Who can resist the pleasure of biting into a ripe, fragrant peach or some crisp, sweet corn? This handy guide shows you how to choose the juiciest, most flavour-packed fruits and vegetables, and offers ways to store them so their just-picked taste and texture last as long as possible.
Summer Veggies
Look for Avoid Store Try it in
Broccoli Deep green, compact florets and firm stalks. Any leaves attached to the stems should be bright green. Yellowing or flowering florets. Skip any heads with overly thick, woody stalks. Do not store in plastic bags. Wrap in damp paper towels, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. 5-Ingredient Broccoli Salad
 Carrots Bright colour indicates sweetness. Carrots should be firm, crisp and stiff. If the tops are attached, look for bright green leaves and stems. Pale colour or limp texture. Skip any bunches with dry or slimy greens. Remove green tops (if attached), and store carrots in plastic bags in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. They’ll last even longer if kept unwrapped in a cool, dark place, like a root cellar. Carrot & Caraway Slaw
Corn on the cob Slightly sticky golden tassels (a.k.a. silk) and bright green, slightly damp, tightly closed husks. Ripe corn feels heavy. Tip: Don’t pull the husk back to look at the kernels — this can damage and dry them out. Dry or black tassels, and ears that feel light for their size. Small holes in the husk can indicate pests. Sugar in corn slowly turns to starch as it stands, so eat as soon after purchase as possible for the best flavour. Remove unhusked ears from plastic bags and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Husk just before cooking. Corn on the Cob with Garlic-Herb Butter
Cucumbers Dark green skin with a slight sheen. Ripe cukes are firm to the touch. They should have a uniform shape. English and Persian varieties are slimmer with tender skin, while Kirbys are fatter with smooth, glossy, waxy exteriors. Yellow spots, blemishes and soft spots. A strong aroma can indicate spoilage. Wrinkles on the skin can be a sign of improper storage. Keep cukes in their wrappers or cover in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Spicy Cucumber Relish
Eggplants Shiny, deeply pigmented skin. Eggplants should feel firm and heavy. The stem end should be moist. Brown spots or wrinkled skin. Avoid any that feel spongy or have mould on the stem end. Remove from plastic bags at home, and store unwrapped in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Grilled Eggplant & Honey
Green & yellow beans Bright green or yellow colour. Beans should be plump, crisp and firm, with moist stems. Dull colour and brown spots. Skip any beans that are wrinkled or look withered, or have brown, woody stems. Don’t wash until ready to use. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Cheesy Green Bean BBQ Casserole
Greens – lettuce, spinach & kale Fresh, crisp, bright or dark green leaves. Cut ends should be clean; stems should be firm and sturdy. Wilting, yellowing or rusting around leaf edges or stems. Wash and dry immediately after purchase. Roll in paper towels and store in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Hardy greens will keep a few days longer than tender greens. Grilled Shrimp & Kale Ranch Salad
Sweet & hot peppers Deep, glossy, uniform colour. Ripe peppers are firm to the touch. Yellow spots, blemishes and soft spots. Withered skin can indicate improper storage. Keep peppers in plastic bags in the refrigerator for up to a week. Grilled Red Pepper Egg Cups
Tomatoes A consistent deep red colour and a sweet, earthy aroma. Ripe tomatoes feel heavy and are soft when gently pressed. Green or yellow spots and no fragrance can signal underripeness. Soft spots, mould and weeping cracks are signs of overripeness. Eat as soon after purchase as possible; ideally, within 3 days. Store out of direct sunlight in a single layer, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Grilled Tomato & Halloumi Pasta Salad
Zucchini Shiny, sometimes slightly prickly, dark green or bright yellow skin. Zucchini should feel firm with a moist, green stem end. Cuts, bruises, soft spots or dried and withered skin. A limp stem end can indicate zucchini is past its prime. Store in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Wash just before using. Creamy Zucchini “Pasta” with Tomato & Basil

 

Summer Fruits
Look for Avoid Store Try it in
Blueberries A deep bluish-purple colour and a sweet aroma. Berries should be firm and plump. Withered, squashed or mouldy berries. Eat as soon as possible after purchase. Remove from the package and store in a single layer in a paper towel–lined airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Wash just before eating. One-Skillet BBQ Apple & Blueberry Cobbler
Cantaloupes A honey-sweet aroma at the blossom end (opposite the stem end). Ripe cantaloupes feel firm and heavy for their size. Melons with no aroma. Soft spots and blemishes can indicate a cantaloupe is overripe. Store whole ripe melons in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Once cut, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Melon with Basil & Chili
Nectarines A golden-orange glow on the skin and a sweet aroma. The flesh will give a little when gently pressed. Fruits with green areas around the stem end and no fragrance. Skip any with soft spots or signs of mould. Eat as soon as possible after purchase. Store in a single layer at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Grilled Nectarines with Balsamic & Feta
Peaches Orange to pink skin and a fresh, fruity aroma. The flesh will give a little when gently pressed. Green skin, soft spots and mould. Skip any that have no fragrance or feel hard when pressed. Eat as soon as possible after purchase. Store in a single layer at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 2 days. One-Skillet Peach & Raspberry Cobbler
Plums A sweet aroma. A ripe plum feels heavy and its flesh will give a little when pressed. Fruits with no fragrance, or those that feel mushy or rock-hard. Skip any that have sticky juice oozing from the stem end or signs of mould. Eat as soon as possible after purchase. Store in a single layer at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Acai-Plum Compote
Raspberries An all-over deep red colour and sweet aroma. Berries should be plump and look juicy. Any with no aroma, and those with the green cap still attached in the centre. Skip any that are squashed, mouldy or weeping. Eat as soon as possible after purchase. Remove from the package and store in a single layer in a paper towel–lined airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Wash just before eating. Summer Berry Dulce de Leche Tarts
Strawberries Bright red colour and sweet aroma. Berries should be plump, firm and shiny. The leaf crown should be moist and bright green. Giant, pale berries with no aroma. Avoid any with blemishes, signs of mould or withered or dry leaf crowns. Eat as soon after purchase as possible. Remove from the package and store in a single layer in a paper towel–lined airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Wash and hull just before using. Fresh Cherry & Strawberry Sparkling Sangria
Watermelons Ripe, juicy watermelons feel heavy. A ripe melon will sound hollow and reverberate when tapped with your fingers or knuckles. Melons that feel light for their size, and those with bruises, cuts, dents or soft spots. Store whole at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Once cut, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Savoury Watermelon “Pizza”