Crunchy, long, and green. That’s a cucumber for you. They are sold as whole produce in the grocery store. Baby cucumbers are also a thing, although finding them fresh can be tough given the fact that small cucumbers are also made into pickles.
If this essay included gardening tips, I would point out that small cucumbers are ideal for eating. The advice that follows would be to harvest them before they grow as big as the ones in the grocery store. Why? Personal preference, mainly… Big cucumbers should be at least partially peeled before serving, if only for a more enjoyable eating experience.
Choosing a cucumber:
Look for cucumbers that are evenly sized and have smooth skin. Absolutely NO: fragrance/odor. Also avoid soft or wrinkly cucumbers because they’re probably old.
There are the long, narrow cucumbers that come shrink wrapped in plastic. The environmental sin can almost be forgiven because of the convenience of working with this variety. The outer skin of these are thinner and does not require peeling. They usually cost more too (probably to cover the cost of the excess plastic.)
White foods come with the assumption that they’re somewhat bland in flavor (see:tofu). The optimistic way to view these foods would be as a blank canvas that is ready to take on whatever flavor profile you throw at it.
Cauliflowers are sold as individual heads. Sometimes they come in their own plastic bag package. Organic cauliflower heads cost more (unsurprisingly) and are usually smaller too. However, do not let the small size deter you from buying organic.
See, cauliflower is one of those foods that can do more than expected. Cut up and roasted, you can make a side dish to feed 3-4 people. When blended with other ingredients into a sauce, this white vegetable will give you more bang for your bucks.
What to look for when buying cauliflower:
– Round and full cauliflower heads
– White flowers (get a good look at it)
– Gray colored patches indicate old cauliflower. If you decide to buy it when it looks like this, make sure you use it that day.
– Slimy/slick parts of cauliflower mean that it’s r o t t e n.
There’s no other food like a tomato. They are popular and can be found in so many dishes. Even people who don’t like tomatoes usually will eat them in some way, shape or form (ketchup, probably).
When it comes to tomatoes, fresh is best. However, there are some flavors that can only be reached with the use of sun-dried tomatoes.
Although the name implies that sun-dried tomatoes would be a dry food, the best variety to actually purchase are the semi-moist ones. By using these, you’ll save time by not having to soak them in oil prior to using them (which is how dry sun-dried tomatoes are prepared before consuming). Be sure to read the package before purchasing… there are usually several varieties with different herbs and spices available. You want to make sure you are getting the kind you want or else your recipe may turn out different than intended.
There are also sun-dried tomatoes that come already packed/marinated in oil. They’re best used in a salad or other dish where preparation is minimal.
There are over 20 different varieties of tomatoes. It would be redundant and boring to list them all here. Instead, here are the top 4 tomatoes that you are likely to find in the grocery store:
The size of a green grape. They can be served whole, which makes their preparation as easy as wash and go.
They’re slightly larger than a cherry. Usually sold on the vine ( check mark) According to Dr. Sebi, these are the best tomatoes to eat.
Also called plum tomatoes. They’re the shape of an egg. They are also the least nutritionally dense tomato. BUT Roma’s are also the cheapest and if you’re trying to eat fresh on a budget then go for it. They’re still better than canned tomatoes*.
These are the globe, heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes. If you buy these for a salad then you’re going to be doing a lot of chopping.
Big tomatoes are best used for serving stuffed with something else. How you get them ready to stuff to remove the guts and sprinkle with salt to let them drain then rinse and stuff with whatever you want. Keep it raw, though. If you want something stuffed and baked, try bell peppers.
Honorable mention to the standard-sized tomato. You know the one, it’s always appropriate. If you plan on slicing/serving circle slices of tomatoes, this is the one to use.
*Canned tomatoes are an insult to your body and taste buds and should be avoided. Use your discretion when it comes to tomato paste. Jars are okay though.
The numerous sweet and savory options that are available when it comes to peach stone fruit often go over looked when this fruit is in season. That’s because they taste satisfyingly sweet when they are in their peak and are usually eaten as a whole fruit, as-is. They’re usually cheap too. If you’re going to stock up on them, make sure to purchase a mix of various ripeness so that they are not all ready to eat at the same time. (Unless you are planning on preparing/serving them all at once).
If they’re not in season, they will be disappointing. However, if you like peaches that are textured like apples then off-season is a good time to buy.
White flesh peaches, yellow peaches, Carolina peaches… they’re all good when they’re ripe and ready. Try the different varieties and find your favorite.
Donut peaches are equivalent to peaches with a birth defect. They are not supposed to come donut shaped but if you want them, they’re usually sold in a plastic clamshell package (please recycle!)
There’s nothing wrong with eating the skin but it can be a choking hazard for children so please peel before serving to little ones.
Papaya’s have the reputation of being an acquired taste because every papaya is not delicious. Sure, they have the potential to be sweet and juicy and succulent but these flavors will not be experienced if the fruit is not given time to properly ripen. This can take a while but it’s worth the wait. They blend perfectly into all types of smoothies without altering the taste or consistency too dramatically.
(Author’s note: I have waited like 3 weeks for a Red papaya to go from green to orange. It’s worth the wait but if you have travel plans, it’s something to consider).
Choosing a papaya is easy; go with a heavy fruit that doesn’t have any ugly marks or blemishes. Color may vary. Price may also vary. As much as possible, PURCHASE BASED ON COST OF THE WHOLE FRUIT VS THE COST PER POUND.
Yes, the call caps was necessary because this is an important point. Papaya’s are heavy fruits and those pounds will add up. Buying from a store that charges the same price regardless of how heavy it is, that is the way to go! You can get really big papaya’s for less than $4!
This is also another good reason to not shop at Walmart. For some reason, papaya’s are horribly priced in Walmart. You could be paying $3.69 a pound at Walmart. Please don’t do it.
If you’ve never tasted a papaya, I suggest you get your hands on a sample before you invest in an entire fruit (it sucks to be stuck with a lot of something that you don’t enjoy the taste of).
Personal Sized Papayas
Just as the name implies, these are way smaller than regular papayas. You can usually get 1 or 2 servings out of them. The ripening process is exactly the same as with larger papayas.
How to Ripen a Papaya
Place it on your kitchen table and leave it there until it is 3 days from being over ripe.
You’ll know a papaya is perfectly ripe when the texture is buttery smooth. When it comes to smooth, the texture is second only to a hass avocado.
A Word About Papaya Seeds: They have a peppery taste and some people dry them and use as pepper. It’s time consuming but do-able, if you really want papaya seed pepper.
Due to their super affordable price and year-long availability, banana’s are a staple of every plant based eater’s diet. Even if you don’t necessarily like the taste, the other benefits that come with bananas make them more of a dietary friend than a foe.
Convenience is one of the top positives about bananas. They come in their own container, which is a plus when you need something to grab and go.
When you are hungry, a banana will usually be there for you.
How often do you eat banana’s? Consider that question when buying them.
Green banana’s are not ripe or even nutritionally sound. People who claim to like green bananas are eating more starch than anything else. If you buy green banana’s with the intention of letting them ripen, that’s okay. Just keep in mind that they can 4-7 days to turn the sweet, spotty yellow.
According to Dr. Sebi, these are the real, true bananas and the best ones to consume. Burro bananas can be left to ripen and eaten like regular bananas. However, because of the texture, they can also be fried like plantains.