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Food and Farm Council of Riley County and City of Manhattan

Produce Shop, Store, Eat FAQs

How do I choose/select produce?

Ideal produce characteristics change with each type of fruit or vegetable. Generally, clean, crisp produce is a good indicator of quality. Tomatoes and fresh fruit like berries, stone fruit, and some melons have a sweet fragrance if ripe. Produce isn’t always picture perfect though and that’s okay! Read on for tips on how to determine if not quite perfect is good enough.

Blemishes and scratches are okay! 

Surface level scratches and small blemishes do not hurt the product and can be trimmed away if desired. Avoid produce with deep scratches that expose the interior to the outside world.

Look for the texture you expect. 

Apples, squash, cucumbers, green beans, sweet corn, and potatoes should be firm. Tomatoes and peaches should give slightly if squeezed gently (don’t squeeze too hard though!) Salad greens and herbs should be fairly crisp; they should stand upright if fresh.

Check for extra juices and odors. 

Fragrant, juicy berries are wonderful but when we notice pooling juices or moisture coming from sources we don’t expect (like a soggy cucumber) these foods might be past their prime. Check for odors too. Generally, fresh odors indicate fresh produce; sour odors indicate spoilage.

How do I store/keep…

Most fruits and vegetables store well in cool temperatures away from direct sunlight. Too cold of temperatures may harm some produce items and these should be stored outside of the refrigerator for the best flavor and texture.


Garlic, onions, shallots, winter squash, potatoes, watermelon


Bananas, citrus, stone fruit, tomatoes


Apples, pears, herbs, beets, turnips, green beans, berries, cherries, grapes, leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, melons, celery, mushrooms, corn, peas, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, summer squash

How do I use…

Produce is extremely versatile and often tastes best when it’s fresh and in season. Many items can be eaten raw or cooked, steamed, baked, stir fried, and grilled. Cookbooks from your local library or online recipe sites are great resources for new recipes. The MyPlate Kitchen and K-State Extension are full of tasty, nutritious recipes.

Is this still good/can I eat this?

Fruits and vegetables are perishable and are best when eaten soon after purchasing. Generally, produce is still safe to use if it is odor free, excess juice free, and has been stored under refrigeration if sliced. Wilted greens, herbs, sliced carrots and celery can regain some of their crispness if submerged briefly in ice water. Produce that becomes very soft but still smells fine can be used in cooked preparations.

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