Fruits and vegetables are the most thrown-out food in U.S. households. No matter how picky you are when you dig through those mounds of fruits and veggies at supermarkets and farm stands, you can still end up with a mealy peach or a tasteless tomato.
Yech! And what a waste of money.
Experts who pick out produce for some of the country’s top food markets judge ripeness based on tasting, sniffing, eyeballing, and squeezing their way around the produce department—and you can too.
ShopSmart, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, has seven tips to find the freshest produce:
- Taste it. The real litmus test is does it taste good? So ask for a sample.
- Take a sniff. Fruit should have a sweet aroma and veggies should smell fresh with no foul odors.
- Do the bend test. To make sure veggies such as green beans, asparagus, celery and zucchini will be crisp and fresh, bend them. Anything that’s even slightly soft and pliable is past its prime.
- Give it a squeeze. The freshest, ripest produce has a slight spring to it.
- Weigh it in your hand. The heavier the fruit feels when you pick it up or cradle it in your hand, the more juicy it will taste.
- Ask what’s good. Ask the produce clerk for recommendations.
- Return the bad ones. With some foods, there’s no way to tell until you slice it. Take bad produce back to the store—but make sure to check out their return policy.