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Tips for Buying the Best Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

How many times have you wondered if you should buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are still a little hard, or that seem to be a bit on the underripe side? We know how tricky it can be to figure out exactly which produce to pluck from the bin when you head to your neighborhood grocery. And at Food Town, we’re big believers that it can actually be a good thing to buy fruits and veggies before they ripen completely. Why? We’re glad you asked. Here are a few reasons we encourage buying underripe fruits and vegetables (and some handy tips to help you figure out which ones to grab).

Buying Produce Before it’s Fully Ripened Brings Added Convenience
Because that produce will ripen as the week progresses, it means an extended shelf life — and fewer trips to the store. (Hello, time savings!) This method also provides more flexibility when it comes to planning out meals and putting produce to good use. You don’t have to rush to use those fruits and veggies ASAP — and don’t have to concern yourself with what state that produce will be in once you are finally ready to cook. (In our opinion, there’s nothing worse than buying a full load of produce with a particular recipe in mind, only to find those fruits and veggies wilted and past their prime once it’s time to get cookin’.)

Buying Underripe Fruits and Vegetables Can Be Good for the Environment (and Your Budget)
Food waste is the biggest category of waste thrown into landfills. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that 30 – 40% of our food supply ends up being thrown away. And much of that is on the consumer side, with people tossing out food they bought but simply never ate. (When you think about it, that’s hard-earned money down the drain!) Buying fresh fruits and vegetables that are slightly underripe gives you more time to use them.

So, How Do You Know Which Fruits and Vegetables to Buy?
The tricky thing is, no one tip suits all types of produce. Every fruit and vegetable offers its own indicators of freshness. Yellow areas on a watermelon tend to indicate juicy, ripe insides, for instance, while with pears, the best advice is to “check the neck” for freshness. Here are a few tips for popular produce:

  • Bananas: Next time you’re picking out a bunch, try to get a mix of yellow and green fruit. The yellow ones will be ready to eat within the next day or two, while your green bananas will ripen over the next few days to a week. In other words, that fruit will last a lot longer than a bunch that’s already yellow, ripe and ready to consume. Of course, if you do wind up waiting too long to dig in, banana bread is always a tasty option. Or, you could even turn that overripe fruit into a skin-nourishing face mask!
  • Avocados: Ripe avocados tend to have skin that is such a dark green it’s nearly black, and will “give” a bit when you give them a slight squeeze. Need to speed up ripening? Put avocados in a bag with an apple or banana and they’ll be ready in a day or two! (Our friends at Avocados from Mexico have all sorts of great advice on this front. Drop by and read up!) Once you have a grasp on the ins and outs, incorporate avocados into your weekly meal plan with our easy Fiesta Food Fun recipes! You can rest assured your avocados will be ready when you are, even if it’s a few days after you went shopping.
  • Tomatoes: These guys can be notoriously tricky. One minute they’re plump and juicy, and the next minute they’re mush! Buy tomatoes when they’re still a bit tough — and maybe even if they’re still a bit green. Then, keep them on the counter. It will take a couple of days for them to fully ripen, and you won’t miss the window of peak flavor and freshness. (The same advice goes for melons and other fruits and vegetables with short windows for ripeness!) If you opt to buy full-on green tomatoes, there are a number of tips you can use to encourage indoor ripening — such as hanging them upside-down or storing them in a paper bag. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with simply frying up some delicious green tomatoes!

When you’re looking for the freshest fruits and vegetables in town, look no further than your neighborhood Food Town! With fresh produce delivered each day, we do our best to stock high-quality fruits and vegetables that will stay fresh long after your visit.

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