At the Grocery Store
You have probably heard it time and again, but seriously; don’t shop if you are hungry. Everything looks good but your wallet. You will spend a lot more than you planned.
Here in Columbus, we have a lot of great food stores. I like Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Giant Eagle. If you are really into produce, Whole Foods is paradise. Their selection is great.
Stay away from fruit that have blemishes, punctures or brown spots.
Apples should be firm and can be stored up to a month in the refrigerator.
Look for fruits with a rich orange color while avoiding those that are pale and yellow. Fruits should be slightly soft. If they are too firm they have not been tree-ripened, and tree-ripened fruits always taste best.
Gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand. Ripe, ready-to-eat fruit will be firm yet will yield to gentle pressure.
Bananas should not have brown or soft spots. Bananas can be stored for one week in a cool place. They should not be refrigerated.
Oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, lemons, and limes should be brightly colored. The heavier they are, the juicer they are.
How to find a ripe melon: If you tap the melon with the palm of your hand and hear a hollow sound, the melon has passed the first test. Choose a melon that seems heavy for its size, and one that does not have bruises or overly soft spots. You should be able to smell the fruit’s sweetness (be careful that it doesn’t smell really strong, then it would be overripe. Leaving a firm cantaloupe at room temperature for several days will allow the texture of its flesh to become softer and juicier. Once the cantaloupe has reached its peak ripeness, place it in the refrigerator to store. Melon that has been cut should be wrapped and stored in the refrigerator.
Melons should be heavy and have a sweet aroma, with no cracks or soft spots.
IDEA – Slice melons in half horizontally, scoop out seeds and use each half as a basket in which to serve fruit salad.
Choose grapes that are plump and free from wrinkles. They should be firmly attached to a healthy looking stem. One way to evaluate the sweetness of grapes is by their color. Green grapes should have a slight yellowish hue, red grapes should be mostly red, while purple and blue-black grapes should be deep and rich in color. They should always be stored in the refrigerator. Loosely wrap unwashed grapes in a paper towel and place them in a plastic bag. They should stay fresh for several days.
IDEA – Freeze grapes: wash and pat them dry, then arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place in freezer. Once frozen, transfer grapes to a heavy plastic bag and return them to the freezer. They’re like frozen grape jelly beans!
Pears should be left out at room temperature until they ripen. Gently press the area near the stem; if it gives a little bit, it’s ripe. Then store in the refrigerator.
Pineapples should be heavy and have a sweet aroma. The leaves will pull easily away from the stem.
If you want to purchase plums that are ripe and ready to eat, look for ones that yield to gentle pressure and that are slightly soft at their tip. Good quality plums will feature a rich color and may still have a slight whitish “bloom,” reflecting that they have not been over-handled. They should also be free of punctures, bruises or any signs of decay.
Look for bright red berries with fresh green caps on. Visually check each package, making sure there are no signs of mold growth. If one berry is molded, mold spores will have traveled throughout the entire package. When purchasing strawberries by the pound, one-and-a-half pounds equal one quart. This will yield about four cups of sliced strawberries.
Use strawberries as soon after purchasing as possible. Berries should not be left at room temperature for more than a few hours.
Store unwashed berries loosely covered with plastic wrap in the coldest part of your refrigerator for two to three days at most. Do not wash berries until ready to use.
To wash, place berries in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Do not allow berries to set in water as they will lose color and flavor.
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