Israeli Farmers Offer Consumer Guide for Picking Quality Produce
Consumers who pick fruits and vegetables off the grocery store shelves usually do it by eyesight, which can sometimes be misleading.
by JNi.Media, JewishPress.com
August 12, 2015
(JNi.media) Consumers who pick fruits and vegetables off the grocery store shelves usually do it by eyesight, which can sometimes be misleading. During the summer months it is especially important to pick fruits and vegetables correctly, to avoid disappointing and having to throw away produce thatís gone bad early.
Who better than a farmer would know how to pick a quality fruit or a vegetable? Which is why a group of Israeli farmers from Ein Yahav, a moshav in southern Israelís Arava desert, decided to come to the aid of the countryís consumers.
They issued the first guide to picking fruits and vegetables at the point of sale by their shape, color, touch and smell, and how to store and handle each species after purchase. The guide, offering easy and simple instructions, is based on decadesí worth of the growersí professional experience.
According to Daniel Lev, director of the Ein Yahav Agricultural Society, most Israeli growers emphasize high-level quality control, but at the point of purchase different quality produce from different sources often gets mixed together, and so it would be best if consumers became educated in knowing how to pick from the selection before them.
The guide includes a detailed description of popular fruits and vegetables: peppers, grapes, apples, lettuce, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, scallions, zucchini, watermelon, melon and asparagus. The plan to expand the list in the future.
At the moment, the guide is available only in Hebrew. We picked a few choice fruits for you, and are looking forward to receiving a proper, English language published version.
Shape: Make sure it is symmetrical throughout, so the length is the same on all sides.
Color: Shell should retain full color, with no marks. The brighter the pepper, the better.
For stuffed pepper: Red pepper with a hard shell and a brilliant hue is best for stuffing.
After the purchase: Store the peppers in a plastic bag with large perforations, when paper towel inside the bag.
Shape: Pick an uncrowded cluster, where the vine invested more resources in a smaller number of grapes. The grapes should be plump and well connected to the stalk.
Color: The colors should be balanced Ė green grapes should have yellowish bottoms, and purple grapes should have strong purple bottoms. The deeper the color, the more mature grape. Deeper color indicates a higher level of oxidation.
After the purchase: Do not wash the grapes, store them in the refrigerator (or freezer).
Shape: Select an apple without soft dents or imperfections. The nicer an apple looks, the better it tatses.
Color: Make sure that the Apple is free from spots.
Contact: Press on the skin and choose the hardest apples.
After the purchase: Store in the refrigerator, and avoid storing apples with other fruits and vegetables. The apple gives off gases that cause decay.
Shape: Avoid lettuce with few leaves clinging to the bag, or leaves with blackened edges.
Color: Leaves should be solid colors, note the edges and make sure they are not blackened.
Weight: It is better to choose a small and heavy lettuce, itís usually indicative of fresh, young leaves.
After the purchase: Must be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator, preferably in a perforated bag on a bed of paper towel.
Shape: Choose long, straight eggplants. Small, pointed spikes in the leaves at the base indicate freshness.
Color: Rind should be shiny and smooth, tending to black and without scratches.
Weight: The eggplant should be lightweight, otherwise there is risk that might it contain bitter juice.
Contact: When touching the eggplant, it should feel supple but not soft. The skin to be smooth, tight and free of defects.
For stuffing: Select a shell thatís as dark as possible, indicating its resilience.
After the purchase: Store in the refrigerator, but in a mild area, in a perforated bag, preferably in an uncrowded drawer.
Shape: Make sure the clusterís stalk is green and fresh. If the tomato falls easily from the cluster it means some time has passed since it was picked.
Color: Red tomatoes are ripe, so itís best to buy some pinkish tomatoes that will ripen gradually.
Weight: The heavier the tomato, the juicier it is.
Aroma: A fresh tomato aroma should be reminiscent of the smell of soil. If you squeeze a tomato gently and it doesnít give off an aroma itís probably not fresh.
After the purchase: Remove the leaves and stalk which might rot after the purchase and impair the tomatoes themselves. Store in the refrigerator.
Shape: The cucumber should best come with a shrinking but not dry flower at its tip. If the flower has dropped it means the cucumber is a few days old. Cucumbers should be straight and not curved like a banana. The small cucumbers are less bitter and therefore recommended over the big ones.
Color: The dark shell means maturity, so chose relatively light-skinned cucumbers, but not yellow ones.
Contact: Make sure the cucumber ends are not soft.
After the purchase: Store in the refrigerator, preferably over a paper towel.
Check to make sure the roots are fresh and not yet dry.
Be sure to check that it doesnít have a lot of layers of fallen shells
The bulb must be intact, rigid, smooth and ripe, but without a stalk which suggests excessive ripening.
A dirty onion doesnít mean itís low quality.
After the purchase: Store in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator necessarily).
Shape: Pick shorter leaves, the longer ones are harder to cut.
Color: The darker the green leaves are, the higher their nutritional value.
Contact: The leaves should taut and rubbing the leaves together should make a squeaking sound.
After the purchase: Store in the refrigerator in a perforated plastic bag.
Shape: Make sure that the lower part is wider.
For stuffing: The zucchini thatís best suitable for stuffing is harder and with a thick rind.
Weight: It is advisable to choose the heaviest zucchini.
After the purchase: Store in the refrigerator.
Shape: Check the watermelon stalk is not withered, which would indicate over-maturity.
Color: One yellow spot is fine, it indicates ripeness. More than one suggests over-ripeness
Weight: The ďdrumming methodĒ is always good. Tap the watermelon and check to hear a hollow sound which indicates ripeness and sweetness, but note that if the sound is too hollow you got yourself an old watermelon.
After the purchase: Store in the refrigerator. It can be cut into cubes and stored in a sealed box.
Shape: It is advisable to check that fruitís stem is not dry.
Color: The shell of the melon should be without stains or defects.
Weight: A quality melon will usually be heavy and full relative to its size.
Aroma: It should be fragrant and aromatic.
Contact: Push on the melonís end ó if itís too soft, itís obsolete.
After the purchase: Store in the refrigerator, it will extend the life of the fruit and intensify the aromas.
Shape: It is recommended to choose a straight, rigid asparagus, with closed flowers (they should not be in bloom). The spear should be crisp and not break down (try to bend it and let go).
Color: Preferably choose as light an asparagus as possible.
Contact: Select the hard stalks. Avoid a soft, wilted or damaged asparagus. Make sure the asparagus stalks emit a screeching sound when you rub them together.
After the purchase: Store in the refrigerator with a damp paper towel. But, if possible, itís better to store it standing upright with a little water (like a flower).