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Storing and Purchasing Fresh Produce

Storing and Purchasing Fresh Produce

Culinary Institute of America


Although the Dietary Guidelines do not categorize fruits as they do vegetables, different groups of fruits provide different nutrients. Orange and red fruits like mango, cantaloupe, apricot, watermelon, and red or pink grapefruit are high in carotenoids. Citrus, berries, guava, papaya, kiwi, and cantaloupe are high in vitamin C, while oranges are rich in folate. Fruits like apples and pears aren’t especially high in vitamins, but they contain phytochemicals as well as fiber.

Two cups of fruit should be consumed per day for a 2,000-calorie intake. Whole fruits, whether fresh, frozen, canned, or dried, are recommended over fruit juice for the majority of this amount to ensure adequate fiber intake.

Although unripe fruits can be stored at room temperature, most ripe fruit should be refrigerated. Berries in particular are extremely perishable and should be used within a day or two of delivery. Some fruits (including apples, bananas, and melons) emit ethylene gas; this can accelerate ripening in some unripe fruits, but it can also promote spoilage in produce that is already ripe. Store these fruits separately from other foods.

Fruits like lemons and melons emit odors that can permeate other foods; dairy products are prone to absorbing odors, as are fruits such as apples and cherries.

Apples and Pears

The apple, perhaps the United States’ most popular fruit, comes in thousands of varieties. The most commonly available are Golden and Red Delicious, McIntosh, Granny Smith, Rome Beauty, Fuji, and Gala, but regional and heirloom varieties like Northern Spy, Greening, and Cameo are worth seeking out.

Pears are to France what apples are to the United States. They also come in many varieties, with the most common being Bartlett, Bosc, Comice, d’Anjou, and Seckel. Pears are extremely fragile and are picked before ripening; they will soften at room temperature.

Fresh apples and pears can be held in climate-controlled cold storage for months without significant loss of quality, so they are readily available year-round.

The flesh of many apples and pears will begin to brown once it is exposed to air. Dousing them in acidulated water will help prevent this but may affect their flavor.

Apples and pears are high in fiber, most of which is soluble, and they supply some vitamin C. Those with red skins contain anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant pigment.

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