A Simple Guide to Picking out the Best/Ripest Food at the Store

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Most people have a certain level of confidence with familiar foods at the grocery store, but that scope of expertise is pretty small. And if you find yourself with a Pinterest recipe that calls for an ingredient you have to research to figure out what it is, well, you might need some advice on how to nab the best product at the store.

And hey, if there are some regular, everyday things you’re not sure how to pick out (melon, for me), some tips and tricks on this list might help you, too!

12. Zucchini

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How do you like zucchini the best? Have you ever done raw zucchini noodles aka zoodles? 🌀🥒⁠ We absolutely love them! Should we do a Lifebar with them?⁠ .⁠ ⁠ 📷 by @gamsaorganic⁠ #raw #vegan #organic #rawenergy #rawvegan #rawvegansnacks #rawfood #glutenfreevegan #rawveganfood #whatveganseat #rawveganfoodshare #vegansnacks #energybars #organicmoments #noanimalsharmed #plantbasedeating #eatmoreplants #veganinspiration #rawsnack #rawliving #rawlivingfoods #livingfoods #rawzucchini #zoodles #rawnoodles

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It turns out, when it comes to squash, at least, that size does matter. Bigger zucchinis are more likely to be bitter, but don’t go for the smallest either – medium-sized one, between 15-20 cm, will have fewer seeds and be more meaty and tasty.

If it has a cut stem, you can also check the color – it should be green, not brown.

11. Chicken

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Chicken Feast. . This brand which existed for decades in the market selling fresh chicken, eggs, fish and meat. They wanted to revamp their presence online. Since they hand pick the best quality products from the local market,we gave the premium look and feel for the products. #tap #chicken #chickenlegs #raw #rawmeat #rawchicken #foodphotography #foodphoto #productphotography #product #food # uncooked #talkaboutpictures #foodphotographer

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If your chicken has skin, it should be paler than the flesh, and if the skin is yellow or a light brown, stay far away.

Its flesh should be firm, white to light brown in color, moist, and without visible blood – and the edges shouldn’t look dry.

If you want some extra help, check the packaging date (not the expiration date), and if it’s been in there for more than two days, don’t bring it home.

10. Bananas

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Finally got some bananas🍌today #fruits #bananas #greenleaf 🍀🌿🍂🍃💚

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You want to choose a bunch- not a single or double, as they last longer in clusters – with a green to light yellow stem.

If the stem is already brown, black spots will show up on your bananas before you can eat them all.

9. Watermelon

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Del campo a tu hogar… #fruit #mayoreo #cosamaloapan #sandia #watermelon #watermelon🍉 #natural #orgánico #yomequedoencasa #encasa

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Check out its stem tail – if it’s dry and brown, the watermelon is ripe and ready to eat. If you want it to be super sweet, choose one with more intense spots of yellow.

And yes, you can tap on the watermelon to see how loud it is – if it sounds echoed, your melon isn’t quite ripe. You’re looking for a hollow, blunt return on your tap, instead.

8. Honey

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Learning all about honey and bees from the very knowledgeable @darwenhoney in Ipswich. The honey tastes amazing, there’s hives galore and it’s so worth the visit to pick up some honey and support a local. 🐝🍯 https://www.facebook.com/Darwen-Honey-Products-655337224521180/ #honey #honeycomb #rawhoney #localhoney #beekeeping #bee #ipswich #ipswichhoney #buylocal

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The more opaque your honey, the less processed and more natural it is, so grab that one.

Also, a layer of crystals at the bottom isn’t anything to fear – it’s actually a sign of freshness.

7. Tomatoes

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An ode to #fresh and #delicious #Greek #Cretan #tomatoes! #deliciousness in green #salad. #instagreece #greecestagram #beautiful #nature #nature_perfection #nature_good #natureza #nature_brilliance #nature_cuties #artistic #artoftheday #arty #inspiring #delicioso #red #tomate #tomato

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Avoid the ones in the plastic containers, because you can’t check the smoothness and firmness of their skin, or tell whether they have a consistent weight.

Ripe tomatoes should be much heavier than an unripe one, and you should be able to double check by making sure they smell like tomatoes.

Simple but true.

6. Lettuce

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We had a cold snap around here lately after lots of good rain. I know whose really enjoying this weather! Happy Sunday Friends! #freshlettuce #collardgreens #raisedgardenbeds #kitchengarden #fresh #farmtotable #cypressbayoufarm #thebayougypsy

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Your edges should be free of holes or chew marks, and should never be even slightly brown.

You’re looking for leaves that are light dark green, very bright, and fairly firm.

5. Melon

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Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day ~ I think it kind of sets the tone for my day as well. • Sometimes I will whip up farm fresh eggs with avocado toast, other times it is a simple mono meal like cantaloupe or papaya. • Most of the time I feel as if a small fresh meal provides me with a lot more energy than the protein packed ones. • I am so grateful that I have access to these things and hope to have an abundance this growing season! • How do you start your day?

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You don’t want the melon that’s more green than yellow, and if a quick tap makes it vibrate, it’s nice and ripe. If you can hear water inside, though, it’s overripe.

If you’re looking for a sweet melon, apply a bit of pressure to the two ends – if they’re soft, that’s the one for you.

4. Canned Foods

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Yay or Nay?? • Do you use canned and shelf stable foods? • I'm personally not a fan of canned food as I mostly don't like the taste. However, times like we have now, canned and shelf stable food is something I DO recommend! • First, it can be easier to find! Have you seen the freezer section? • For many, if you're going grocery shopping sparingly, canned items won't be going bad like fresh. And hopefully won't be getting coughed all over (what is wrong with people?). • Not to mention… It's spring time and we now have storms ⛈️🌩️ and high winds = power outages. Like it wasn't crazy enough right? • Can't open the fridge/freezer, possibly can't even use the stove/oven, and eating out is much more difficult 😳. • Canned food can at least get you through! • What I recommend: • 💥Look for LOW / NO sodium options. 💥Lower fat options 💥Fruit should be in juice 💥Rinse off canned vegetables • Stay safe out there! • #outdoorsdietitian #poweroutage #survivalmodenutrition #cannedfood #cannedfoods #shelfstable #covid19 #quarantine #poweroutagefoods #coronavirus #stuckathome #survivalnutrition #stuckathomewithnopower #bellevernonpa #Pittsburghlocal #weathersafety

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Make sure there aren’t any imperfections in the packaging, like dents or rust, and always review the label to ensure the contents are preserved in their own juice or water.

3. Peppers

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#👩🏻‍🌾 #capsicum #bellpeppers

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A good pepper has bright, intense colors and no staining, and it’s weight should feel consistent in your palm.

Turn it over – peppers with 2 or 3 bumps will be more bitter than those with 4 bumps, and those higher-bumped peppers also have fewer seeds.

A green, firm, crispy stem means your pepper is fresh, too.

2. Cheese

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I’ve been keeping an eye on @rind.cheese for awhile now, eagerly awaiting its release. Recently, I got to sample some of their “Cambleu” cheese – which is a cross between camembert and bleu cheese. It was incredible. I’ve never had a vegan cheese like this, ever. It had the firm outside rind and inner creaminess that you’d expect from an aged, gourmet dairy cheese. It’s incredibly unique and perfect for a wine and cheese pairing – a truly artisanal, plant-based cheese. Rind is currently only available inside the private club @ludlow.house (in Lou’s Kitchen & Bar). But, keep an eye on their Stories for occasional surprise availability. Grab the chance if you get it! Hopefully it will be more widely available soon – it certainly deserves to be!

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You don’t want your cheese to have a wide crust – it means it’s starting to dry out and has been cut a while.

Oil is also a bad sign, as it can indicate that it has been exposed to temperature changes and may have begun to spoil.

1. Fish

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For dinner tonight this somewhat grumpy brill from Bridport’s best fish supplier @Davy’s Locker. Stuffed with preserved lemon and fresh fennel fronds from the garden . . . #brill #fishsupper #freshfish #davyslocker #lovedorset #lovebridport

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Even a dead fish should have protruding, shiny black eyes. Fresh fish will have skin that’s bright and silky, firm and translucent, and should bounce back from a press of your finger.

I don’t know about you, but I feel much more prepared for my next trip to the grocery store now!

Are these correct, in your experience? Was there something you were hoping to see that wasn’t there? Tell us in the comments!