When the weather warms my thoughts turn to fresh fruits and vegetables. They can be fresh from the garden, farmer’s market or produce department in your local grocery store. Here are some tips for selecting the best product and keeping it safe.
- When purchasing fruits and vegetables, select items that are not bruised or damaged. A damaged spot is a great place for microorganisms to hide and grow. Your item will spoil quickly if it is damaged. If you notice a spot once you have the product at home, cut away the damaged area and use right away.
- If you are choosing fruits and vegetables which are already cut-up for you make sure they are refrigerated or surrounded by ice. Cut produce should never be left out of refrigeration. Items such as a half of cantaloupe or bagged lettuce should be refrigerated when you purchase them. Grocery stores will sell items already cut-up. Farmer’s markets and roadside stands should never sell their fruits and vegetables already cut unless they have facilities to keep them refrigerated.
- For the longest storage, keep perishable item like strawberries, lettuce, and herbs in your refrigerator at a temperature of 40 degrees F or lower.
- Items such as potatoes and onions can be kept in a cool, dry area.
- Always wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before you start preparing your fresh produce.
- And, wash fruits and vegetables under running water before eating, cutting or cooking. It is not necessary to use commercial produce washes.
The first farmer’s market of the season will be here soon!
Author: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Ohio State University Extension.