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PICKING AND STORING YOUR PRODUCE, AN ALPHABETICAL GUIDE (E – M)

Eggplant: So good to cook with. You can pick the classic ones with a dark-purple jewel color or give white or speckled varieties a try. Ripe eggplants should feel firm and smooth. They’re available year-round, but July to October is peak eggplant time. Keep them on the countertop (not in the refrigerator). They’re good for up to three days.

Grapes: They should be firm and stay on the stem when you give them a tiny (tiny) tug. Yes, you can taste one at the store- but be sure to rinse them well when you bring them home! You can buy grapes year-round, but California grapes are only available from July to November. They’ll stay fresh in the fridge for about a week, but only wash them as you use them.

Greens: You want them to look fresh, tender, and – it should go without saying- green, without any soggy brown bits.

Green/string beans: Obvs not from a can. Select the smoothest, greenest ones out of the bin. They’re in season all summer long, and they’ll keep in your fridge for up to a week.

Leeks: These should be dark green and firm at the top and white at the bulb end, with crisp-looking “fringe” still attached. In season October through May (peaking in January), they’ll last for up to a week in your fridge.

Lettuce: Whether you go loose or buy a head, buy bright, firm varieties that don’t look wilted or brown. It’s okay to buy lettuce in a bag, but bagged lettuce rarely lasts as long as its expiration date.

Mangoes: They can be green or orangey-yellow, depending on what kind you like. The perfect day for mango-eating is when they feel firm with just a little give and smell delish. Wait for them to get super soft, and it’ll be a day too late. If you want a mango to ripen more, keep it out on the counter. There are all different ways to cut a mango; just look online for demos. But remember to use a sharp knife! Mangoes have two seasons, spring/summer and fall/winter, so you should be able to find them all year.

Mushrooms: You can buy many different kinds, including white, shiitake, cremini, or portobello. Broken ‘shrooms and mushy spots are no good. You can find mushrooms all year long, but fall/winter is generally the tastiest season. Store them unwashed in the fridge in a single layer under a damp paper towel for up to three days.

Read here for my A – C produce guide.

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