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How to Select, Store and Prepare Fresh Produce

February 27, 2014

Just like most other items of food, there are strict rules and guidelines when it comes to dealing with your fresh produce in a manner that is safe and hygienic.

But how can you ensure that your fresh produce is purchased at it’s best, stays safe and maintains its integrity?

Purchasing produce

When you’re selecting fresh produce, it’s essential to find the very best options available. You should always aim to buy vegetables and fruits that are in season – in addition to being cheaper, you can generally rest assured knowing that it has not been imported from overseas.

If you prefer to buy produce from local farmers markets, try to go early in the day. This will allow you to have the “pick of the bunch”, and select the best and freshest items.

If possible, it pays to select loose produce over pre-packaged options, as this allows you to  inspect every item, ensuring the freshest product is purchased.

Preparing produce

Any fresh produce should be thoroughly washed before use. Rinse the items with cold water or in the case of harder produce such as turnips, carrots, or potatoes, use a clean scrubbing brush. Make sure, however, that you never use soap or bleach on food that is to be consumed.

Never use the same utensils that you used to prepare meat to slice or chop your fresh produce items. If possible, try using colour coded cutting boards to ensure that you never use the same one for different types of foods. This will help to reduce the chances of cross-contamination.

Storing produce

Some items of produce, such as bananas, apples, and potatoes do not need be refrigerated to ensure that they are safe to eat. However, it is important to refrigerate items such as mushrooms and salad greens as quickly as possible. Place these items in the salad drawer of your refrigerator as soon as you return home from your shopping trip. Any cut or chopped produce that has been left to sit outside of a fridge for longer than four hours should be thrown away for safety reasons.