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Joy of Cooking: How to pick fresh produce in every season

Before you even enter the kitchen, the cooking process starts! You can have the best cooking accessories and the most well-equipped kitchen, but if your ingredients aren’t good – it’s a challenge to make a delicious meal. Especially if you’re cooking with more plants, the produce can really make or break your dish. But how exactly do you know how to pick the freshest fruits and vegetables you can? Check out these five tips! 

1. Shop seasonally

Kale Polenta

If you’re a regular reader of the Swich blog, you know we’re advocates of seasonal produce. Not only is it often cheaper, but it’s also more delicious with more nutrients. (Find out what vegetables are in season during the wintertime.) 

2. Touch your food

Don’t be shy! Your hands are powerful tools when selecting produce. For example, peaches and figs are softer when ripe compared to apples and sugar snap peas which will be firm. Generally, taut skin, no spots, and no signs of shriveling are all good signs. 

3. Give it a smell

Your nose can tell a story about your plants. For instance, pineapples and cantaloupe will smell a bit sweet when ripe. And if something doesn't smell good, there's a good chance it won't taste good. 

4. Check out the stems


Often, we will touch the base of the fruit or vegetable – but don’t forget about the stem! Yellow squash and broccoli should be firm at the stems, pineapple stems should smell sweet, and asparagus stalks should be smooth and firm. 

Also, many stems are not only edible but also delicious! So don’t be afraid to incorporate carrot tops, broccoli and cauliflower stems, and kale ribs. 

5. Don’t over-emphasize appearance 

Yes, some produce is prettier than others. There’s no doubt about it. But just because a potato looks irregular doesn’t mean it won’t taste delicious! If your produce feels good and meets other factors, a little quirky shape is OK. You’ll probably be chopping it up anyway. 

Want to know more about how Swich can help you put more plants on your plate in 2022 and beyond? Find out what makes us different from other cooking sites, and check out these 5 tips for making the most of your free Swich membership

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Tags: Cooking Tips Beyond The Kitchen Learn To Cook Joy Of Cooking
Leave a Comment

Deborah K. ( 2yr ) – It is only recently that I have been eating the ribs and tops of plants. Good nutrition in those bits too.

Tami C. ( 2yr ) – Thanks