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Volume II
August 31, 2004

Choosing Vitalizing Vegetables

  • Artichokes: Look for tight, solid buds on fruits that are heavy for their size. Avoid ones with loose buds or purple flowers forming (overmature). Rub one against the other. If you hear a squeak, they are fresh.
  • Asparagus: Look for mostly green (avoid ones with white coloring as they are less tender), firm stalks with close, compact tips. The sooner used the tenderer it will be. Cut off white end before cooking.
  • Beans, snap: Look for small seeds inside straight, fleshy pods. If you can see large seeds through the skin than the beans are probably too old. Avoid beans with dry-looking, rusty, wilted or damaged pods.
  • Beets: Look for smooth, round, uniform bunches, with small to medium sized roots. Avoid beets that are blocky or angular in shape, rough-skinned, or oversized. Freshness of tops is not an indication of quality.
  • Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower: Look for tightly compacted flower clusters on broccoli and cauliflower, and compact, uniform sprouts. Avoid wilted, yellow, or dirty heads, and avoid loose, open sprouts or those that are yellow or pale green.
  • Cabbage and head lettuce: Look for firm compact heads that are heavy for their size. On leaf lettuce, choose unwilted, compact, crisp-looking compact plants.
  • Carrots: Look for deep orange colored and smooth skinned roots. Avoid carrots with purple or green shoulders or pale in color, or ones with forked or crooked roots. Oversized roots usually mean they are woody. If tops are still attached on carrots, they should be fresh.
  • Celery: Look for large, firm stalks with uniform stalk and a white bottom. Avoid spindly, wilted stalks.
  • Chard: Look for fresh, dark green leaves with bright, tender stalks. Avoid wilted, poorly colored leaves.
  • Collards and kale: Look for tender, green, full-sized leaves with tender tips; avoid wilted, tough or overly large leaves.
  • Corn on the cob: Look for well-filled cobs with plump, straight rows of kernels. Avoid large, wrinkled kernels (overmature) or small ones (undermature).
  • Cucumbers: Look for long, slender cukes that are medium to dark green. Avoid yellowed, puffy or soft ones.
  • Eggplant: Look for firm, dark purple fruit with small blossom scars. Avoid soft, bronze or green colored fruits or those with a dried calyx.
  • Jerusalem Artichokes: Look for uniform, smooth-skinned tubers, avoiding those with broken skins or insect damage.
  • Leeks: Look for long, white shanks and dark green leaf tissue; avoid dry or yellowish leaves or green or discolored shanks.
  • Mustard Greens: Look for tender, green, full-sized leaves, avoiding wilted, yellow or blotchy leaves. Evidence of flower-stalk growth means greens are too mature.
  • Okra: Look for small, uniform pods (under 3-inches long), which are tender and light green. Avoid large woody pods.
  • Parsnips: Look for clean, smooth, firm, and well shaped roots with light, even colored skin. Avoid soft or woody roots, or ones that are sunburned (green shoulders).
  • Peas and lima beans: Look for firm, well-filled, bright green pods, avoiding yellow, shriveled or bulging ones.
  • Peppers: Look for firm, darkly colored fruit with uniform size, color, and number of lobes. Avoid wrinkled or shriveled ones or fruits that are sunburned (contrasting color spots).
  • Potatoes: Avoid green or sunburned, knobby potatoes or those with growth cracks.
  • Pumpkin: Choose ones that are heavy for size with a clean, hard rind. Avoid misshapen ones that are scarred or blemished or light for size.
  • Radishes: Look for medium-sized, firm, crisp roots. Avoid wilted or soft roots or those with growth cracks or insect damage. Oversized roots will be pithy. Sunburned crowns are also not desirable.
  • Rutabaga: Look for smooth skin and firm flesh (3-5" diameter preferred). Avoid those with irregular shapes, forked or branched roots, or that are soft or shriveled.
  • Spinach: Look for fresh, dark green leaves, avoiding bunches that are spindly, damaged or wilted.
  • Summer squash: Choose ones that are uniform in size, color, and shape. Avoid large fruits (overmature) or ones with scarred skins, missing stems, or that are soft or wilting.
  • Tomatoes: Look for smooth skinned, firm fruits with uniform color. Avoid fruits with growth splits, sunscald, catfacing, or overripe (soft) fruits.
  • Turnips: Look for smooth skinned and firm flesh, 2-3" size preferred. Avoid irregularly shaped turnips or those with forked or branched roots, or roots that are soft or spongy.
  • Winter squash: Choose squash with hard, glossy rinds and fully developed dark color. Avoid soft or damaged rinds.

    * DVO welcomes your kitchen hints and cooking or nutrition questions! Email us and we'll post your hints and Q/A's in upcoming newsletters! *

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