All About Fruits

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Selecting Fruits

·  Choose in-Season fruits. The closer you are to the growing season, the fresher your produce and the better it tastes. (Refer to the chart below to know when Fruits and Vegetables are in season for Alabama)


· Select fruits that feel heavy for their size. Heaviness is a good sign of juiciness. 


·  Smell fruits for characteristic aromas. Fruits should generally have their characteristic ripe scent but not smell overly ripe. For example, cantaloupe (muskmelon) shouldn’t smell too musty, especially if you don’t plan to eat it right away. 


·  Test texture. A kiwi that feels mushy to the touch is too ripe. However, an avocado with a somewhat spongy texture is ideal. Be sensitive to the correct texture for the specific fruit you’re  interested in. 

Storing Fruits

·  Keep fruits at room temperature to ripen them. Some fruits – such as  bananas, pears, nectarines and kiwi – may be sold at the grocery store before they’re ripe. To ripen, leave fruit at room temperature. Ripe fruits are usually slightly soft, have their characteristic smell and have a uniform color.


·  Store ripe fruits in your refrigerator. The cool temperature slows the ripening process, giving you longer storage times. The length of time you can store fruit depends on may factors, including how ripe the fruit is at the time of purchase and the type of fruit. Oranges, apricots and cherries keep well from one to two weeks in your fridge. Others such as strawberries, raspberries, grapes or peaches, may ripen and spoil in less time – even a couple of days.  Do not put bananas and pomegranates in the fridge because their skin will turn brown.


·  Bag up fruit. Place ripe, unwashed grapes, peaches, apricots, pears, apples and berries separately in plastic bags and put in the crisper drawer.  Be sure to date your bags so there is no guessing if the fruit is spoiled.


·  Time it. Apples can be stores in the refrigerator for up to a month while berries only about three days. Peaches, pears, nectarines, grapes and most exotic fruit can last up to five days in the fridge. Add some  time to the shelf life by cutting up ripe melon and storing in an air-tight containers for up to 4 days.


·  Throw away produce you’ve kept too long. Discard fruit that is moldy or slimy, smells bad, or is past the “best if used by” date. Besides being unappetizing, spoiled or moldy fruit may contain toxins that could make you sick. 


·  Freeze fruits for long-term storage. You can freeze many types of fruits for up to one year. Grapes, cherries, berries and melon freeze particularly well. For best results, cut larger fruit into smaller chunks and removed the skin of peaches, apples and nectarines before  freezing. Place a single layer on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer. Once frozen, take the fruit off the cookie sheet and put into freezer bags for long-term storage. 

Serving Fruits

·  Prepare fresh fruits within about an hour of serving to maximum flavor.  Some salads benefit from a little chilling time – about 30 to 60  minutes – for the various flavors to mix. 


·  Wash all fruits thoroughly under cold running water before cutting or eating whole. This includes those fruits with hard shells or skins, such as melons. That’s because the knife you use to cut the melon could  transfer germs from the surface into the flesh. Wash your hands before  and after handling fresh fruits.


·  Leave on edible peels whenever possible. The peels of apples, pears and most fruits with pits add interesting color and texture to recipes and  contain added nutrients and fiber.

All About Vegetables

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Selecting Vegetables

·  Choose in-Season fruits. The closer you are to the growing season, the fresher your produce and the better it tastes. (Refer to the chart below to know when Fruits and Vegetables are in season for Alabama) 


· Look for brightly colored vegetables. The best items have blemish-free surfaces and regular, characteristic shapes and sizes. 


·  Sort through and discard any damaged items. Bruises and nicks can  attract mold, which can lead to spoilage of an entire bag of vegetables. Leaves or greens should be crisp not wilted. 


· Buy only the fresh vegetables you plan to eat within a few days. Long storage time reduces nutrient levels, appeal and taste.

Storing Vegetables

·  Store fresh vegetables according to their type. Place root vegetables, such as potatoes and yams, in a cool, dark place.  Store other vegetables in the refrigerator crisper drawer. You can keep vegetables in the crisper drawer from a few days to a few weeks depending on the type of  vegetable.  Asparagus, beans, beets, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower should all be stored in the fridge.


· Don’t wash vegetables before storing.  Make sure all produce is dry before storing. 


·  Throw away produce you’ve kept too long.  Discard vegetables that are moldy or slimy, smell bad or are past the “Best if used by” date. 


·  Can or pickle your vegetables.  Some vegetables keep for a long time and preserve their quality and taste when you can them. Beans, carrots and tomatoes are good vegetables for canning.  You may want to pickle beans, cabbage, cucumbers and cauliflower. 


· Dehydrate.  Chilies and peppers dry easily.  You can also dry celery and garlic and crush them into powder.

Serving Vegetables

·  Wash vegetables thoroughly to remove dirt and pesticide residue before cooking.  If possible, use a small scrub brush to help clean potatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables that have skin you eat.  


·  Leave edible peels on vegetables whenever possible. The peels of many  vegetables – especially potatoes – contain considerable amounts of nutrients and fiber. 

Alabama Produce Chart

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