Vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet, and they are at their freshest, tastiest, and most nutritious when they are in season and locally grown by sustainable methods. In season, vegetables reach their flavour peak.
That’s also when they are most abundant and most economical. Local farmers are likely to grow the most flavourful varieties, including heritage varieties that have been selected by generations of farmers and gardeners for their superior qualities. Local growers are often organic or sustainable, too, choosing farming methods that protect the environment and preserve the soil’s natural fertility without the use of agricultural chemicals.
Good colour Buy vegetables that have bright, vibrant colours with no yellowing – especially in cauliflowers and leafy greens. There should be no bruising, discoloration, blemishes, soft spots, cuts, or pits, and no suggestion of mould growth. Firmness The vegetable should feel firm and heavy in the hand; lighter vegetables may be drying out. Tight skin Loose skin also indicates that the vegetable is drying out, so look for taut, firm skin. Fresh ends To ensure freshness and the quality it implies, check the cut ends of vegetables that have been harvested from a root or mother plant. The cut should look fresh and moist, not dried out. Leaves should be glossy and mid-ribs turgid.Smell The vegetable should have a clean, fresh smell.
Different vegetables store for varying lengths of time, depending on their type. Delicate leafy vegetables store best wrapped loosely in a moist paper towel inside a closed plastic bag or refrigerator- storage container. Root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips keep well in an open, plastic bag in the salad drawer of the refrigerator. Vegetables such as bell peppers and cabbage store well in paper bags rolled shut and placed in the salad drawer. Some vegetables store best at room temperature in the dark, such as potatoes, while others need a basket to contain them, such as onions. Tomatoes will continue to ripen when placed on a windowsill. All vegetables begin to lose freshness as soon as they are harvested, but this happens fairly rapidly depending on their type. If you can only use part of a vegetable, store the remainder wrapped snugly in cling film in the refrigerator.
Select green, leafy vegetables that have crisp, fresh-looking, green leaves with no yellow colouring, and firm mid-ribs.
Choose vibrant-coloured tomatoes with firm flesh and tight skin that have that distinctive smell of the tomato plant.