Posted by Jackie Judge on 8/24/09
Summary:A handy guide for selecting the best and ripest fruits and vegetables, with information on pesticide levels and proper storing for optimal freshness.
I’m pretty picky when it comes to picking my produce. Whether at farmer’s markets, Whole Foods (I haven’t boycotted them yet), or other markets, I can spend up to an hour shopping, just poking and prodding and shaking fruits and vegetables, trying to discern which are the ripest, the juiciest, the most fragrant, the most worth my money. Yet, oftentimes, even with my mother’s teachings, it’s hard for me to pick a good avocado, and I never can pick a good papaya. It’s flabbergasting to me when I witness other people make haste in tossing produce in their cart, without so much as a second look, when it’s so easy to pick a very overripe avocado, or an underripe watermelon.
Harvest, an iPhone app by Sean Murphy, is excellent for those who want to further their knowledge about picking good produce, and is even better as a guide for those who don’t know anything about produce. With information from the Environmental Working Group on over 60 fruits and vegetables, users will glean information on how to select produce, how to store it, and how deeply they’re tainted with pesticide.
A tab titled “Produce Guide” takes you to the page listing all the fruits and vegetables. Here, you may tap on any given produce, and Harvest will take you a page specifically for that item, detailing various tips and hints on how to select a good specimen, with a Pesticide Residue bar along the bottom ranging from low to high. Take Swiss Chard, for example. Harvest says the “stalks should be firm and crisp, not very bendable and limp,” “avoid those have browning or yellowing,” “the leaves should be a vivid green color,” and “chard stalks should be unblemished and look crisp.” For any greens lover, these hints are fairly obvious. I’m sure even those who don’t relish swiss chard can understand yellowing or wilting is a not a good sign of freshness. However, it’s nice to see a general list to abide by, and the storing option for swiss chard says unwashed in a plastic bag for several days at most. Obviously, that swiss chard in my fridge since last week is probably expired. Sure, it could still edible, but with a definite loss in nutrients.
But, Harvest tutored me wisely in the storing of sweet potatoes. I treat them like any spud, placing them in a well-ventilated, covered basket on my countertop, but I didn’t realize the reasoning behind storing them at room temperature is because cold temperature negatively alters their taste. Apparently, they should also be eaten within two to three days – they’re definitely not as durable as the potato, which can remain fresh up to two months if stored properly (amazing!).
Harvest also offers good advice on two fruits that often throw people for a loop: pineapple and papaya. Most people do not realize that pineapples do not ripen after picking, so picking a green one means you’ll be eating a green one later, or even a green, moldy one. Ripeness is not discernable by mere touching or sight, but rather with smell– with a pineapple you must smell the stem (bottom) end, with a sweet smell indicating ripeness, and a musty, sour or fermented smell indicating spoilage. Also, pineapples can become overly acidic if stored at room temperature, so either refrigerate for three to five days, or eat within two days without refrigeration.
The papaya is a bane for my good senses, as it manages to dupe me in every possible way. I have to admit that while Harvest provides the same exact information that my mother does, about the skin yielding to soft pressure, the ripening in a paper bag for a few days, there’s something to be said for a sixth sense, an uncanny knack for picking a beautiful and delicious papaya. While Harvest can point you in the right direction, and articulate as best it can, for some fruits, experience and trial and error are simply key.
Harvest is a great companion for any market visit, and being so easily navigated and read with its large white font, picking good produce can suddenly seem easy, and you’ll wonder how you went so long without having this knowledge on your side. Better produce means better nutrition. . . and this means better food.
Categorized as: $1 to $4.99,Apps for Moms,Education,Healthcare & Fitness,Lifestyle,Paid Apps,Reference,Special Categories
Tagged as: Environmetal Working Group, Harvest, Lifestyle, paid iphone apps, produce, ripeness, Sean Murphy