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Winter Produce Do’s and Don’ts

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February 13, 2014 · 608 Views

Whether you’re looking to eat locally, shave some money off of your grocery budget or incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet, knowing what kinds of produce to purchase and when can help you accomplish your goals. Buying seasonal produce will result in tastier—not to mention less costly—fruits and vegetables. Many may be under the misconception that the winter months yield little in the way of crops, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are plenty of hearty vegetables and fresh fruits to be found; shoppers just need to know which ones to purchase to get the biggest bang for their buck.

Do:

Look for Local—Locally grown produce will result in fresher and more flavorful fruits and veggies than produce grown elsewhere. Fruits and vegetables harvested for sale across the country are often picked too early to keep them from bruising during shipping, but this often makes them taste bland. Skip the imports this winter and choose local.

Try New Root Vegetables—Root vegetables are common and cheap during the winter time, and can last for several months if properly stored. Potatoes, turnips and rutabagas are all vegetables that should be stored in a cool, moist environment for maximum longevity.

Citrus Isn’t Just for Sipping—If your exposure to citrus fruits is limited to your morning glass of OJ, you need to expand your horizons to the rainbow of fruits available during the winter. There are blood oranges that have the flavor of raspberries and pink grapefruits with a mellow, sweet flavor. Meyer lemons are a chef’s specialty and have a lemony, non-bitter taste. The best part about all of these citrus fruits is their high vitamin C and fiber content. This winter, skip the juice and try your citrus fruits fresh and whole.

Try New Things—Pomegranates, artichokes, persimmons, kumquats (a citrus fruit resembling a small orange), parsnips, beets, kale and cranberries are also healthy winter staples that can be found in season during winter.

Don’t:

Get Imported Fruits—While those baskets of blueberries or cherries in February might be tempting, they were likely imported from the Southern hemisphere and either picked too early or treated to keep from spoiling during shipping. Wait until these summer berries come into season where you live before you buy them.

Store Root Vegetables in the Refrigerator or Expose Them to Light—Root vegetables like potatoes should not be kept in the cold temperatures of the refrigerator because the starches in the potato will convert into sugars. If you later fry your potatoes, you will find that they brown too soon. Keep your root vegetables in a cellar or pantry. Exposing potatoes to light causes the potato to produce chlorophyll on the tuber, which contains solanine that could sicken you if you eat the green portion.

Hit up your local farmers market or peruse the local produce section at your grocery store to score these winter produce finds—your tastebuds will thank you for it.

 

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Crystal Hessong is a lifelong lover of learning everything about everything. She has written about cooking news and advice through Examiner.com and has taught classes that combine science with cooking. Crystal has also written extensively about plants and gardening.

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