Cooking from Scratch is now on facebook! Click here to check it out!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Produce Perfection

The most amazing thing happened today. I was standing at the kitchen counter trying to make potatoes, Tupperware, and blue water do special things for my earth science class tomorrow when my stomach yelled at me. I don't mean the meek kind of rumble that makes you think casually, "Hmm, I think I might be hungry." This was a roar of epic proportions that made me immediately drop what I was doing and walk straight to the refrigerator. When the tummy starts barking orders like that, I obey.

Somehow, I suddenly remembered the forgotten honeydew in the back of the refrigerator. I'm not really sure how I had forgotten it since every time I opened the fridge door the last two days, its sweet aroma enveloped me.

That's what was so wonderful. This one was divine. Sweet and juicy, tender and flavorful. The perfect specimen. How often do you actually get a honeydew that smells like a honeydew, let alone tastes like one? I was walking through the produce aisle the other day and, from two rows away, I knew that there were ripe honeydews to be had. This is a truly rare event; I can count on one hand then number of decent honeydews I've had in the last ten years.

It's a shame that getting decent produce from the grocery store should be so challenging... and it's surprising to me that people actually buy and eat under ripe, flavorless produce (honeydews are not supposed to be crunchy!). It's no wonder Americans don't eat enough fruits and vegetables; many of them must not know what they're missing!

I always enjoy watching shoppers in the produce aisle. Everyone has a different method of picking fruit. Some simply pick the prettiest specimen there. Others pick them up and fondle them. Me? I'm a sniffer for most produce. If I can't smell it, I don't buy it. There are exceptions, of course. Listed below are a few of the criteria I use for choosing my favorite produce. What techniques do you favor?
  • Cantaloupes and honeydews: absolutely must pass the sniff test
  • Watermelons: I look for a yellow area on one side (where it sat on the ground) and sounds hollow when thumped
  • Peaches, nectarines, plums: has the slightest give when pressed lightly, must pass the sniff test
  • Grapes: I like my grapes to crunch when I bite into them, so I give 'em a squeeze to see how firm they are, for green grapes, I look for a yellow hint as they tend to be sweeter, I also am not opposed to testing one right there in the produce department
  • Tomatoes: pointless to test at the grocery store, but if you are at a market where you suspect they might be locally grown, submit them to the sniff test
  • Pears (especially D'Anjou, my favorite): I reject any with bruises, I like just a slight hint of yellow to ensure they ripen properly
  • Red Delicious Apples: most apples are pretty easy to pick, I think. Red delicious is the exception as it can often be mealy. To be sure I don't end up with mealy Red D's, I give them a squeeze. If there is even the slightest hint of give, I put it back and choose another.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...