How to Choose Quality Fruits & Veggies

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When we pick vegetables and fruits, we definitely want to get the best bang for our buck!  Picking the freshest pieces and finding the best selection are super important.  When our fresh items go bad before we expect, we’ve wasted money.  Here’s how to tell if the produce you pick up at the grocery store is fresh and ready to take home:
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Oranges   Good oranges are firm, heavy and have a smooth texture all over.  You don’t want oranges that are spongey or rough.
Peaches  A nice peach is firm and plump. You want it to be yellowish-orange with a little red blush around it.  If it’s super soft, don’t buy it!
Grapes   The best grapes are tender, plump, firmly attached to the stems.  Green grapes should have a slight amber blush near the stem.  Bad grapes are brown in color, have a wrinkled surface and brittle
Grapefruit  Don’t bother looking at the color.  Look for heavy, thin-skinned grapefruits that are slightly springy.  Avoid thick or rough skin.

Apricots  Good apricots are firm and have a nice, solid amber color. Stay away from pale yellow or greenish colored apricots. Apricots that are too soft are no good!
Cherries   Pick cherries that have new looking stems and a smooth, shiny surface. Bad cherries have dried steams and dull surfaces.
Cantaloupe   Perfect cantaloupes have a delicate aroma, yellowish skin and a thick texture on the rind. Do not buy cantaloupes with a sweet and pungent aroma or those that have a soft rind.
Watermelon   Good watermelons should be symmetrical in shape. They should have a cream-colored underside. Do not buy watermelons with cushiony spots.
Strawberries  Deep, shiny red skins are what you want.  Avoid blemishes or green spots.
Pineapple  Watch for fruit that smells sweet at the stem and is heavy for its size.
Kiwi  Good kiwi gives slightly when pressed.  If it’s too hard, don’t buy it.
Papaya  Choose fruit with a red-orange skin.  Avoid green or hard papaya.
Plums  The best plums are those that yield slightly to pressure.  They should have a deep purple color and semi-soft tip.  Rock hard plums should be avoided, as they won’t ripen.
Blueberries  You’ll want to buy firm, dry and brightly colored berries.  If they are dull or watery, pass them up!
Mangos  Mango can be several different colors.  The best way to test it is to grab a yellow fruit, and expect it to be slightly soft to the touch.  It should have a ripe aroma at the stem.
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Artichokes Choose globes that have tight leaves and feel heavy for their size. The leaves should squeak when pressed against each other.
Asparagus  Good asparagus have closed tips and straight green stalks. Bad asparagus have open tips and the stalks are curved.  This is the first sign of wilting.
Avocados  Avocados feel slightly soft to the touch. Firmer avocados may be ripened at home, but avoid rock-hard ones. Also avoid avocados with cracks or dents.
Beets  Pick firm beets with fresh stems and slender taproots. Avoid beets with wilted leaves, scaly tops, or large, hairy taproots as they may be older and more woody.
Bell Pepper  A bell pepper of any color should  have bright and glossy skin. They are firm and thick, while bad bell peppers have soft spots and shriveled surfaces.
Broccoli  To pick a nice batch of broccoli, you want it to be firm.  It should have closed florets and have a deep green color. Stay clear of broccoli that are yellow in color, with open florets and water-soaked spots.
Brussels Sprouts  Choose firm, compact, bright green heads. Avoid sprouts with wilted or loose outer leaves.
Cabbages Firm, compact heads that feel heavy for their size are the best. Check that the stems are also fresh and compact.
Carrot  Picking carrots is easy.  Carrots that are firm and have a bright orange color are good. Bad carrots have a rough texture, soft and have green roots.
Cauliflower  Choose heads with tightly packed, creamy white florets. Avoid yellowed, spotted, or flowering florets.
Celery  You want firm, unblemished stalks. The stalks and leaves should be green, not yellow.
Corn  Pick corn with bright green husks and moist but not slimy silk. Peel back the husk to ensure the kernels are plump and not dry.
Cucumbers  Choose cucumbers that are uniformly green (not yellow).
Eggplant  You want an eggplant that is shiny, heavy for its size and firm.  A slight bounce back will indicate a great piece of eggplant.  Don’t bother with the ones that are dull or lightweight.
Garlic  Pick firm, plump heads. Avoid heads with soft spots or green sprouts.
Green Beans  Slender beans that snap rather than bend are green beans you want. Avoid bulging or dried pods.
Lettuce, Spinach, and Other Leafy Greens Choose greens with fresh, crisp leaves. Avoid any that are wilted or slimy.
Peas  You’ll want crisp, green pods. Avoid bulging, dried, yellow, or white pods.

Potatoes  These should be firm, smooth potatoes. Avoid those with bruises, green spots, or sprouts.

Radishes  Go for radishes with fresh, green tops and firm, unblemished roots.
Summer Squash  The best squash has naturally shiny, taught, unblemished skin. Avoid squash that appear dull or have soft spots.
Sweet Potatoes and Yams  Choose potatoes with firm, unwrinkled skins and no bruises or cuts, as they are highly perishable.
Tomato  Good tomatoes are plump, smooth and have a rich red color. Bad tomatoes look shriveled and have blemishes.
Winter Squash  Choose squash that have stems intact and feel heavy for their size. Avoid squash with cuts or soft spots.

Do you have any suggestions that we missed?  Let us know in the comments!



  1. Dana Rodriguez Reply

    This is a great guide. I hate when I go to the store and have no idea how to tell something is ripe and not green.

  2. I can’t think of any tips off the top of my head. Your list is excellent – some I knew, but some I didn’t and it will really help me make better choices.

  3. I had to pin this! I knew some of these tips. But I am kind of embarrassed, because I am 61 years old and should know this!

    • Jeni Hawkins Reply

      Don’t be embarrassed, Sue! I didn’t know most of them until I started writing this and learning!

  4. Karley Moore Reply

    Thanks for all the great information. I never know what I’m doing in the produce section! This is a great guide!

  5. Christina A. Reply

    Really good tips for choosing produce! I always try to be really careful to pick the best that I can when shopping!

  6. this is a great summary list to print and keep handy. I also always look for a watermelon that feels heavy for it’s size.

  7. What a great reference for shopping I will have to save this and use it when I am shopping for fruit. TY!

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