Know your food

There are some basics ways to know when a fruit, green or vegetable is ready for harvest or purchase. Birds and other animals know when crops are ready; it’s important to get there before them. The magic word for greens is dark; the magic word for veggies is shiny; the magic word for fruits is full, and sometimes yellow, a tinge of yellow. Ads from local farmers and gardeners, offering crops from their own backyards, are very indicative of the proper season and/ or harvest time.
All crops have a natural season that has done fine for trillion of years. Please check your local gardening guide to find out about the seasonal produce in your area. Spring is the best time to plant warm season crops like tomatoes and peppers, while fall is best for cold season plants like cabbage and collard greens. Some plants like beans, lettuce, any herb, can do great all year until the first frost.
When it comes to greens yellow is not good; that’s why they are called greens. They are mostly cold season crops. When selecting packaged greens from a store, make sure there is no decaying leaves adhering to the plastic bag. If you see wetness of any kind, or leaves sticking to the bag, don’t buy it. If you see any leaves turning yellow or brown, don’t buy it. They should have a vibrant deep green color. Leaves with some yellowish corners indicate the product is old; while the brown ends are a sure sign they were burned in the sun before harvest. Always make sure to check recalls and follow the up to date guidelines to avoid e-coli and salmonella.
The best heads of lettuce are squeezable, dark green and void of any brown or wet spots; the hard heads have a white/ light yellow center that is not tasty at all. Bell peppers must be shiny and firm; carrots, zucchini, cucumbers must be crisp; if you can bend them, they are not fresh. When selecting root vegetables, do the thumb test; if any part of the root gives way to a slight pressure, put it down. Ignore any root that has been damaged by digging tools; most of the produce will have to be discarded to salvage what can be eaten.
Eggplants are a summer veggie that packs a great amount of vitamins. A smooth, shiny purple skin is desired on the Black Beauty variety. When selecting eggplants, choose full fruits that are not overly too big or too small. Large fruits tend to be bitter and tough, while the small ones do not have the full texture and flavor.
Fruits are the perfect example why Mother Nature is so great. They can be consumed all day and are the natural bridges between meals. When it comes to perfect timing, nothing beats picking a fruit at the right time; and anyone who has savored a ripe fruit can attest to the veracity of this statement. All ripe fruits are supposed to be juicy, flavorful, with the specific aroma of the variety.

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