we truly appreciate all the cooking tips we learned from you.

    Regards and hope you can come to Panama sometime!!!

    From Maria from Panama
    July 16, 2012

  • It is my pleasure to inform and educate where I can. These are tips that can save you time, money, and even your palate. Come back and see us in the future!

    From Chef Jen Welper
    July 17, 2012

Take Your Pick – Produce Shopping Guide

Picking produce can be a tricky thing, especially when it comes to lettuces and vegetables.  Most vegetables, like peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and carrots, should be very crisp and solid when purchased. These vegetables in particular are best firm so you don’t want mushy spots or soft textures.  If you have a soft carrot, it’s starting to break down and would be best used in a soup but not so good as a snack.

Lettuces should be bought crisp and standing tall, nothing should be wilting or droopy. Produce that might not have been in a temperature controlled environment on its travels to the store may have brown spots, which can lead to decay faster so avoid picking those; however, a little brown on the top of the leaves is okay because you are able to cut that off and use the remaining part of the leaf. 

When buying fresh herbs, you don’t want to just buy them crisp and standing tall, but you also want to try to keep them that way when at home.  The best way to keep you herbs like parsley, cilantro, green onions and chives crisp is to place them in a tall container with a little bit of water at the bottom, then cover the whole thing with a plastic bag.  Since the refrigerator is a dehydrator, this will keep the herbs from losing their crispness and bright color.  For things like Thyme, Basil, Oregano and dill, keep them wrapped in a damp paper towel inside a plastic zip lock bag.  Just don’t wish they will last any longer than they already do; make sure to use them in the lifespan that they have. 

It can be difficult to tell if fruits will be sweet or not. The only thing you can guarantee is texture. Again, make sure there are no soft spots and you have firm oranges, strawberries, blueberries, apples, plums, peaches, and pears.  They can ripen at home but you don’t want to buy them already soft unless you are going to eat them right then and there. The main thing you want to look for is color and texture. Colors should be fairly bright, depending on the fruit or vegetable, and firm to the touch. 

This is a great time of the year to eat your fruits and veggies because they are fresh and should be local to your area too. Check out Karla’s post on shopping at the Farmer’s Market for more produce shopping tips!

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