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6 Ways to Pick out Perfect Vegetables

Updated on July 11, 2019
Kenna McHugh profile image

I am an enthusiastic cook and former chef who loves discovering ways to prepare food for all people, including those with food allergies.

Picking out perfect vegetables takes practice.
Picking out perfect vegetables takes practice. | Source

Produce Vegetables

When I go shopping for vegetables, I go right to the organic vegetable section of the produce department. I look over the product very carefully because I want my purchase to be as fresh as possible. The fresher the produce, the longer it stays fresh in my refrigerator at home before I prepare the vegetables for a meal. The tips I offer are for those who want the freshest produce available.

1. Where to Buy Vegetables

Purchasing vegetables starts with choosing a reliable market you know and trust. They have a quality produce department available. If that means a weekly farmers market or grocery store produce that guarantees fresh, local produce, so be it. It requires demanding the best and shopping around until you find it. Even talk to the local farmer at the farmer’s market or produce manager at the grocery store to find out which vegetable is local and when it was picked, packed, and shipped. Another clincher is how are the vegetables packed for shipping. Some use ice, and some don't use anything. Shipping with ice keeps the produce fresher, and it lasts longer when you bring it home. If you want quality food, you need to demand fresh vegetables, and you’ll get what you want.

Best Tips for Picking Vegetables

2. Root Vegetables

Root vegetables such as beetroots, carrots, radishes, and potatoes grow in rich soil Root vegetables such as beetroots, carrots, radishes, and potatoes grow in soil that is rich with green, thriving stalks soaking up the elements above the ground.

Picking out root veggies worth buying and eating at your dinner table requires a sharp eye and sense of what is good root food and what is not fresh. You need to be extremely picky. One of the best ways to describe an unhealthy root vegetable is they feel like rubber and are discolored. For example, you can touch the tips of a sweet potato. If they are soft or tender, they are not fresh. Root vegetables need to be like a rock when you touch them.

You can even have the farmer or produce clerk cut open a root vegetable. Watch and listen. If it snaps to the cut and has solid colors, it’s fresh.

When checking the freshness of carrots and radishes, you can taste test them. Do they snap with your bite into them? If they do, they are fresh. Try bending the carrot. If it bends and isn't stiff, it is not fresh.

Picking out Fresh Produce

3. Seasonal Vegetables

The best way to ensure fresh vegetables is to buy them when they are in season. The benefits of seasonal shopping are lower prices, locally grown, and fresher vegetables by far. Talk with your local farmer’s market or produce clerk and find out the seasons for each vegetable, so you get nothing but fresh. As an example, tomatoes grown during the winter tend to have thick skin and taste bland. It can't even splat if you hit it with a baseball bat. Tomatoes grown in season appear juicy, solid and taste like a 4th of July tomato, yummy.

4. Lettuce

Green leafy vegetables make the tastiest salad or coleslaw, but it takes a smart eye and patience to pick the freshest bunch. Fresh lettuce is crisp to the touch. Simply break a leaf, and if it snaps, that's fresh. Simply break a leaf, and if it snaps, that's fresh and take a bite. Make sure it’s crisp through and through. Some lettuces like green leaf or romaine are crispy at the heart of the bunch.

Do you notice brown spots or tears throughout the lettuce leaves? Brown spots or tears you see means the less fresh the lettuce. Produce departments will remove leaves with brown spots and tears. When you see a small head of green or romaine lettuce in the produce section, it means the staff removed the outer leaves because of brown spots and tears. Which means, it is not fresh.

Can you freeze lettuce? No. So, avoid lettuce kept on ice. The ice freezes the lettuce leaves, causing them to turn to mush when you get them home.

Fresh cabbage leaves are large and colorful.
Fresh cabbage leaves are large and colorful. | Source

5. Cabbage

Fresh cabbage makes a delicious coleslaw or baked cabbage. Look at the cabbage and see if it holds the large green outer leaves. That means it is still very fresh and new to the produce section.

Produce clerks remove the large green leaves when they look brown, meaning not as fresh. The small cabbages could be old cabbages that were once large. Ask the produce clerk when was the last shipment.

6. Buying Organic Vegetables

On a final note, I shop with a 3-day meal plan in mind. Any longer than a 3-day meal plan and my organic vegetables are just not as fresh as I would like them to be. Shopping every three days is cumbersome compared to shopping once a week. But, keep in mind with the Internet available, you can have organic vegetables delivered to your home.

I buy organic vegetables near me, which saves me time. I encourage you to locate organic vegetables and buy them locally can save time, too.

© 2017 Kenna McHugh


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    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      8 months ago from Northern California

      Thank you. I was never taught how to shop for fruit or vegetables. When I learned, I was amazed how some of the produce at the market was not fresh. Now, I check each fruit and vegetable carefully making sure they are fresh enough to last at least 5 days in my refrigerator.

    • aziza786 profile image

      Zia Uddin 

      8 months ago from UK

      Great advice on vegetable shopping. You're right about the roots of the vegetables. I have to share this knowledge with the Mrs, I'm a pathetic shopper so I let her get the best organic vegetables from the market. Thanks for sharing.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      23 months ago from Northern California

      Thanks for posting. I can find some pretty decent organic fruits and vegetables at Costco. The larger stores are bringing better produce to their customers. Though buying local is a better way to go for everyone, but it not always available.

    • peachpurple profile image


      23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      I always shop for veggies in the hypermarket, rarely in the wet market.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      2 years ago from Northern California

      I love shopping for vegetables.


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