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How to select the freshest corn and tastiest tomatoes. Buy fresh and it will all taste great!

Updated on May 14, 2007

Eat great with fresh vegetables!

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How to choose a great tomato, the freshest corn on the cob and a few other things.

Today’s produce handlers are pretty crafty. They can keep a vegetable looking pretty good for a long time; but just because it looks god and fresh doesn’t mean that it will taste like a fresh picked delicious.

Here are a few tips to help you choose the finest of what’s on offer.

Corn on the cob

Corn is much better fresh, and it can lose as much as half of it's natural sugars in the first 24 hours after harvest.

Some people will say that you can look at the bottom of the cob, were it’s been cut from the plant, as an indicator of freshness, the lighter the color the fresher, and this is true, UNLESS someone takes the trouble re-trim the end. A lot of produce handlers will do this, so it’s not a necessarily fail safe method.

What you can do is peel back the husk a bit, and pierce one of the kernels with your thumbnail. As you pierce the kernel, the sweet juice inside should spurt out with force. It should just about take out an eye! That is a sign of freshness that cannot be manipulated.

If you do end up with corn that's not as sweet as you'd like, try adding a couple of spoonfulls of sugar to the boiling water as you cook it. This will sweeten it up a bit.


Tomatoes are another example of a vegetable that can look great, but taste like nothing. Fortunately, there is an easy way to tell if it’s good one or not…sniff it. You should always be getting strange looks in the supermarket as shop for tomatoes! If it doesn’t smell tomatoey, then it’s not going to taste tomatoey! You’re actually better off with canned tomatoes picked in season than fresh tomatoes aged on a continental truck voyage from down south.

PS try not to refrigerate your tomatoes, as cold storage destroys a flavor producing enzyme within the tomato. You’ll be surprised at how much better tomatoes are stored on the counter.

Garlic and onions and potatoes

Nothing to revolutionary here. They should all be rock hard, and green sproutry things are a definite bad sign.


Nothing much beats really fresh asparagus, and as true as that is, nothing disappoints like old asparagus. It has a really brief optimum life. Soon after it’s picked, the leafy buds at the top of the spear will start to separate and open up. Look for asparagus with a really tight top and it will be delicious.

Most everything else

Look for vegetables that are heavy for their size, are firm, turgid and sheeny. Use your nose as much as your eyes; and if you're not too embarrassed, you can even sneak a little covert nibble in the supermarket!

Enjoy the coming summer months and all the great fresh produce they bring. Eat locally (when possible) and seasonal and your food will taste great!


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