Spring brings with it lots of new growth, which includes delicious fruits and vegetables. There are many fruits and vegetables that are available year round, but the quality is better and price is more affordable during their peak season.
Asparagus: Look for crisp, firm, straight green spears with closed, compact tips. Check the bottom spears for signs of excessive drying. Avoid spears that have spreading tips and those that are yellowish, soft or wilted. Asparagus can be great grilled. When grilling asparagus be sure to begin by choosing thick asparagus spears to prevent them from falling through the grate.
- To grill asparagus: Preheat your grill and trim off the tough ends of the asparagus. Toss the asparagus with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper (or grill seasoning) and place on oiled grill grates. Be sure to place them perpendicular to the grates so they do not fall through. Turn them with tongs after about 3-4 minutes and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the desired degree of doneness is reached.
Squash: Look for tender and well developed, firm, and fresh appearing squash. You can identify a tender squash, because the skin is glossy instead of dull, and is neither hard nor tough.
Strawberries: Look for berries with a full red color and a bright luster, firm flesh and the cap still attached. The berries should be dry and clean, and usually medium to small berries have a better flavor than the large berries. Avoid berries with uncolored areas or with large seedy areas (poor in flavor and texture), a soft or shrunken appearance or those with mold.
Green beans: are available year round but have a peek season from May until October. Choose slender beans that are crisp and free from blemishes. Store green beans up to 5 days in your refrigerator.
Spinach: Choose leaves that are crisp, and avoid those that are damaged. Fresh spinach should have a nice fresh fragrance. One pound fresh spinach cooks down to about ½ cup cooked. Spinach can be sandy too, so rinse it well and dry in a salad spinner for best results.
- Keep in mind if a fruit or vegetable is not available in your local grocery store, check with the local farmers markets in town. To find local farmers markets go to: www.localharvest.org
- Especially in the hot summer months fruits and vegetables are great snacks that will also keep you hydrated, since they are made of anywhere from 80-90% water.
- Handling produce is very important to help reduce possible food borne illness.
o Cut away any bruised areas on the produce
o All produce should be washed thoroughly, even if it is bagged and it says pre-washed
o Dry produce with a clean towel or paper towel.