How to Pick the Freshest, Tastiest Summer Produce

I love all the great produce available now! Tomatoes, melons, peaches — summer is all about juicy flavors. To make your next grocery (or farmers’ market!) visit easier, here are some tips on how to get the freshest, tastiest picks.

Tomatoes: Start by smelling the bottom of the tomato (opposite end of the stem). For a flavorful tomato, you will want to pick one with a rich aroma. To make sure the tomato is as fresh as possible, choose one that feels heavy for its size and that doesn’t have any splits, bruises or soft spots. Store tomatoes stem-side down out on your counter, not in the fridge. Putting tomatoes in the fridge will ruin their texture and destroy their flavor. My favorite way to enjoy fresh tomatoes in the summertime is to make BLTs or bruschetta.
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Squash: Look for squash that has brightly colored, smooth, shiny skin. They should be firm, heavy for their size and should not have any bruises or mushy spots. For the most tender squash, select smaller ones. These are younger and have a great texture. Squash may be stored in a plastic bag in the fridge for several days. I like to simply saute summer squash in olive oil with a little onion and garlic.

Melons: Juicy, delicious melons will feel heavy for their size and have firm, bruise-free skin. When selecting cantaloupes, choose one that has a yellow-orange color under the net-like skin instead of one that has a greenish white color. Smell the melon and select one with a fruity aroma. Finally, press on the melon on the opposite end from the stem — it should give slightly if the melon is ripe. Store melons in the refrigerator for up to a week. I love eating melons just plain with my breakfast or as a dessert.

Leafy Greens: Leafy greens like spinach, kale and arugula should have vibrant color and stems that are intact. They should also have a fresh smell and their leaves should be dry and not wilted-looking. Wrap leafy greens in a paper towel (to absorb moisture) and store in a plastic bag in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Of course, I like to use leafy greens in salads.

What is your favorite type of summer produce and how do you like to prepare it?

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