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Fruits and Vegetables - Pick, Ripen, Store

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Manage your Fruits and Vegetables

Tips on how to pick out fresh fruits and vegetables, ripen them, and how to store them.

Refrigerator vegetable crispers have high humidity (most can be adjusted) that helps vegetables stay fresh.
A fruit drawer has low humidity which fruits like.

Apples

Two ApricotsBasket of apples.


Pick When...

Firm and bruise-free. Apples ripen from the outside of the tree in.

Ripen...

.

Store...

Store immediately in the refrigerator (high humidity section). Do not wash.

Buying...

Apples should be hard and not mushy. No worm holes or soft spots.

Apricots

Two ApricotsApricots


Pick When...

Fragrant, not rock-hard, pale-yellow to orange. No green.

Ripen...

On counter in brown paper bag until soft and fragrant.

Store...

Once ripe, unwashed for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Asparagus

Bundle of asparagusBundle of fresh asparagus


Buying...

Buy when tips are compact and tightly furled. If they are loose, the asparagus is getting old.

Pick When...

Fragrant, not rock-hard, pale-yellow to orange. No green.

Ripen...

On counter in brown paper bag until soft and fragrant.

Store...

Store unwashed for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Blueberries

Blueberries on a bushBlueberries on a bush.

Pick When...

Deep blue, dry (no mold or moisture present).

Ripen...

They are ripe when harvested.

Store...

Unwashed in container for up to 10 days in the refrigerator.

Cucumber

One cucumberSingle garden cucumber.

Pick When...

Firm, dark green, unblemished, and heavy for their size. The side that layed on the ground will be lighter in color. Rounded ends. Around 10 inches long. Watch out for withered ends, soft spots. Too big will have seeds in them.

Ripen...

They are ripe when harvested.

Store...

Store in refrigerator unwashed in high humidity drawer. It will keep up to a week. Do not freeze; they will turn mushy.

Preparation

Snip off ends. Remove skin. To remove seeds, slice lengthwise and scoop out with a spoon.

Buying

Most cucumbers in stores are the garden variety. They are usually waxed to hold in moisture, unless purchased from a farmer's market. Varieties include garden, Armenian, English, Japanese, lemon, gherkin, cornichon, and Kirby.

 

Eggplant

One purple eggplantEggplant

Pick When...

Choose large purple eggplants up to 1-1/2 pounds. Any larger and they will contain too many seeds. The leaves at the top should not be curling up, but should be adhering to the side of the eggplant. The eggplant should be bright, shiny and very firm to the touch. There should be no scars or bruising.

Ripen...

They are ripe when harvested.

Store...

Store in refrigerator uncut and unwashed in a sealed plastic bag. It will keep up to a week.

Preparation

Cut off top and bottom of the eggplant and slice lengthwise or into �” rounds. Salt the eggplant with kosher salt and place in a colander for 30 minutes. Rinse off eggplant with cold water. The salt leaches out bitterness and lessens the absorption rate of oil when frying or sauteing. Pat dry with paper towels. Always remove the stems and leaves on eggplants before cooking as they are poisonous.

Nectarines

Two ApricotsNectarines


Pick When...

Reddish to yellowish with no green, not rock-hard.

Ripen...

On counter in paper bag until fragrant and yields to gentle pressure.

Store...

Once ripe, unwashed for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Pineapples

One pineapplePineapple

Pick When...

With one hand, gently tug at a leaf in the center of the fruit. If the leaf releases with little effort, the pineapple is ripe. The pineapple should be very firm, never soft or spongy, with no bruises or soft spots. If the pineapple has a good aroma, it's ripe. If you can't smell much of anything, it needs to be ripened. If it has a fermented smell, don't buy it. Peak season is March to July.

Ripen...

They are ripe when harvested.

Store...

Peeled pineapple should be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated. If it's not wrapped well, a pineapple will absorb other food odors in you refrigerator.
If storing at room temperature, use within two days. You can extend the lifespan to three to five days by refrigerating the whole pineapple in a perforated plastic bag.

Pomegranate

3 pomegranates with one sliced open showing seedsPomegranate cut open, full of seeds.

Pick When...

Look for plump and round, richly colored, and a thin, unbroken skin. The heavier and larger the fruit the juicier it will be. Peak season is October to January.

Ripen...

They are ripe when harvested.

Store...

Store at room temperature away from direct light for a few weeks. Up to two months if refrigerated.

Raspberries

Raspberry hanging on a treeRaspberry on a bush.


Pick When...

Brightly colored, dry (no mold or moisture present).

Ripen...

Harvested ripe.

Store...

Unwashed, covered loosely with paper towels, plastic wrap for 2-3 days in refrigerator.

Strawberries

Two ApricotsStrawberries


Pick When...

Bright red with fresh green stems attached.

Ripen...

Harvested ripe.

Store...

Unwashed, stems attached, in container, for 2-3 days in refrigerator.

Tomatoes

Three tomatoesThree vine-ripened tomatoes. Find out the seasonal time for tomatoes in your area for the best ones, generally the later summer months.


Buy

Look for ones that are firm with no blemishes, worm holes, cracks, or bruises. Should have a nice, not chemical, smell to them. It should feel heavy for its size.

Pick When...

Tomatoes need warmth to ripen. They stop ripening when the temperature gets over 85 degrees.

Ripen...

Harvested ripe. They will stay ripe only for a few days.

Store...

Store in a paper bag, stem side up, at room temperature. Do not store them in direct sunlight or in the refrigerator. Do not wash tomatoes before storing them, it will bring on mold and mildew.

Zucchini

Two zucchini, freshly pickedTwo freshly picked zucchini.


Buy

Look for ones that are heavy for their size with shiny, unblemished rinds. The rinds should not be hard since this indicates overripeness and will have hard seeds and flesh. Handle with care as a puncture may lead to decay.

Pick When...

6 to 8 inches long, 1 to 2 inches in diameter. They should be slightly prickly, free of cuts or bruises with one inch of the stem kept on. Bigger ones will taste woody.

Ripen...

Harvested ripe.

Store...

Store in plastic bag, unwashed, for about 7 days in the refrigerator crisper drawer.


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